Secretary’s Letters, lot 56 D 459, “H

No. 226
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Director of the Office of German Affairs (Lewis)


Subject: Visit of State Secretary Hallstein

  • Participants: The Secretary of State
  • Professor Dr. Walter Hallstein, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the German Federal Republic
  • Dr. Heinz Krekeler, Chargé d’Affaires of the Federal Republic
  • Geoffrey W. Lewis—Acting Director, GER

Dr. Hallstein saw the Secretary at his own request for about three quarters of an hour on October 21. Dr. Hallstein was in this country to deliver an address at the New York Herald Tribune Forum and to accept a degree from Georgetown University.

Dr. Hallstein began by expressing pleasure at having an opportunity again to talk to the Secretary. He had been asked by the Chancellor to thank the Secretary for having met the Chancellor’s points on the reply to the Soviets in so satisfactory a manner.1 He then said that the Chancellor had asked him to convey to the Secretary the following:

(1) EDC. Dr. Hallstein said that the Chancellor was considering no alternatives to EDC. In fact, ratification of the EDC within the near future was essential to the Chancellor’s continued political life. The Chancellor had won the election on the basis of his foreign policy and the keystone of that foreign policy is ratification of the EDC. He was, therefore, determined to do everything in his power to obtain this objective.

The Secretary said that the policy of this government was identical with that of the Chancellor in that we had considered alternatives to the EDC only sufficiently to determine that there were no acceptable alternatives. He fully appreciated the Chancellor’s dedication to this objective and said that he felt the prospects for reasonable prompt ratification were brighter than ever before. He had [Page 545] been encouraged by his recent talks with Bidault,2 who felt that there was a possibility of some sort of token vote even before the French presidential election, perhaps taking the form of a vote to replace the rapporteur of the Committee in the Assembly having charge of the EDC. In this connection, the Secretary felt that a solution of the Saar problem was very important in obtaining the end we all desire and he hoped that stories he had heard to the effect that the Chancellor’s position on the Saar had hardened were untrue.

Dr. Hallstein assured the Secretary that the Chancellor’s position on the Saar had not changed and that he was eager to take advantage of M. Bidault’s invitation to discuss the matter.3 He felt, however, that it was necessary this time carefully to lay the ground work so that this conference would not end indecisively as others had done. To this end the Chancellor was thinking of working out the preliminaries through Francois-Poncet. No detailed settlement could, of course, be expected out of talks between the Chancellor and Bidault but the Chancellor did feel that there should be certain principles established which would make it impossible for the French to delay consideration of the EDC indefinitely. Furthermore the Saar issue now constituted a problem by reason of not only the SPD attitude but also that of certain elements in the Chancellor’s coalition, notably the FDP. The Chancellor was taking steps to handle this opposition within his own coalition. In the end, strong intervention by the United States might be necessary to bring about Franco-German agreement.

Dr. Hallstein went on to say that if the EDC ratification were long delayed, the German people would become very restive over the fact that the occupation would continue and the Chancellor felt that consideration would have to be given in that event to putting the contractual agreements into effect even though there was no EDC ratification.

To this the Secretary replied that he was fully aware of the dangers of allowing the French simply by inaction on the EDC to perpetuate an outmoded occupation and he agreed that the problem was to get the French to act, for it now appeared reasonably certain that the French Assembly would ratify the EDC by a small margin if it were brought to a vote.

(2) Security Guarantees. Dr. Hallstein said that Van Zeeland had called on the Chancellor last week to discuss his plan of security guarantees.4 The Chancellor was very much concerned by certain of its features. In effect it substituted a guarantee by the Soviets for the presence of American troops in Germany which was from the German point of view an entirely unsatisfactory exchange. It confirmed, temporarily at least, the Oder-Neisse line. Lastly, the Chancellor thought it was very bad tactics to discuss such a plan [Page 546] before EDC was solidly established since this would enable opponents of the EDC in France to continue to stall.

The Secretary replied that this plan had been discussed during the recent meeting of the three Foreign Ministers at London but that they entertained similar misgivings to those of the Chancellor and, therefore, had agreed politely to discourage the idea.

(3) Russian Progress in Atomic Weapons. Dr. Hallstein reported that Van Zeeland had told the Chancellor that the Russians had recently made unexpected progress in catching up with the US in the atomic arms race. This had led certain Americans to be more willing to make concessions in order to reach agreement with the Russians than had been the case before. He wondered if the Secretary could give him any comments to take back to the Chancellor.

The Secretary replied that our scientists had indeed come to the conclusion that the Russians had made unexpectedly rapid progress in developing a Hydrogen type of weapon but that they felt that the U.S. still had a reasonable lead. He then pointed out that we were far ahead of the Russians in developing and manufacturing types of atomic weapons for tactical use and that these promised to be more useful as practical military weapons than the bomb which obliterated huge areas. It was felt that we were far enough ahead of the Soviets in this field to prevent them from deliberately starting a war for some years to come.

(4) Consultation with the Germans. Dr. Hallstein said that the Chancellor wanted to be certain that there was adequate consultation with the German Government during the Paris meeting and during a meeting at Lugano if one should develop.5 As to the latter, he realized that the Germans could not sit down at the conference table and he was satisfied with the tentative arrangements so far made. He was, however, concerned lest matters be discussed in Paris without an adequate opportunity being given the Germans to express their views on matters vital to them.

The Secretary replied that he considered the Paris conference little more than an academic exercise since he thought there was small likelihood of a Lugano meeting taking place. He, therefore, thought the Chancellor did not need to worry that any final decisions would be taken there. He pointed out that it was a conference principally of technical experts and that he had consented to have Mr. MacArthur participate for only a short time. He could assure Dr. Hallstein that the Germans would be kept fully abreast of all developments in the meeting which affect their interests.

As Dr. Hallstein and Dr. Krekeler were leaving, the Secretary asked if Dr. Hallstein attached great importance to a meeting with the President. Dr. Hallstein replied that the Chancellor thought it would indeed be very helpful to him. The Secretary thereupon arranged a short call by Dr. Hallstein on the President for the following morning.6

[Page 547]

Before going in to the Secretary’s Office, Mr. Lewis learned from Dr. Hallstein that the Chancellor was thinking of putting through amendments to the Basic Law to remove all doubts as to the legality in Germany of EDC without waiting for action by the Constitutional Court. This was not yet a fixed decision. The Chancellor had failed in his attempt to get the SPD to drop their suit, a course of action which the Chancellor thought would have been the best way of resolving the problem.

  1. Presumably Hallstein is referring to the tripartite note of Oct. 18 which invited the Soviet Union to a four-power meeting at Lugano on Nov. 9. For documentation on this note and further exchanges of messages with the Soviet Union which led to the Berlin Conference in January 1954, see Documents 257 ff.
  2. For documentation on the Foreign Ministers meeting at London, Oct. 16–18, during which the question of Germany was discussed, see Documents 291 ff.
  3. For documentation on Adenauer’s discussions with Bidault concerning the Saar, see Documents 607 ff.
  4. Regarding Belgian Foreign Minister Van Zeeland’s proposal for security guarantees in Europe, made to President Eisenhower and Secretary Dulles, Sept. 29, see the memorandum of conversation by the Secretary, vol. v, Part 1, p. 813.
  5. For documentation on the tripartite technical conversations at Paris, Oct. 21–Nov. 2, 1953, see Documents 312 ff.
  6. For a record of Hallstein’s meeting with President Eisenhower, see the memorandum of conversation, infra.