740.00119 Council/5–1149: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom


1605. Personal for the Amb from the Secretary. In our preparations for the forthcoming meeting of the CFM I have been meeting daily with my advisers in the Dept and discussing all aspects of the problems which we will face. Yesterday, largely to clarify my own thinking, I dictated the following outline of the problem as I see it. It has occurred to me that it might be useful if you gave Mr. Bevin a copy of this outline adding, of course, that we shall be glad to fully discuss in advance of the meeting, with the British and French, the position which the Western Powers will take in the CFM. A similar telegram is being sent to Paris.1

An Approach to the CFM

Our major premise is that our concern is with the future of Europe and not with Germany as a problem by itself. We are concerned [Page 873] with the integration of Germany into a free and democratic Europe. We have made and are making progress to this end with the part of Germany which we control and we shall not jeopardize this progress by seeking a unified Germany as in itself good. If we can integrate a greater part of Germany than we now control under conditions which help and do not retard what we are now doing, we favor that; but, only if the circumstances are right.
Just as the unification of Germany is not an end in itself, so the division of Germany is not an end in itself. If, for instance, Russian troops were unilaterally withdrawn, we would not attempt—as an end in itself—by force to keep Eastern and Western Germany apart. Again the test is whether the unification can be achieved under conditions which help and do not retard the unification of free Europe.
Similarly, the presence of Russian troops in East Germany is not desirable. It is undesirable. So we do not seek to have these troops remain because their presence insures a divided Germany. We seek to have these troops withdraw as far as possible, and we seek to have rights of passage and the presence of Soviet troops in satellite states ended.
Here again the price which may be asked for the withdrawal of Russian troops may well be too high. The withdrawal of American and British troops from Germany would be too high a price. The net result of the withdrawal of all troops from Germany would do harm to our objectives and to the progress we have made toward them. So such a proposal would not be accepted, regardless of the propaganda consequences. The task would be to minimize and possibly reverse the propaganda advantage.
A possible regrouping of troops which would have the effect of removing Russian troops eastward and possibly ending their presence in and passage through the Eastern European countries may have important advantages. It deserves the most careful study. It is essential to any further unification of Germany and of Germany with the West.
The consideration of the timing of any further progress is important. A good opportunity, if it occurs, should not be rejected because a better one might come. Also it is true that unsound concessions should not be made because of the fear that the present time is the best and must be seized at high cost.
No outcome—even a good one—is free from objection. Any decision will have some dangers. But this is not a reason for avoiding decisions.
The chances seem to favor an outcome of the meeting which does not go beyond a modus vivendi on Berlin and on an East and West Germany, and an easing of tension. This result we can contemplate without alarm. Our hope and purpose would be to accomplish more. It would not be our purpose to conduct the negotiations to prevent more from being accomplished, if more could be accomplished in accordance with the safeguards outlined above.
One further word. By safeguards, we do not mean paper assurances. Any Four Power plan to be operable must operate as automatically as possible. It must have no room for Russian opposition to stop [Page 874] the machinery. It must not be predicated upon the necessity for or assumption of Russian goodwill and cooperation.”2

  1. Telegram 1539, May 11, not printed (740.00119 Council/5–1149).
  2. “An Approach to the CFM” was circulated by Secretary Acheson at a meeting in his office on May 10, attended by Jessup, Murphy, Rusk, Kennan, Bohlen, Bruce, Hickerson, and Beam, at which it was decided to cable the text to Bevin and Schuman as an indication of United States policy. (Memorandum of conversation, May 10, not printed (740.00119 Council/5–1049)) On May 12 at a similar meeting Acheson reported that the paper had been approved by President Truman and the Cabinet. (Memorandum of Conversation, May 12, not printed, 740.00119 Council/5–1249)