762A.00/12–2950: Telegram

The United States High Commissioner for Germany (McCloy) to the Office of the United States High Commissioner, at Frankfort


476. From Liaison Bonn. ReDeptel 4568 to Frankfort, repeated Bonn 47, December 28.1

As indicated Bonn’s telegram 474 to Frankfort repeated Department 422, December 29 (West German political weekly No. 23, paragraph (c))2 Adenauer now apparently convinced by other Cabinet members of necessity of avoiding any further direct contact with GDR representatives and is planning reply to Grotewohl letter by simple declaration, probably before Bundestag after conferring with Cabinet and faction leaders, including SPD, next week. Federal Government felt it advisable to issue release December 29 to this effect (see Bonn’s telegram 475 to Frankfort repeated Department 423, December 292) because of considerable recent inaccurate speculation in West German press regarding possibility additional exploratory moves on part of FedRep prior answering Grotewohl letter.

As result of interview December 29 with Thedieck3 and review information gathered press sources following is summary of developments FedRep consideration Grotewohl letter leading up to present time.

After initial negative reaction in coalition circles conviction grew that positive answer should be given in order at least to deprive Soviets of propaganda advantages. This was supported by HICOM suggestions.
Kaiser Ministry4 prepared draft reply which has been seen by Bonn Liaison and is well within framework HICOM suggestions.
News of possible CFM reawakened old fear that West powers might sell Germany short in order reach agreement with Soviets. This feeling heightened by Korean developments, resulted in increased desire FedRep leaders to determine whether there was any possibility of fruitful talks with GDR.
Dertinger5 in interview (about ten days ago) with Dutch correspondent claimed all-German elections were only “distant goal” of proposed Grotewohl talks, which were really designed first of all to undertake “practical measures” such as improvement travel regulations, increase interzonal trade, law-enforcement cooperation, etc.
Without consulting Cabinet or faction leaders, Adenauer decided on spur of moment to direct FedRep Berlin representative Vockel [Page 677] to call Dertinger on phone and inquire whether his press interview represented “official” interpretation of meaning of Grotewohl letter. Dertinger replied that this was in no sense official, but represented only his private opinion.
Kaiser took such strong exception to this move to contact Dertinger that he authorized Thedieck to inform Bonn Liaison confidentially that it might lead to his resignation and that he believed French influence partially responsible for this decision Adenauer’s (see Bonn telegram 472 to Frankfort repeated Department 420, December 246). There has been no confirmation of latter point. It is quite possible that it was only another of Chancellor’s not infrequent, snap decisions made without consulting anyone.
SED organ Neues Deutschland printed in Christmas issue a second appeal of Grotewohl’s7 urging early answer to letter and brushing aside technicalities and conditions previously voiced by Bonn and GDR as “inconsequential” in comparison to basic need for “German-to-German” consultations. Necessity for holding such a meeting before CFM also emphasized in this Grotewohl article.
Thedieck told Bonn Liaison December 29 that although question of FedRep reply will not be entirely settled until after consultation between Chancellor, Cabinet and faction leaders next week, he felt certain on the basis of reassurances from Blankenhorn that:
There would be no further attempt to explore issue with GDR officials prior to reply.
Dibelius8 offer to bring Adenauer and Grotewohl together in his home would be refused. (Thus far this offer has appeared only as press account of an article in EKD publication Die Kirche. Thedieck certain it had prior approval of Dibelius despite his reported expression of surprise in press December 29.)
That reply would be in form of declaration before Bundestag, content of which would be within framework of HICOM suggestions. Reply expected to contain positive note re desire for peace and unity and at same time urge establishment true representation GDR population by free and secret elections as preliminary to talks.

Thedieck emphasized that McCloy press conference December 27 was helpful in dispelling fears that CFM might make agreement at Germany’s expense.9 Not certain that all shades Cabinet opinion on question yet harmonized, but Thedieck seemed thoroughly relaxed and reassured that outcome would be acceptable to Kaiser Ministry and HICOM. Kaiser, in Berlin this week, apparently of same opinion judging from phone conversation he had with Thedieck during course of interview.
[Page 678]

FedRep is preparing “white paper” on background of unity question including obstructive measures of Soviets and SED in order present clear picture to German populations of FedRep and GDR.

Sent Frankfort 476, repeated Department 424, Berlin 162, London 111, Paris 112, Moscow unnumbered.

  1. Not printed; it asked urgently for “all available info re reported Adenauer move authorizing FedRep rep Berlin approach Dertinger re Grotewohl ltr”. (762A.00/12–2450)
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Franz Thedieck, Federal Republic State Secretary.
  5. Jacob Kaiser, Federal Republic Minister for All-German Affairs.
  6. Georg Dertinger, “German Democratic Republic” Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  7. Not printed.
  8. For the text of Grotewohl’s second appeal, see Documents on German Unity, (Frankfort, Office of the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, 1951), pp. 167–169.
  9. Otto F. K. Dibelius, Bishop of Berlin of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD).
  10. A transcript of McCloy’s press conference may be found in Bonn Embassy Files, McCloy Project: Lot 311: Box 359: D (50) 2840.