662A.00/10–1452: Telegram

No. 158
The United States High Commissioner for Germany (Donnelly) to the Department of State1


Unnumbered. We have given considerable thought to situation which is likely to exist upon receipt of next Sov note dealing with German reunification and a four-power conference.2 unless Sovs themselves terminate the exchange, which seems highly improbable, we believe that if Allies are not to accelerate the loss of Ger support for our policy vis-à-vis Sovs and for Western integration, it may be necessary to review our policy. In any event the decision upon the answer to Sovs must be based upon a considerably broader analysis of the situation than has recently been made and upon [Page 383] a consideration of new factors which have developed during the exchange of notes and to some extent because of them.

We have consistently endeavored, as has Chancellor, to focus attention in Ger on basic insincerity and falseness of Sov championship of Ger unity, which have given us grounds for hesitating to meet with them unless they are prepared to give some concrete evidence of serious intentions. Until recently our insistence upon free elections as an essential prerequisite to formation of all-Ger govt or peace talks appeared to have general support and even SPD has been equally insistent upon free election.

There are, however, increasingly disturbing symptoms of an underlying compulsion in the German mind toward Ger reunification, e.g., the generally adverse press reaction to latest three-power reply to Moscow;3 increasing SPD insistence on four-power talks; discovery that some members of coalition were participants in the plan for the Volkskammer visit;4 acceptance of the Volkskammer proposal for a visit by Ehlers, Schmid, and Schaeffer even though Schmid and Schaeffer under pressure of their parties withdrew; increasing desire of influential Protestant politicians and churchmen to deal with an East Zone delegation, extending far beyond the group who seem to have been participants in the plan for the visit; Bishop Dibelius’ projected trip to Moscow; and a series of speeches and editorials by influential political leaders and commentators declaring that Sovs may be willing to agree to unification and withdrawal from Germany for a sufficient price, and that we must deal with Sovs to determine what that price is and whether it can be paid (clear implication being that Germs will make their own mind up concerning the reasonableness of the price, irrespective of Allied decision). It should be noted that SPD insistence on four-power talks does not represent an increasing love for and trust in Sovs and their intentions, but the belief that they have here an issue of such popularity that they should capitalize on it both for its effect upon ratification and the coming Bundestag election. Newspaper comment may reflect not merely editorial opinion but the views of the backers of the papers. Finally, we have just completed a flash public opinion survey which shows 65 percent of [Page 384] those polled favoring Fed Govt negotiations with East Zone Govt and only 17 percent opposed.

Whereas many Gers will admit that prospects of unification may be a fantasy as long as Sovs continue their present policy, nevertheless their mental approach is stronly influenced by this fantasy coupled with a sense of frustration and further complicated by a growing suspicion that the West is as determined as USSR is to perpetuate division of Ger. Resentment which would otherwise be wholly concentrated on Moscow is thus tending to be directed also against us because of our failure to arrive at an adequate formula which will permit at least discussions with Moscow. Formula of strength through integration which would develop reunification seems either an evasion of issue or policy which will eventually entail use of force, a frightening consideration to many Germans.

Our concern relates to contingency that Kremlin might conceivably make a move which could be interpreted by West Gers as seeming to give substance to fantasy if Moscow would negotiate reunification of Ger at a reasonable price. Terms of price which would be paid are already being discussed at least in newspapers. If Moscow should make such a move, and we either rejected it or appeared to evade it, results might be severely damaging to policy of integration. Such a démarche if it is to occur, which still seems, however, not very likely, would probably be timed for maximum effect upon Ger ratification and therefore occur in near rather than distant future.

It seems to us that hypothetically there are three positions which we could take. One would be to insist that Fed Rep population should recognize harsh realities of current situation and find compensation through new intimacy with France, Benelux and Italy and make best life they can as part of Western Europe. This would involve acceptance that any idea of negotiations and reunification must be shelved for indefinite future and would contrast with our expressed desire for both reunification and negotiation.

An alternative course would be to demonstrate patiently and concretely to West Germans that unity through negotiations is indeed a fantasy. This would involve our meeting with Russians (without prejudice to negotiations at peace conference) and undertaking to probe and expose what Kremlin would actually settle for regarding future of Ger. This would mean asking Sov reps whether Moscow really meant that Eastern Boundaries of Ger are Oder-Neisse. How would civil liberties for all be guaranteed? What size army would Kremlin permit a unified Ger? What equipment would that army be allowed? Could Gers manufacture all of it? What reparations would be exacted of unified Ger? What restrictions would be placed on Ger’s foreign relations? In short, therapy would be designed [Page 385] to dispel or at least reduce fantasy through bringing to foreground of Ger consciousness realities of price Kremlin would exact for a “united” Ger.

To follow this procedure would of course mean that we ourselves would have to be prepared to answer same questions and would not be able to confine discussion to issue of free elections. A repetition of Palais Rose would at this time have greater dangers as it is increasingly difficult to satisfy Ger opinion that we too are not dodging unification. If events bring about such a meeting we must ourselves know answers to questions which unification of Ger would pose at present state of development of European integration. We must be prepared in such a meeting to shelve traditional methods of conference diplomacy and to send representatives of the type who can meet Sov methods on a basis of equality catch as catch can, and no holds barred. It might even be necessary to run risk of offering terms which in fact we ourselves are not willing to accept but coupled with other terms which we are convinced Sovs would not accept so that onus of rejection falls on them.

It might be possible to smoke out Sov reps with these tactics. If we are in position to be candid and forthcoming while Russians were evasive or broke off talks, would we not have substantially accomplished what we seek?

Events may bring us to follow this course, which can only be advocated if Sov reply gives any basis at all for meeting and if we and our Allies are prepared to meet challenge of more basic discussions.

Third course might be to sit tight and hope that Ger sense of frustration will pass without doing our interests great damage. If Moscow’s next offer has no greater attraction and FedRep population is not much moved thereby, this course and another note insisting upon free elections may be adequate.

In light of foregoing it would seem to our temporary advantage if Kremlin continues its present retreat from March note5 and if recent visit of Shvernik to Berlin6 presages strengthening of chains which bind East Ger under Sov control and commit Moscow to preservation of Tartar Wall through Ger.

  1. Repeated to Moscow, London, Paris, and Berlin.
  2. For documentation on the exchanges of notes with the Soviet Union concerning a German peace treaty, German unity, and all-German elections, see Documents 65 ff.
  3. Document 138.
  4. On Sept. 5 the Volkskammer proposed sending a delegation to the Federal Republic of Germany to discuss German unity, all-German elections, and the sending of a joint German Delegation to a four-power conference. The delegation was received on Sept. 19 by Bundestag President Ehlers and a brief discussion was held concerning East German proposals on the future of Germany. For an extract from the Sept. 5 proposals, a report by Ehlers on the Sept. 19 meeting, and the statements made by the members of the Volkskammer delegation the following day, see Documents on German Unity, vol. III, pp. 10–11 and 17–21.
  5. Document 65.
  6. Soviet President Nikolai Shvernik attended the third anniversary ceremonies of the founding of the German Democratic Republic in East Berlin, Oct. 5–7.