740.00119 Council/5–2449: Telegram

The United States Delegation at the Council of Foreign Ministers to President Truman and the Acting Secretary of State


Delsec 1786. For the President and Acting Secretary. Second meeting of CFM with Bevin in chair initiated discussion of first agenda item on problems of German unity including economic and political principles and allied controls without reaching any decisions. Vishinsky spoke at length on what Acheson characterized as “back to Potsdam” set of proposals. Acheson replied with statement further elaborated by Schuman and Bevin pointing out that Potsdam envisaged organization for “initial period” and that Potsdam is neither satisfactory nor appropriate for conditions existing today.

Vishinsky commenced formal discussion by reviewing Potsdam agreement which he cited as basic statement of allied objectives with respect to German unity. Agreement established Control Council as supreme authority in Germany and assigned to Council specific tasks to secure demilitarization, democratization and democratization of Germany. [Page 918] Vishinsky asserted that throughout period of ACC USSR invariably sought fulfillment of these tasks, but it nevertheless proved impossible to reach agreement on all questions. He claimed that US, UK and France had taken lead (in London and Washington agreements, occupation statute and Ruhr authority1) in decisions which are direct violation of four power agreements.

Vishinsky stated that Soviet position on German questions had always been well known, and that Soviet Government reaffirmed its position on these questions. He specifically cited Soviet position on reparations and reaffirmed position which USSR took on Ruhr at Potsdam. His proposals included:

In order to achieve economic and political unity of Germany, it is necessary:
To reestablish activity of Control Council in Germany on former basis as organ called upon to exercise supreme power in Germany;
To reestablish inter-allied Kommandatura of Berlin for coordination of civic measures of administration of Berlin as whole, and for ensuring normal life of Berlin in its entirety.
Considering also that economic and political unity of Germany is impossible of achievement without creation of single German central organ which would be charged with matters of economic and state structure bearing on Germany as whole, it is necessary to recognize following as indispensable:
The creation on basis of German economic organs existing at present time in eastern and western zones of an all German state council.
Restoration of all Berlin Magistrat. Matter of date of elections to all Berlin Magistrat should be referred for consideration to inter-allied Kommandatura of Berlin.2

Acheson pointed out in reply that conditions envisaged in Potsdam no longer existed, and that denazification and democratization provided in Potsdam had largely been accomplished in three Western zones. Four power mechanism had been disrupted by position adopted by Soviets in past, and if Soviet attitude remained same today there was certainly no prospect that we could achieve German unity by return to old agreements. Pie noted that tremendous progress has been made in Western zones and German people are now prepared to take [Page 919] definite steps in self-government. Progress so painfully made in Western zones has also taught us new lessons which must be recognized in any settlement. We must also examine specific issues and conditions on which unity is to be sought; reaffirmation of previous Soviet positions would lead to impossible economic situation and undemocratic political system. In short, Acheson said Soviet position is to go back and try again procedures and institutions which failed so disastrously in past.

Schuman, in supporting Acheson statement, said that common interest still was to move toward unity, but we cannot facilitate this by moving backwards. Big four separated over certain basic issues which old mechanism could not solve. Question now is to determine how we can come together again. Bevin pointed out that UK had always strictly adhered to terms of Potsdam and cited chapter and verse to illustrate point. UK forced take unilateral actions maintain basic economy in its zones when Soviet actions made it impossible to implement result of decisions. Having failed at Moscow and London3 to achieve central German Government, UK went ahead with other Western powers where agreement was possible. Bevin stated that we have now reached certain stage and must take that stage as starting ground. If we begin here it may be possible to reach agreement, but if we go back we merely attempt to ignore all that has happened in past 18 months.

Bevin adjourned meeting without further discussion.4 Next meeting scheduled for 3:30 Wednesday.

Sent Department Delsec 1786, repeated London 329, Berlin 193, Moscow 101.

  1. Documentation relating to the London Conference on Germany February 23–March 6 and April 20–June 7, 1948, including the text of the London Agreements, is in Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ii, chapter i . For the Washington agreements, April 8, including the text of the Occupation Statute, see pp. 177 ff. For the text of the Agreement for the establishment of the International Authority for the Ruhr, agreed December 28, 1948, and signed into force April 28, 1949, in London, see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ii, p. 581.
  2. The Soviet proposal for German Unity, circulated as CFM/P/49/2 revised, is printed on p. 1040.
  3. The references here are to the Fourth Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Moscow March 10–April 24, 1947 and the Fifth Session in London, November 25–December 15, 1947. For documentation relating to these meetings, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. ii, pp. 139 ff. and 676 ff.
  4. In Delsec 1788, May 24, from Paris, not printed, Secretary Acheson advised that the Soviet desire to return to Potsdam and the Central German Economic and Administrative Agency seemed to reveal a desire to recapture a voice in Western Germany particularly in economic affairs. The Secretary also reported that after the meeting the three Western Ministers had agreed to a regular exchange of views on common tactics for subsequent meetings. (740.00119 Council/5–2449)