No. 270
Memorandum of Conversation, Prepared in the Department of State1

[Subject:] Conversations with the Secretary Concerning United States Positions in Forthcoming Tripartite Conversations

  • Participants: The Secretary
  • Messrs. MacArthur, Knight, Kidd, Bowie, Beam, Thurston, Moore, Barbour, Morris, Galloway, Trulock, Nagle

Inquiry of Swiss

Mr. MacArthur requested that EUR get in touch with the Swiss Legation here to see whether any indications of Soviet intentions to participate in a Lugano meeting on October 15 could be ascertained.

Franco-Soviet Treaty

In response to his inquiry, the Secretary was advised that British responsibilities under the Anglo-Russian Treaty of 1942 and French responsibilities under the Franco-Russian Treaty of 1944 do not carry over into EDC.

Tripartite Working Group

In response to the inquiry of Mr. MacArthur, the Secretary stated that should a Soviet rejection of our note be received prior to departure of the US Working Group, the tripartite conversations in Paris should be temporarily postponed.2


a. Agenda

The Secretary inquired as to whether we were willing to let the Conference break down on the question of agenda. Mr. Thurston replied that an attempt would be made to introduce the broad declaration so the public would feel the break had come on broad issues rather than procedural ones. Mr. Beam suggested tactics might follow lines of a general broad discussion, referral of the [Page 635] peace treaty to a committee and subsequent discussions in plenary sessions of the composition of an all-German government.

The Secretary inquired whether we would accept an agenda with the German Peace Treaty as Item I. The consensus indicated it might be necessary although the great risk of alienating Adenauer if we did so was stressed. Mr. Bowie suggested our position might be that we could not discuss the German peace treaty since the proper party would not be present. The Secretary said that it would always be possible to make a broad preliminary statement, but in the end we must decide whether or not we were prepared to discuss the peace treaty, either among ourselves (Four Powers) or with the two German governments.

b. Representation of German Communist Viewpoint

The Secretary asked if our tactics were to prevent the German Communist viewpoint from being heard and suggested that if the Soviets propose GDR participation in the conference, our position should be that the GDR does not represent the East German people. The Secretary said that we should be very well documented on the lack of popular support for the GDR.

The Secretary raised the question of proportional representation. It was generally agreed that we could accept proportional representation in the Constituent Assembly provided a 5% clause was included. Our position as to how minority views could be expressed in the negotiations would be that this is a matter for the Constituent Assembly itself to decide. Mr. Knight suggested that while without opposing proportional representation officially, we might unofficially attempt to advise the Germans against it. He referred to the history of proportional representation in Italy and France, and said that he did not know of a single exception to the rule that where constituent assemblies are formed on a proportional representation basis the governments which are established adopt the principle of proportional representation in their elections.

The Secretary felt that we should admit that our position on Germany amounts to the Soviets giving up East Germany, and that we should state at the outset what we are prepared to give in return. Without this quid pro quo our case might seem plausible only to those people who are already on our side.

c. Our Opening Statement

The Secretary stressed that a full case must be made in our opening statement; that the declaration of intent could be, if necessary, held until the conference breaks down. He said the opening statement must include assurances to the Soviets and unless we gave assurances the Soviets would not give an inch. He said we must have something at the very outset which will cater to the Soviet fears and suggested phraseology to emphasize we know the [Page 636] Soviets want to be safe from another German attack; that in our opinion if proper procedures are devised the tripartite governments could insure that they would never agree to anything which would impair Russian security. There was concurrence in this viewpoint.

The Secretary said he thought an agenda might be patterned, in part, after that used in the General Assembly in that the first item could be scheduled simply as General Exchange of Views or General Debate. Item two could be Agenda, (or To Fix Agenda). Mr. MacArthur stressed the necessity of getting across our infinite reasonableness.

d. Consultations with the Federal Republic

The Secretary inquired as to the proposed procedures for consultation with Adenauer in connection with the Lugano conference. Mr. MacArthur said that there were two problems involved: 1) consultation with the Germans during the tripartite working group meetings in Paris, and 2) at the conference site in Lugano. It was generally agreed that there should be two channels: one through the High Commissioners in Bonn, and one directly to Adenauer, through a high level “observer” at the conference site.

The Secretary stated he thought well of his seeing Adenauer en route Lugano although not in company with the French or British Foreign Ministers. He stressed his belief in the soundness of the personal approach and in the development of joint personal confidence and respect.

e. The Question of Tripartite Positions

The Secretary inquired to what extent were the tripartite governments to speak as a bloc and whether they must be in complete accord before a position could be taken. Mr. MacArthur replied we were hopeful of reaching a situation wherein substantial tripartite agreement could be evolved through the forthcoming talks but that points could well remain that would have to be resolved by the three foreign ministers themselves. The Secretary said he was reluctant to assume that any one of the three would have a veto over the other and that no one of the three could speak without agreement with the other two. He said we might have to break loose from the British and French on occasion as the only way to get action and that he did not want to be bound hard and fast by any tripartite unity rule. It was suggested that perhaps independent action would be in order toward the conclusion of the conference. The Secretary again stressed we should not tie our hands by conceding to the law of complete unanimity.

Security Guarantees

The Secretary asked what we planned to offer Russia in return for East Germany. He was advised that information on the Van Zeeland [Page 637] Plan3 and Bonn’s 1055 had been referred to Defense, that no preliminary report had been received of the Joint Chiefs’ reactions but that some indication might be expected on Monday.4

In a discussion of possible security arrangements with the Soviets, the Secretary stated he would never place much dependability on an arrangement based on neutralization or limitation in that it could be backed by no real sanction. In such an arrangement, lacking by its very nature a sanction which operates against the individual, a mere agreement by governments was highly undependable.

Qualitative limitations are totally unenforceable. It was suggested that, should an inspection team certify a violation had occurred, the opposing side could counterbalance. The Secretary reiterated the inherent weakness of any enforcement power and remarked that the Versailles treaty was grand protection on paper.

The Secretary stressed the requirement for a system for proof against evasions and violations: that we must have something we think workable despite violations on the other side. The only recourse is that violation frees the opposing party of its obligation to adhere. Also violation could be construed as notification of aggressive intent.

The Secretary said that what we would primarily hope for would be some sort of a German-French agreement and that in the opening statements the tripartite governments must stress open-mindedness and lack of a predetermined formula from which there could be no deviation. He suggested that, if general agreement is reached in Paris, perhaps it would be wise to have Adenauer prepare a declaration which could be presented.


In discussing the frontiers problem Mr. Kidd said we could progress very little until German participation in the discussions was arranged. The Secretary stated we needed, for the purposes of discussion, a substantive position on boundaries; that it would be necessary to combat the fear that the Germans would use EDC as a means to regain their former boundaries. Mr. Kidd mentioned that, generally speaking, it had been US opinion that Free Poland should get a little more of the industrial area of Upper Silesia and that the Germans should get some of the agricultural lands of Pomerania and Brandenburg; large mass movements would not be involved. He recalled that Adenauer foresaw no possibility of a quick solution to the frontier problem.

[Page 638]

The Secretary referred to the Moscow CFM and to his memorandum to Secretary Marshall stating that freedom of movement across the German-Polish boundaries was of more importance than exactly where the boundaries were eventually to be drawn.5

The Secretary emphasized that on the question of guarantees the Germans, rather than the tripartite governments, must evolve a position. He added that he did not consider the guarantee envisaged in the Beam paper6 as derogating from UN authority; further, that we cannot make our vital interests reliant upon such guarantees.

Mr. Kidd mentioned that while he could envisage a non-agression pact of some manner a mutual assistance pact might be the cause of some trouble. The Secretary said he doubted our ability to get a treaty ratified that would require going to war against Germany were she to attack Russia; that we would not go to war against a non-communist country if it attacked a communist country.


With respect to Austrian “neutralization”, Mr. Knight said that, in order to avoid a bad precedent which might subsequently come back to haunt us on the German problem, we now advocate a unilateral nonaggression declaration by Austria renouncing Austrian participation in any military alliances. This would in effect be a renunciation of the right to join NATO or EDC. The Secretary asked if this did not mean that we might be inclined to agree with the Soviets with respect to the position of Austria on the Four Power agenda. It seemed that we might also prefer to discuss Germany first. If we agreed to place Austria second on the agenda, we should state at the outset that we hope during the course of the meeting to make progress on the German conference and to finalize an Austrian solution.

  1. The meeting took place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 26.
  2. Following the delivery of the tripartite note on Sept. 2, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France discussed the possibility of meeting in Paris to prepare agreed positions for the four-power meeting. The status of this meeting was still unclear at the end of September.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 226.
  4. Telegram 1055 presented Adenauer’s plan for a European security system that was similar to the Van Zeeland plan. (740.5/9–1653)
  5. The memorandum under reference has not been further identified.
  6. Under reference is a memorandum from Beam to Bowie, dated Sept. 22, in which Beam discussed the possibility of a security guarantee for the Soviet Union as a means for obtaining German unification. A copy of this memorandum is in PPS files, lot 64 D 563, “Germany 1953”.