740.00119 Control (Germany)/3–3149

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State 2

top secret
Participants: The Secretary Others Present:
Mr. Bevin Mr. Beam
Sir Oliver Franks Mr. Barclay
Dr. Jessup
Mr. Murphy


[Here follows a discussion of the JessupMalik conversations on Berlin. Regarding these conversations, see pages 694751.]

I hoped we could clear up many German problems in our talks with Mr. Schuman. After the conversations with Schuman and François-Poncet in Paris, Mr. Kennan had the feeling the French may go a considerable way toward an improvement in Military Government relationships with the Germans. We might be able to move toward the Austrian example under which the Allies would exercise very few powers and the German government would have wide freedom of action unless its decisions were unanimously disapproved. Such an arrangement would greatly reduce friction in such matters as the US preponderant voice in financial questions, and it would furnish us with a strong basis on which to deal with the Soviets.

Mr. Bevin said the French will be strongly influenced by the Pact3 and can be expected to continue with the improvement manifest since ERP. Schuman has an entirely different point of view toward the Germans and is trying to bury past enmities. Mr. Bevin thought Ave should move carefully. While we would like to end the blockade, the airlift is a great joint US–UK venture and he would not like to let this venture go by the board without considering the consequences. Mr. Bevin said he will think this over and will let me know later.

Mr. Bevin said he had been considering another approach. The Soviets may wish to negotiate a settlement so that they can get out of Europe and go home. Recently they have been unhappy in their contacts with Western Europe. Maybe we should tell them we are ready to discuss in a CFM all European questions, such as Austria, Trieste, our rights under the Balkan treaties, etc. Given our solidarity under [Page 157] the Atlantic Pact we would be in a good position to enter into negotiations and the Soviets might seize the opportunity to clear up Europe. We should make it clear our quarrel with the Soviets relates to all of Europe and not only Germany. Mr. Bevin continued that if the Soviets withdraw from Europe, they will want us to do so also, but this would frighten the European population. I mentioned the possibility of a sort of peripheral withdrawal from Germany which would ease the Berlin situation.

Mr. Bevin said he had thought about this a year ago, particularly when the French were putting pressure on him, urging that the Western Allies abandon Berlin. He had never seriously considered this possibility.

I agreed with Mr. Bevin that we cannot leave Berlin under present conditions because of the disastrous effect on Europe and our obligations to the Berlin populace. The President had approved this position.

Mr. Bevin continued that if we take the initiative for negotiations, this would be a Soviet victory. It would have a weakening propaganda effect, particularly in India and among the Eastern peoples. We should not beg the Soviets for negotiations, although there was no objection to their taking place by mutual arrangement. They must take the first action, otherwise they score.

I mentioned Dr. Jessup’s suggestion that the President of the Security Council address a letter to the parties of the dispute, proposing that the Soviets lift the blockade and that a CFM meeting be held thereafter. It would be a proper form of good offices, since the Security Council has hitherto attempted mediation.

Mr. Bevin said he would like to think about this suggestion.

Mr. Bevin then dealt with several specific German questions. He said that the powers over financial matters which the US claimed under the trizonal fusion agreement went too far. They gave the US Military Governor power of veto over state legislation and made him the dictator over his colleagues. While he had been willing to accept the bizonal agreement formula, the new US proposal would not be acceptable to the Cabinet or House of Commons. Mr. Bevin complained that US Military Government by supporting private ownership in the coal and steel industries was prejudicing a future German decision on the ownership question. This action might antagonize the German Social Democrats and turn them into “Nenni Socialists.”

Mr. Murphy explained that while the bizonal agreement formula on the US preponderant vote had worked well with the British, the US felt that a further guarantee was needed under trizonal fusion, particularly because of the French. He said we had no information regarding British complaints in the matter of the coal and steel industries but we would look into this question. Mr. Murphy also expressed [Page 158] concern that appeals to the governments under the trizonal fusion agreement might hold up effective German action.

I mentioned that if we succeed with a new and broader approach for Military Government many of these difficulties will disappear. If Mr. Schuman does not accept this concept we can go back to the present basis, although I have grave doubts about the complicated 38 [28?] paragraphs of the occupation statute4 and about the risk that the appeal to governments may bog down German government operations.

In reply to Mr. Murphy’s question, Mr. Bevin agreed that the bizonal fusion agreement, which expires today, should be extended for three months without change. If [He] said that if Mr. Schuman can be persuaded to take a broader line regarding Military Government and if he can carry it before his Parliament, the British would agree to the suggested new approach.

[In the remaining sections of the memorandum the Ministers discussed briefly the ratification of the Atlantic Pact, Western Union, Greece, the Italian Colonies, Austria, the Middle East, a draft speech by President Truman regarding Turkey, Iran, and Greece, and matters that Bevin wanted to discuss in the forthcoming talks. Documentation relating to these subjects is in Volumes IV and VI.]

  1. The memorandum was prepared by Beam.
  2. Documentation relating to the negotiation and signing of the North Atlantic Pact is printed in volume iv .
  3. Presumably this was a reference to the draft transmitted in telegram 1338, April 2, p. 62.