740.00119 Control (Germany)/4–2049

Memorandum of Conversation, by the United States Ambassador at Large ( Jessup )

top secret

Participants: Sir Alexander Cadogan, United Kingdom Delegation
M. Chauvel, French Delegation
Dr. Philip C. Jessup, U.S. Ambassador at Large

Sir Alexander Cadogan and M. Chauvel called at my office this afternoon to exchange information regarding the views of Mr. Bevin and M. Schuman on the draft of a possible statement to be communicated to Malik.1

[Page 725]

Cadogan summarized a telegram from Mr. Bevin along the following lines. Mr. Bevin realizes the risks to our plans for a Western German Government involved in conducting negotiations with the Russians in the next few weeks or months. On the other hand, he is anxious to reach a settlement with the Russians if that is possible. He agrees that at some stage a written document is desirable but he does not wish the Russians to be able to pin us down before they themselves are committed. Therefore, he does not wish anything given to the Russians in writing until they have committed themselves. If we give them a paper, they would come back with amendments and counter-suggestions and we would lose our advantage. We must always keep in mind the effect of various steps on the proceedings at Bonn.2 The Russians will claim that by agreeing to a CFM in exchange for the lifting of the blockade, we are morally committed not to establish the Western German Government while the CFM is in session. They will use this as propaganda in Germany and will hold up our plans. We would lose the confidence of the Germans not only in Western Germany but throughout all of Germany and we would find ourselves back in the position of frustration which followed the period of Potsdam. Our experience in Moscow last summer should be a warning to us.3 The best plan would be to continue the oral exchanges with Malik with a view to inducing the Russians to come out with a written proposal. We should try to reach a clear agreement on both sides which could be committed to paper. Bevin would like to have Cadogan and Chauvel associated with Jessup in any further talks with Malik. In these talks attempt should be made to: (1) Find out when and how the Russians are prepared to lift the blockade; (2) The details for the lifting of our counter-blockade measures; and (3) The date for the CFM. If Malik makes it a condition that we should not carry on with our Western German Government plans, we must make clear that we will not make any such commitment and if such a commitment is insisted upon, we would have to break off the conversations. The procedure along the above lines would be much safer and would produce better results. Regarding the plan for a four-power letter to the President of the Security Council, Bevin is opposed to bringing the President of the Security Council into this matter at all, at least at this stage. This would complicate reaching the informal agreement which is necessary. The foregoing represent Bevin’s present views. We must bear in mind that the whole object of the Soviet maneuver is to block [Page 726] the Western German Government. Thus the Bonn talks are crucial. Bevin cannot agree on any further move with the Russians at least until we have delivered the message of the Foreign Ministers4 to the Germans and secured a firm basis of agreement between the military governors and the Parliamentary Council at the meeting projected for April 25.

In discussing this telegram from Bevin, Cadogan rather agreed that on the four-power communication to the President of the Security Council, Bevin did not seem to understand that we did not contemplate sending such a communication until all points have been agreed upon. Cadogan said that it was clear Bevin still felt it very important that we should have the Russians take the initiative.

Chauvel read a telegram from M. Schuman which was substantially as follows. M. Schuman thinks it is preferable to give Malik an aide-mémoire in order to make our position precise. (Chauvel interposed to say that he had suggested to Schuman that this precision should be attained as soon as possible because of all of the current publicity. He remarked that the Paris papers are now full of this matter.) Schuman continued to say that the American draft of a possible statement to Malik is on the whole satisfactory and ought to contribute to reaching the desired results. However, he wished to make a reservation in regard to paragraph 6. M. Schuman would prefer to have this paragraph read as follows: “On the other hand, neither the continuation of the preparations for the establishment of a Western German Government nor the establishment of the Western German Government itself will preclude any agreement arrived at by the four powers on a government for all Germany.”

Schuman fears that there might be some misunderstanding which would be made use of by Soviet propaganda. He thinks that one possibility would be to have paragraphs 6 and 7 conveyed orally to Malik and not included in the written statement which would be left with him. If paragraph 6 is retained in the statement, he would like to omit the word “contravene.” He thinks it is hard to say in advance that the establishment of a Western German Government would not contravene some theoretical agreement which we might subsequently make with the Russians. If paragraph 7 is retained in the draft, he prefers our original text to the slight modification which Chauvel had suggested at our last meeting and which he had telegraphed to Schuman. He thinks that the existing text of paragraph 7 is useful in that it enables the Russians to see that they can start a meeting of the CFM [Page 727] but that they cannot prolong it for too long a time. Returning to the question of paragraph 6, Schuman made the following points:


There might be a contradiction between the continuation of preparations for the establishment of the Western German Government and a possible agreement with the Russians in that the nature of the government agreed upon with the Russians might be different from that now contemplated for Western Germany.

The incompatibility between the Western German Government and any agreement with the Russians might arise from action which the Germans themselves will take either in the forming of their basic law or in the course of their elections. We might be put in the position of either having to reject an agreement with the Soviets or having to withdraw from a promise we had made to the Germans. He wishes to avoid the possibility of such a dilemma. He therefore thinks that it is necessary to explain orally to Malik the exact steps which are involved in the establishment of the Western German Government including the approval of the basic law, its ratification, the elections, etc. The Russians should understand exactly what is involved.

We might agree that in approving the basic law we should make it clear to the Germans that in so doing we are not taking a step for the perpetual partition of Germany but always leave open the possibility of necessary adjustments in case agreement is reached on Germany on [as?] a whole. Schuman accepts the idea of eventual announcement through a four power letter to the President of the Security Council. Schuman then suggested that meetings of the representatives of the four governments should be held in New York to arrange the formal details and informed Chauvel that he would be prepared to send an expert to help with the details as soon as Chauvel tells him the time has come. (Chauvel commented that he thought this indicated that Schuman thought that the matter had perhaps proceeded further toward a final agreement than was actually the case.)

In a general exchange of views on the two foregoing communications, it was apparent that the French feel that particularly in view of the current publicity, it is desirable to move forward as rapidly as possible at least with the next steps of some further communication to Malik. After Sir Alexander left, Chauvel lingered a moment and commented on the fact that he thought that Bevin was taking a position of delaying the whole matter, which he thought was not in accord with the views of his government. In the conversation with Cadogan, Chauvel and I both noted that if no further statement was made to Malik until after the conditions mentioned by Bevin were met, we might have to reconsider the dates and time periods previously contemplated. For example, three of the “five or six weeks” which we mentioned on April 5 as a measure of the “reasonably near future” would have been used up.

Chauvel stated rather strongly his view that it would be a mistake for him and Cadogan to go with me on the occasion of the next communication [Page 728] to Malik. He said that this would really mean that we had embarked on the formal negotiations. He thought the Russians would interpret it as meaning that we had definitely decided to go ahead with the CFM and that it would weaken our bargaining position. I expressed agreement with this point of view and Cadogan seemed to think this was a consideration which had not occurred to Bevin.

In summarizing the situation, we three were agreed that the important points now to be cleared up were first, the definition of the restrictions to be lifted and second, the clarification of our firm resolve not to make any pledge about postponing the establishment of the Western German Government during a meeting of the CFM. We were agreed that if these two points were cleared up, that it would then be possible to move forward probably in four-cornered conversations to actually set the dates and to agree on the agenda.

Cadogan said that he would get off a telegram to Bevin tonight and would probably have some reply tomorrow. He seemed to think that several of Bevin’s statements were based on some slight misunderstanding of the status of the Malik talks and the plans for any further approach. Chauvel said that he would give to Cadogan and to me in the morning a written summary of Schuman’s telegram which he had read to us in French. He showed me the telegram however so that I could check my notes on what he had read. We agreed that if further word had come from London, we would meet again tomorrow afternoon. Chauvel told me privately that he thought he did not need to send any further telegram to Paris. He seemed to think that so far as the French were concerned there were no particular points of difference which could not be readily handled.5

  1. Ante, p. 720.
  2. For documentation on the deliberations of the Bonn Parliamentary Council concerning the Basic Law, see pp. 187 ff.
  3. Documentation regarding the four-power discussions of the Berlin question at Moscow during August and September, 1948, is in Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ii, pp. 995 ff.
  4. For the text of the Western Foreign Ministers’ message, see p. 186
  5. In two subsequent meetings, the first between Jessup and Cadogan, the second also including Chauvel, the three Western Powers were unable to agree on the tactics to be followed in the conversations with Malik. Chauvel continued to agree generally with the United States approach while Cadogan expressed Bevin’s apprehension of moving ahead too rapidly and jeopardizing the deliberations of the Bonn Parliamentary Council. Memoranda of these two meetings, not printed, are in file 740.00119 Control (Germany)/4–2149 and 2349.