Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 204

No. 527
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Counselor of the Department of State (MacArthur)1

top secret
  • Participants:
    • Secretary Dulles
    • Ambassador Conant
    • Mr. Merchant
    • Mr. MacArthur
    • Chancellor Adenauer
    • Dr. Walter Hallstein
    • Mr. Hans Heinrich von Herwarth (Interpreter)

Chancellor Adenauer opened the conversation by saying that he wished to express his most heartfelt thanks to Secretary Dulles for all he had done at the Berlin Conference. He said he spoke from the bottom of his heart.

Secretary Dulles thanked the Chancellor and said he had just concluded four very difficult weeks. The three Western Powers had gone into the Berlin meeting with some hopes and some fears. While the hopes had not been realized neither had been the fears.

Chancellor Adenauer said that in his opinion the Secretary had done more than could have been hoped for or expected. A satisfactory four power communiqué had been issued.2 But even more important the communiqué had made reference to Indo-China. This latter point was most important because of the good effect it would have in Paris which in turn would help with French action on EDC. The date of April 26th for the Far Eastern Conference in Geneva was well chosen because before that date EDC will have been acted on in France. The Chancellor believed EDC would be settled by the end of March. He felt that the Berlin Conference was new evidence of the fact that present Western policy was the only possible policy vis-à-vis the Soviet Union. He believed that the Berlin Conference will prove the basic soundness of the Western position and, in this connection, he believed the Soviets did not want increased tension with the West.

Secretary Dulles said the Conference was very revealing of Soviet unwillingness to let go its hold of any territory it has seized and also the continuance of Soviet desire to extend its control. He [Page 1209] believed the Soviet rulers had a real fear of freedom as we understand that word. The Secretary said that he had had private talks with Molotov during which the Secretary had expressed the opinion that the concept of Versailles, that is to try to control Germany by imposed restrictions was wrong and would not work since the very controls resulted in a resurgence of extreme nationalism and a revival of militarism. Molotov had replied that the only thing wrong with the Versailles Treaty was that it had not been enforced. If it had been properly enforced the German Government would have lived up to it. This observation of Molotov summed up the way the Soviets looked at areas which had come under their control. It was evident in the Soviet attitude towards German unification resulting from free elections. The Soviets would only be willing to have elections if they could control the electoral machinery, insure that the “right” people were chosen, and thus have a government which could in turn be controlled.

The Secretary said that the Soviet attitude towards Austria told the whole story. It was a good example of what he had been saying. Austria was a small inoffensive country. The Austrians had given an undertaking not to join NATO or EDC. However, the Soviets were unwilling to relinquish their control in Austria and insisted on maintaining their military power there for an indefinite time. The case of Austria, the Secretary said, should be the answer to those people in Germany who believe that in return for a neutralized Germany the Soviets would relinquish their control. The Soviets will accept every concession and then find reasons to continue their control. The Secretary said he knew the Chancellor had thought it important to have the Berlin Conference to demonstrate that the Soviets were unwilling to compromise. The Soviets had certainly demonstrated this. He did not know what the public opinion reactions in Western Germany had been, but he had the impression from such summaries of opinion as he had seen that there was an understanding that no compromise was possible on the basis of neutralism. He had much appreciated being kept informed of the Chancellor’s views by Blankenhorn who had been most helpful.

Chancellor Adenauer said that he fully agreed with the Secretary and that it was impossible to find any compromise on a neutralization formula. The Soviets were only willing to talk with the strong. The Berlin Conference had been useful and had proved this. Once EDC has been consummated there will be a new situation of strength in Europe which will cause the Soviets to reconsider matters and adopt a new policy.

The Secretary said that new and stable conditions will not develop in Europe till it unites and develops real strength. After this [Page 1210] happens the Soviets will eventually be forced to reanalyze their policy towards the satellite states and give them some form of semi-autonomous character. In other words when there is a really united and strong Western Europe the Soviets will not be able to maintain their total control of the satellite states by their present methods but will probably have to transform them into buffer states, perhaps they will evolve into a status somewhat similar to Finland. It is after there is evolution in this direction that East Germany may be able to join with West Germany. For then conditions in East Germany and West Germany would not be such a startling contrast as at present. If the Soviets are obliged to grant more independence to Poland and Czechoslovakia they would be almost forced to give Germany to avoid an unfortunate comparison between East Germany and its satellite neighbors. This would in effect be the beginning of a form of revolutionary process.

The biggest obstacle today in the path of East Germany being able to join the West is the impact that the Soviets know this would have on the satellites. The Soviets are not ready now to remove their iron grip from East Germany but when they feel obliged to give more freedom to the satellites it will also come to East Germany.

The Chancellor said, “I think what you have just said is absolutely correct. As long as Western Europe remains weak and divided the Soviets can carry out any policies that they wish because they are faced with no real strength.” The Chancellor added that he was in full accord with the Secretary’s views which had been stated simply and clearly.

The Secretary then said he had had luncheon privately on Wednesday with Mr. Bidault and Mr. Alphand with only himself and Mr. Merchant present.3 The Secretary said Bidault had handled himself at Berlin courageously and had grown in stature. The Secretary said he had known Mr. Bidault since San Francisco in 1945, and had seen him subsequently at meetings in London and elsewhere. Mr. Bidault had developed remarkably since those days and was conducting himself with statesmanship and courage.

Chancellor Adenauer agreed and said that Mr. Bidault had changed greatly in recent months and had shown qualities which he understood had caused him to rise in the esteem of the French. This was good and important.

The Secretary said Mr. Bidault’s prestige had increased very much in the U.S. and he understood the same thing was true in the United Kingdom.

[Page 1211]

The Secretary then reverted to his lunch with Bidault on Wednesday and said that Mr. Bidault had discussed with him the four points which must be dealt with if EDC is to be ratified.

The first was a closer relationship between the U.K. and the EDC.

The second involved some form of assurances regarding the maintenance of substantial U.S. military forces in Europe and the continued acceptance by the U.S. of the forward strategy concept of NATO. The Secretary said he believed we could do something along these lines but there were constitutional and Congressional questions that would have to be handled carefully. Furthermore the U.S. obviously couldn’t commit itself to maintain a specific number of forces anywhere for 50 years or any protracted period. (At this point Chancellor Adenauer interrupted to make a comment about the French asking for commitments from others that they were unwilling to give themselves. The Secretary said he knew the French reserved the right to withdraw forces if they were needed in France’s overseas possessions. This, however, was understandable.) The Secretary went on to say that it is the intention of the U.S. to maintain substantial elements of its armed forces on the European continent. He believed there were ways that we could do something to meet the French problem and he believed that if we did so it would help to persuade the British to do something similar and take further constructive steps which would be helpful in obtaining EDC ratification in France.

The third problem which Mr. Bidault had discussed in connection with EDC ratification was the Saar. Mr. Bidault had expressed the strong hope that Adenauer would make a great effort to reach a satisfactory Saar settlement. Bidault did not envisage that every detail must be settled. What he had in mind was a broad general settlement. Bidault hoped there would be an early occasion to talk to Adenauer quietly and inconspicuously about the Saar, since a settlement of this issue was essential to French ratification. The Secretary said he had the impression that Mr. Bidault recognized that the Germans could not be expected to make definitive concessions on the Saar prior to EDC ratification and he felt sure the French would agree that any Saar settlement would come into effect only when EDC was ratified.

The Secretary then said there was no point in any of the interested countries making a final contribution to meet the French requirements on these three problems which he had discussed with Mr. Bidault until their respective contributions would have a maximum impact and effect on French ratification of EDC. If the contributions are made too early the French parliament will accept them and ask for more and we will have nothing more to give. The British [Page 1212] share this view. Therefore the U.S., the U.K. and Germany must make their final contribution to French ratification of the EDC at about the same time and when they will be decisive with the French. We understand from Mr. Bidault that serious French parliamentary consideration of EDC will occur about mid-March and in the meantime we will keep in close touch with the situation through the French Ambassador in Washington. Mr. Eden, on his part, will send someone to Paris about the end of next week to follow developments and be in touch with the French. We should focus on making our real effort about mid-March to have a decisive effect.

The Secretary had asked Bidault about the life of the present French government and whether it would survive and be in office to bring about a vote on EDC. Bidault believes the Government will be in power. Should it fall, however, a new situation involving further delays would occur.

Chancellor Adenauer replied that he hoped to reach an understanding with France on the Saar. He was now inclined to take the Van der Goes report (of the Council of Europe) as a basis for a settlement.4 One point in this report, however, makes it very difficult for the Germans to accept. He would discuss this in detail with Ambassador Conant. (Hallstein indicated the problem was that the Van der Goes report in paragraph 19 envisaged the U.S., U.K., France and Germany agreeing now that the Saar would be Europeanized and separated from Germany and that its frontiers would be definitively accepted. If the Federal Republic accepted the definitive settlement of its Western frontier with respect to the Saar, the GDR would be provided with the pretext to finalize the Oder-Neiser [Neisse] line and turn over definitively the territory to the east over to Poland. Therefore, while the Germans might use the Van der Goes report as the basis of a settlement there should be a provision that final settlement of the Saar frontier could only be reached at the time of the Peace Treaty by an all-German Government.)

The Secretary replied that he did not know anything about the details of the Saar problem. Nor did he wish to. He recognized that it was a very complicated and technical problem. The point he was making was that to secure EDC ratification the U.S., the U.K. and Germany each had to make a contribution. For the U.S. it was some arrangement about the continuation of armed forces in Europe which would be extremely difficult to formulate because of Congress. For the U.K. it would perhaps be some improvement in the form of association with EDC which the U.K. would develop. [Page 1213] The Secretary said we counted on Germany to make its contribution and its contribution is a Saar settlement. The Secretary said: “I plead with you to make the necessary contribution.” He said that both he and President Eisenhower recalled the Chancellor’s assurances given in Washington last April that the Chancellor would not permit the Saar to stand in the way of EDC.5 They had confidence that the Chancellor would find the way since he was one of the world’s ablest international statesmen.

Chancellor Adenauer replied: “I maintain and stand by what I told you and the President in Washington.”

The Secretary said that this was all he wanted to know and that he would so inform the President.

The Secretary then said that he wanted to report to the Chancellor about the Spandau affair. The three Western Foreign Ministers had decided that it would be unwise to raise it with Molotov at the Council table. Accordingly it had been taken up with Molotov outside the Conference. Eden had done most of the talking to Molotov and had gone into the question of the disposition of the remains of prisoners who died as well as improving living conditions in the prison. Molotov had replied that he was not familiar with the details but would inquire of Semenov.6 The Secretary said he could not promise that anything would come of this but an effort had been made.

Chancellor Adenauer asked whether publicity could be given to the fact that the matter had been taken up with Molotov.

The Secretary replied that he thought this would not be wise. We should wait at least for about a month and see what came of the request to Molotov. Adenauer said he supposed this was right.

Chancellor Adenauer then asked if the three Western Ministers had taken up with Molotov the question of German war prisoners who are held in the Soviet Union.

The Secretary replied that he had not taken up this question but that the three Ministers had let Molotov know that the Western High Commissioners would take up with the Soviet High Commissioner a number of measures designed to ameliorate the situation resulting from the division of Germany and the controls in the Eastern Zone and that we hoped something constructive could be done.

Ambassador Conant then briefly explained what the Western High Commissioners had in mind.

[Page 1214]

The Secretary then referred to the German amendment to the constitution necessitated by EDC and asked when the parliamentary action would be completed. The Chancellor replied that he believed it would be done on Friday, February 26. The Secretary said he hoped Belgian ratification would soon be completed and mentioned that he had written Van Zeeland a long letter from Berlin which he hoped would be helpful in rectifying some of the latter’s misapprehensions.7

The Secretary then mentioned that he had come away from the Berlin Conference with the impression that the Soviets were concerned about their relations with the Chinese Communists. The Chancellor said he had had interesting reports from missionaries returning from China. He hoped the U.S. would succeed in getting a foothold in China. Social conditions there were very bad. He added 500 million discontented Chinese represented a problem which could cause difficulties for all of us.

The Chancellor then said he had been asked by Washington whether it would be good to give food to the East Zone of Germany. He would like to. He said that the influx of refugees from the East Zone was increasing and that he would like to dam this influx so as to avoid a shortage of population in the East Zone. He said the U.S. had helped with the refugee problem and he hoped they could continue to do so.

The Secretary asked whether contributions of food would help keep people in the East Zone and thus prevent refugeeism. The Chancellor said this would be a great help and mentioned that cooperation between the Church authorities of the two zones was important both materially and psychologically in coping with the refugee problem.

The Chancellor mentioned he understood that a sub-committee of the Senate was considering the German property question and that favorable action on this was very important.

The Chancellor said he had only one final thing to say. Article 7, [paragraph] 3 of the Bonn Treaty involving the right of an all-German Government to make its choice had caused a great reaction in Paris.8 With this in mind he would make a statement to the Bundestag next week saying that when an all-German Government was formed it was the strong intention of the Bonn Government to urge that the all-German Government maintain the EDC Treaty.

[Page 1215]

The Secretary said this would be very helpful and that he himself would take a similar line. If EDC came into being the judicial question of the right of an all-German Government to choose was incidental. If EDC was in existence and Europe united, obviously the all-German Government would opt for its place in the European community.9

  1. Following the adjournment of the final plenary Secretary Dulles left Berlin at 7:16 p.m. for the flight to Wahn Airport near Bonn where this conversation took place. Dulles subsequently departed from Wahn at 10:30 p.m. for Washington.
  2. Document 525.
  3. For a record of this luncheon meeting, see the memorandum of conversation, Document 497.
  4. Regarding the van der Goes van Naters report on the Saar, see Document 640.
  5. For documentation on Chancellor Adenauer’s visit to Washington in April 1953, see Documents 177 ff.
  6. The conversation had taken place on the night of Feb. 17. The U.S. Delegation reported briefly on it in Secto 167 from Berlin, Feb. 18. (396.1 BE/2–1854)
  7. Not identified further.
  8. For text of the Convention on Relations between the Three Powers and the Federal Republic of Germany, see Document 51.
  9. On Feb. 25 Secretary Dulles briefed Ambassador Makins on his conversation with Adenauer. (Memorandum of conversation, by Merchant, Feb. 25, 611.62A/2–2554)