Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Bureau of German Affairs (Riddleberger)
- German Chancellor’s Proposal to Foreign Ministers
- Herr Herbert Blankenhorn
- GER—James W. Riddleberger
Upon Mr. Blankenhorn’s arrival, I saw him at his request this afternoon at which time he presented the Chancellor’s letter to the Secretary as Chairman of the Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Washington.1 Mr. Blankenhorn said that this letter was animated by the Chancellor’s conviction that the Soviets would make an important gesture towards Germany before the elections which might include their own proposal for free elections throughout Germany and possibly other proposals of a sweeping character. The Chancellor was convinced that the Soviets would make important moves to defeat him in the election and this was confirmed by information that discussions had been going on with Semenonov [Semenov] as to what kind of offer the Soviets might make. This information was received through SPD members who had been in touch with SED members in the East Zone.
The Chancellor is now convinced that the Western powers must seize the initiative and ask for a four-power conference. I asked Mr. Blankenhorn at this point whether the Chancellor contemplated such a conference before or after the German elections. He replied that, of course, the Chancellor meant after the German elections. The proposal would, of course, be based upon the five points of the Bundestag resolution with the point on free elections somewhat amplified to require certain guarantees that the elections would be really free. In addition, the Chancellor thought that the EDC could be utilized as a starting point for a security system for all European peoples. I questioned with [sic] Mr. Blankenhorn on the precise meaning of this and pointed out how the Western powers had always described EDC as solely a decisive system with no aggressive intent. Mr. Blankenhorn said that was the case but the Chancellor’s idea would be to take advantage of certain of the limitations of armament inherent in the EDC system which could perhaps reassure the Russians respecting any aggressive intent.
I asked Mr. Blankenhorn whether the Chancellor thought that the Soviets would accept such a conference. The answer was affirmative and furthermore, that the Chancellor was convinced that the first item the Soviets would insist upon discussing would be the postponement of EDC. At this point, Mr. Blankenhorn expressed in the most categorical terms the Chancellor’s devotion to EDC and his intent to continue with this policy. To encounter [sic] Soviet arguments about EDC, he wished [Page 1607]to utilize the community as a starting point for a wider security system. In other words, EDC becomes one pillar of a security system because it does embrace for Germany a certain limitation of armaments.
Mr. Blankenhorn then emphasized that the Chancellor’s present feeling is that his whole position is in danger because of the prevalence of the idea that he is somewhat against German unification. Therefore, the Chancellor must demonstrate his support of German unification and he would very much like to publish eventually the letter which he has addressed to the Secretary.
I then showed Mr. Blankenhorn a copy of our draft Tripartite Declaration on Germany.2 He did not dissent from the ideas expressed therein but gave it as his opinion that it was not strong enough to meet the problem of public opinion in Germany. Specifically, he stated that it lacked the invitation to a four-power meeting and that there was, furthermore, no implication that a four-power meeting would result from such a conference. He emphasized that the Chancellor’s proposal was a tactical move designed to improve his position in the election campaign and that our proposed declaration did not go far enough in meeting the problem that the Chancellor was not sincere in his desire for German unification.
I pointed out to Mr. Blankenhorn the possible dangers of a four-power conference before the Western powers and the Federal Republic had agreed upon firm positions which could be taken at any meeting with the Soviets. I said I thought it would be a serious danger if we were to go into a meeting without having agreed positions. Mr. Blankenhorn thought that was good logic but believed that we would have sufficient time to prepare these positions before any four-power meeting took place.
In conclusion Mr. Blankenhorn expressed the strong desire to see the Secretary but I was evasive as to when this could be arranged.