Jim Hoagland {op-ed, July 19} pictures West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl as having presented the United States, Britain and France with a fait accompli by stating at his recent meeting with President Mikhail Gorbachev that Allied troops would leave Berlin when Soviet forces are withdrawn from Eastern Germany.

Our forces in Berlin are there by virtue of the assumption of Allied supreme authority in Germany after the German surrender in 1945. During the tense days of the Cold War, the rumble of American tanks in Berlin residential streets and their maneuvers in city parks symbolized our willingness to defend West Berlin's freedom. That era and the occupation regime will be finally closed by the "four plus two" negotiations when Germany is unified, presumably in December. Berlin will then again become the political capital of a unified Germany.

For three or four years, Soviet forces will remain in Eastern Germany, perhaps still surrounding Berlin. Even though the occupation will have ended, having Western forces stay in Berlin may be a sensible precaution. But what reason would there be for Western forces to remain in the German capital once the Soviet forces have departed? JACQUES J. REINSTEIN Washington

Former British minister of trade Nicholas Ridley in expressing his fears of a "Fourth Reich rising in Germany" as quoted by Jim Hoagland {op-ed, July 17} has, I think, spoken for a lot of us. Especially those of us who lived through both World Wars.

Barbara W. Tuchman in her "First Salute," in speaking of the Kaiser's Germany in 1914 says: "Believing themselves the most industrious and civilized of contemporary peoples, chosen by Providence to occupy the supreme place in history, the Germans wanted desperately to be acknowledged as paramount by lesser nations. ... War can often arise from injured ego as much as from more serious cause."

Was Hitler's Germany any different? Has the present-day Germany so radically changed?

Instead of losing his Cabinet post, Mr. Ridley should have been commended for reminding us not to forget the bloody past. JOSEPH H. GERBER Bethesda