740.00119 Control (Germany)/3–949

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Director of the Office of German and Austrian Affairs ( Murphy )


Participants: The Secretary
The Under Secretary
Assistant Secretary Dean Rusk
Mr. Murphy
Mr. Kennan

Mr. Kennan opened the conversation by reviewing briefly the policy paper regarding Germany, dated March 8th.1 He referred also to the conversation in the Policy Group of the same date, stating that he deferred to the opinions expressed by those directly concerned with operations in Germany to the effect that it was too late for the U.S. to change its position regarding the establishment of a Western German government. He still felt that there is merit in the recommendation he offered for the creation of a provisional German administration in lieu of a formal governmental structure.

The Secretary said that he was sorry to hear Mr. Kennan say this because he had been almost persuaded by the cogency of Mr. Kennan’s argument, except that he did not quite follow the conclusion arrived at or understand how the proposed solution would work. The Secretary indicated that he did not understand either how we ever arrived at the decision to see established a Western German government or State. He wondered whether this had not rather been the brainchild of General Clay and not a governmental decision. Mr. Murphy reviewed the developments leading to the London Agreement of June 1, 1948,2 suggesting that it was necessary to recapture the atmosphere resulting from the breakdown of the efforts made in the Council of Foreign Ministers to achieve Four-Power Agreement. He pointed out that the London Agreement, which was negotiated over a period of [Page 103] three months in the spring of 1948, provided the decision to authorize the Germans to establish a proper German government reserving certain powers in the form of the Occupation Statute. In his opinion, this was definitely a governmental decision and not one made locally by an Army commander. He had understood that this met with General Marshall’s full concurrence.

The Secretary said that in exploring the German question, it occurred to him that conceivably the President might ask what we would do if the Soviet Union indicated a desire to lift the blockade and to discuss the German problem, providing the establishment of the Western German government would be deferred. Could we then enter into discussions regarding Germany with any hope of success, and if so what would be the subjects we would discuss.

Mr. Murphy referred to the history of our negotiations on a Four-Power basis including the decisions arrived at at Potsdam, mentioning the issues of German economic unity, the operation of political parties on a democratic basis, free trades unions, eventual troop withdrawal, and a peace settlement.

The Secretary expressed concern regarding the prolonged period of tension at Berlin and our desire to find a solution.

There was a brief discussion of Mr. Kennan’s forthcoming trip to Germany. The Secretary indicated that he wished to defer decision on German policy until after Mr. Kennan’s return and report.

Mr. Murphy asked for the Secretary’s view regarding the suggested Three-Power conference on German problems pointing out that the presence in Washington about April 4th, incident to the North Atlantic Pact, of Messrs. Bevin and Schuman would undoubtedly provide an excellent opportunity for private and informal discussions of features of the German problem. He thought that a full-dress Three-Power conference would hardly be necessary under the circumstances as we seem to be making substantial progress in the current London discussions of the occupation statutes and the principles of trizonal fusion.3 Other conversations are in the course regarding the Humphrey Committee Report on reparations and prohibited and restricted industries.4 If these turn out satisfactory, there will hardly be sufficient material to justify a full-dress Three Power conference. With this the Secretary seemed to agree, saying that he offhand saw no reason for such a formal meeting. The Secretary indicated that there should be some preparatory work done so that when the time came he would know what definitive positions to take. Presumably there would also [Page 104] be discussions on a lower echelon if the British and French representatives came to Washington.

It was also understood that Mr. Kennan would withdraw from the Steering Committee of the National Security Council and that this activity would be undertaken by Mr. Murphy.

Mr. Webb brought up the matter of the relationship between State and Army and expressed a desire to leave no stone unturned to achieve complete harmony between the Department in respect to German occupational problems. The Secretary indicated in that connection that he was not interested immediately in an arrangement for direct communication to the U.S. Military Governor in Germany until he has firmly decided the policy line which he will recommend to the President. At that time he said that he would go to the President for authorization to communicate directly with the Military Governor on policy matters. There was a short discussion of the eventual successor to General Clay. Mr. Webb indicated in that connection some reservations regarding the desirability of the appointment of General Clark rather than some other general officer. He said he had discussed this matter with Secretary Royall.

As a result of this conversation it was understood that:

Kennan is to bring back up-to-date information and his personal appraisal of the present situation to form the basis for long-range policy. Since it does appear that we have probably moved so far with the program for the establishment of a Western German government that it is not possible to now consider a provisional German administration in lieu thereof, the basic ideas incorporated in the Kennan policy paper regarding Germany, dated March 8, should be considered in connection with the formation of a Western German government. Kennan will explore the possibility of so handling the Western German government as to orient it toward a European point of view rather than a nationalistic point of view.
Mr. Murphy is to replace Mr. Kennan on the Steering Committee of the NSC and in that capacity, as well as his capacity as head of the Office of German and Austrian Affairs, is to have authority and responsibility to settle the immediate operating problems. Questions relating to the transfer of the U. S. Military Government to the responsibility of the State Department would be deferred for the time being. He is to address himself to those problems requiring inter-governmental conferences for solution and will prepare as rapidly as possible material including a tentative agenda which will be useful to the Secretary when he meets with the Foreign Ministers in Washington about April 4. He is to drive ahead toward the establishment of a departmental position on all matters regarding Germany which might be discussed by the Ministers or on the technical level.
Mr. Murphy is also to do the preparatory work to determine what we would wish to accomplish at a Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting should one be called in connection with the German problem. Also, he is to prepare an estimate of the Russian position as it might eventuate at such a meeting.
In the background of the above work must be ever present the Secretary’s desire to find some way to seek a real solution of the Berlin situation, if possible.

  1. Supra.
  2. For the text of the Report of the London Conference on Germany, June 1, 1948, see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ii, p. 191.
  3. For documentation on the negotiations on the occupation statute and principles of the trizonal fusion, see pp. 1 ff.
  4. For documentation relating to the negotiations concerning the Humphrey Committee Report and prohibited and restricted industries, see pp. 546 ff.