396.1/8–1753: Telegram

No. 265
The Acting Secretary of State to the Office of the United States High Commissioner for Germany, at Bonn1
secret priority

574. Soviet note of Aug 16[15]2 strikes us as directed at Germany in contrast with preceding combination of Pravda editorial, Aug 4 note, and parts of Malenkov speech3 which were directed primarily at Brit and Fr public opinion. We regard four statements taken together as all-out effort to foster divisions in West and increase hesitation to proceed with EDC both in Germany and elsewhere. Implication for Germans is that adherence to Adenauer’s present course will result in indefinite division of country, and for other Western Europeans, that EDC will result in indefinite prolongation of Cold War and rebirth of German militarism. These points may have considerable appeal to public, since they coincide in large part with position of opposition parties and elements in Germany and France. While we believe Soviets are still not anxious for meeting on Germany at this time, they are clearly laying groundwork for exploitation German issue to achieve larger stakes (disruption EDC and NATO).

August 16 note advances ostensibly practical program for prompt establishment all-German Government which will inter alia arrange elections and for convocation peace conference. (In last year’s notes, Soviets only covered these points vaguely, though they represent established GDR positions.4) Moreover, note aims directly at influencing Bundestag elections to Adenauer’s detriment, and represents serious effort bolster shaky GDR regime.

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Main theme of argumentative part of Soviet note is “back to Potsdam”, mentioned six times, though notable that section of note dealing with provisional all-German Government does not once indicate degree of control to be exercised by four powers. Paragraphs 1 to 16 stress necessity of peace treaty eight years after war, possibility of achieving this on basis of Potsdam objectives, and impossibility of achieving either peace treaty or unification via West route of EDC, NATO, and 1952 proposals for supervised elections. Conclusion of Soviet note states three proposals, of which first on convocation of peace conference may be attractive, second on role provisional all-German Government is so transparent that should be susceptible firm German rejection, and third on easing financial and economic obligations is nothing Germans will complain about, although literal example of locking barn door after horse stolen by Soviets.

Our preliminary view is that Soviets would definitely gain more than we if we refused take them up on conference looking toward peace settlement. This in fact not unanticipated result West’s initiative of July 15,5 and we believe we should not only answer positively but press for early four-power conference in accordance our July 15 note. Reaction of responsible German leaders important, however, re Soviet point of “back to Potsdam” and especially re creation provisional all German Government by representatives from GDR and Fed Rep rather than on basis free elections. Before replying to Soviet note, we should like if feasible have West Germans set tone on these two points (both of which we would of course like to reject strongly).

In our view this calls for statesmanship on part of both Adenauer and Ollenhauer and subordination if possible of their current election campaign tactics to reach bipartisan agreement on matter of serious German national interest. This has been possible in past as in Bundestag resolution of June 10.6 Could you as HICOM Chairman check with Adenauer and informally with Ollenhauer to ascertain their positions? Most satisfactory might be if German response could take form of Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee declaration or joint AdenauerOllenhauer statement. Failing that, could you induce separate but similar statements by these two leaders? Hope you can, if Brit and French HICOMers agree, contact Adenauer and Ollenhauer on urgent basis. Please also report last prior public rejection by Federal Government and SPD leaders which we could mention in our reply if Ollenhauer at present unwilling cooperate as suggested.

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Our tentative view is that western reply (which will cover both Aug 4 and 16 notes) should be brief and positive and should be made before Bundestag elections, in fact within next week or 10 days if possible. By brief and positive we mean note similar that transmitted Deptel 772 to London 512 Paris rptd Moscow 105 Berlin 106 Bonn 547,7 i.e. proposing German conference in October, concentrating on few basic points and generally avoiding laying down conditions for meeting.

Paris and London authorized pass above tentative views to Foreign Offices. FYI we hope produce new US draft reply by time Paris working group meets which will reflect if available information from Conant referred to above.

Above preliminary views have not been discussed with Secretary whose comments if any will be transmitted subsequently.

  1. Drafted by Kidd; cleared with Bonbright, Merchant, Matthews, Thurston, P, L, and U; and initialed for the Secretary of State by Merchant. Also sent to London and Paris and repeated to Moscow and Berlin.
  2. Supra.
  3. Regarding the Pravda editorial, see footnote 3, Document 262. For text of the Aug. 4 note, see Document 259; for extracts from Malenkov’s speech, Aug. 8, to the Supreme Soviet, see Documents (R.I.I.A.) for 1953, pp. 22 ff.
  4. For documentation on the exchanges of notes with the Soviet Union in 1952, see Documents 65 ff.
  5. Document 257.
  6. For the June 10 Bundestag resolution, see Papers and Documents, pp. 117–118.
  7. Document 263.