272. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State1

600. Chief issues in current Soviet/German negotiations were clearly drawn by statements yesterday.2 Both sides are using word “normalization” in diametrically opposed meanings. As Bulganin made plain, Soviets envisage normalization as immediate establishment formal diplomatic relations between Federal Republic and [Page 574]Soviet Union with Embassies in respective capitals and other questions to be discussed subsequently. There is no change evident in Bulganin statement on key subject unification. Adenauer’s statement makes plain that “normalization” in German view will only result when causes of abnormal situation, i.e. division of Germany, are removed. While POW issue is of course of great interest to Germans, it is in effect secondary to chief issue of diplomatic relations.

German official position (Embtel 5973) is still that Chancellor intends to remain absolutely firm in his refusal to accept diplomatic relations without some agreement or commitment leading to German unity. While this is unquestionably present intention, Chancellor, and Blankenhorn, as reported in telegram under reference, maintains that Chancellor can and will return home empty-handed rather than yield from this position, he has not as yet been confronted with possibility deadlock. Von Walther last night in great confidence told me that he thought it might be rather more difficult for Chancellor to have complete failure here in Moscow and intimated that in part Chancellor’s present position was based on belief that if sufficient firmness was shown Soviets might yield sufficiently on unification issue to permit some form of agreement here. Von Walther, who is only one of German delegation with Soviet experience, does not share this view. He is inclined to believe that serious attempt will be made to devise some formula, and he mentioned specifically idea of “Secretaries General” of proposed commissions which while not genuine diplomatic representatives would nonetheless act as agents to maintain contact between two governments for further consideration mutual relations. He mentioned in this connection possibility, although he emphasized no decision had been made, that Germans might seek Soviet agreement that GDR would not establish diplomatic relations with any countries other than those which maintain such relationship. He seemed to feel that this would underline temporary nature of GDR and might be of value to Adenauer’s position.

While it is too soon to arrive at any conclusion as to results Moscow talks, and we should know more this afternoon following Blankenhorn briefing Western Ambassadors at 3 pm, I believe all factors taken into consideration that some attempt will probably be made to arrive at formula which while not constituting full diplomatic relations may be sufficiently ambiguous as to permit each side to interpret it in light of its present positions. If Soviets, as they well might, maintain their insistence on full de jure recognition then talks [Page 575]will break down but possibility of formula is at least inherent in situation.

Since judging from Blankenhorn’s statements yesterday Adenauer attaches greatest importance views US Government, and while I fully realize we cannot become directly involved, indication of Department’s attitude towards some intermediate formula between full diplomatic relations (which I am confident Adenauer will not accept) and Chancellor’s idea of four study commissions might be helpful and possibly necessary.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 661.62A/9–1055. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Repeated to London, Paris, and Bonn.
  2. The German Delegation, headed by Adenauer, arrived in Moscow on September 8 at 5 p.m. For the Chancellor’s account of his trip, see Erinnerungen, pp. 487–556. It is also described briefly in Witness, p. 387 and Khrushchev Remembers, pp. 357–362.
  3. Telegram 597 reported Bohlen’s conversation with Blankenhorn on September 9. Blankenhorn gave his impression of the first day’s events and asked Bohlen whether Adenauer should meet with the Soviet leaders alone. (Department of State, Central Files, 661.62A/9–955)
  4. This telegram was received in the Department of State at 9:45 a.m. on September 10. At 5:43 p.m. the Embassy in Moscow was informed that the United States had no objection to some intermediate formula if the Germans wanted it and a suitable one could be found. (Telegram 281; ibid., 661.62A/9–1055)