740.00119 Council/5–2649: Telegram

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


Delsec 1797. For President and Acting Secretary. In fourth meeting of CFM Western Ministers at suggestion of Acheson as chairman sought without success to move from discussion of general principles of German unity to elaboration of specific economic and political questions involved. They heard instead restatement of previous Soviet proposal, strong reaffirmation of principle of unanimity, critical analysis of Washington agreements,1 and mass of statistics designed to show that economic situation in Eastern zone better than in Western, and finally sharp exchange between Bevin and Vishinsky on validity of Soviet statistics and arguments.

In response to direct questions from Schuman, Vishinsky first restated Soviet position for establishment All German States Council as follows: (1) economic and political unity impossible without creation of single central German organ; (2) functions of this body to be determined in accord with decision on matters to be placed within competence of AGSC and these functions to be carried out for all Germany; (3) AGSC to be established on basis of economic organs now existing in Western and Eastern Germany, which is only basis now in existence on which to build; (4) AGSC must have real governmental character with supreme powers reserved to Allied Control body. Vishinsky stated that Soviet proposal proceeded from principle that in East and West there are now organs engaged in economic matters and these can be coordinated in AGSC to handle economic questions for all Germany. Soviet proposal also complies with concept of allowing Germans to handle their own affairs.

Acheson, noting that Soviet proposal concerned entirely with machinery and not with substance, criticized Vishinsky presentation on grounds (1) Vishinsky ignored Basic Law for Western Germany2 in saying economic bodies were only thing on which to build unity and (2) formation of AGSC could not be constructive step as claimed by [Page 924] Vishinsky if placed under unanimity rule of ACC. He pointed out that Western powers have expended large sums of money and great effort in developing sound economy in Western Germany. They must know in regard to certain specific economic and political questions what is going to happen to this system before getting into discussion of control mechanisms. Acheson believed Vishinsky in effect was urging course which no reasonably prudent man would follow.

Schuman stated that Soviet proposal, which fails to consider many basic facts, is neither logical nor sound. He said that Vishinsky recommends that CFM build roof without constructing walls, and that he was presenting roof which looked great deal more like veil.

Bevin added that he was quite willing to contemplate quadripartite control but only when he knows situation to be controlled. He desired to examine some of specific problems like reparations before analyzing system of control.

Vishinsky replied by repudiating approach that foundation had to be laid before control mechanism could be established.

He noted that Bevin at third meeting had set forth principle that it was only necessary to establish proper mechanism of control and leave rest to Germans. If CFM agrees to this, Vishinsky felt good start had been made. But examination of Washington agreements suggested to him that Western powers had far more in mind than just security controls in flatly rejecting any use of majority rule in dealings between sovereign nations. Vishinsky pointed out that principle of unanimity specifically recognized in Washington agreement.

He also said Washington agreement set up what he called principle of mononimity, with voting strength based on monetary contributions. USSR could not accept mononimity but insisted on unanimity. He indicated however that USSR was prepared to examine question of whether functions of ACC as drawn up four years ago needed to be somewhat modified by conceding some ACC functions to the German organ. Vishinsky then offered set of statistics designed to show that favorable presentation of economic situation in Western zones was not fair picture and that situation in Eastern zones was vastly superior. Session concluded with exchange between Bevin and Vishinsky over accuracy of Soviet statistics, Vishinsky’s quotation from Bevin at third meeting out of context and [as was?] Soviet interpretation of Washington accord. Acheson thanked Vishinsky for discussing an economic question and invited him to return to question of reparations tomorrow. Vishinsky evaded any commitment to discuss this issue.

At beginning of meeting in response to inquiry by Acheson, Vishinsky assured CFM that Soviet Austrian deputy would be in Paris by 28 or 29 and probably former. Western Ministers stated their deputies now present and ready for work.

[Page 925]

Next meeting 3:30 Friday.

Sent Department Delsec 1797, repeated London 335, Berlin 197, Moscow 104, USPolAd Heidelberg 4.

  1. Under reference here are the agreements signed April 8 in Washington by the Ministers of the three Western Powers with regard to the status of their zones in Germany. For the texts of these agreements and related documentation, see pp. 156 ff.
  2. For a translation of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, adopted and promulgated on May 23 by the Parliamentary Council at Bonn, see Germany 1947–1949, pp. 283–305.