740.00119 Council/6–849

Memorandum by Ambassador Murphy of the United States Delegation at the Council of Foreign Ministers to the Member of the Delegation ( Acheson )


In accordance with your instructions, I attended today the meeting in Frankfurt under the arrangement made by the Western Military [Page 967] Governors for consultation with representative German authorities regarding the current meeting of the CFM.

It was understood with the British and French that we would divide the subject matter—the French discussed the Western proposals regarding Item 1 of the agenda1 and the Soviet proposals regarding Items 1 and 2,2 and I discussed the US proposals regarding Berlin3 and also references to Item 3 of the agenda4 and eventual consideration of a modus vivendi both for Germany and Berlin. General Robertson spoke for the British, Mr. Seydoux for the French. The German representation included Ministers President Altmeier of Rhineland Palatinate, Arnold of North Rhine Westphalia, Brauer of Hamburg and Kopf of Lower Saxony; the President of the Parliamentary Council, Adenauer, the Lord Mayor of Berlin, Reuter, and Deputies Kaiser, Ollenhauer and Schmidt of the Parliamentary Council.

President Adenauer (CDU), in thanking the Allied representatives for the trouble they had taken to explain the Paris position, expressed no surprise regarding failure of the conference to progress toward an agreement on the German problem, pointing out that he understood that in a situation where there was such a basic conflict of ideas, an agreement would be most difficult to achieve.

Mayor Brauer (SPD) of Hamburg expressed the gratification of the German authorities over the thoughtfulness of the Ministers in desiring to keep them informed and requested that an expression of appreciation be conveyed together with the statement that the German authorities had complete confidence that the best interests of Germany were being sustained by the present attitude of the Western Ministers in the Council.

Carlo Schmidt (SPD) stated the opinion that it would be a grave mistake to replace a political agreement on Germany by an economic agreement which might only prove deceptive. He stated the conviction that should such an economic agreement be achieved, it would be only with the Soviet purpose of exploiting it for political advantages and in taking away from the German people in the Soviet Zone counter-values. He asserted that such an agreement could only reduce the German standard of living in the Western Zones and would nullify to a large extent the progress which has been made since currency [Page 968] reform. Both Dr. Adenauer and Schmidt agree that the guiding principle of any economic arrangement should be that nothing should be done to accentuate Soviet dominance of the Eastern Zone. Schmidt emphasized that any exchange of goods would be bound to have both an economic and political aspect and that from an economic point of view it was self-evident that a maximum extension of trade would be desirable. If economic matters only were concerned, the Germans would give such a program full support. However, he said he spoke for the Social Democratic Party belief that the Soviet Union regards economics primarily as a means to a political end. It is unquestionable, he said, that the Soviet Zone is suffering acutely from the counter-blockade and he recommended that the Western Allies be prudent in any action which would surrender such an important weapon of the “cold war.” The net benefit of concession in this regard would be the enhancement of the Soviet AG’s and of direct benefit to the five-year plan.

Jacob Kaiser (CDU) expressed the view that what the Germans had heard from the Allied representatives, while not encouraging, is not, however, a disappointment. The Germans, he said, are happy to note that there has been no surrender of Western ideology and of vital principles to an alien and strange world.

The essence of the German reaction to the several topics discussed seems to be as follows:

All Germans present stated unequivocally that the overwhelming majority of Germans are wholeheartedly behind the position taken at the CFM by the Western Allies on German economic and political unity and on Berlin. The Germans understand that there is an unsolvable blash of principles, that German unity should not be bought at the price of freedom and that our principles should not be compromised for the sake of obtaining a temporary expediency or a modus vivendi.
Regarding Berlin, Reuter emphasized that our proposals are in complete harmony with his ideas and that the Soviet plan would be worse than the situation as it existed prior to the blockade for the reason that:
Internal matters of the City administration did not have to be submitted to the Kommandatura;
dismissals were subject to approval only in case of the police; (e) appointments of City officials were controlled only in accordance with Article 36.
Concerning the strike5 it was felt that it would be highly advisable to settle it if only on a temprorary basis because the strike
embarrasses the Western Ministers;
obscures the situation in that it does not allow us to test the willingness of the Soviets to carry out the New York agreement;
could be settled more easily now while the CFM is in session than after its close. It was stated that even Reuter personally does not favor the strike. The main obstacle will be the recognition by the Soviets of UGO which they cannot do without a severe blow to their prestige.
Concerning elections there is a very strong feeling against accepting trade unions, the Kulturbund and other social organizations as assimilated political parties. The Germans hold that we should not make any concession in this respect.
In matters of East-West trade, the Germans are very reluctant to have any official contact with the economic bodies in Eastern Germany because
the East suffers more under the counter-blockade than the West;
the Soviets would use the exchange of goods for political purposes;
goods sent from the West would not go to the Germans but to the Soviets although the Germans would have to pay the price for the goods and thereby further reduce their standard of living;
any negotiation with the German economic commission would imply a political recognition of this Soviet body which would be fatal;
trade with the East would lead to a strengthening of the Soviets in Eastern Germany which must be avoided.
In the matter of the peace treaty, it was felt that the Germans understand that there cannot be a peace treaty discussion as long as there is no German unity or a government for all of Germany. The treaty should be negotiated with a German government. It would be well, in this connection, to put the question to the Soviets whether they still stick to the Oder-Neisse line. That is uppermost in the minds of all Germans irrespective of political opinion.

In an informal conversation with the leaders of the CDU and SPD Parties, I made several inquiries regarding the progress toward early elections for the German Federal Republic and was informed that the Ministers present are meeting on June 10 at which time it is believed that a date for the elections will be decided. The Social Democrats denied that they were seeking undue delay in the election for tactical party reasons and that undoubtedly their party would be willing to agree to elections around the first of August. The CDU position is that the elections should be held on July 17. I believe that some compromise date possibly at the end of July will be agreed.

I also had opportunity to discuss with Mayor Reuter the question of the Berlin railway strike. He is fully conscious of our desire to [Page 970] see this strike terminated at the earliest possible moment and I informed him of our desire to be helpful if possible in any arrangement that could be made for the payment to the railway workers of 100% of their wages in D marks. As the Reichsbahn direction has already agreed to a payment of 60% of the wages in D marks, some arrangement for a limited period, possibly two months, could be financed by the Magistrat if the terms of the financial provision could be worked out. General Robertson has instructions to do his utmost to promote a settlement and he told me that he intended to have conversations about the matter in Berlin tomorrow. Mr. Dorr also discussed this question with General Hays, urging that every effort be made to find a respectable basis for an early solution.

  1. The reference here is to CFM/P/49/3, German Unity Including Economic Principles, p. 1041.
  2. For the texts of the Soviet proposals on German Unity and the Berlin question, see CFM/P/49/2 (revised) and CFM/P/49/20, pp. 1040 and 1048; and the minutes of 12th (2nd restricted) meeting of the Council June 4, p. 549.
  3. For the United States proposals on Berlin, see Delsec 1839, June 2, from Paris, p. 943, CFM/P/49/18, p. 1044, and CFM/P/49/19, p. 1046.
  4. The preparation of a Peace Treaty with Germany.
  5. For documentation relating to the Berlin railroad strike, see pp. 840 ff.