No. 124
The Embassy of the United States to the Soviet Ministry for Foreign Affairs1

In its note of May 132 the United States Government made various proposals in the hope of facilitating four power conversations which could lead to the unification of Germany and to the negotiation with an all-German Government of a German peace treaty. It observes with regret that the Soviet Government in its note of May [Page 289] 243 does not answer these proposals. The United States Government fully maintains the views and proposals in its note of May 13. On this basis it wishes in its present note primarily to concentrate attention upon the immediate practical problem of the procedure for setting up, through free elections, an all-German Government with which a peace treaty can be negotiated.

In its note the Soviet Government once more proposes simultaneous discussions on a peace treaty, the unification of Germany, and the formation of an all-German Government. For its part, the United States Government maintains its position on this question, namely, that an all-German Government must participate in the negotiation of a peace treaty, and that, therefore, before undertaking such negotiations Germany must be unified and an all-German Government established. Unification of Germany can be achieved only through free elections. The essential first step is obviously the determination that conditions necessary for such free elections exist. The second step would be the holding of those elections.

In regard to the first step, the United States Government proposed in its note of May 13 that an impartial Commission should determine whether there exist throughout Germany the conditions necessary for the holding of free elections. While pointing out the great advantages of using the United Nations Commission, the United States Government nevertheless offered to consider any other practical and precise proposals for an impartial Commission which the Soviet Government might advance. The Soviet Government advances no such proposals and limits itself to maintaining its position on the appointment of a Commission to carry out this verification by agreement among the four Powers. It is not clear to the United States Government whether the Soviet Government considers that the Commission should be composed of representatives of the four Powers or merely that the four Powers should agree on its composition, and the United States Government would be pleased to receive clarification on this point. The United States Government remains convinced that a Commission composed solely of nationals of the four Powers would be unable to reach useful decisions since it could only reflect present differences of opinion among the four Powers as to conditions existing in the Federal Republic, in the Soviet Zone and in Berlin. The United States Government considers that if the Commission is to carry out its work effectively, it should be composed of impartial members, should not be subject to veto or control by the four Powers and should be empowered to go freely into all parts of Germany and investigate conditions bearing on the possibility of holding free elections.

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In regard to the second step, the United States Government similarly proposed that as soon as the Commission’s report was ready there should be a meeting of representatives of the United States, French, Soviet and United Kingdom Governments to discuss the early holding of free elections throughout Germany, including the creation where necessary of appropriate conditions. The United States Government maintains this proposal to which the Soviet Government has not yet replied. The United States Government repeats what it has stated in paragraph 8 of its note of May 13: “Such free elections can, however, only be held if the necessary conditions exist in all parts of Germany and will be maintained not only on the day of voting, and prior to it, but also thereafter.”

The United States Government further proposed to examine at this same meeting the assurance to be given by the four Powers that the all-German Government formed as a result of these free elections will have the necessary freedom of action during the period before the peace treaty comes into effect. It is the understanding of the United States Government that the only concrete proposal envisaged by the Soviet Government is that the all-German Government must be guided by the Potsdam decisions. This would mean the reestablishment of the quadripartite system of control which was originally designed to cover only “the initial control period.” An arrangement of this kind would revive a system of control which proved to be impracticable and would, moreover, ignore the whole evolution of events in Germany in recent years. A German Government subjected to such control would in practice enjoy no freedom in its relations with the four Powers and would not be in a position to participate freely with the four above-mentioned Governments in the negotiation of a peace treaty.

The United States Government also observes with concern that while the Soviet Government in its notes repeatedly reaffirms its desire for the unification of Germany, it has recently adopted without any justification a series of measures in the Soviet Zone and in Berlin which tend to prevent all contact between the Germans living in the territory under Soviet occupation and the 50 million Germans in the Federal Republic and in the Western sectors of Berlin. These measures aggravate the arbitrary division of Germany. The United States Government wishes to emphasize that the agreements recently signed with the Federal Republic open up to Germany a wide and free association with the other nations of Europe. The United States Government cannot, as it has already emphasized in its note of May 13, admit that Germany should be denied the basic right of a free and equal nation to associate itself with other nations for peaceful purposes. Furthermore, these agreements [Page 291] reaffirm the determination of the three Powers and the Federal Republic to promote the unification of Germany, and expressly reserve the rights of the three Powers relating to a peace settlement—a peace settlement for the whole of Germany to be freely negotiated by the four Powers and the all-German Government.

In order to avoid further delay, the United States Government, in concert with the French Government and the United Kingdom Government, and after consultation with the German Federal Government and with the German authorities in Berlin, proposes that there should be an early meeting of representatives of the four Governments, provided it is understood that the four Governments are in favor of free elections throughout Germany as described in paragraph 4 of the present note, and of the participation of a free German Government in the negotiation of a German peace treaty. The purpose of this meeting would be to reach agreement on the first question which must be settled if further progress is to be made, namely, the composition and functions of the Commission of investigation to determine whether the conditions necessary for free elections exist. The United States Government proposes that the representatives discuss:

The selection of members of the Commission in such a way as to insure its impartiality.
The functions of the Commission with a view to insuring its complete independence to make recommendations to the four Powers.
The authority of the Commission to carry out its investigation in full freedom and without interference.

In order that free elections can be held it will also be necessary to reach agreement on the program for the formation of an all-German Government, as proposed in paragraph 11 (iv) of the United States Government’s note of May 13. The United States Government therefore repeats that proposal for the discussion of these further important issues by representatives of the four Powers. When such agreement is reached it will then be possible to proceed to the unification of Germany.

Since the Soviet Government has repeatedly expressed its desire for an early meeting in preference to continued exchanges of notes, the United States Government trusts that the present proposal will commend itself to the Soviet Government.

  1. Source: Reprinted from Department of State Bulletin, July 21, 1952, pp. 92–93. The copy transmitted to the Soviet Foreign Ministry was delivered to Vyshinsky by Kennan at noon (Moscow time) on July 10. (Telegram 74 from Moscow, July 10, 662A.00/7–1052)
  2. A footnote in the source text at this point refers to the text of the May 13 note (Document 101) as printed in Department of State Bulletin, May 26, 1952, pp. 817–819.
  3. Document 102.