740.00119 Control (Germany)/3–1749

Record of a Meeting in the Department of State on the JessupMalik Conversation1

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no distribution

Present: Messrs. Webb, Jessup, Rusk, Bohlen, Murphy, Knapp

Mr. Webb opened the discussion by stressing the prospective budget deficit. He said there might be some question as to whether we had sufficient dollars to carry out the commitments we have already made. In this frame of reference he wanted to explore the possibility of settling the question of Berlin and the airlift.

Mr. Bohlen explained that the Malik approach to Dr. Jessup is customary Soviet indirection and the standard operating procedure with them. He said that the Malik statement meant that the Soviet Union has shifted from one foot to the other—currency to postponement of the creation of the Western German Government.2 He said that if we want to get the blockade lifted because of the cost of the [Page 699] airlift (dollars and planes committed), Malik’s approach should not be overlooked.

Mr. Bohlen and Mr. Murphy agreed that we have some maneuverability on the question of when the creation of the Western German Government is set in motion. Mr. Rusk pointed out that there was a time, before the airlift was proved successful, when the existence of the blockade was a disadvantage in any negotiations with the Soviets. However, now that the North Atlantic Pact had been agreed upon and the airlift had run through the winter and could continue indefinitely, the situation regarding future negotiations was changed.

Dr. Jessup pointed out that we could publicly state that since the Soviet blockade of our zone in Berlin had completely failed, we could now negotiate since the attempt at duress had failed.

Mr. Murphy indicated that since the Soviets are being hurt in Germany and although their ultimate objective of controlling all of Germany is not changed, they are now eager to talk with us about Germany.

Mr. Bohlen stated that it was a question of judgment as to whether to take the initiative while the Soviets want to talk, but he pointed out that once discussions were begun it would be difficult to break them off if the Russians were still unwilling to accept a reasonable solution. This results in reducing our control of the situation to the extent that we would be hindered in making major changes now planned during the time that any discussions were in progress or until they could be broken off without giving the Soviets propaganda material.

Mr. Bohlen said that we could tell the Soviets that we cannot alter our program for Western Germany but that we would hold off establishing a Western German Government for a certain period of time during which the CFM would meet to see if agreement could be reached on the entire German problem. No commitment would be made as to our future actions if the CFM meetings did not change the present situation. In explaining and obtaining the agreement of the British and the French to this proposal we would obtain an ironclad agreement that if the CFM discussions did not change the situation the Western German Government would be established at once.

The consensus of the group was, at this stage, that

Cadogan and Chauvel would be informally told, for their information, parts of Dr. Jessup’s conversation with Mr. Malik;2
Recommendations drawn up by Ambassador Jessup, Ambassador Murphy and Mr. Bohlen3 would be sent to the Secretary for his approval concerning the proposals discussed above;
If agreement were reached on the [them], the French and British would be informed of our plan;
Dr. Jessup would then talk to Malik;
If the Soviets reacted favorably, we would be prepared, after Kennan’s return from Germany4 and our German policy was reviewed, to take part in the CFM meeting as early as April;
After lifting the blockade and counter-blockade, trade relations of the Western zones with the (Soviet zone would be handled as they were prior to the Soviet blockade.

  1. The record of this meeting, which was held at noon, was prepared by the assistant director of the Executive Secretariat, Bromley K. Smith. At the Secretary’s daily meeting during the morning. Rusk had reported on the informal exchange between Jessup and Malik in New York. Bohlen felt that such a contact might be useful, and it was decided that a special meeting should be held at noon in the Under Secretary’s office to consider what step should be taken next. (Minutes of the Secretary’s Daily Meetings: Lot 58 D 609: Box 22)
  2. For documentation relating to the establishment of the West German Government, see pp. 187 ff.
  3. Following the meeting Jessup telephoned John C. Ross, the United States Alternate Representative at the United Nations, who informed Sir Terence Shone and Ambassador Chauvel of the casual nature of the approach to Malik and the desire of the United States “… to smoke out the Russians on this point.” Memorandum of Conversation, March 17, not printed, CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 140: Malik Conversations, 1949.
  4. On March 18 Jessup drew up the recommendations under reference here in which he concluded that the United States should be prepared to lift its restrictions on trade in return for an end to the blockade, that the establishment of the West German Government should not be postponed pending or during a Council of Foreign Ministers, and that the British and French should be kept informed of the course of the conversations with Malik. (CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 140: JessupMalik Conversations)
  5. Under reference here is George Kennan’s trip to Germany in March 1949. For a description of this trip, see p. 113 and Kennan, Memoirs, pp. 429–441.