740.00119 Control (Germany)/5–549

The British Embassy to the Department of State, Transmitting the Substance of a Telegram From the British Foreign Office, Dated May 2, 19491

top secret

It would be wrong and dangerous to assume that Russia’s long-term policy had changed or that she is no longer working for the communisation of all Germany as agreed with the satellite governments in the Warsaw communiqué of June, 1948.2 As a safeguard against Soviet manoeuvres during the coming negotiations we would do well to keep continually in mind that, after losing an important battle—but only a battle—in Germany, Russia is now suing for an armistice in order to gain time though not yet for peace. It seems, therefore, important to ensure that any Soviet offer which may now materialise is regarded by the press and public opinion with the utmost circumspection even if the Berlin blockade is lifted.

The Foreign Office is engaged in a careful examination of the whole German problem, and it would be most helpful if they could receive as early as possible some indication of the State Department’s views. The Foreign Office feels that the principal difficulty is to decide whether the time is yet ripe to press for the re-unification of Germany. We are committed to such unification. We cannot therefore publicly oppose it. But we and the United States Government are both also committed to the establishment of a democratic government in Germany. It seems, therefore, of vital importance, particularly after what has happened in Eastern Europe, that unification should only take place if we can ensure the establishment and maintenance of the necessary safeguards. Assuming that these safeguards could be formulated on paper, it is difficult at present to see how the Russians could be expected to accept them or, if they did so, how we could possibly ensure their full implementation throughout Germany. A more practical short-term objective might therefore be an interim arrangement providing for the raising of the blockade and, a considerable relaxation [Page 864] of the line of division between the Eastern Zone and the Western Zones. Then, while the two parts would remain under separate administrations, the Germans would be given the opportunity of working out over a period of time the conditions in which their country could be effectively unified. We should, however, have to be careful not to allow such a plan to be presented as a deliberate attempt to split Germany.

On the other hand, it is possible that the Soviet Government may accept the Bonn constitution and our occupation statute3 as a basis for a unified Germany. In any event, the Russians, who have exercised themselves to prevent the incorporation of Western Germany in a western system, will surely a fortiori object to the incorporation of a unified Germany. Consequently, they will reject E.R.P. and German membership of the Council of Europe. This may be the crux.

  1. Attached to the source text was a memorandum from Jessup stating that Hoyer Millar had left it with him on May 5. The memorandum was initialed by Secretary Acheson.
  2. For the text of this communiqué, see Ruhm von Oppen, Documents on Germany, pp. 300–307.
  3. Ante, p. 179.