662A.00/9–354: Telegram

The United States High Commissioner for Germany ( Conant ) to the Department of State


666. Personal for Merchant from Conant. Supplementing my telephone conversation of last night recommend strongly we drop once and for all any further discussion London protocols. Furthermore, venture recommend equally strongly we proceed to disengage completely from the British in our approach German problem. Would remind you that Washington instructions to me based on British FonOff stubbornness prevented my exploring with Chancellor protocols some days ago. British insistence that French must be kept on equal basis very nearly caused major blow-up in delicate situation. We missed by only few hours a most serious diplomatic blunder, the blame for which, if it had occurred, would have been clearly on British.

I have reported by phone to Hallstein that so-called London protocols were not shown to French yesterday. He reported that British HICOMer had told him they were being shown. I said this report, I [Page 1141] believe, to be completely in error. As far as I was concerned the discussion with Chancellor yesterday should be regarded as purely exploratory discussion of possible line of action which U.S. had thought might help Chancellor. The less said about matter in future the better and it was my belief that matter would not be discussed by U.S. with French.

I have appointment to see Chancellor next Thursday when he will have returned from his vacation. He wishes to be left undisturbed over week-end, including Monday.

Situation seems to me so complicated and mistrust between Chancellor and Mendes-France so great that normal diplomatic channels will have difficulty laying basis for fruitful conference whether it be held on EDC or NATO level. It would be highly desirable to have some American visit FonSecys each of EDC countries and London as soon as possible to act as “friend of the court” in preparing ground work for subsequent meeting, preferably on eight-power basis. Would it not be possible for you to make this journey? Would recommend such step most strongly. The absence of Secretary in Far East is one of factors which leads me to this recommendation. Believe public opinion can simmer for few days to week but in this period soundings by an American in seven countries primarily involved might be of great value not only to U.S. but to other countries involved.1

  1. In telegram 651 to Bonn, Sept. 3, the Department of State informed HICOG officials that they should not discuss the matter of the London protocols with the French or other interested countries. Bonn was also informed that the Department concurred with the remarks in the source text concerning the exploratory nature of Conant’s discussion with Hallstein. No action was taken on the suggestion in the final paragraph except to inform the Embassy that it was being given consideration. (662A.00/9–354)