740.00119 Control (Germany)/1–1048: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Holmes) to the Acting Secretary of State

top secret
us urgent

120. Met with Bevin for nearly an hour this evening at his request during which he gave his personal reaction our proposals re Berlin settlement. French not represented.1

Bevin said his expert advice in London and from Berlin was that neutral committee proposals2 workable with appropriate amendment. [Page 651] He said our counter proposals3 were appealing because of simplicity, but seemed to British obviously unacceptable to Soviets. He asked what our intention was, and whether we really wanted a settlement. He dwelt on tactical advantage of taking neutral committee proposals as basis our response and felt counter proposal might enable Soviets place upon Western powers onus of breakdown Security Council efforts. Also, he feared neutral members Security Council might have adverse reactions if we rejected proposals prepared by their experts.

Foregoing expressed in moderate terms. Bevin seemed genuinely puzzled how proceed in view divergent expert opinions from tripartite experts. He expressed hope Massigli, Seal and I could contrive some solution. We promised furnish tomorrow our draft reply4 to neutral committee and experts meeting on this paper scheduled tomorrow afternoon. In regard introduction B mark on January 30, Bevin said British in Berlin had reported that no compelling need existed for currency change-over and that adoption 50–50 plan would greatly ameliorate such difficulties as existed. Bevin complained at being confronted with proposal that he agree definite date as condition our willingness to proceed on counter proposal believing latter subject should be discussed separately and on its merits. He felt that proposed action would also damage position Western powers in Security Council. While these views expressed moderately, believe Bevin firm in opposition to January 30 date.

I reiterated our position including pointing out that our initial desire had been to reject neutral proposals as inapplicable because of present political circumstances and that counter proposal was designed to meet British and French position. Bevin added that response to neutral committee and introduction B mark were but different aspects of same problem. In this connection, I pointed out that our information from Berlin indicated deteriorating situation and need for definitive solution by January 30. With respect my argument that counter proposal was designed to meet split city situation, Bevin countered by saying neutral proposals were equally adaptable this situation.

Dean reported Robertson seemed much embarrassed by delay especially in view Soviet experts attendance same time and we agreed push discussions forward as rapidly as possible in order to meet Friday deadline.

On Bevin’s request, I agreed to report his views to you but emphasized firmness of my instructions and had but no hope that they would [Page 652] be changed. Would appreciate your urgent reply for communication to Bevin. Meanwhile, we will continue energetically to press our views.

Sent Department 120, repeated Paris (for Caffery) 24, Berlin (for Clay and Murphy) 22.

  1. In telegram 79, January 7, from London, not printed, Holmes had reported on two previous meetings with the British and French representatives. Their initial reaction to the United States counterproposal had “not been too unfavorable”, but the idea of currency changeover in Berlin was “coolly” received. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/1–749)
  2. Regarding the neutral committee’s report, see editorial note, p. 643.
  3. Transmitted in telegram WAR 82237, January 4, p. 643.
  4. The text of this draft reply was transmitted in telegram 99, January 9, from London, not printed. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/1–949)