396.1 BE/2–654: Telegram

No. 435
The United States Delegation at the Berlin Conference to the Department of State1

secret priority

Secto 100. Department pass OSD. Following summary of twelfth Ministers’ meeting February 6, Dulles presiding:2


(a) Bidault reverted Molotov’s misgivings re emergence Hitlerism in Germany despite existence parliamentary regime; said clear lesson of history was that Hitler’s rise due not to working but to failure of parliamentary system. Agreed a parliamentary regime not the only safeguard of democracy, nevertheless an essential condition; whereas USSR argues we should cripple parliamentary regime by interference and control; but this would cause very result—desire for revenge—which we trying to avoid.

(b) Turned to Molotov’s contention possible co-existence Communist and non-Communist elements in single government and said in fact when Communists remained in such coalition governments they took over generally in proximity to military force. In any case Germans do not want such government.

(c) Molotov’s proposal3 has three parts:

  • First, the Four Powers should help the two German Governments to form a joint provisional government; but this is impossible and it foolish say that since we can sit around conference table [Page 979] together, therefore two opposing types of government could coalesce. We are a conference, not a government. A government must be able to take action sometimes promptly.
  • Secondly, there should be a substantial withdrawal occupation forces before elections which we cannot agree.
  • Third, the German unified state should have no right of association with its neighbors; this we cannot accept and besides it not relevant.

(d) Therefore, Bidault urged, let us examine what concretely can be done. The essential things if there is to be a freely elected all-German government are an electoral law and some impartial supervision of elections to insure that they genuinely free. Provision government not needed for these purposes. Promulgation of electoral law under auspices occupying powers not intended force French or American or British electoral law upon Germany. No objection using pattern of electoral law rooted in German institutions, e.g., electoral law of Weimar Republic. As regards supervision, it seemed agreed supervision was necessary, only question being who would supervise, USSR apparently wanting supervision to be altogether by Germans themselves. Bidault suggested possibility supervision at each level being by tripartite group, one West German, one East German, one neutral.

(e) Objective should be get process started of forming united freely elected German government. Occupying powers alone can do since they the only general power in all Germany. No other issues need detain us. Freely elected German government will not solve whole German problem, but it will be a sign we sincerely trying.


Eden contrasted two plans now in deadlock,4 said it evident that essential difference in order of events. Molotov proposal called for (in this sequence): (a) Establishment provisional government; (b) promulgation of electoral law; (c) elections. Whatever comparison of other merits may be, it obvious Soviet plan more complicated, more arduous and requiring more difficult pre-consultations. From Western viewpoint, it unacceptable for three reasons: (a) Postulates agreement between (indeed merger of) two incompatible types of government (Eden supported Bidault’s argument no valid analogy between this conference table and establishment of provisional government); (b) involves concept of free elections radically different from that acceptable to West; (c) requires prior troop withdrawal which creates new difficulty in way of free elections since there can be endless argument about scale and staging of such withdrawals and over definition of troops to remain for “protective functions”. Besides Molotov wants Germany not to be free enter into [Page 980] association with Western states whereas we say Germany must be so free.

Eden asked could we not, as Bidault had suggested, concentrate on practical questions of an electoral law and impartial supervision of elections. UK willing discuss any proposal for an electoral law; as concerns supervision, since Molotov apparently rejected both Four-Power supervision and neutral supervision, we should consider Bidault’s proposal (1(d) above).

In conclusion Eden discounted Soviet fears that German association with Western collective security system would support aggressive or vengeful German militarism or could pose any threat to security USSR. He said objective was to achieve simultaneously freedom in Germany and security in Europe. The two are inter-related; while democratic parliamentary system does not provide absolute guarantee against aggressive policy, experience in modern world shows you cannot lead a genuinely democratic nation into aggressive war, whereas aggressive policy might well emerge as result of imposed settlement resented by Germans and repeating errors of the past. Concluded by saying we favor German admission to UN and resultant commitment to principles UN Charter. UK has 20-year treaty with USSR which could be extended if necessary and UK would examine any other proposal that might mitigate Russia’s fears for its own national security.


Molotov said5 he assumed this discussion (i.e., on German unification) would continue, meanwhile he wanted to raise another question, namely cancellation of Germany’s financial and economic obligations as proposed Soviet note of 15 August 1953,6 since it is now time to think of measures to strengthen Germany’s economy and raise Germany’s living standards. He said since no agreed action regarding proposals in 15 August note, USSR had (effective January 1, 1954) proceeded unilaterally in this matter vis-à-vis GDR, i.e., had terminated reparations payments, turned over Soviet enterprises in East Germany, reduced payments for occupation costs to 5 per cent of GDR budget and relieved GDR of debt-burden for external costs of occupation since 1945. It unfair not do same for Federal Republic which still obligated pay seven billion DMs in post-war state debts plus occupation costs running (for budget year 53–54) at 9.6 billion DMs or about 35 per cent of Federal Republic budget and which still obligated in matter of reparations since solution this question postponed (by Bonn agreement7) until peace treaty settlement.

[Page 981]

He then submitted formal proposal8 exactly along lines of note of 15 August.

Three Western delegates understood Molotov preambular sentence to mean he wished discontinue discussion German unification. This point not clarified until later (see 8 below).

Secretary expressed regret discontinuance discussion German unification but hoped this might be given further thought.9 Said that before summarizing position on unification question he had few remarks on Molotov’s new subject. Said he happy USSR so concerned over Federal Republic’s economic position which, however, according OEEC, has recorded phenomenal rise in production, supply of consumer goods, reconstruction, etc. Said this suggested Western powers have also shown themselves concerned and in a more practical way, particularly US which has given about 3.5 billion dollars in aid to Federal Republic. Federal Republic’s economic recovery the more remarkable because it concomitant with absorption large number (over one million) refugees East Germany, attracted by superior economic conditions in Federal Republic as contrasted GDR.

Summing position regarding German unification, Secretary said we had Eden’s plan10 which he understood rejected by USSR. We had Molotov’s plan which had following component stipulations: (a) Federal Republic and GDR must come together in coalition government; (b) they must agree on a German electoral law over which therefore GDR would have veto power; (c) there must be, in elections, no participation of “non-Communists”, who characterized as monopolists and Nazis; (d) there must be no supervision of elections; (e) Germany must be perpetually barred from entering a collective security system with Western nations; (f) occupation troops except for token-forces must be withdrawn from Western Germany which thus left defenseless. These terms form an integrated whole which unacceptable to US; stated by Eden and Bidault unacceptable to UK and France; known unacceptable to West Germans; and presumed unacceptable to East Germans who want to be reunited with West Germany, but hardly credible they want to be reunited by virtue of extending to all Germany the conditions prevalent in GDR.

Secretary concluded with plea to Molotov to reconsider his terms and try to conform them to elementary principles proposed by Western powers.

Bidault expressed regret supposed discontinuance discussion Germany and regret that this effort reconciliation futile. Said it appeared useless these circumstances prolong this discussion, but he wished join Dulles’ plea for reconsideration. Said no comment this stage on Molotov’s economic and financial proposals.
Eden spoke briefly in same vein. Then asked for procedural decision on what work to do next. He understood it agreed to hold restricted session Monday. If on Tuesday we should proceed to Austrian question this should be decided now so that Austrians can be notified immediately and be here for discussion Item 3 of agenda.
Molotov said he did not consider German question adjourned. He will take up points made at today’s session when discussion resumed. He should not, however, be accused of not responding to any new points since in his opinion no new points had been made, only details re points already made. He also said he thought main question was being ignored, namely who will conduct elections, the Germans or the occupying powers. As for future work, he said it was agreed to hold restricted session Monday. Therefore discussion Item 2 of agenda should be resumed Tuesday.
Balance of session was devoted to inconclusive discussion of when notification should be sent to Austrians and when Item 3 of agenda likely to be reached. Finally conference accepted Molotov’s proposal that at restricted session Monday consideration be given to procedural question of when Austrian item might be reached and when Austrians should be notified.11

  1. Repeated to London, Paris, Bonn, Vienna, Moscow, and CINCEUR.
  2. The U.S. Delegation verbatim record of the twelfth plenary, USDEL PLEN/12, which began at 3 p.m., is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 194.
  3. FPM(54)33, Document 514.
  4. For Eden’s statement, circulated as FPM(54)39, see Berlin Discussions, pp. 112–115, or Cmd. 9080, pp. 96–97.
  5. For Molotov’s statement, circulated as FPM(54)40, see Cmd. 9080, pp. 98–99.
  6. Document 264.
  7. For text of the Convention on Relations between the Three Powers and the Federal Republic of Germany, see Document 51.
  8. For the Soviet proposal, see FPM(54)38, Document 515.
  9. For Secretary Dulles’ statement, circulated as FPM(54)41, see Berlin Discussions, pp. 116–119, or Cmd. 9080, pp. 99–101.
  10. FPM(54)17, Document 510.
  11. The U.S. Delegation transmitted a more detailed account of the balance of the session in Secto 101 from Berlin, Feb. 7. (Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 210)