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

606. Three Western Ambassadors met at 4 pm at French Embassy with Blankenhorn today. He said this morning’s meeting was totally negative and Germans had been surprised at frankness and even brutality Soviet positions as outlined. On chief points at issue Soviets maintained following positions:

Unification. There were no prospects for immediate unification and if diplomatic relations were made dependent on this point current talks would not lead to anything. GDR was sovereign government enjoying relations with number countries, including two of “Great Powers”, USSR and Communist China. Paris Accord was obstacle as Soviet government had warned and Chancellor was advised to establish contact with GDR as means furthering progress towards unification for which in principle Soviet government stood.
On prisoners Soviets stated there were no POWs but only war criminals numbering 9,626 as of September 1 in Soviet Union who had been sentenced for crimes against Soviet population. Soviets on this point gave long statements of number victims Soviet occupation which they asserted war criminals in question had been direct perpetrators. Future negotiations on this subject were conceivable but only [Page 576]with participation representatives GDR which Soviets were not suggesting since they knew it would be unacceptable to Chancellor.

Soviets strongly maintained position that diplomatic relations should be without any conditions or consideration other questions and insisted upon exchange of Ambassadors.

These positions were initially outlined by Bulganin but there were several interventions on general subjects by Khrushchev reinforcing and re-emphasizing Soviet position. Molotov merely echoed Bulganin’s statements. Adenauer and Brentano maintained strongly German position to effect that normalization i.e. diplomatic relations could not be based upon abnormal situation of division Germany. On prisoners Adenauer made strong plea on humanitarian grounds and for not dwelling on war. He admitted that Soviets had been victim of German attack but said Hitler’s sins should not be visited on present government. In oblique response to reference German crimes in Soviet Union he mentioned that many terrible things had also happened in Germany. This reference provoked strong reaction from Khrushchev who stated that no crimes had been committed by Soviet troops and that he could not accept comparison.

During one his interventions Khrushchev said that Soviet government had warned on Paris Accord, considered NATO as non-defensive, hostile alliance directed at USSR and other peaceful countries and that therefore “Soviet Union was doing everything it could to weaken NATO.” He added, however, that Soviet government was not asking dissolution NATO or abandonment FedRep participation since this would be “unrealistic”, important thing was co-existence and Soviet government had advanced proposals for all-European security treaty which would be discussed at Geneva, and all they suggest at present time to FedRep was establishment diplomatic relations and exchange Ambassadors.

Chancellor at one point said GDR could not claim to have confidence of East Germans and could not be recognized as legitimate government, to which Bulganin made strong defense of GDR as sovereign country and member Socialist camp.

Meeting ended with suggestion by Khrushchev, which was accepted that Foreign Ministers should get together Monday in order to see where delegation stood. (Embtel 5972) Khrushchev, Bulganin and Semenov (apparently in capacity interpreter) were meeting at 5 pm with Chancellor, Brentano and German interpreter.

At close meeting Bulganin said he wished to publish his opening statement to which Adenauer replied he would publish his remarks. Subsequently Soviet Foreign Office has suggested to German delegation that entire discussion be published and although Blankenhorn [Page 577]was not aware final decision Chancellor, he believed, would agree on basis that intransigeance Soviet position would be useful for public opinion, especially in West Germany.3

At one point at close meeting Chancellor suggested that economic questions which were discussed in general but not specifically, might be discussed later at which point Bulganin inquired if Chancellor had in mind setting up special commission to which Chancellor said he had in mind some delegation to continue consideration subject. No decision was reached although Soviets made no objection.

Today’s meeting confirmed previous expectation complete deadlock with both sides maintaining their positions intact. Fact that Soviets desire publish record today’s meeting would indicate positions adopted were not merely for bargaining purposes. Germans were of opinion that primary Soviet interest was to demonstrate strength their support GDR and their determination engage in no deal or arrangement with Adenauer which might be interpreted as indicating willingness to accept its elimination. Germans were also of opinion that Soviets seemed envisage possibility deadlock although they were interested in failure Soviets to react negatively to Chancellor’s suggestion re economic commission.

In view probability publication this evening of record today’s meeting will not send fuller account unless event does not materialize.

Blankenhorn indicated that Chancellor would like see three Western Ambassadors some time tomorrow afternoon at his dacha in country where conversations would be secure. Probable time will be somewhere around 5 or 6 pm and therefore if Department has any message or guidance would appreciate receiving it by that time.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 661.62A/9–1155. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Repeated to London, Paris, and Bonn.
  2. See footnote 3, supra .
  3. The statements were all printed in Pravda, September 11 and 12.
  4. On September 12 Bohlen reported the three Western Ambassadors were also briefed by Adenauer late in the afternoon of September 11. The Chancellor confirmed the details of the meeting on Saturday, September 10, gave his impressions of the Soviet leaders, and emphasized that the positions on prisoners and unification were so far apart that there was virtually no chance for agreement. (Telegram 614; Department of State, Central Files, 661.62A/9–1255)