740.00119 Control (Germany)/4–749

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of Protocol (Woodward)


Participants: The President; The British Foreign Minister, Mr. Bevin; The French Foreign Minister, Mr. Schuman; The Secretary of State, Mr. Acheson; The Under Secretary of State, Mr. Webb; The British Ambassador, Sir Oliver Franks; The French Ambassador, Mr. Bonnet; The Chief of Protocol, Mr. Woodward.

At half past five this afternoon the Foreign Ministers of Britain and France called at the Blair House to say goodbye to the President. The Secretary of State and Messrs. Webb and Woodward were present with the President. The Foreign Ministers were accompanied by the British and French Ambassadors.

[Page 174]

Mr. Bevin declared that he, Mr. Acheson and Mr. Schuman had just concluded a highly successful and gratifying series of meetings at which they had reached complete accord on Germany. He said that it was remarkable that in two days he and his French and American colleagues had been able to come to this agreement after years of no agreement. Never had there been such concord between France and Britain. All suspicion had been wiped out and relationships now between the two countries were better than they had been even during the war.

Mr. Schuman, whose limited command of English curtailed his ability to express himself at much length, agreed with Mr. Bevin and seemed to be equally highly pleased with the outcome of the negotiations.

Mr. Acheson praised the cooperative spirit which had animated his two colleagues during these conversations.

The President responded by saying that he was happy to get this good news, and that it was the best thing that had been done in his administration. It carried forward our efforts for peace in the world and prosperity, the only things we wanted.

Mr. Bevin continued that it would certainly make the organization of the Council of Europe easier and said that he wanted talks on the constitution of the Council to start the first week in May. Mr. Schuman nodded assent.

Messrs. Bevin and Schuman both then mentioned the ECA and thanked the President for the United States making it possible for Europe to recover, adding that Britain and France were now well along on this road to recovery. The British Foreign Minister added that the desire to recover had always been there since the war, but conferences with France and conversations with other Britons [Europeans?] were fruitless until American aid was forthcoming. The will to recover was there but not the wherewithal.

The President replied that the European Recovery Program had been one of the most important decisions he had had to take; whether to send the program to the Congress or not. He was at the bottom of the political heap at the time. A good many of his advisers counseled him that the Congress would never stand for the bill. He had decided to go ahead anyway.

Another hard decision had been the earlier one on Greece and Turkey.1

Mr. Acheson stated that in his opinion the decision on Greece and Turkey was the turning point. The Secretary recalled that he had [Page 175] been Acting Secretary at the time, and when the President had decided to take a strong attitude on Turkey, after Turkey had been threatened by the Soviet Union, it was the signal for the administration to go ahead.

Mr. Bevin continued to the effect that history would show that America’s saving European culture and civilization was a great thing and well worthwhile. It would not only repay us eventually financially, but we would be recompensed in more important ways. Mr. Schuman endorsed his colleague’s statement.

The conversation then took a more general trend with the President and Mr. Bevin exchanging political anecdotes.

The conversation lasted fifty-five minutes and was conducted throughout in the most friendly terms.

During the visit a young group of tourists went by the Blair House shouting, “We want Dewey.” The President and others, not knowing exactly what was going on outside, were concerned that it might have been an Anti-Bevin demonstration. No reference was made to the disturbance during the conversation.

Upon Mr. Acheson’s suggestion, it was agreed that a statement should be given to the press that the Foreign Ministers had called upon the President to bring him up to date on their recent conversations and to say good-bye.

  1. For documentation relating to the decision to send United States economic and military aid to Greece and Turkey (The Truman Doctrine), see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. v, pp. 1 ff.