740.00119 Control (Germany)/4–2549: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Douglas) to the Secretary of State

top secret
us urgent

1582. Eyes Only for the Secretary. ReDeptel 1394, April 25.1 Holmes saw Bevin 7:30 this evening. Bevin said that the decision requested of him was of such very great importance that it required consultation with members of his staff tonight and with the Prime Minister tomorrow before he could give an answer. He expressed great fears that to continue what he described as “our initiative” would play into Soviet hands. He felt that the Russians were anxious to get a partial agreement from us and then use the usual StalinMalik tactics “to tear us to pieces”. He said that if we were not extremely cautious we run the risk of losing Germany and that he would like to see Bonn in his pocket before talking to the Russians. He believed that the principal object of the Soviet was to produce a détente in the hope of preventing ratification of the Atlantic Pact by continental countries and that in the light of the slight depression in the US and difficulties with appropriations to forestall at least appropriation of funds for MAP. He felt that it was far more dangerous to continue informal JessupMalik talks than to risk public offer from the Russians.

Bevin was in a depressed and discouraged mood resulting to some extent at least from his concern over the shelling of British warships [Page 731] in China. He said on several occasions “China is lost and we have to face the Yangtse matter in Parliament tomorrow. What a day to make approaches to the Russians.”

All the arguments contained in reftel were put as strongly as possible but without much success. Holmes suggested that Bevin agree that Jessup should arrange for a meeting with Malik on Wednesday which would give us time to decide what Jessup were to say. This Bevin declined to do without consultation with his staff and Prime Minister. He has summoned Strang and Dean with all the papers to his home later tonight. We shall renew our efforts tomorrow.2

To understand Bevin’s mood and attitude you should know that he was critical of Jessup’s initiative and eagerness.

He was almost violent in his comment on “Evatt’s meddling”.

  1. A draft of this telegram is printed supra.
  2. In telegram 1584, April 26, 11 p. m., from London, not printed, Douglas reported that after consultation with his staff Bevin was sending instructions to Franks agreeing to the approach to Malik on April 27 and promised to cable his suggestions regarding the statement to be read to Malik. Bevin’s decision was strongly influenced by the announcement that evening of the agreement on the Basic Law. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/4–2549)