282. Letter From Chancellor Adenauer to Secretary of State Dulles1

Dear Mr. Dulles: You will of course have been informed concerning the course of our conversations in Moscow. May I however [Page 592] communicate to you some personal observations and ideas for your private information.

BulganinKhrushchev. Bulganin told me that he and Khrushchev were as one person, that they had worked together for thirty years and were in complete agreement with each other. Khrushchev confirmed this statement. While Khrushchev, being the more temperamental of the two, puts himself more in the foreground—he spoke very often and very long in Moscow—I believe nevertheless that Bulganin is the more intelligent and farsighted of the two, and that he exercises a decisive influence.

Both gentlemen want to raise the Soviet Union to the level of the civilized countries within as short a time as possible. They clearly realize that this is a gigantic task which will require enormous manpower and expenditure of every kind. The large expenditure they have at present for armaments interferes with this work. Khrushchev said literally that it was very disturbing for them to have to spend so much on armaments and thus to be forced to postpone other tasks.

Please do not understand this to mean that the Soviet Union finds itself in momentary but passing difficulties. Only they do realize that the armaments programme prejudices the other programme. To this must be added that they have certain preoccupations, frankly mentioned by them, on account of China. They spoke of the annual excess of births in China amounting to 12 million and of the burden of the commitments they had undertaken with regard to China.

They are aiming at a breathing spell in armament expenditure in order to be able to devote themselves more forcefully to their other tasks. Considering the magnitude of their task I should think that such a breathing spell would probably extend over a period of many years. They are, or at least pretend to be, absolutely convinced of the truth of the Marxist-communist doctrine and believe that capitalism is condemned to perish, and that this will happen automatically.

They frankly said that they were disturbed by the armaments of the United States and felt threatened by the American bases. They said they were encircled. They expressed their respect for the vigour of the Federal Republic of Germany. They did not seem to attach a particularly high value to the vigour of France nor to that of Great Britain. They seem especially to fear an association between the United States of America and the Federal Republic of Germany. I tried to dispel their fears with regard to the United States, taking some time to explain to them that the United States is not a military, let alone aggressive, country. They said they believed that President Eisenhower wants peace. They added incidentally that he had already [Page 593] written Bulganin three letters since Geneva.2 As regards you personally, they mentioned that at first they had not trusted you, but were now convinced of your love of peace. They expressed the opinion that Eden, Faure and Pinay also wanted peace, but that the Pentagon did not. I demonstrated to them that the United States, in turn, on account of what had happened so far, felt that the Soviet Union was aggressive and that protective measures against such a Power were called for. I added that I believed that a general easing of tension throughout the world was nevertheless possible once mutual distrust was eliminated in perhaps repeated negotiations.
I tried to explain to them somewhat at length why we want European integration. I told them that today no European country including Great Britain was a Great Power in the real sense of that term any more, that the integration of Europe was a purely European necessity for this continent on economic and political grounds, and that the integration of Europe constituted no threat for any country.
I told them that we could not negotiate with the leaders of the German Democratic Republic because their rule was not based on democratic principles. I said that 90 per cent of the population of the Soviet Zone were against these leaders. Bulganin contradicted me, but not very resolutely.
In the question of the re-establishment of the unity of Germany their declarations were less peremptory and negative than the statement made by Bulganin before the Supreme Soviet on 4 August 1955. They advanced two counter-arguments:
the Communist achievements must be maintained for the inhabitants of the Soviet Zone;

it was too much to ask them to strengthen the potential of NATO by releasing the Soviet Zone.

I believe this objection to be very weighty. It could, however, be disposed of fairly easily.

We talked very frankly about the reservations which the Federal Republic had to make for reasons of international law. They showed that they understood why we made those reservations. They said that the form in which they were made was immaterial to them. They stuck to their own view of the matter, of course.
The turning point in the negotiations as a whole came on Monday 12 September during the reception at the Kremlin. Until then I had considered the entire situation so hopeless that I had ordered [Page 594] our planes which were in Hamburg to come at once so that we could fly back on Tuesday rather than on Wednesday as originally envisaged. Whether this order which of course became known to the Russians caused that turn of events is beyond my ken, but I think it very likely.

In its sittings of 22 and 23 September 1955 the German Bundestag has debated the Moscow conversations. It gave its approval unanimously. The opposition, while emphasizing that by their votes they did not approve the foreign policy of the Federal Government as conducted so far, thought it possible that more of a meeting of minds might result in future.

Our papers carry the news that the American columnist Pearson has asserted that I had secret negotiations with the representatives of the Soviet Union. While I naturally assume that you will not give credence to such allegations, I nevertheless want to declare explicitly that no [not] one word is true of this or similar reports.

If it should be possible to arrive at a cold peace, it would at all events have to comprise the re-unification of Germany. This is not only a national and humanitarian issue for the German nation keeping it in a state of restlessness, but it is also an eminently important problem for the entire free world because it is extraordinarily dangerous for all of us that the Russians have a stronghold, so far advanced to the West, of Communism in Europe. If the Russians could be prevailed upon to give up this stronghold, the very dangerous Communist movements in France and Italy would thereby suffer a considerable setback.

Such a period of cold peace, if it lasted long enough, would possibly accustom the population of the Soviet Union to higher living standards than they have now and might thus perhaps lead to internal changes within the Soviet Union which would render it less dangerous. I am convinced that the size of the country, its dictatorial form of government, and the Communist fanaticism prevailing there will continue for a long time to constitute a great menace for all the other peoples, a menace that is both physical and spiritual and in the face of which one cannot be too vigilant. I believe in particular that this spiritual danger is considerable in view of certain peculiar tendencies among the young intellectual classes of all free peoples.

I hope that you have somewhat recovered from your recent strenuous work so that you can tackle with new vigour the so difficult and responsible negotiations in front of you.

With warm greetings, I am,

Yours as ever most faithfully,

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.62A/9–2355. Personal. Translation. Given to Dulles by Brentano in New York on September 27. Regarding the meetings of the Foreign Ministers at New York, September 27–28, see Document 284.
  2. For text of the letter dated July 27, see Document 262; a second letter, dated August 3, transmitted photographs of the Heads of Government meeting at Geneva; the third letter was a cover for some books on World War II that the President sent to Bulganin. Copies of the second and third letters are in Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204, Letters to Bulganin.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.