268. Memorandum of a Conversation, Dulles’ Residence, Washington, August 28, 1955, 10 a.m.1


  • The Secretary
  • Mr. MacArthur, C
  • Mr. Merchant, EUR
  • Mr. Kidd, GPA
  • Mr. Appling, S/S–RO
  • Ambassador Krekeler of Germany

Ambassador Krekeler conveyed the Chancellor’s greetings from Murren. The Secretary commented that we must keep pushing and pushing on the German unification issue, and asked what the Chancellor’s plans were for Moscow.

The Ambassador said that at the special meeting of the Chancellor’s advisors at Muerren, they had spent the greater part of an entire day (August 23?) working on the Chancellor’s opening statement. The German plans envisaged this visit purely as a preliminary contact. No substantive decisions were expected. Minister of Economics Erhardt would not be a member of the delegation, as an indication that no material agreements were contemplated even in the field of trade. The Germans had in mind the establishment of four commissions as a means of maintaining contact with the Soviets while the various problems were being worked out:

A commission on economic matters;
A commission on cultural matters;
A commission on PW’s and detainees;
A commission for general political questions, such as the resumption of diplomatic relations and related questions (unification, European security, etc).

If the Soviets did not agree, if there were no progress at all on the questions of PW’s and reunification, the Germans would not be disposed to have full diplomatic relations, but merely to exchange “diplomatic agents”.

The Secretary asked whether the Political Commission would include reunification. Krekeler said yes: “diplomatic relations, reunification and related questions”. In the German view, fully satisfactory or normal relations could not be expected so long as the country remained divided.

The Secretary said that it was important to stress the point of reunification from the start. Krekeler said that this would be mentioned in the Chancellor’s opening statement, in which the Chancellor would point out that there was an obligation upon the four Powers to reestablish German unity.

The Secretary asked Mr. Merchant whether there was not something in the Directive to the Foreign Ministers2 about the “responsibility of the four Powers”. Mr. Merchant said yes.

Krekeler said that the reference in the Chancellor’s speech would be pointed to the forthcoming Geneva conference as the proper [Page 556]forum for solution of the question. The second point which the Chancellor would make was the responsibility of the German people for their internal and external status. And a third point: the link between the restoration of unity and European security. The Chancellor would then endeavor to show the Soviets that reunification would be to their advantage. He would mention the dangers of unrest that would arise from the continuation of the split. The point might be brought home to the Soviets that such divisions nourish nationalism, as the examples of Alsace-Lorraine after 1870 and the Saar. These nationalistic movements could turn against the Soviets. The Germans were not at all optimistic about their arguments, but thought that if a beginning were made, perhaps in the long run the Soviets could be convinced that German unification was also in their interest. The Chancellor would also include in his opening statement a reference to the defensive character of WEU and the German renunciation of certain armaments. The Chancellor would avoid any detailed discussion of a security system, as something that fell within the province of the four Powers. He would, however, be interested in learning our views, how far we had come with our study of the British and the Heusinger proposals.3

The Secretary said that he felt that these ideas had rather dropped into the background. He wondered whether Adenauer felt strongly about such proposals as a demilitarized zone.

Krekeler said that the Germans had put forward their ideas merely as a possible contribution to the thinking on the subject.

The Secretary said that the idea of a demilitarized zone appeared risky to him. It would create a vacuum. Once the principles were accepted, it would be hard to draw the line. He thought that limitations of forces with provisions for some form of inspection might be more useful concepts. He recalled that even Eden had not pushed the proposal for demilitarized zone at Geneva. He did not know whether there had been any recent developments along these lines, but he hardly considered it a feasible subject for discussion at Moscow.

Krekeler repeated that the idea had been advanced only as a contribution that the Germans might make, since they were obviously in no position to say anything about inspections etc. He thought that the Chancellor would probably not be insistent upon the idea.

The Secretary said that so far the three Western Governments had been doing their homework on these subjects. There had not yet been any meetings to draw the threads together. Mr. Merchant’s trip [Page 557]would give the process a start.4 There were no agreed positions as yet.

Krekeler said that Adenauer had no intention of discussing these matters at Moscow, but would be interested in the US views.

The Secretary thought that it would be useful for Merchant to give the Chancellor our ideas. While the problem was largely one for the three Powers and the Soviets, the importance of the German role should not be ignored. The Germans would be a major factor in this aspect. As the Secretary had hinted in his letter to the Chancellor,5 occasions might arise where if the Germans and the US were in agreement, the British and French would come along. The possible participation of the Federal Republic in these security questions would be welcome and desirable.

Krekeler said that he would inform the Chancellor that the Secretary in general approved of the German positions, including the political commission.

The Secretary reflected that it was difficult to make a strong appeal to reason with the Communists, as to why they should agree on unification. He thought that often an emotional appeal carried more weight than one to cold reason. It was important for the Soviets to receive the impression that by sitting on top of the German situation, there might be an explosion. As the President had said, if there is not peaceful change, then violent change; but one cannot stop change. This need not be uttered as in any sense a threat, but as a law of life. There has got to be some solution, or despite all the efforts of statesmen there will be explosions. June 17th in Berlin was an example.6 This was a spontaneous event, and unpreventable despite all the Soviet arms at hand. The Secretary thought that perhaps the strongest rational appeal was that the peace of Europe can only be founded upon greater European unity. The separateness of the European nations was in large part a cause of the past wars. There are three choices: either a united Germany integrated with the West; a Germany identified with the East, or a Germany endeavoring to stand in between. The last seemed unthinkable, and would moreover be a contributing cause of conflict. Therefore it was necessary to choose between East and West. But the Federal Republic, representing three-fourths of Germany, had already cast its lot with the West; and it was unthinkable that this might be reversed. Germany was always a Western European country. With regard to the question “where will Germany’s integration take place?”, there was admittedly [Page 558]a theoretical choice, but not a practical choice. If anyone tried to block its choice of the West, the most that could happen would be to drive Germany into the dangerous third position of trying to balance between East and West. That is the heart of the matter. Such reasoning would probably not appeal to Moscow; but it was true; and there was no harm in saying it.

The Secretary was still of opinion that if it were not for the problem (for the Soviets) of the GDR, much progress would be possible toward unification in the context of a European security system. He felt that after the Austrian Treaty and the reconciliation with Belgrade, the Soviets probably did not dare face the liquidation of the GDR. We had no way of meeting this. The Soviets were fighting a rear-guard action. They cannot stop it. Sooner or later they will realize that they had better accept more independence and greater conditions of freedom for the satellite states in their orbit than eventual enemies. The United States has no desire for a cordon sanitaire of enemy states to the Soviet Union. It is up to the Russians whether they create this themselves.

Krekeler said that the Chancellor was also concerned about the Saar. Perhaps we had noticed the strong statement of the CDU (rather than the Chancellor personally) in favor of acceptance of the Saar Statute.7

The Secretary and Mr. Merchant replied that it had been a good statement.

Krekeler said that the statement had criticized Hoffmann, but also the opponents of the Statute.

The Secretary asked what was likely to happen.

Krekeler said that it was still an open question. Public opinion polls indicated that there might be a majority against, but he believed that it was still an open question. The population was angry with Hoffmann and confused the two issues.

The Secretary said that it would be very awkward if the Statute were rejected.

Krekeler said the the CDU statement was strong, it could not be more so at present.

Mr. Merchant said that a question had occurred to him regarding the proposed Political Commission mentioned by the Ambassador earlier. He thought that there was a problem of drafting in connection with the terms of reference of the Political Commission. Obviously the Chancellor must keep the reunification issue in the forefront, but the terms of reference must be carefully framed in order to [Page 559]control the proponents of bilateral negotiations rather than four Power.

Krekeler said that he thought this was taken care of by the Chancellor’s opening statement.

Merchant said that the people who read the final communiqué might not have read, or remembered, the opening statement.

The Secretary said that we should avoid being whip-sawed, with the Soviets claiming that it is a matter for bilateral negotiation with the Germans. The Germans must indeed continue to press for reunification, but the role of a German-Soviet continuing commission in relation to the four-Power work at Geneva could be tricky.

Mr. MacArthur said that this was particularly so with regard to Soviet negotiating tactics. This was just the sort of thing they would take advantage of, and move in on, and put their hooks into.

The Secretary commented that the problem could be handled by some such formula as “the Commission will work on this in aid of the work of the Foreign Ministers”. We had to press for reunification and it would appear odd if the Political Commission did not deal with the subject; nevertheless, in a supplementary manner rather than as a substitute for the four Powers.

Krekeler asked whether, if the visit went sour on the second or third day, the Secretary would be prepared to give Mr. Reschke (chief correspondent for German News Agency) a written interview answering two or three questions to the effect that “this was a bad sign, a bad omen for Geneva, where we had hoped to make progress”. Krekeler said that this might prove most helpful. Mr. Reschke could send his questions to Duck Island.

The Secretary asked: While Adenauer was still there? One of the great difficulties with respect to the Soviets was that one never knew where they were going to come out until the last hour. They were able negotiators of a certain type; whether it was a good type was another question. At Berlin, only half an hour before adjournment, they had given in on the question of participation of the Chinese Communists.8

Krekeler said that the Chancellor was concerned about contact with us during the Geneva negotiations. The Secretary said that this should be even closer than before and that the modalities would be considered carefully.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 551. Secret. Drafted by Kidd on September 16. Circulated as POM MC–20.
  2. Document 257.
  3. For text of the Eden Plan, FPM(54)17, dated January 29, 1954, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. vii, Part 1, p. 1177. Regarding the Heusinger proposals, see footnote 3, Document 138.
  4. Regarding Merchant’s trip to Europe, see Documents 270 and 271.
  5. Document 266.
  6. For documentation on the uprising in East Berlin, June 17, 1953, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. vii, Part 2, pp. 1544 ff.
  7. For text of the Saar Statute, signed at Paris, October 23, 1954, see Documents (R.I.I.A.) for 1954, pp. 116–118.
  8. For documentation on the Four-Power Conference at Berlin, January–February 1954, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. vii, Part 1, pp. 601 ff.