197. Telegram From the Delegation at the Geneva Conference to the Department of State1

Secto 45. Third meeting Heads of Government convened 4:05 p.m. July 19, Faure presiding.

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Chairman referred to Foreign Minister’s meeting this morning2 and reported they had concluded four following questions had been discussed by all delegations: (1) reunification of Germany; (2) European security; (3) disarmament; (4) developments of contacts between East and West. Chairman believed there should be no objections and had contacted delegations and all considered it desirable hear views of various delegations on thoughts and proposals expressed by other delegations yesterday, as conference then might find grounds of agreement. He then asked all to express their views on procedural matters, on methods of work, and on proposals made by Foreign Ministers.

He then opened discussion on item (1) reunification of Germany, calling on Eden.

Eden expressed gratitude to Foreign Ministers for preparing agenda in short time. He stated his gratification that there is so much common ground between governments represented, at least that Germany should be united, and that this should be first matter to discuss. Said this means that differences are as to methods and timing in the main.

Noting ten years elapsed since end of war, said all should regard reunification of Germany not only as important but urgent. With respect to how to make progress toward reunification, referred to Eden Plan3 and ideas he suggested yesterday4 as illustrations of way in which subject might be further discussed. Said tone of Bulganin’s statement yesterday5 contributed to solution of problems.

Noting Bulganin’s remark yesterday that “the creation of an effective system of security in Europe would bring about the necessary prerequisites for the unification of Germany”, Eden emphasized great delay involved in reaching agreement on security pact involving all Europe, U.S. and Canada. Particularly pointed out problems of reconciling divergent views of European countries, problem of deciding how Germany would be represented in pact, and relation of pact to UN. Problems such as these had led him to suggest simpler project of mutual security pact between four powers and united Germany as part of reassurance for unification.

Eden referred to other suggestions on reassurances he made yesterday and asked Soviets to point out any insufficiencies or other suggestions they might have. He concluded, expressing deep concern on idea of postponing German unity while working out European security system.

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Bulganin opened by noting four points Foreign Ministers had agreed on but also recalled they had agreed that question of discussion of other matters would be decided by Heads of Government.6 He here referred to three Russian proposals: ending of Cold War and strengthening of confidence among nations; question neutrality; and questions of Asia and Far East, and suggested these three additional subjects should be considered at end of today’s meeting.

He then referred to “German question,” stating this phraseology more correct than “question of unification of Germany”. Said Soviet always considered German problem as one of most important and had always favored German unity along peaceful and democratic lines. German problem in Soviet view cannot be considered without taking account remilitarization of West Germany and its participation in military blocs.

Said unification depends on whether West Germany would turn into militarist state, taking part in military groupings, or whether different peaceful path corresponding to interests of German nation could lead to unification of Germany as peaceful and democratic state. Thus future of Germany and possibility of unification depends on position of signatories of Paris Agreements.

Said in speaking of unification we must not forget that there are now two states, two parliaments and two governments and views of both must be considered. Noted that in signing Warsaw Treaty, GDR proceeded from premise that united Germany would be free of commitments assumed by any one part under military treaties and agreements prior to unification.

Said it in interest of German people themselves and of peace in Europe for united Germany to be free of any commitments previously assumed by any other part and that united Germany should assume an obligation not to enter into any coalitions of military alliance directed against other states.

Said USSR does not raise question of Paris Agreements7 or of West Germany’s leaving NATO and WEU because this would be unrealistic. Then said that we are being told in so many words that united Germany should enter military groupings of West. To this, Soviet attitude is clear. He asked what would be attitude of Western powers if Soviet were to make unification of Germany dependent upon united Germany participating in Warsaw Treaty.

Therefore, conditions not yet right for German unity and problem should be solved in different manner: gradually step by step. [Page 391]Said we should work together to create possibility for unification through relaxation of tensions and strengthening of confidence among nations. Adherence of any part or whole of Germany into groupings of nations directed against other nations would not contribute to strengthening of confidence among nations.

That fact appears to be recognized, and therefore mention has been made in some statements at conference about guarantees of Soviet security. A proposal for guarantees would be understandable if it were question of weak state unable to defend itself from military point of view. But in this case mention is made of guarantees for USSR.

USSR cannot place itself in position when [where] its security would depend on guarantees by other states.

But that is what is meant when guarantees mentioned with respect to united Germany joining NATO or WEU.

Therefore should work in light of existing conditions, beginning by reducing tension between groupings that have arisen in Europe without releasing members of those groups from commitments. Would be well if nations would agree to refrain from using armed force and to settle disputes through peaceful means. Participation in such pact by both parts of Germany pending unification would create a prerequisite for definitive settlement of German problem, and would contribute to rapprochement designed to strengthen peace in Europe that would be particularly important in achieving unity of Germany.

A further step would be liquidation of existing groupings and their replacement by European security system. This would eliminate barrier to unification of West Germany’s participation in groupings and would create atmosphere conducive to unification. Therefore question of collective security in Europe should be viewed in connection with settlement of German problem. Life requires two halves of Germany draw closer together, and indeed this has been taking place. Trade within Germany has increased as has exchange of delegations. Our primary duty is to contribute rapprochement between two parts of Germany.

USSR prepared to do all it can therefore recently proposed diplomatic, commercial and cultural relations between USSR and GFR had met with favorable reaction throughout Germany.8

Bulganin then referred to statements made at conference on procedure for all German elections, saying they important questions [Page 392]which should be considered at appropriate moment. Said we would have to give due consideration to opinions and proposals of Germans themselves.

President Eisenhower then spoke, approving decisions Foreign Ministers reached in morning and subjects they listed for discussion.9

Referring to Bulganin’s statement that other questions must be discussed President noted he had raised certain questions which Bulganin said USSR would not consider appropriate here: situation of satellites in East Europe, and activities of international Communism.

President said tensions caused by different things in different countries. Nothing causes greater tension in U.S. than satellites and international Communism. Referred to Congressional resolution deploring satellite situation and expressing hope they would soon have free choice of own form of government.

President then noted Bulganin had consented to deferment of consideration as to whether his points should be considered until end of session. President said he supported Mr. Dulles’ statement in Foreign Ministers meeting on these points.

President then turned to German problem. He said he would like to talk a little about NATO as it was conceived, organized and administered, both in political sense and in military sense. Asked Zhukov to listen carefully saying he had known him for long time and that Zhukov would know he was speaking as soldier to soldier, having never uttered a single word he did not believe to be the truth.

President then referred to his return to Europe as head of SHAPE at end of 1949 and early 1950 and said he had taken job after having retired because he believed NATO to be true agency of peace. Said he would not have accepted that command had he conceived it to be an organization getting ready really to fight a war.

At that time, he said, Germany was one of great problems facing West. If allowed to become a military vacuum and again a fertile ground for propagation of a Hitlerism, it would be of gravest danger. At that time we were thinking of danger to Western Europe and not to Soviet Union. Referred to fact that German aggression had forced war on our allied friends three times in eighty-five years.

Said we should draw Germany into a position where she could not become a prey to a Hitler, a dissatisfied, unhappy nation, suffering from an inferiority complex; but rather we should create one which could play a respectable part in its own defense and which could not gain the power to attack.

President referred to fact that main activities of every Western nation are well known. There is free publication of information of every main military installation. Scale of our military operations well [Page 393]known to everybody. Pointed out that within U.S. it is impossible for Executive to declare war, which can only be done by Congress after free debate and vote, sole exception being when attacked by full-scale military attack and reaction is merely that of self-defense.

Pointed out NATO Treaty provides against aggression by any party thereto whether among themselves or against anyone else. Said Treaty is purely defensive and if any member nation attempts to act aggressively, it is immediately opposed by all other NATO members.

Pointed out that militarily Germany like all other nations in Western Europe has certain limits of forces which are both maximum and minimum. No forces allowed Germany are complete within themselves, but are intertwined with other Western forces making it impossible for them to conduct effective military operation by themselves. Suggested that French Delegation could speak to preoccupations of French Parliament concerning measures and agreements that would prevent Germany from getting into a position strong enough to attack France.

President said that under no circumstances would the United States, an important member of NATO, ever be a party to aggressive war. U.S. believes in negotiation and friendly conference, and only reason we will go to war when attacked in such a way that war is the only alternative.

President concluded, saying, “If there is any tendency to delay urgent consideration of the problem of German reunification because of the unhappiness or fear of the united Germany in NATO, then so far as it is possible for the United States to give the assurance of its pledged word, I say here and now: There is no need to fear that situation.”

Faure then spoke. He noted difference between Eden’s and Bulganin’s statement, particularly with respect to difference in urgency on reunification. Said Bulganin seemed to have no objection to time factor that troubled Eden in Bulganin proposal, as Bulganin himself had emphasized time would be required. Faure’s own view was we should not resign ourselves to fact of that time period before attaining unification.

Stated that Bulganin’s words that Soviet Union, as a strong state, would not insist on guarantees and safeguards that other states would propose gave greater hope of agreement than previously could be expected.

But he believed security ought not to be taken to be a matter pertaining to individual countries or we would have to evaluate strength of individual states. Security is a general problem pertaining to all.

Stated that he was moved by President’s statement. Said that France, a country much less powerful than USSR, considers that it [Page 394]has in NATO strong guarantees and safeguards. Such a system represents no threat to the much more powerful USSR.

Speaking on the Bulganin statement, Faure said he was concerned at the delay proposed by Bulganin for the reunification of Germany, a delay for an indeterminate period. The Bulganin proposal is that rapprochement between two parts of Germany would come about as a result of the participation of the two parts in a provisional security system and on the other hand, as a result of expansion in relations between the two Germanies. He would not wish to contradict Bulganin or to wonder whether these measures would really facilitate settlement but said there is no reason to expect that this method, after an indeterminate period would result in drastic change.

Faure said we must appraise duration of postponement otherwise it would, in fact, be rejection of unification not merely a postponement. The second thing is to have assurance, or at least likelihood that after postponement matter could be raised in a different manner; Bulganin had said that reunified Germany should no longer be bound by existing agreements and that it should undertake not to participate in coalitions.

These two conditions are quite different. Eden plan considers that a reunified Germany would not be bound by previous agreements. But it is another thing to demand that a reunified Germany should beforehand undertake not to participate in any system; it would be extremely difficult to demand such a thing from Germany once it had been reunited.

Referring to Bulganin’s questions as to Western reaction if he proposed that reunified Germany should join the Warsaw Treaty, he could reply that Western plan gave unified Germany free choice between East and West. In all sincerity however there little chance Germany would make choice for East. As reunified Germany will most likely remain in NATO, which is purely defensive, then we should not ask Soviet Union to rely exclusively on guarantees given by such a system. Question is raised therefore whether some proposal along lines suggested by Eden or others to counterbalance the situation might not result in a more speedy reunification.

Eden followed. Said there are two proposals for guarantees. One is the Soviet proposal, which some of us remember from Berlin, for a pact covering all Europe10 to which it is now suggested that the U.S. be added, and Eden thinks Canada too could be included. He finds nothing shocking in the idea of such a guarantee, and also finds nothing wounding to anybody in the idea of guarantee given by five countries instead of one given by the whole of Europe. Five countries [Page 395]would reduce delay. Therefore we might consider if the larger proposal is not possible how the smaller one might work to meet the difficulty of the longer delay entailed in the larger pact. In principle the guarantees would be the same whether by the Five or by all Europe. The UK has no objection to being guaranteed, in fact it rather likes it.

In this context, Eden said, a guarantee means a system which will ensure that, as far as possible, a free and independent Germany will not again be a danger to Europe and the world. This is something no one, even the Germans, can take exception to and something we are right in trying to insure. There is nothing in it derogatory to any other power. Eden stated his complete agreement with President’s statement on conception, purposes and powers of NATO. He said NATO consists of some very powerful states, like the U.S., and other less powerful states, all of whom have exactly same voice and vote in the organization. Everything is done by unanimity. It is hard to believe this collection of countries would even join in, or could in fact, organize offensive action against anyone.

If he were apprehensive of recurrence of German military power, as a Britisher, and Britain has had two experiences in this generation, as have had the Russians and all others around the table, he would much rather see German military power contained in NATO than loose about the world.

Eden concluded he would think it might be possible to try, as part of agreement on unification of Germany, to agree on total number of forces to be stationed in Germany and neighboring countries. The added value of such an agreement would be that it would give us first opportunity to practice some system of international supervision. That might help increase confidence between us. He had in mind that we should all join in this, and united Germany also, and there would be reciprocal supervision.

Bulganin then expressed gratitude for President’s statement and position of U.S. on questions of war and peace and believed that it was an important and significant statement for peace among nations. He said “We, the leaders of the Soviet Union, know President Eisenhower as the Commander-in-Chief, as a soldier, and as President of a great nation, and we believe in his statements.”

But he said after the President there came to Europe other military leaders who spoke in a different spirit about NATO and its defense purposes. As an example he said the Soviet once suggested that it enter NATO and was refused admission.11 This led them to believe that there might be other purposes behind the organization.

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The Warsaw Pact he said is also a defensive pact especially since it was created after NATO had developed its activities.

With reference to his earlier statements and Eden’s suggestions Bulganin first turned to points of guarantees. Said we must bear in mind not only USSR but also countries such as Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

A system of European security must also guarantee peace of all European countries and of Germany herself. Therefore, as a first step, both parts of Germany should enter into a system of European security which could guarantee us from either of the two parts or from a unified Germany resurrecting militarism. With reference to comments by Faure and Eden on lengthy time involved in Bulganin proposal prior to unification of Germany, he said that we should bear in mind that Germany is not yet united and that this too would take time.

President then said that he understood function of Heads of Government at this conference to be to discuss principles in which the several governments believes and then turn problems over to Foreign Ministers to see whether they can develop a procedure whereby the differences expressed could be reconciled, maybe not right away but at least set up a machinery that would give some hope of doing so. President said that he thought subject had been just about exhausted and that he had nothing further to say.

Eden said that he would like to reflect a little on the discussion on Germany and might have some comments to make the next time the Heads of Government met.

Bulganin associated himself both with views expressed by the U.S. and the UK.

Faure said that discussion had now turned into a dialogue of questions and answers which may now give opportunity to think things over like Eden suggested. Although some disagreements apparent there appeared to him to be good ground to believe reconciliation possible. Indeed, nothing stated had contradicted the two principles stated at the outset: one, the reunification of Germany irrespective of delays and, two, concern for security not only for individual countries but for all.

Therefore, he stated, it seemed agreed that consideration of the German question should be adjourned but that matter not exhausted and chiefs of government should think problem over. Foreign Ministers could discuss this problem tomorrow morning and their role is not only prepare agenda but also to examine substance so as to facilitate plenary meetings.

Faure suggested Foreign Ministers should continue discussion problem in morning and might report back whether Heads of Government should revert to this matter tomorrow afternoon or whether [Page 397]they should discuss some other problem and come back to Germany later.

Eden reserved right of Heads of Government to come back to subject of Germany pending the life of the present conference. Faure said reunification of Germany remained on agenda as item 1 with debate being suspended. Foreign Ministers will consider matter and recommend whether it should be taken up tomorrow or later. All agreed.

Faure referred to Bulganin’s statement he wished add three more questions to the list and the President’s suggestion that he might have some items to add. Faure believed four questions already on agenda would take time and it inappropriate now to add thereto. Bulganin said it seemed appropriate to discuss additional items which had been mentioned in private discussions.

Faure then referred to public information. As debate had not been concluded believed too much should not be said and press officers should get together to agree on handling.

Next meeting set for four o’clock tomorrow. Meeting adjourned six three five p.m.12

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/7–2055. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Wolf and cleared by MacArthur. The U.S. Delegation verbatim record, USDEL/Verb/3, July 19, and the record of decisions, CF/DOC/RD/4/Corr. 1, July 21, are ibid., Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 510. For three other similar accounts, see Merchant, Recollections, p. 35; Full Circle, pp. 331–332; or John Eisenhower’s Diary, pp. 19–20 (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File).
  2. See Document 193.
  3. For text of the Eden Plan, see FPM(54)17, January 29, 1954, Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. vii, Part 1, p. 1177.
  4. See Document 184.
  5. Ibid.
  6. A copy of Bulganin’s statement, circulated as CF/DOC/5, July 20, is in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 514.
  7. For texts of the Paris Agreements, signed at Paris October 23, 1954, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. v, Part 2, pp. 1435 ff.
  8. On June 7 the Soviet Union had invited Chancellor Adenauer to Moscow to discuss the establishment of diplomatic, commercial, and cultural relations. For text of this note and the favorable reply of the Federal Republic, June 30, see Documents (R.I.I.A.) for 1955, pp. 245–249.
  9. For full text of President Eisenhower’s statement, see Geneva Conference, pp. 45–47.
  10. For text of this proposal, FPM(54)47, February 10, 1954, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. vii, Part 1, p. 1190.
  11. Reference here is to the Soviet note of March 31, 1954, and the tripartite reply of May 7, 1954. For documentation on this exchange of notes, see ibid., vol. v, Part 1, pp. 487 ff.
  12. For a record of Dulles’ conversation with Molotov at the buffet following this session, see infra .