The Director of the Office of German Political Affairs (Laukhuff) to the Director of the Bureau of German Affairs (Byroade)

Letter No. 11

Dear Hank: I will enclose in the copies of this letter which go to Mr. McCloy, Sam Eeber and Bill Trimble copies of last night’s telecon,1 so that they will be fully informed at least as to everything which is on paper.

A good deal has happened in the last two days, in the sense of meetings, arguments, discussions. I won’t try to summarize in any detail but rather to give a general impression of the point at which we are. The atmosphere can only be described as thoroughly unhappy.

Phil gave to the French and British this morning a very direct hard-hitting account of our position, well fortified as it was by the Department’s unmistakable instructions in last night’s telecon.2 In fact, he clearly implied that if there is any monkey-business in their remarks to Gromyko, he will have to break our unity openly before Gromyko. The other two had to accept the situation of course but most unhappily, and I can well imagine the remarks exchanged about us afterwards. It is quite clear that they don’t (or don’t want to) understand what our objections are to their various proposals to accept the phrase “demilitarization of Germany”. They obviously regard us as stubborn, rigid, overly-suspicious, and probably averse to a Conference anyway.

In their eagerness to “compromise” with the Russians, they are arguing themselves into a frame of mind where they feel there is no harm in taking any Soviet phrasing so long as it does not in so many words commit us to abandon our Brussels policies—and so long as “we ourselves [Page 1106] know that our governments are determined to carry on with those policies”. Davies was most insistent on this, though after the way he flubbed the matter in the House of Commons some weeks ago, I should think he was a poor one to reassure anyone as to the UK’s intentions. Naturally, these are things one can’t say!

Parodi and Davies harp constantly on the impatience of public opinion and the demand that a conference be held at almost any price. We are unable to discern any great impatience or demand in the French press or in what we hear of the British press.

It becomes increasingly difficult for us here, I think, to distinguish the very fine line which separates us from dangerous acceptance of the Soviet thesis. We play all day with the phrases and formulas about German demilitarization until our own judgment is apt to become fuzzy. So I think the Department can play a very important role by sitting back at its more detached distance and examining all such proposals with a very fishy eye! As Phil put it to the others today, whatever was the case six months ago, the fact today is that the Soviets, through their notes, their propaganda and their arguments at this meeting, have come pretty close to establishing in the public mind that by “demilitarization of Germany” is meant the idea that the four Powers should seek to fulfill Potsdam and prevent the remilitarization of Germany. Indeed they may soon feel they have done this so successfully that they can “compromise” by dropping the reference to Potsdam as they have already dropped the reference to “remilitarization”. We need to be ever more wary, not less.

More power to you.3

Sincerely yours,

  1. A transcript of the telecon between Washington and Paris on March 22, not printed, in which the U.S. Delegation was instructed to stand firm and to tell the British and French, if they insisted on compromise, to take the matter up with Washington through their Governments, is in file 396.1–PA/3–2251. Participating in the telecon for the Delegation were Jessup, Bohlen, Laukhuff, and Smith; for the Department of State Bonbright, Lewis, Calhoun, and others.
  2. For a report on this meeting, see telegram 5664, supra.
  3. At the bottom of the source text Laukhuff had written “I do hope these letters are serving some useful purpose.”