190. Memorandum of the Conversation at the President’s Dinner, President’s Villa, Geneva, July 18, 1955, 8 p.m.1
- The President
- Secretary Dulles
- Ambassador Bohlen
- Mr. Hagerty
- Mr. Merchant
- Mr. MacArthur
- Ambassador Thompson
- Major John Eisenhower
- Mr. Bulganin
- Mr. Khrushchev
- Mr. Molotov
- Mr. Zhukov
- Mr. Gromyko
- Mr. Troyanovski
The one noticeable difference between the behavior of the Soviet leaders now and during the time of Stalin is the greater freedom with which they comment to and about each other before foreigners.2
During Molotov’s toast, the Secretary referred to the hard and difficult work the Foreign Ministers had done in the past. Khrushchev interrupted to say that was why Foreign Ministers were created.
My general impression was that the Soviet guests were very much on their good behavior last night and were avoiding any forms of behavior, … which might have been subject to subsequent criticism. Due to the setting of the table, it was not possible for any of them to dominate the conversation but neither before nor after dinner did there seem to be any attempt by Khrushchev to exercise a dominant role. In fact, it could not be said that any one of them was the spokesman, although naturally Bulganin, as Prime Minister and ranking guest, spoke for the group in reply to the President’s toast.
The only distinct impression I received in regard to the interrelation among the Soviet leaders was that Molotov is no longer exercising the same dominant position in foreign affairs that he did earlier.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/7–1855. Top Secret. Drafted by Bohlen. For three other accounts of the conversations, see Documents 187 and 188 and supra .↩
In a draft of this memorandum of conversation the following two paragraphs appear at this point:
“Before dinner, when cocktails were being served on the terrace, several of the Soviet guests had expressed a preference for vodka which, however, was brought in highball glasses half filled with ice. There was a good deal of conversation with Mrs. Eisenhower on the subject of the strength of these drinks, and, at one point, Bulganin said he really did not drink much vodka and stuck pretty much to lighter alcoholic drinks.
“Khrushchev then told the following story which he asked me to be sure to interpret to Mrs. Eisenhower. He said there had been a very efficient and excellent Russian director of an industrial establishment who, however, drank vodka to excess. When this man was elected to the Supreme Soviet, it had been suggested that he stop drinking but the reports continued to come in that he was frequently drunk. Finally, Khrushchev said he had called him in and the man assured him that he had drunk no vodka since his election to the Supreme Soviet but confined himself exclusively to cognac. Khrushchev added that he felt his story was applicable to Bulganin—this was an obvious comment upon the widely spread rumor that Bulganin has a tendency to drink too much but that when he took the Prime Minister’s job he was told to be more moderate.” (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 516)↩