Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file

No. 759
The President to the United States High Commissioner for Germany (Conant), at Bonn


Dear Jim : Thank you very much for your letter of the nineteenth1 which was chock-full of items of interest. Not the least of these was contained in your short postscript.

Your report gave me my first specific information as to the emphatic protest of your British colleague when we were contemplating the distribution of food in Berlin. Your experience serves to show how very difficult indeed it is to secure agreements between allies on any international project requiring positive, rather than merely negative, action.

Strangely enough, I have had the impression, derived from experiences over the past ten or twelve years, that in specific cases where adverse reaction by some other power to one of our common projects was always a possibility, the United States would normally be on the conservative side, the British on the more adventurous. For example, as far back as 1942, I remember that the United States was far more concerned than was Franco to our African invasion. We urged extreme caution and the immobilizing of reserves to protect against this; the British insisted that Franco would do nothing. Then again, in dealing with Stalin, the Americans always looked upon an agreement as final and something to be carried out. The British, on the other hand, were always ready to repudiate an agreement (and allow the Russians to howl) if they thought that in the meantime circumstances had arisen to justify this. I could go on and on.

In any event, results have proved that you did a very smart and courageous thing—I should think that your British colleague could now recognize this.

Your letter will be held quite Secret; but the next time Foster comes to my office, I shall show it to him to read. No one else will see it.

I do hope that you and your family are well.

With warm personal regard,

As ever,

Dwight D. Eisenhower