740.00119 Control (Germany)/8–448

Memorandum by the Counselor of the Department of State ( Bohlen )1

top secret

I think it is of the utmost importance to note that although Stalin receded from his original demand in regard to the suspension of the London decisions concerning the western German Government in connection with the proposed announcement, he makes it entirely clear that such suspension is the objective of the Soviet Government. In fact he states at several points during the interview that unless this is, done there is nothing to be discussed in regard to Germany as a whole and plainly announces the intention of the Soviet Government in such circumstances of setting up a rival German Government in the Eastern zone.

It is interesting to note that although Stalin repeatedly asserts it is not their intention to oust the Allied troops in Berlin, nevertheless the logic of a completely split Germany with two Governments almost forces the Russians to measures to bring this about. Stalin’s statement confirms our previous estimates of Soviet objectives in applying pressure in Berlin, but in a slightly different order of priority:

To bring about the cancellation of the London decisions especially in respect of a western zone Government.
Failing that, rendering our position in Berlin untenable through the establishment of a separate Government for the eastern zone. Although if the announcement2 is made as now proposed the western Allies would in no sense be committed to do anything about halting the putting into effect of the London decisions, Stalin’s strong statement on that point should be a definite warning signal that in any negotiations on Germany, the Soviet Government will insist that these measures be halted pending the outcome of the four power negotiations, and might well be prepared to call off the negotiations on that ground if the Western countries refuse.

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The Russians will have good ammunition from a propaganda point of view for this stand as they would only have to point to the section in the London announcement which states that these measures in the Western zone are not designed to split Germany but would be superseded or incorporated into any all-German settlement.

The question of what to do about the decisions of the London Conference present[s] great difficulty. There will be strong pressure from certain groups in the U.S. and undoubtedly from France as well to suspend these measures for a Western Government pending the outcome of the four power talks and there may well be a two-way split in the Council of Foreign Ministers on this point. On the other hand, to halt these measures because of Soviet insistence would have a very serious effect in Germany, would certainly be violently opposed by General Clay and Ambassador Murphy, and might make their resumption in the event of a probable breakdown of the four-power talks difficult if not impossible.

Mr. Kennan has this question under consideration in the Planning Staff,3 and I am merely writing this memo to emphasize what will probably be the chief initial point in any meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers. It is even probable that before the discussions in Moscow are concluded that Stalin will again revert to the question of suspension of the London decisions in order to establish it more firmly as an implied or understood condition for four power talks even though it is not included in the proposed announcement. It would be wise in the circumstances to supply Ambassador Smith with more guidance on this point in the event Stalin raises it again.

Charles E. Bohlen
  1. This memorandum was addressed to Secretary Marshall, Lovett, Hickerson, and Kennan. It was initialed by the Secretary.
  2. For the text of the announcement under reference here, see telegram 1528, August 5, from Moscow, p. 1016.
  3. The reference is presumably to document PPS 37, p. 1320.