184. Delegation Record of the Second Plenary Session of the Geneva Conference, July 18, 1955, 2:45–5:21 p.m.1

In the afternoon the President called on Eden.2 He spoke briefly—about as long as the President had—and well. His languor in manner and in delivery is deceptive. He concentrated on Germany. “As long as Germany is divided, Europe will be divided” and later, “To reunify Germany will not of itself increase or reduce any threat which may be thought to exist to European security.” Then Eden came to the real meat of the Western position as it had been developed in the past two months. It is worth quoting the key paragraph in full for it contained the heart of the new and bold offer we were prepared to outline in our all-out effort to achieve the unification of Germany. We had moved a great distance from the Berlin Conference where the central Western proposal was the “Eden Plan” for free elections.3 Eden went to the heart of our new offer:

“As I have said, our purpose is to ensure that the unification of Germany and her freedom to associate with countries of her choice [Page 369] shall not involve any threat to anybody. There are no doubt many ways of doing this. To illustrate what I have in mind let me give some examples. These will consist partly of actions and partly of assurances. Let us take the latter first. We would be prepared to be parties to a security pact of which those round this table and a united Germany might be members. By its terms each country could declare itself ready to go to the assistance of the victim of aggression, whoever it might be. There are many forms which such a pact might take. We would be ready to examine them and to set out our views about them. We would propose to inscribe any such agreement under the authority of the United Nations. It would also be our intention that if any member country should break the peace that country would forfeit thereby any rights which it enjoys at present under existing agreements.

“Secondly, we would be ready to discuss and try to reach agreement, as to the total of forces and armaments on each side in Germany and the countries neighbouring Germany. To do this it would be necessary to join in a system of reciprocal control to supervise the arrangement effectively. All those represented here would we hope be partners in this, together with a united Germany. It would be understood that any proposals in this field would not exclude or delay the work of the United Nations Disarmament Commission, to which we attach great importance.

“Is there some further reassurance we can give each other? There is one which I certainly think should be considered. We should be ready to examine the possibility of a demilitarized area between East and West.”

Eden closed with the expression of hope that before the Conference ended agreement could be reached on the outline essence of what had just been proposed.

All then turned to Bulganin. He spoke quietly and in a low voice.4 He might almost have been the chairman of a large charity organization delivering his annual report. Almost—but not exactly.

First, Bulganin claimed to Russia’s credit everything that in past months had relaxed international tensions: “the termination of bloodshed in Korea and the cessation of hostilities in Indochina”; the Austrian Treaty; the “normalization of relations between the USSR and Yugoslavia”; the Bandung Conference and Nehru’s visit to the Soviet Union; and finally the Russian offer to establish diplomatic relations with the Federal Republic of Germany.

Then Bulganin went on to rehash the Soviet proposal of May 10 on disarmament.5 Referring to the President’s statement, he said he was in complete agreement with the need to eliminate artificial barriers between the two peoples. Bulganin droned on. The propaganda content was excessively high. He did insert a statement that Russia [Page 370] would contribute fissionable material to the Peaceful Atomic Energy Agency when established. The offer was a step forward but it didn’t cost the Soviets much. He made a polite verbal bow to Faure’s economic scheme for disarmament control as “worthy of careful examination”.

Bulganin then launched into his main thesis—European security was the important thing. It was clear any unity for Germany was a matter for the more distant future. “It must be admitted that the remilitarization of Western Germany and its integration into military groupings of the Western Powers now represent the main obstacles to its unification.” His main proposal was the Berlin one of “a system of collective security with the participation of all European nations and the United States of America.” The change from Berlin was to promote the United States from observer status to participation. There was also the twist of advancing in two steps instead of one. In the first the Warsaw Pact and the North Atlantic Treaty would remain in force. In the second stage they would be liquidated and thereby the presence of the United States driven from the continent of Europe. This has been and I am satisfied remains an unalterable objective of Soviet policy. Bulganin said plainly: “The Soviet Government is of the opinion that our eventual objective should be to have no foreign troops remaining on the territories of European states.”

Bulganin then put in a plug for neutrality as a policy to be encouraged, supported and guaranteed. He brushed off the President’s request that the satellites should be discussed. “To raise this question at this conference means interference in the internal affairs of these states.” He then added that the subject of “so-called ‘international communism’—cannot be considered appropriate.” That was that. The further public and private urgings of the President and the Secretary would not budge the Soviet leaders one inch in the direction of discussing these two items.

Bulganin then turned briefly to the Far East. Taiwan, he said, has “become a dangerous hotbed of complications in the Far East” and to continue to deprive Communist China of “its” seat in the United Nations “is not only abnormal but also inadmissible”. He closed by calling for “broad development of international cultural and scientific cooperation” and declaring that the Soviet Government “will do all it can in order that the conference may justify the people’s craving for a peaceful and tranquil life”.

The speech would be played and replayed in every propaganda media. It had about everything in it one expected. The stark fact stood out, however, that the Soviets were as adamant as ever on the reunification of Germany. This central issue with its link to European security was to be the real focus of all the debate and discussions of [Page 371] the next five days. I left the Council room discouraged but not surprised.6

  1. Source: Merchant, Recollections, pp. 29–32. The U.S. Delegation verbatim minutes, USDEL/Verb/2, and the records of decision, CF/DOC/RD/2, for the second plenary are in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 510.
  2. For text of Eden’s statement, circulated as CF/DOC/4, see Geneva Conference, pp. 31–34, or Cmd. 9543, pp. 16–18.
  3. For text of the Eden Plan, FPM (54)17, January 29, 1954, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. vii, Part 1, p. 1177.
  4. For text of Bulganin’s statement, circulated as CF/DOC/2, see Geneva Conference, pp. 35–43, or Cmd. 9543, pp. 18–25.
  5. For text of this proposal, see Documents (R.I.I.A.) for 1955, pp. 110–121.
  6. At 6:25 p.m. Hagerty held another press conference. A verbatim transcript of this press conference is in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 503.