396.1 BE/1–3054: Telegram

No. 383
The United States Delegation at the Berlin Conference to the Department of State 1

confidential priority

Secto 53. Department pass OSD. Following summarizes first part January 29 meeting, Secretary presiding:2

Opening meeting at 1506, Secretary stated his understanding that, although minutes are not quite clear on point, conference has suspended discussion on item one for time being and will now begin item two.

Molotov expressed belief there must be some misunderstanding. He agreed that minutes are not entirely clear on point but said that as far as Soviet delegation is concerned, item one has three aspects: military, political and economic. Conference has discussed in some detail political aspect, particularly in that part relating to proposed five-power meeting. Decision taken by conference, he said, was to suspend for time being discussion on this aspect pending the restricted meeting of the four Foreign Ministers. On economic aspect, he continued, Soviet delegation has already expressed itself in some detail. In this connection, he expressed satisfaction that French and United Kingdom trade delegations are now in Moscow. He then suggested that conference should devote its attention to military aspect. He claimed that halting of armament race has [Page 872] very important and serious relationship to reduction of international tension and thought it would be appropriate therefore for US, UK and French Foreign Ministers to express themselves on question of disarmament. Indeed, he noted, Bidault had himself underlined this question in his speech of January 25.3 Molotov said he expected to be told that disarmament question is now before UN which has created Disarmament Commission to study it. This commission, he alleged, is now idle and paralyzed. Efforts of Soviet delegation to disarmament commission in support of reduction of armaments have met with frustration. Majority of commission members, he said, seem to prefer dealing with other matters, such as collection of intelligence data on other armies. Thus it is illusory to think of UN as moving forward as far as reduction of armaments is concerned. For this reason Soviet delegation feels it desirable and knows it will meet with approval of all peoples for four Foreign Ministers to take question out of disarmament commission so limited in size and to call in its stead a world-wide conference of UN and non-UN members. This might better be proposed at a five power Foreign Ministers meeting but, rather than waiting for agreement on such meeting, which is still lacking, Soviet delegation therefore has proposed it to present four power meeting.

Secretary replied4 that he has no desire to use what limited authority he possesses as chairman to prevent anyone from speaking but that it seems to him item one is broad enough to encompass almost every problem in world. He had thought, however, that conference had finished with item one and was now prepared for serious business. Apparently he was mistaken. He continued that he would like to make several observations. US, he said, and he believes also UK and France, although he can speak only for US, came to conference with genuine hope it could help relax international tensions. He hoped this first four power conference in five years could prove its usefulness. He thought we had showed that when we accepted Molotov’s agenda,5 even though we did not like it, in the belief that procedural discussions on it would not help international climate. Item one, he continued, has as first part of its title “Measures for Reducing Tension in International Relations”. Charges, replies and then counter-charges made under this item have probably not contributed to relaxation of international tensions. Secretary did not believe this conference, the first in five years, will justify itself unless it does better than it has and gets [Page 873] down to serious business. Conference should discuss problems we can and should solve rather than those we are not competent to solve and which contribute to an increase in tension. So far conference has spent time trying to find ways to set up new conferences. This will discredit conference itself and will cheapen our work in eyes of world. Secretary wondered if Soviet Foreign Minister really believes world tensions would be reduced by raising anew at this meeting an abortive proposal first presented by USSR to UN General Assembly two years ago and discussed there. If so, Secretary did not see how conference could fulfill hopes placed on it. Secretary continued that conference can do serious work on German and Austrian questions. If we can, as reasonable people, solve, make progress, talk seriously on them, or on either of them, that would go far to reduce world tensions. If, however, meeting is to discuss propaganda charges, make charges and countercharges, it will not fulfill hopes placed on it.

Bidault said he would like at first to iron out any misunderstanding about his speech of January 25. He would like to repeat its main points on disarmament. Disarmament, he said, can not be achieved on a lasting basis except on the basis of agreement of the great powers, but it should be achieved within the framework of the UN. He had said this on January 25 and his views have not changed. Bidault then presented French draft resolution on disarmament6 under which four governments would “pledge themselves to join their efforts to those of the United Nations Disarmament Commission in order that the latter may reach substantial agreement on the general principles of disarmament which would permit the convening of a general disarmament conference, in conditions favorable to its success, in conformity with the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly of January 11, 1952.” Bidault explained that he raised disarmament question in this form not to prolong conference but because of its intrinsic importance. History since World War I has demonstrated question to be extremely difficult and complex. In order to avoid bitterness and differences of opinion, he concluded, he would suggest that disarmament question be set aside for time being and that conference return to it later.

Eden stated that as representative of a country which disarmed after World War II and then had to rearm, he found it difficult to understand the current discussion. He did not recognize Molotov’s description of the status of the Disarmament Commission. To attempt to do so this afternoon would be to embark on a long and fruitless discussion, into which he refused to enter. He thought we [Page 874] could all endorse one general principle; progress on disarmament, in his own experience between two world wars, can only come about as international disputes are resolved and by an increase in mutual confidence. One thing we can do to speed progress is to begin discussion on German and Austrian questions. These are the questions we are here to discuss. We have not reached them yet in five days. He therefore agreed with Bidault’s suggestion that meeting pass on from present discussion to item two of agenda.

Molotov stated that Soviet delegation also does not consider it advisable to prolong discussion on any question and that he would consider any proposal to accelerate the work. Soviet insistence on examining disarmament problem, he said, comes from fact no CFM has met in five years and there has been no place to discuss question. Molotov said he could not agree that item one is not serious, whereas items two and three are serious. Soviet delegation believes all three items are serious; item one is of extremely serious nature. Soviet delegation, he said, does not look upon problem of disarmament as propaganda question. There is in international affairs no problem of greater importance to our nations and the whole world than efforts to reduce burden of armaments. Progress in this field would contribute greatly toward reduction of world tensions. He rejected implication that only USSR has anything to do with committing aggression. He then supported proposal of Eden and Bidault both that both Soviet and French draft resolutions7 be held for study in a restricted meeting of the Foreign Ministers. After agreement is reached on this, he said, conference could proceed to discuss German problem.

Secretary stated he understands proposals made by Bidault had been accepted by Molotov and, he believed, also Eden. Secretary likewise accepted proposal.

In that case, Molotov said, he would like to make some remarks about procedure of conference.8 On January 27 he had sent to Eden, as chairman for that day, copy of statement considered at appropriate moment by conference.9 Copies also had been sent to Bidault and Secretary. GDR raised question of inviting representatives of GDR and of Federal Republic to conference when it discusses German question. Soviet delegation considers it important to examine carefully GDR request. West Germany, although it has not requested invitation, may well wish to attend also, although Soviet Government knows little of West German position as respects invitation. Soviet Government has consistently held to opinion [Page 875] that German people themselves must help reach German settlement along peaceful lines. Since German question is matter for Germans themselves, representatives of GDR and Federal Republic would assist considerably our discussions on Germany. Fact that nine million Germans in GDR have signed petition for invitation to both GDR and Federal Republic representatives at conference cannot be ignored. Soviet delegation therefore proposes GDR and Federal Republic Governments be invited to send representatives to participate in discussion of item two.

Secretary agreed that German question is of proper and intimate concern to German people.10 Our problem, he said, is one of establishing legitimate representatives to speak for Germany as a whole. Perhaps our first task is to arrange by free all-German elections for a national assembly with which to deal. Secretary doubted there is any German government or combination of German regimes which can speak for German people as a whole. We know, Secretary said, that Federal Republic would not be willing to associate itself with regime governing East Germany for purpose of assuring all-German representation at conference. He doubted that GDR actually represents East German people. He expressed hope that as soon as possible conference will provide for all-German elections and formation of all-German government to represent German people in negotiations re the future of Germany. Secretary concluded that he therefore cannot now agree to GDR request of January 24.11

Bidault said French delegation agrees that legitimate representatives of entire Germany should participate in peace treaty. Our task now is to relieve division of Germany. He doubted that two sets of representatives so diametrically opposed in their views, would set a helpful tone to the discussions. Their polemics, which would take place in this semi-public forum, would not assist task for which Foreign Ministers of occupying powers are now responsible. He agreed that while it seems difficult to talk about Germany without participation of Germans, nevertheless such is preferable if conference wants to make progress toward unification of Germany.

Eden said UK Government had always urged that freely elected German representatives should participate in decisions re Germany. Free elections, on which he will soon have some proposals to make, should precede formation of an all-German government. He declared himself unable to accept Soviet proposal.

Following is summary of second part, plenary session, January 29:

[Page 876]

Molotov said Ministers were to consider German and Austrian questions; that during consideration of Austrian questions the Austrians should be heard and that during German questions representatives of both East and West Germany should be heard. Said he knew US, UK and France were prepared to invite Austrian representatives to conference during consideration of Austrian question and that nobody would understand unless Germans were similarly invited during consideration their questions. Stressed fact that no unified Germany now existed led particularly to conclusion that both East and West Germans should be heard. Recalled that when German question was considered by UN General Assembly in 1951, ad hoc political committee invited both East and West Germany, as well as representatives from both sectors of Berlin, to attend discussions and said that if conference is to move forward, instead of backward, it should do no less than did GA in 1951. Emphasized that while USSR has official relations with only East Germany and the US, UK and France with only West Germany, this whole matter should not be reduced to one of official relations only.

Molotov maintained that refusal of Big Four to invite representatives from East and West Germany might be misinterpreted and that this would add another obstacle in way of unification. Said lack of official relations did not exclude possibility that appropriate contacts and connections be established between Federal Republic and USSR and that such attempts as had already taken place were as yet insufficient. Recalled that representatives of big West German industrial firms had met with representatives of the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Trade in August 1952 at Copenhagen and added that while there had been no further developments at that time it should not mean that present attempts should not be made to establish business contacts which would contribute to an appropriate development of economic relations. Said he was certain West Germans were no less interested in this matter than the USSR; that the Soviet people active in science would like cultural ties with West Germans.

Molotov repeated that purpose present conference to discuss German problem in Berlin and that people would not understand what the four Ministers were afraid of if they refused to meet the German representatives. Said USSR had been told that invitation to representatives of Western and Eastern Germany to participate must await action on questions like electoral law procedures et cetera, but Soviet delegation believed Germans themselves must be heard regarding these matters. Said no serious German question could be considered without hearing Germans and therefore he proposed to invite representatives from both East and West Germany to the meeting to hear their views prior to discussion before [Page 877] conference by the four Foreign Ministers of the German problems. Conference recessed and reconvened at 1800.

The Secretary said US had no further remarks on the matter of German representation and gave the floor to Bidault who pointed out fallacies in linking discussion of Austria and Germany. Said Foreign Ministers would be guilty of grave temerity if they now tried to establish solidarity on logic or geographical or political bases. Recalled that Austria would be discussed under Point 3 and that Austria had one government which was jointly recognized. Added that Ministers’ purpose should be a German treaty; that unity and conditions must be established under which single German Government could be formed.

Eden expressed agreement with Bidault’s statement on Austria and added that continued division of Germany meant instability and ultimate disaster for all. He then tabled UK plan for German reunification and freedom. (Text transmitted Secto 34 and Secto 5112). Molotov followed with statement that Bidault and Eden, which were usually understandable, were not so today. He described Eden’s speech as that of a scholarly constitutionalist of a strictly German type and construed it as saying that the best kind of German freedom the Ministers could propose would be from the hands of occupation authorities. He said it was unclear why Eden forgot to speak on subject of inviting Germans; that perhaps his colleagues felt it not necessary to consider these questions. Molotov emphasized he could not agree to this but considered lateness of hour precluded further discussion German representation problem at present meeting. Said points remaining for clarification were whether Ministers accepted or rejected idea of inviting Germans or whether Ministers wanted to reject the proposal which had been made by the Soviet delegation on that score. Said if he could not have clear answer today, he had no objections to waiting until tomorrow, but difficult to consider matter as closed.

The Secretary pointed out there had been two rounds of general discussions on this subject with no agreement. He suggested the formalizing of the Ministers’ position be left until tomorrow.

Meeting closed approximately 1920.

  1. Transmitted in three sections. Repeated to Bonn, Frankfurt, London, Paris, Vienna, and Moscow.
  2. The U.S. Delegation verbatim record of the fifth plenary meeting, USDEL PLEN/5, is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 193.
  3. For a summary of Bidault’s statement on Jan. 25, see Secto 17, Document 355.
  4. For Secretary Dulles’ remarks, see Berlin Discussions, pp. 52–54, or Cmd. 9080, pp. 38–39.
  5. For the Soviet agenda, see Secto 17, Document 355.
  6. For the French draft resolution on disarmament, see FPM(54)15, Document 509.
  7. For the Soviet resolution, see Secto 29, Document 359.
  8. For Molotov’s remarks, see Berlin Discussions, pp. 55–56.
  9. No copy of this statement has been found in Department of State files.
  10. For Secretary Dulles’ statement, see Berlin Discussions, pp. 56–57.
  11. An English translation of this letter is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 200.
  12. Neither printed. (396.1 BE/1–2754 and 1–2954) For the British plan, see FPM(54)17, Document 510.