Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file

No. 715
Memorandum of Discussion at the 150th Meeting of the National Security Council, Thursday, June 18, 19531

top secret
eyes only

Present at the 150th meeting of the Council were the following: The President of the United States, presiding; the Vice President of the United States; the Secretary of State; the Secretary of Defense; and the Director for Mutual Security. Also present were the Secretary of the Treasury; the Director, Bureau of the Budget; Admiral Fechteler for the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Director of Central Intelligence; Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President; Lewis L. Strauss, Special Assistant to the President; C.D. Jackson, Special Assistant to the President; the Military Liaison Officer; the Executive Secretary, NSC; and the Deputy Executive Secretary, NSC.

There follows a summary of the discussion at the meeting and the chief points taken.

[Here follows discussion of items 1–2, agenda of the meeting and North Korean prisoners of war.]

3. The Riots in East Germany and Czechoslovakia

The Director of Central Intelligence stated that he wished in his briefing to relate the recent events in East Berlin and Czechoslovakia to the series of developments which had resulted in what was called Molotov’s “soft” policy. He then listed the specific actions of the Soviet Government with regard to Germany, and noted that the objective of all these actions was to support the Soviet policy for the unification of Germany in the interest of the Soviet Union. He then went on to describe the similar softening processes with regard to Austria, Yugoslavia, Greece, Iran, and Israel, culminating with a comment on the over-all Soviet objective of encouraging trade with the free world to the point of hinting their willingness to provide the free world with strategic materials in return for consumer goods. Mr. Dulles then noted the not less significant evidences of a relaxation of harshness within the Soviet Union itself. All these taken together, continued Mr. Dulles, obviously had not escaped the notice of the satellite peoples, who evidently were interpreting the soft policy as offering real possibilities of action against the Soviet Union without the terrible risks which would have been incurred under Stalin.

[Page 1587]

Mr. Dulles then turned to the riots in Czechoslovakia, and explained their origin and development so far as this was known. The conclusion one could draw from the riots in Pilsen was that the people of the satellites, of whom the Czechs were certainly the most phlegmatic and the least likely to rise in revolt, obviously felt bolder now that Stalin’s hand was no longer there.…

Mr. Dulles thereafter described in as much detail as possible the uprising in Berlin and East Germany, where, he pointed out, the Soviet relaxation program had likewise backfired. Mr. Dulles said that the United States had nothing whatsoever to do with inciting these riots, and that our reaction thus far had been to confine ourselves, in broadcasts which were not attributable to expressions of sympathy and admiration, with an admixture of references to the great traditions of 1848. In summary, Mr. Dulles described what had happened as evidence of the boundless discontent and dissension behind the Iron Curtain, and added that it posed a very tough problem for the United States to know how to handle.

. . . . . . .

Apropos of Mr. Allen Dulles’ conclusion, Mr. Jackson observed that while the riots certainly revealed discontent, they were more important in showing, for the first time since their enslavement, that the slaves of the Soviet Union felt that they could do something. The thing had developed past the riot stage, and was moving close to insurrection.…

. . . . . . .

Mr. Stassen also agreed that the key areas were the European satellites. He listed all of them, and observed that in each instance the Soviet faced trouble of one kind and degree or another. It seemed plain to Mr. Stassen that there were men willing to die for their freedom in these areas, and that each of them contained indigenous armed forces. If, as had been the case in East Germany, the Russians could not trust these indigenous forces and felt compelled to bring in their own troops, this should be taken as a sign of real promise.

The Secretary of State pointed out that his Department was giving a great deal of thought as to how it would be possible to engage in a four-power conference including the Russians without inevitably providing the latter with some degree of moral support of their tyranny and of depriving the dissident people of the satellites of all hope.

The President quickly replied that he had supposed he had made it crystal clear that if there were to be a four-power conference he [Page 1588] himself would certainly not be present. The Secretary of State could very well go, and confine himself to technicalities which would lend no semblance of moral support for Soviet imperialism.

As for a four-power conference, said Mr. Jackson, it was his opinion that the East Berliners had pulled out the rug from under the Kremlin. The Russians can scarcely come, in the circumstances, to any four-power conference posing as spokesmen for a contented democratic Germany which only seeks to be re-united.

Mr. Allen Dulles stated that the whole object of all the moves that Foreign Minister Molotov had been making by way of softening the harshness of Soviet rule, was to divide the Western powers.

Secretary Dulles agreed, and added that in his view Molotov was undoubtedly the ablest and shrewdest diplomat since Machiavelli. He was determined to defeat and destroy European unity at this moment when it seemed on the very point of consummation.

Mr. Stassen expressed the view that the East Berlin uprising heavily underscored the necessity of getting more military strength more quickly into West Germany.

Commenting on the points just made, the President observed that the uprisings certainly had provided us with the strongest possible argument to give to Mr. Churchill against a four-power meeting. The United States should take a very strong position, both with our allies and with the Russians. There can be no four-power conference until the Russians have withdrawn their armies from East Germany, at which time we would withdraw our armies from West Germany.

As for arms for West Germany, the President admitted that it was desirable to rearm that country just as rapidly as we could. The point was that Chancellor Adenauer was firmly and quite properly opposed to the creation of any national German army, in view of what had happened in the past. He wants no such army until it is integrated under the EDC. What we must do is to throw all our weight behind the EDC objective. However, said the President in response to a question from Mr. Allen Dulles, we should certainly inquire of Chancellor Adenauer whether he now desired, as a matter of urgency, additional armament for his police force. The President said that he would do almost anything to help the German Chancellor.

Mr. Stassen then inquired as to whether there was any possibility that we could raise in the United Nations the issue of the forceful Russian repression of these uprisings. This would be one more way of adding to the pressures which the President and the Secretary of State had been applying to the Soviets.

The President agreed that this deserved consideration.

[Page 1589]

Secretary Wilson, reverting to the problem of President Rhee, expressed his own personal opinion that perhaps the “Rhee business” wasn’t really too bad.

The President replied with some asperity that if Secretary Wilson felt that way, he had better get busy and say that we approve of what Rhee has done. Certainly we couldn’t ride two horses at one time.

Mr. Stassen then said he wished to point out to the Council the evermounting pressure by our allies to relax the existing controls on trade with Communist China the moment the armistice was signed. He wondered, therefore, whether this was not the time to tighten control over trade with China, and perhaps to institute a naval blockade prior to the armistice.

The President expressed no sympathy for this latter proposal, but emphasized his feeling that the Secretary of State should use every diplomatic weapon at hand in order to encourage the British and our other allies to hold the line on trade with China until the end of the political negotiations. We should do our best to impress on our allies our conviction that the existing controls on trade had been one of the main reasons why the Chinese Communists had sought an armistice, and it was vital, therefore, not to relax controls until we had achieved a settlement.

Mr. Jackson then said that he desired the Council’s guidance in pulling the East German situation together and to find a policy thread upon which he could string the actions which this Government might take. Noting the hue and cry for free elections in Germany in the course of the riots, he stressed the importance of keeping this idea of free elections alive.

In response to Mr. Jackson’s request for guidance, the President suggested that the Council really needed a report from the Psychological Strategy Board outlining the possible actions that could be taken under existing policy over the next sixty days or so. He would be perfectly willing to call a special meeting of the Council to take a look at such a report when it was complete.…

Queried as to whether or not the Bermuda Conference would be held as scheduled for June 29, the President said “yes”. He had just received a message from Churchill indicating belief that the French would have a government in time, and that in any case the Prime Minister would have to be back in London by July 7.

The National Security Council:

Noted an oral briefing by the Director of Central Intelligence on the events leading up to the recent East German and Czechoslovakian riots, and the implications thereof for Soviet policy.
Discussed alternative courses of action open to the United States as a result of this evidence of popular opposition to Soviet control within the satellites, as presented by Mr. C. D. Jackson.
Noted that the President confirmed his authorization to proceed with the development of the Volunteer Freedom Corps (NSC 143/2) at such time as might be agreed upon by the Secretary of State and Mr. C. D. Jackson.
Agreed that the Secretary of State should:
Inquire of Chancellor Adenauer as to his need for additional arms for the West German police forces.
Consider raising in the United Nations the Soviet repression of the popular demonstrations in East Germany.
Continue intensified efforts to persuade our allies to refrain from relaxing their controls on trade with Communist China in the event of a Korean armistice.
Requested the Psychological Strategy Board to prepare, for urgent Council consideration, at a special meeting if necessary, recommendations as to policies and actions to be taken during the next sixty days to exploit the unrest in the satellite states revealed by the recent East German and Czechoslovakian riots.

Note: The action in c above subsequently transmitted to the Secretary of State and Mr. C. D. Jackson. The action in d above subseqently transmitted to the Secretary of State for implementation. The action in e above subsequently transmitted to the Psychological Strategy Board for implementation.2

[Here follows discussion of items 4–5, United States actions regarding the Near East and proposals for the solution of current issues affecting national security.]

  1. Prepared by Deputy Executive Secretary of the NSC Gleason on June 19.
  2. In compliance with the instruction contained in paragraph e, subsequently designated NSC Action No. 817–e, the PSB submitted to the NSC on June 24 a summary report, designated PSB D–45, and entitled “Interim U.S. Psychological Strategy Plan for Exploitation of Unrest in Satellite Europe.” The summary report was adopted with minor changes by the NSC on June 29, whereupon it was designated NSC 158. On the same date, a full-length report, also designated PSB D–45 and bearing the same title as the summary report, was issued by the PSB as a guideline for implementing recommendations for the exploitation of unrest in the Eastern European states, including the German Democratic Republic.