Eisenhower Library, John Foster Dulles papers, “1951–1959”

No. 267
The United States High Commissioner for Germany (Conant) to the Secretary of State1
personal and private
eyes only

Dear Foster: I am venturing to send you this personal note about my conference with the Chancellor this morning, as I think it throws some light on the future relations between the German Government and our own.2 In making this statement, I realize that I am prophesying as to the outcome of the elections,3 which is perhaps gratuitous in view of the fact that by the time you receive this letter, you will know how the voting has gone here in Germany. However, almost everyone here believes the Chancellor will be returned. The big question is, how much he will have to pay in the way of political debts for the support from other parties, in particular whether he has to bring the BHE into the government. But leaving these matters aside, I am addressing myself here to our differences of opinion about the contents of the note to the Soviet Union.

In my attempts this morning to persuade the Chancellor to accept a modified Seventh Paragraph, which were unsuccessful, I ran into his repeated reference to Article Seven of the Contractual Agreements.4 I am convinced that his objections to the original draft and to the substitute Paragraph Seven offered were quite sincere, and did not stem from any attempt to be difficult or to show the Allies that he was displeased because he had not been consulted in greater detail earlier.

[Page 629]

As a matter of fact, he was quite satisfied with the way the consultation had taken place this time. The heart of his objection centers on any public statement that anything to do with the Peace Treaty would be discussed in a Four-Power Conference. He believes that the Allied governments are committed by their previous notes and by Article Seven of the conventions to refusing to discuss the Peace Treaty with the Russians until representatives of a unified Germany can be present at the peace table. If this is not in fact the position of the present three governments, then we are faced with a serious problem for the future. This seems to me to go far beyond the question of finding a set of words that were suitable to all concerned in the note to the Soviets.

The reason the Chancellor was quite willing to accept the second alternative which I presented was that it made no reference to the peace treaty. I take it, though he did not say so, that he believes that if a conference is held, and the Russians start the discussion of the peace treaty, the three Allies will rule this discussion out of order at once. It would seem to me of importance to be sure that we are in accord on this position if there is any possibility of a Four-Power Conference on the German question.

The Chancellor (and Professor Hallstein, in a separate conversation) more than once raised the question of why we had gone beyond the note of July 155 which they found so satisfactory. In attempting to explain the position of the three governments, I pointed out that the idea of a Four-Power Foreign Ministers Conference in this note had been urged by him, and that the possibilities of such a conference had aroused hopes in other countries, whatever might be the case in Germany. If we had intended merely to consult with the Russians on the details of free elections and the status of an all-German Government, it would have been quite unnecessary to have convened four foreign ministers for that purpose.

Indeed, in some preliminary discussions which he and I had had early in July, I had suggested that a procedure might be contemplated which would involve only the four High Commissioners, but he and Professor Hallstein then insisted on the importance of calling a Four-Power Foreign Ministers Conference because those were, to use his own words, “magic words.” I suggested to him today that these magic words had now raised the hopes of people in the United States, Great Britain and France, and that our government’s unwillingness to limit the discussion to merely free elections and the status of the German Government was a consequence [Page 630] of the magic contained in these words, which he had himself first urged.

I am not sure whether this line of argumentation will meet with your approval, but I believe it had some effect on the Chancellor, though I hope it did not unduly annoy him. I attempted, in presenting the point of view of the three governments as vigorously as I could, to bring out the basic differences of opinion, and to support as strongly as I knew how the three Allies’ stand. I felt if I was at all weak in this encounter with the Chancellor this morning, I should have lessened my future usefulness to you. At the same time, I hope that the Chancellor was not too disturbed at my frank statements, for he has not in recent times been used to much argument with his own staff government, I have been told.

All of this, of course, is a supplement to the regular telegrams I have sent to the Department, and is an attempt to give you a rather personal flavor of my rather strenuous hour-and-a-half dispute with the Chancellor this morning. It all ended very amicably, as when I offered the second alternative, he accepted it at once and with a certain measure of relief and gratitude. The same feeling seemed to be expressed at once by his two advisers who were present, namely Blankenhorn and Hallstein.

With all good wishes,

Sincerely yours,

  1. The source text was attached to a chit which indicated that Secretary Dulles and Merchant had seen it and to a reply from Dulles, dated Sept. 8, which read as follows:

    “Dear Jim: I have your letter of August 31. I think you handled the matter with the Chancellor very well indeed. Now that the election is over and he has won a smashing victory, I imagine that his personal influence will be enhanced to a point where it will be very difficult—and perhaps undesirable—to deal with the German problem except on the basis of treating him as a full partner.

    “I was in Denver yesterday and had a fine talk with the President. He was, of course, delighted with the Adenauer victory. He has a very high personal regard for Adenauer.

    “Sincerely yours, John Foster Dulles.”

  2. Regarding discussion of the reply to the Soviet note of Aug. 15, see the editorial note, supra.
  3. For documentation on the Federal elections of Sept. 6, see Documents 217 ff.
  4. For text of the Convention on Relations between the Three Powers and the Federal Republic of Germany, see Document 51.
  5. Document 257.