No. 151
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Berlin Element, HICOG (Lyon)1


This morning I had a conversation with Bishop Dibelius who told me that he had talked with Niemoller (“whom you Americans don’t think very much of”) last week and that the latter was most optimistic and convinced that Contractuals would never be signed and that everything would be changed in Germany within four months. Bishop Dibelius said that he did not imagine that the Russians told Niemoller very much more than they had told anyone else but still he had rarely seen Niemoller in such good spirits and, in fact, the latter seemed to be happier about the future than any other German.

I asked whether Niemoller indicated in what way he meant everything would be changed in Germany within the next four months and Dibelius said that Niemoller had indicated that the Soviets would “issue an invitation” to Four Power talks and that certain [Page 354] deputies of the CDU and FDP will refuse to support ratification prior to the holding of these talks.

I asked Bishop Dibelius if in his opinion the Soviets were prepared to withdraw from Germany now if they were certain of a unified neutral Germany. Bishop Dibelius said he thought they aren’t as ready as they were a year ago. Then, he added, he had recommended to Mr. McCloy that the Western Allies accept a unified, neutral Germany as the price of withdrawal. Bishop Dibelius felt that if this were done the Eastern Germans would be so much more pro-western than anyone else, that in a short time one would have a unified, totally prowestern Germany.

Mr. McCloy, according to Bishop Dibelius, had replied that such a policy would not satisfy American public opinion; they would say that Germany was pro-East today, pro-West tomorrow. How could one rely on such a country? American public opinion demanded a clear-cut forthright German policy.

Reminiscing somewhat, Bishop Dibelius said that a year ago Grotewohl and the other East German leaders had said were there to be a unified Germany they (pro-Soviet Eastern officials) would have to commit hari-kari. Today Grotewohl is saying that the farmers of East Germany would be willing to fight to maintain the present situation for they know that if the West should win a new war their land would be taken from them. Bishop Dibelius sighed and said, “Those poor East German officials, they only say what they are told to say—one thing today, another tomorrow. Nuschke sat in that very chair, (pointing to the chair in which I was sitting) and told me that the first thing he does every morning is to look in the paper to see if he is still Deputy Minister President”.

Dibelius gave me the impression that he was tired and somewhat muddled. It was not always easy to tell when he was quoting Niemoller or Dibelius. His friendship with Niemoller extends over a period of many years. Niemoller baptized one of Dibelius’s sons and Dibelius succeeded in obtaining the release of Niemoller’s son from a Soviet prison, and they have many other personal and emotional ties. He says frankly, however, that he no longer agrees with Niemoller politically and has “other troubles with him”. Nevertheless, Dibelius, I gather, is still fond of his old friend. I left Dibelius with the feeling that he too feels that there should be Four Power talks before ratification.

  1. A heading on the source text indicates that the conversation took place on Aug. 16. This memorandum was transmitted as an enclosure to despatch 158 from Berlin, Aug. 18.