No. 138
The Embassy of the United States to the Soviet Ministry for Foreign Affairs1

The United States Government has carefully considered the Soviet Government’s note of August 23 about Germany.2 It had hoped that the note would have marked some progress towards agreement on the essential question of free all-German elections. This is the first question which must be settled among the four powers so that Germany can be unified, an all-German Government formed and a peace treaty concluded.

Possibly in order to divert attention from this issue, the greater part of the Soviet note of August 23 is, however, devoted to wholly unfounded attacks upon the Atlantic Pact, the European Defense Community and the conventions signed at Bonn on May 26. As the United States Government has often emphasized, these agreements are purely defensive and threaten no one. The Bonn conventions and the EDC treaty, far from being imposed on the German people, are a matter for free decision by freely elected Parliaments, including of course that of the German Federal Republic. Insofar as the Bonn conventions reserve certain strictly limited rights to the three Western powers, a fundamental consideration has been specifically to safeguard the principle of German unity and to keep the door open for agreement with the Soviet Union on the unification of Germany.

The United States Government must insist on the necessity of starting four-power discussions at the only point where they can in fact start, which is the organization of free elections. In its note of July 10,3 the United States Government drew attention to the obvious fact that this is the first point which must be settled if any progress is to be made towards uniting the Soviet zone with the Federal Republic, which constitutes the greater part of Germany. In its first note,4 as in its last, the Soviet Government has evaded this clear issue. Instead of putting first things first, it now relegates to the background the problem of elections and proposes [Page 325]that the four-power conference “should discuss in the first place such important issues as a peace treaty with Germany and the formation of an all-German Government”. But until elections are held, no all-German Government can be formed, nor can Germany be unified. Until an all-German Government is formed which will be in a position to negotiate freely, it is impossible to discuss the terms of a German peace treaty.

In complete accord with the views of the United States, French and United Kingdom Governments, the Soviet Government originally said that “the preparation of the peace treaty should be effected with the participation of Germany in the form of an all-German Government”.5 The Soviet Government has now shifted its ground. It now substitutes for this, the participation of representatives of the Soviet zone and the Federal Republic in the four-power meetings “during the discussion of relevant questions”. The United States Government cannot accept this proposal. A peace treaty for the whole of Germany cannot be negotiated with, and accepted by, any German representatives other than the all-German Government which would have to carry it out. Such a government can only proceed from free elections. It is moreover well known that the East German administration is not representative of the German population of the Soviet zone. This fact is not controverted by the assertion in the Soviet note of August 23 that this administration acted “at the request” of that population in enforcing recent measures further dividing East and West Germans in defiance of their clear desire for unity in freedom.

The United States Government is compelled to remind the Soviet Government that conditions have altered radically since the Potsdam Agreement of 1945, which laid down certain political and economic principles to govern the initial control period. The Soviet conception of a peace treaty drafted by the four powers and imposed upon Germany is entirely unsuitable in 1952. The United States Government could never agree to a peace treaty being drafted or negotiated without the participation of an all-German Government. Any other procedure would mean a dictated treaty. That indeed would be “an insult to the German nation”.

The United States Government again insists that genuinely free elections with a view to the formation of an all-German Government must come first. It has however learned by hard experience in recent years that terms such as “free elections” have one meaning in common parlance and another in the official Soviet vocabulary. The contrast between the concept of free elections which obtains [Page 326]in West Germany and that which prevails in the Soviet zone is clear. It is for the German people to choose between these alternative ways of life. But they must be able to make their choice in genuine freedom and full responsibility. Only genuinely free elections can reflect the will of the German people and permit the formation of an all-German Government with the necessary freedom of action to discuss and accept a peace settlement.

In order to create the conditions necessary for free elections, there has been four-power agreement that there should be a commission of investigation. The Soviet Government has now proposed that this commission should be composed of representatives of the People’s Assembly of the “German Democratic Republic” and of the Bundestag of the German Federal Republic. A commission of investigation must, however, be genuinely impartial. A German commission would be no more able than a four-power commission to meet this requirement. The underlying principle of the present Soviet proposal was contained in one which emanated from the Soviet zone on September 15, 1951. This was rejected by the Bundestag, which then suggested investigation by a United Nations Commission. It was thus the freely elected representatives of fifty millions of the German people who themselves proposed the creation of a neutral investigation commission under United Nations supervision. Nevertheless, the United States Government repeats its readiness to discuss any practical and precise proposals, as stated in its note of the tenth of July.

The United States Government continues to seek a way to end the division of Germany. This will not be accomplished by premature discussions about a peace treaty with a Germany not yet united and lacking an all-German Government. The United States Government therefore renews the proposal made in its note of July 10 for an early four-power meeting—which could take place in October—to discuss the composition, functions and authority of an impartial commission of investigation with a view to creating the conditions necessary for free elections. The next step would be to discuss the arrangements for the holding of these elections and for the formation of an all-German Government, as proposed in paragraph 11 (iv) of the United States Government’s note of May 13. When free elections have been held and an all-German Government formed, the peace settlement can be negotiated. The United States Government, in concert with the French Government and the United Kingdom Government and after consultation with the German Federal Government and the German authorities in Berlin, most earnestly urges the Soviet Government to reconsider its refusal to join the other powers in a single-minded effort thus to come to grips with the problem of free elections in Germany.

  1. Source: Reprinted from the Department of State Bulletin, Oct. 6, 1952, pp. 517–518. The note was delivered to Deputy Foreign Minister Pushkin at 4:40 p.m., Moscow time. For text of a statement by Secretary Acheson the following day commenting on the Soviet view of free elections and especially on the Soviet meaning of “independent”, “democratic”, and “peaceloving”, see ibid., pp. 516–517.
  2. Document 125.
  3. A footnote in the source text at this point cited this note ( Document 124) as printed in Department of State Bulletin.
  4. Document 65.
  5. A footnote in the source text at this point cited this note ( Document 65) as printed in Department of State Bulletin.