840.00/12–2247: Telegram

The Chargé in London ( Gallman ) to the Secretary of State

top secret   us urgent

6585. Personal for the Secretary. Bevin1 is under considerable pressure from Bidault2 to be furnished with a copy of the record of the talks he had with you on December 17 and 18.3 While Bevin definitely does not want to make a practice of giving records of talks to a third party, he does think that in this instance, in order to make Bidault feel that he is “a member of the club”, a somewhat expurgated account should be given Bidault. Bevin wishes to know whether you “approve his giving Bidault the following expurgated record of these talks:

“December 17. The Secretary of State said that the problem was to decide what we should now do. He had discussed the position with M. Bidault that morning. His own idea was that the problem should not be isolated into a mere quarrel between the western powers and the Soviet Union. The issue, to use a phrase of the American Ambassador’s,4 was where power was going to rest. His own idea was that we must devise some western democratic system comprising the Americans, ourselves, France, Italy etc., and of course the Dominions. This would not be a formal alliance but an understanding backed by power, money and resolute action. It would be a sort of spiritual federation of the west. He knew that formal constitutions existed in the United States and France. He, however, preferred, especially for this purpose, the British conception of unwritten and informal understandings.

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The Secretary of State would have to make a statement in the House of Commons tomorrow (December 18)5 but he would say little about the future and he thought it better that no public pronouncements of future policy should be made until our planners got to work. He himself favored the whole problem of Germany, e.g. frontiers, the three zones, political organization, economic rehabilitation, balance of payments etc., being discussed between British, American and French officials. In considering the future form of German political organization, we must always aim at an eventually united Germany. Then any German irredentist movement for unity would come from the west and not from the east. Although Ave must consider the problem very carefully our reaction should also be quick and resolute.

The Secretary of State said that they would also have to consider the problem of security in which France was even more vitally interested than we were. The essential task was to create confidence in western Europe that further Communist inroads would be stopped. The issue must be definite and clear.

The Secretary of State said that he now felt that the spiritual consolidation of western civilization was possible. The form in which it should be done required more study and nothing would be lost if we spent a few days in discussions between our officials. But there should above all be no public pronouncements about future plans until we had our ideas clear.

Mr. Marshall said that he felt that they must distinguish between the material and spiritual aspects of this program. He had tried to cover the former in his recent speech6 to the Pilgrims dinner on the lines that if those concerned were reasonably sensible, material regeneration should be the outcome of the European recovery program, the purpose of which was the rehabilitation of the European patient. He had no criticism of Mr. Bevin’s general idea. But he thought there should be an understanding as soon as possible on their immediate objectives. He felt that what was already being done on the material plane should now be given greater dignity. But it was not necessary to write everything down in detail. What was needed was a clear understanding. He was very willing to have matters discussed with a view to arriving at such an understanding. Indeed there was no choice in the matter. They had to reach such an understanding. They must take events at the flood stream and produce a coordinated effort.[”]7

[Here follow matters relating specifically to Germany.]

  1. Ernest Bevin, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Georges Bidault, French Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  3. The Chargé was referring here to the Bevin-Marshall conversations in London that followed the closing on December 15 of the London Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers. For documentation on the post-conference talks, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. ii, pp. 811 ff.
  4. Lewis W. Douglas, Ambassador in the United Kingdom.
  5. For text, see Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 1947–48, 5th series, vol. 445, cols. 1874 ff.
  6. An address entitled “Peace and Understanding—The Desire of All Mankind” delivered before the Pilgrims Society in London on December 12, 1947. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, December 21, 1947, p. 1201.
  7. In reply to telegram 6585, Gallman was asked to inform Bevin that the Department had no objection to his showing Bidault the proposed record, provided that he made it clear that the United States record showed that Marshall had indicated during the conversations that he was not definitely approving at that time any particular course of action (telegram 5350, December 24, 840.00/12–2247).