762.0221/6–1653: Telegram

No. 196
The Acting United States High Commissioner for Germany (Reber) to the Department of State1


5338. Re our telegrams Department 5320 and 5321 June 13.2 Series of sensational moves in Soviet Zone, have revitalized unity theme in Germany. Rapid tempo, number and extent of ostensible concessions, indicate importance which Kremlin attaches to Germany at this stage. Soviet Zone policy changes added to previous Soviet “peace” gestures pose questions of (a) Kremlin motivation (b) what next Soviet moves may be and (c) implications for US policy of recent and possible future moves.

While reversal of recent pressure for Sovietization Soviet Zone seems intended to create impression that USSR prepared surrender Soviet Zone in order prevent inclusion Germany in Western defense coalition by permitting creation of unified and free but neutral [Page 472] Germany, we believe that prospects for build-up really effective Western strength are not yet sufficiently menacing to bring Kremlin to point of determining whether such vital sacrifice is feasible. Its implications to the Satellites would be too clear, and Soviets would risk their undoubted long-term objective of adding German industrial strength to their own. However, we are concerned not only with what Soviets will actually do, but equally with what they persuade Germany and other European people to believe or hope they will do. Main weapon of Soviets is implication that they would be willing permit German unification under these or similar conditions, and German public probably will be subjected increasingly heavy barrage of moves designed further this impression. Soviet reactions in past few weeks may soon be considered here as answering President’s demands for deeds not words,3 and Germans will look to Allies for next move. While broad aim of Kremlin appears to be disruption of Atlantic coalition and undermining of EDC or its possible substitutes, we believe present Soviet objective is twofold: (1) to prepare ground for both limited four-power discussions on reunification and (2) to diminish public confidence in Adenauer and discredit his policy of Western alliances and integration as only way to protect German interest. It would serve their interests and appear to be their aim to prevent clear-cut election decision with resultant divided public opinion and ineffective Government.4

Possible that next Soviet step will be suggestion for top-level four-power meeting to discuss reunification of Germany under “limited” four-power control, but, though Soviets may be building up to it, this considered unlikely as first step. Tenor of SED declarations and announcement of Semenov appointment suggest that next Soviet step more likely to be offer to negotiate or discuss limited range of problems at four-power HICOMer level. Regardless of actual importance of subjects discussed, talks among four HICOMers would create, as Soviets undoubtedly intend they should, much excitement and confusion in German public. Whether or not HICOMer talks take place, also seems likely Soviets will continue make sporadic minor concessions in fields such as interzonal travel or easing of Berlin situation in order increase disaffection with Chancellor’s attitude toward Moscow, though if concessions came as apparent results of talks they would be more impressive. On other side, talks would give Allies opportunity to put forward their own desiderata with respect to improvement conditions in East Germany. If preceded by announcement that four-power conference [Page 473] is scheduled to take place at later date, talks will lose some of their significance.

While German skepticism and distrust of Kremlin continue high, and Chancellor considers this dominates German political thinking, we believe recent Soviet Zone moves have brought widespread recognition, even among coalition circles, that four-power talks on German unity must take place eventually to reveal true intentions of Moscow and make it possible for Western defense to get moving again. Chancellor and top coalition leaders continue to fear adverse effect if talks were help prior to elections, but we believe US must avoid creating impression that it is hanging back in exploring possibilities for relaxation of East-West tension or solution of German unity problem. Thus early decision upon four-power conference at convenient date becomes more and more important viewed from Germany.

We recognize that other considerations must govern such decision which will no doubt not be made until after Bermuda.5 In the interval, however, we must call attention to a situation which can arise at any time and pose the question as to US attitude toward Soviet invitation at HICOM level for talks on specific questions.

Should Soviets make proposals to discussion HICOMer level reactivation of four-power control machinery (e.g., by calling meeting of Control Council or Kommandaturs) or raise overall questions of German reunification on HICOMer level on an ad hoc basis, they should be answered, we believe, but statement we consider general questions should be referred to higher levels; in the case of limited specific Soviet proposals we should agree to discuss them ad hoc and to take advantage of such discussions to put forth our own counter-proposals on such specific problems as relate, for example, to access to Berlin and to removal “dead zone” on zonal border.

We cannot predict means which Soviets may choose to try to bring about meeting at HICOMer level, but efforts to do this, if they come at all, may come soon. HICOG requests instructions from Department as to our reaction to possible overtures, which subjects we should be ready to discuss, and which subjects should be avoided.

  1. Repeated to London, Paris, Moscow, and Berlin.
  2. Telegram 5320 reported that Chancellor Adenauer was concerned over an SPD request for the Western High Commissioners to discuss with their Soviet counterpart measures which would insure normal traffic in goods and persons within Germany. (762A.00/6–1353) Telegram 5321 reported growing speculation and controversy in Germany over the possibility of four-power talks. (762A.00/6–1353)
  3. See footnote 2, Document 182.
  4. The Federal elections were scheduled for September.
  5. See footnote 4, Document 187.