740.00119 Control (Germany)/8–348: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Smith) to the Secretary of State

top secret   us urgent

1509. For the Secretary and Bohlen Eyes Only. Telegrams sent last night1 were prepared in presence of British and French representatives. Following is my personal estimate for your private estimation.

Stalin and Molotov were undoubtedly anxious for settlement. Doubt if I have ever seen Molotov so cordial and if one did not know real Soviet objectives in Germany would have been completely deceived by their attitude as both literally dripping with sweet reasonableness and desire not to embarrass. I am almost certain we could have settled for our original formula i.e. minus currency (if we had played a little harder to get and possibly we might still do so). However Roberts obviously under instructions from Bevin to keep us on soft side as far as possible (in fact I am sure that is why he was sent here) and Chataigneau equally eager although he neither helped nor hindered. Believe I muffed one thing badly in that I might well have obtained Stalin’s guarantee of our use of corridor in future. However this may be “morning after the battle courage” and I have laid groundwork for such a demand on our part by my remarks during discussion. I suggest that this be a condition for our acceptance of Stalin’s proposals and think it can be put over although of course it will be harder to negotiate with Molotov alone.

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As will be evident from summary of discussions the two salient points in Soviet mind are Berlin currency and physical establishment of west German government (which Stalin continually referred to as “government for Germany”). Although Soviet emphasis on first point must certainly be inspired by their desire to rivet Berlin to Soviet zone, it seems to me that we are in a mess over the currency in Berlin and might be well out of it on Soviet terms.

Do not know if it is possible to suspend any part of implementation of London decisions on west German government but if this is possible without undue complications or loss of prestige it would give us a good club as with finalization of west German government we will have fired one of the last shots in our political locker. I am sure of one thing and that is if we are going to maintain the appearance of quadripartite control and the fiction (for fiction I am afraid it is) of ultimate agreement with Stalin on Germany, it will be necessary for deputies for Germany to remain practically in continuous session from now on. Believe that as long as discussions are in progress no matter how acrimonious or unproductive we are unlikely to be subjected to physical pressure. Another thing is that at the first opportunity Stalin and Molotov must be told bluntly in so many words, in a confidential conversation, that we are never going to accept a Communist or a neo-Communist Germany or a tight central government that can be seized by a Communist coup d’état as in the case of Czechoslovakia. If they can be made to realize this one fact their eagerness for reparations may induce them to be less aggressive on the political front.

In spite of statement in my message yesterday do not think any harm will be done if there is a day or two delay in replying to Soviet proposal.

Bohlen will find interesting confirmation of his theory re individual approach to Stalin in part of our conversation not mentioned in summary. After my opening statement there was considerable sparring and no immediate direct reply by Stalin. I reminded him that in previous conversations he had been quite frank, not to say vigorous, in expressing his views and he replied “Ah yes, but that was when only the two of us were talking together. This is a very different sort of a conference with three ambassadors present.” I will have an opportunity for such a frank talk with him before I leave here since, believe it or not, he invited me to have “a couple of drinks” and a talk before my final departure.

Have not repeated above to London, Paris or Berlin.

  1. Supra.