271. Memorandum of a Conversation, Butterworth’s Residence, London, September 1, 1955, 1:15 p.m.1

PARTICIPANTS

  • Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick
  • Sir Harold Caccia
  • Mr. Merchant
  • Mr. Butterworth
  • Mr. Foster
  • Mr. Kidd

At lunch Kirkpatrick mentioned Blankenhorn’s visit to him that morning to report on the German preparations for the visit to Moscow. Kirkpatrick had no adverse comment to make. He thought it a good thing for the Germans to hold up on the establishment of full diplomatic relations, as they planned, if they could manage this. He mentioned the desire of the Germans to improve their liaison arrangements at the next Geneva conference by having a senior official of the US, UK, and French delegations take over the task for a week at a time in turn.

Mr. Merchant said that the problem of liaison with the Germans gave him less trouble than that with NATO, and outlined our thinking on the subject. Kirkpatrick and Caccia agreed with our views.

After lunch Mr. Merchant briefly reported on his visits to Paris and Bonn, mentioning the fact that he had given a copy of the draft Security Treaty2 to the Chancellor for study. Mr. Merchant enquired about the reported British plans to raise Eden’s proposals for a pilot European security plan in the UN Disarmament Subcommittee, [Page 572]which we thought ran some risk of detaching the European Security theme from German reunification.

Caccia said that Mr. Merchant’s information was perhaps out of date. That cloud which had appeared so threateningly on the horizon a couple of days had collapsed completely, after it was disclosed to rest on pure misunderstanding. The matter was entirely settled now. The British plan had had no necessary application to the dividing line in Germany; it could as easily be applied along the Soviet-Norwegian frontier or in any other part of Europe.

Kirkpatrick said that apropos of the US draft Security Treaty, which he had not really had time to study but only to read through once, he had the following initial reaction:

Although it might sound odd, he had the impression that the draft was perhaps too favorable to ourselves. He meant by this that it concededly had little chance of adoption. The Russians would not agree to it. To all of our existing advantages it added a few more. The Germans would perceive this. We must think of the situation from the long term point of view. The whole exercise depends very much on what the Germans will take, what German public opinion will support. There is agreement on that, is there not? And when we think of the Germans, it is not merely the Chancellor or the present Government, but the Socialist’s opposition as well. From the long-term point of view, if we do not succeed in obtaining unification for the Germans, they will one day set out to obtain it for themselves. That is what we must bear in mind. Consequently our proposals to the Soviets must be such as to offer them some inducement to get out of Germany—rather like a birthday cake, we must make the icing attractive. Kirkpatrick thought that the US draft was perhaps deficient in this respect. Of course, if the Germans would go along, he would have no objection, but we must take their opinion fully into account. He rather thought that it might appear too one-sided to them.

Kirkpatrick said that from a tactical point of view he was rather inclined to smother the Soviets with all sorts of proposals. Make one; when the Soviets turn it down, say “very well, here is another”; when they turn that down, say “here is a third which we happen to have in our pockets”; and keep going until the Soviets end up by turning down their own proposals, as in the case of the Austrian Treaty.

Merchant said that he disagreed with this. It was not so easy to make proposals to the Soviets and then to consider them withdrawn. The Soviets would nail each new proposal as a concession or commitment from which they could start afresh. Accordingly, although he agreed with Kirkpatrick that it would be good to bring the Soviets to the point of disagreeing with their own proposals, he doubted [Page 573]whether the tactics proposed by Kirkpatrick would accomplish this result.

Caccia said that to sum up, the UK would study the US draft; there would be a Working Party to pull things together at Washington on September 19—the Foreign Office would probably send Lord Hood to this; the Foreign Ministers would meet in New York on September 27 and 28; the Working Party would reconvene in Paris on October 10th; then the NATO briefings just before the Foreign Ministers met in Geneva on October 27th.

Looking at his watch at about 3:00 o’clock, Kirkpatrick rose to go, saying that he had the ——————3 ambassador coming in to see him shortly. He said that on occasions like this he was reminded of Herbert’s dictum that foreigners were either redundant or insanitary. (Earlier Kirkpatrick had told a nice story about Edward VII and his barber, Sutter (?). It seems that his barber once took a holiday trip to the Continent, and upon the advice of his distinguished patrons, went to Carlsbad. When he came back the King asked him how he had enjoyed his vacation. Quite well, Sutter said, but he had found it rather a mixed company at Carlsbad. “Ah well,” Edward replied, “we can’t all be hairdressers.”)4

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 551. Secret. Drafted by Kidd. Circulated as memorandum XI of POM MC–12 (Europe) (see footnote 1, supra ).
  2. See footnote 3, Document 269.
  3. There is a blank at this point in the source text.
  4. At 4 p.m. on September 1 Merchant, Kidd, and Butterworth met with Foreign Secretary Macmillan and reviewed the discussion reported in this memorandum. A memorandum of this conversation is memorandum XII of POM MC–12 (Europe).