Memorandum of Conversation1



  • The Secretary’s Meeting with Country Ambassadors at Ambassador Dunn’s Residence, February 1, 1953, at 3:30 p.m.
The following persons attended the conferences:
  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Stassen
  • Ambassador Dunn
  • Ambassador Draper
  • Mr. Labouisse, MSA Paris
  • Ambassador Merchant, NATO
  • Mr. Chauncey Parker, MSA Rome
  • Mr. Robert Matteson, Assistant to Mr. Stassen
  • Mr. Harris, MSA Germany
  • Ambassador Anderson, SRE
  • Mr. Lincoln Gordon, MSA London
  • Ambassador Bunker, Italy
  • Mr. Theodore Achilles, Paris
  • Mr. Samuel Reber, Germany
  • Minister Holmes, Chargé, London
  • Mr. Roderic O’Connor, Assistant to the Secretary
  • Mr. Douglas MacArthur
Dulles outlined what he called our domestic political problem in connection with EDC. If there is no real evidence of progress towards European unity by the time Congress considers appropriations for European aid, which he estimates will start in April, he does not think the Congress will grant anything like the large sums that have been appropriated in past years, nor does he feel that the Administration would be justified for asking for such sums. He stated Congress has felt for some time they have granted monies for European aid on the basis of vague and illusory promises of European unity which have not been fulfilled. Mr. Stassen concurred. Mr. Dulles stated that his purpose in calling this meeting was to seek guidance of those assembled on how best to produce results in unification efforts.
Dunn . In reference to France, he was optimistic. He felt that the new French Government was really determined to push EDC in contrast to the previous government. As to any timetable, he stated that German ratification would have to come first. We should and could present our problem realistically and bluntly to the French. In response to the Secretary’s question whether the French Government talked one way to us and another to their coalition parties, he replied “no”. He felt that the present government was more favorable to EDC than any foreseeable future government.
Reber . The timetable in Germany depends on the court decision.2 The court opens hearings on February 20 on the question of whether or not it has jurisdiction. The consensus of opinion was that the jurisdictional issue will be decided affirmatively, that the court would accept the case but will reach no decision on it until mid-March. No vote in the Upper House could be expected until after the Easter recess—i.e., the end of April.
Dunn . Raised the question of protocols,3 explained they were agreed interpretations of various aspects of the treaty. Believes they will be accepted quickly by the French and that no more will be added to those now contemplated.
Reber . In response to the Secretary’s question as to what the decision of the German court will be on the constitutional issue, he did not believe this could be forecast but said that the Chancellor is convinced that the decision will be favorable. He stated that the opposition has believed that the new United States Administration might find ways other than EDC to bring about German participation in European defense. Therefore, the Chancellor hoped that the Secretary will reinforce Adenauer’s statements that there is no alternative. In regard to the protocols, there is danger that, if they modify the sense of the EDC treaty, the Bundestag will react either by refusing to ratify or by insisting on introducing their own modifications.

Secretary. He reviewed the two telegrams sent by the President to Ridgway and Adenauer on EDC4 and stated that the President did not feel that these messages had been very well received by Adenauer.

Dunn does not believe that the present protocols as contemplated would change the sense of the treaty. However, the protocols are not yet in final form. They should be in a very short time.

Draper raised the question of the right of withdrawal of troops as a bothersome one. The Dutch were now getting excited about it and it has long bothered the French and Germans. The Germans feel that the right to withdraw troops would be tending towards national armies and Adenauer is strongly opposed to any such tendency. Another bothersome point is the question of integrity of troops (?).

Secretary said that in conversations with the joint chiefs,5 only two alternatives appeared if EDC failed. These were: (1) Perimeter defense which he believed we all regarded as equally disastrous and (2) bringing Germany independently into NATO (which the Secretary believed to be impractical on the theory that the French certainly [Page 1556] would and could veto). Dunn felt this was not certain, that it was possible that after a Parliamentary debate on EDC and defeat of the treaty, that some new and hard-headed thinking might emerge in French popular opinion.

Bunker said that De Gasperi originally had wanted to wait until the French ratified the treaty but that De Gasperi had in his latest conversations with Bunker and the Secretary6 mentioned that he might introduce the treaty to his Parliament in the next few weeks. The Secretary stressed that this was a casual statement by De Gasperi and in no way a commitment.

Holmes stated that British opinion, particularly that of Eden, had changed much in the last eighteen months. They all recognize that their own participation is out of the question, but they no longer oppose and, in fact, are prepared to actively support EDC. In reply to the Secretary’s description of Churchill’s apparent opposition as expressed when Churchill was in New York, Holmes stated that Churchill stood alone among the British in this position, and that the Prime Minister would complain but in the last analysis would not actively oppose. Holmes said that Eden was convinced that this was the case. The British are ready for the closest functional association with EDC but stop short at any constitutional association.

Gordon noted that it was most important to the British that their action would not appear to be the result of U.S. pressure.

Draper said the Belgians had introduced the EDC treaty in their Parliament and that if pressure could be placed on Van Zeeland, he felt the treaty could be passed very quickly once the protocols were settled. Said the Prime Minister—Van Hantle [ Houtte ]—was o.k. Stated that Luxembourg would follow Belgians and that the Dutch were very strongly in favor of the entire project. Draper reflected overall optimism on the whole situation.

Stassen restated the subordinancy of MSA to the State Department on foreign policy. Stressed necessity for all efforts of MSA offices being coordinated at this time to promote the EDC.

Secretary posed the question what would be the result among the EDC countries if congressional appropriations for them were made contingent upon the actual creation of the EDC. There was a passing discussion but no direct answer on this point.

The discussions went on from this point without the MSA contingent (including Ambassador Draper) which went into a separate meeting with Governor Stassen.7

Secretary stressed the need for some action to be taken in the EDC [Page 1557] picture in order to get the psychology of a rolling bandwagon. If De Gasperi could get the treaty passed, followed by the Dutch, pressures would be built up and then the whole project would move forward. He asked Bunker to discuss this with De Gasperi and stress to the latter that here was a real chance for Italy to show leadership to Western Europe.

Secretary then asked generally as to what line he should take in the forthcoming discussions. He was advised by those present to speak frankly when in private and outline our domestic political problem. However, in public he should not stress this aspect but should speak in terms of a joint project of European nations in which the U.S. took a continuing interest.

  1. There is no indication on the source text who drafted this memorandum of conversation or whether it is an official record.
  2. Documentation concerning the proceedings of the Constitutional Court of the Federal Republic of Germany and its deliberations regarding the legality of the government’s attempt to raise an army is presented in volume vii .
  3. For a summary of the French protocols under reference, see telegram 3975 from Paris, Jan. 15, p. 702.
  4. For information concerning the telegrams under reference, see the editorial note, p. 700.
  5. For a record of the Department of State–Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting under reference, which took place on Jan. 28, see p. 711.
  6. For a summary of Dulles’ and Bunker’s meeting with De Gasperi, see telegram 4275 from Paris, Feb. 1, p. 1551.
  7. No record of this meeting between Stassen and Mutual Security Agency officials, which took place at the office of the Special Representative in Europe, was found in Department of State files.