293. Memorandum of a Conversation, Quai d’Orsay, Paris, October 24, 1955, 5:20 p.m.1



  • Quadripartite Meeting


  • Secretary of State Dulles and Advisers
  • Foreign Minister Pinay and Advisers
  • Foreign Minister Macmillan and Advisers
  • Foreign Minister Brentano and Advisers
[Page 622]

The Chairman (M. Pinay) welcomed Brentano and asked whether Brentano had any observations to make, since he had had an opportunity to read the revised text which the three Ministers had agreed upon in their earlier meetings.2

Brentano said that he would like to ask a question with regard to the bracketed passage at the bottom of page one. He believed that this had been a suggestion of the German Delegation, and wondered whether it would be agreeable to the other Ministers. Pinay, Macmillan, and Dulles said that it was acceptable, and it was agreed to drop the brackets.

Dulles said that he had a question with regard to the phrase on page two “if the Soviet Government professes to desire”. He suggested that if this were reworded to read “according to the desire expressed by the Soviet Government”, it would sound less offensive. This was agreed.

Brentano said that he would like to raise a question with regard to point VII of the memorandum. He was in agreement with this point, but he wondered whether the new second sentence would not create an additional problem. The fundamental concept was that Germany should join both the Security Treaty and NATO; this was self understood. However, he preferred the language of the earlier draft where it appeared as point three. He wished to emphasize that the idea was acceptable, but he believed that the new formula might enable the Soviets to raise new difficulties.

Pinay said that this question had been discussed at length in the morning session, and the Ministers had finally settled on this formula. He asked Brentano whether the latter had any suggestions.

Brentano said that he would agree then.

Dulles said that he was not sure whether we had found the best formula to express the idea. If Brentano had any suggestion, the meeting would be glad to consider it.

Pinay said that this was an extremely difficult and important question.

Brentano explained that he had only just seen the revised text, and the German Delegation would need a few minutes to consider the matter. Perhaps he could return to it later, and meanwhile the discussion might proceed with regard to the other points.

Pinay commented that whatever the formula, the Soviets would be bound to raise difficulties. He asked Brentano whether he had any other objections.

[Page 623]

Brentano said no.

Pinay asked whether he might inquire whether the German Delegation would raise any further questions or have any objections at the NATO meeting tomorrow.

Brentano said that they would have none; they would take a positive attitude. He continued, that the other Ministers might have some question with regard to the Federal Republic’s position on German participation in the Geneva conference. He assumed that the Ministers had seen the German reply to the Secretary’s letter.3 He stated that it was the German opinion that any participation of the Federal Republic would lead the Soviets to demand the same for the GDR. He believed that in this indirect way, the Soviets would seek to, and could realize, their aim to give the Soviet Zone regime the same status as the Federal Republic, at least in the eyes of the public. Since arrangements had been made to assure constant consultation with Federal Republic representatives at Geneva, his Government felt that it might renounce any further direct participation in order to avoid such participation for the GDR.

Pinay said that, in sum, the German position remained the same as it was at New York.4

Brentano said yes, adding that the Federal Republic would have a representative at the disposal of the other Ministers at Geneva at all times.

Pinay said, then there would be no direct participation of the Federal Republic.

Brentano said that was correct.

Pinay said that they would therefore take the position that the three Western Powers would be in permanent consultation with the Federal Republic, while the Soviets might do the same with the GDR.

Brentano said that if it were agreeable, he would like to distribute an exposé of the position of the Federal Republic on this point.5

Dulles said that we could of course accept the formula suggested by the Federal Republic. However, the Ministers had wished to be quite certain that the Federal Republic had studied this question au fond. Molotov would argue that there could be no discussion of the issue of German reunification in the absence of the Germans, and would contend that the Western Powers and the Federal Republic stood in the way of this. The Western Ministers would not want to [Page 624] have to change their position mid-stream. They wanted to be sure that the Federal Republic would continue to maintain its position after Molotov had made his point.

Brentano assured the other Ministers that the German Government had carefully studied this question and had reached a unanimous decision. Molotov could of course be expected to make propaganda out of the point. However, the German Cabinet was agreed that in any event one must say no. The position of the Federal Republic was that the decision in principle with regard to German unification was a responsibility of the Four Powers, which must be taken by them; as soon as this should occur, the Federal Republic would have no objection to contact with the East Zone authorities with regard to implementation of the decision in principle; but not before. His Government wished at all costs to avoid the possibility of the Soviets maintaining that the two parts of Germany were now in contact upon a mutual basis before any of the basic decisions had been reached.

Brentano said that he had a question with regard to point number IV [III] of the Memorandum, relating to “Special Measures”.

Macmillan said that before they came to that, he would like to go back to the point mentioned in paragraph 4 of Annex II,6 where he noted the language “each Delegation should be free to consult such German Representatives it wishes”. He wished to be clear about this; did this mean that the Three Western Powers could consult the Federal Republic, while the Soviet Union would be free to consult both the GDR and the Federal Republic? Was that right?

Brentano said that there was of course the theoretical possibility that on the basis of the Moscow agreement the Soviets might wish to consult the Federal Republic. The Federal Republic would not consider doing this except upon the basis of prior consultation and agreement with the Three Western Powers, and would of course later give an account to the Three Western Powers. On the basis of such prior agreement, he felt that the Federal Republic might listen to the Soviets if this should arise. Pinay asked whether this satisfied Mr. Macmillan.

MacMillan said that the phrase was not quite clear: the meaning seemed to be that any of us could consult with the GDR.

Brentano emphasized that it was not the wish of the Federal Republic that there should be any such consultations, and they would certainly not take the initiative. If, however, the Soviets wished to take the initiative by demanding consultation with them, the Federal [Page 625] Republic would do so only on the basis of prior consultation with the Western Powers.

Macmillan said that he thought the formula about written evidence was right. However, suppose that the Soviets took the line that they would refuse to accept Federal Republic evidence. Would the Federal Republic then wish the Western Ministers to accept or refuse?

Brentano said that the Federal Republic did not wish any written explanation; if there was no quadripartite agreement on this, the suggestion would fall.

Macmillan said that it was a good formula: any written document from the GDR could reach the conference only through the Soviets, whereas any such document from the Federal Republic would be transmitted to all Four Governments. If the Soviets refuse to accept this procedure, he understood that the Federal Republic would give its information privately to the Western Ministers.

Brentano confirmed this.

Brentano said that he would like to make a suggestion with regard to the last paragraphs of Section C of Annex VII (Special Measures).7 It was the view of the Federal Republic that at an appropriate time some assurance should be given that NATO forces would not occupy territory evacuated by the Soviets. They felt that this point should be made, not necessarily on the first day or when the subject was first broached but perhaps before negotiations on this were broken off, especially if the negotiations had gotten nowhere.

Pinay said that at New York it had been agreed to omit any reference to demilitarized zones.

Hallstein said that it would be necessary to give some explanation of the special measures mentioned in point III of the Memorandum.

Pinay said that it would be difficult to speak of this matter without the advice of General Gruenther.

Macmillan said that he wished to get this matter quite clear. As he understood the situation, Brentano’s idea appeared to be the same as the UK’s. If the conference made any progress, then the Ministers could agree to the discussion of these special measures by their advisers and military experts. That seemed fairly simple. After agreement had been reached on broad principles, the details would be studied by experts. On the other hand, if the conference went badly, they would not want the Soviets to be able to say that the West had made unreasonable demands, proposing immediately to march 20 Western divisions into the territory evacuated by the Soviet Union. They wanted to be able to answer this objection without being too [Page 626] precise; they would like to be able to say that they saw the point, and were prepared to meet it, without going into detail. Was not that Brentano’s position?

Brentano said yes.

Pinay interjected that General Gruenther had said he was against any idea of a demilitarized zone.

Brentano said that they wished to be able to say, however, at the right moment, that no one demanded that the Soviets should go away and that at the next moment the rest of us would come in with troops. They surely wanted to be able to say that this point would be taken care of in the discussion of details.

Pinay asked whether Brentano did not fear that if such a proposal were put forward, the Soviets would turn it against us to demand comparable measures in the Western zones.

Brentano said no. The Federal Republic was not occupied by the Soviets. If we merely asked the Soviets to get out, this would appear one-sided; but if we say that we will not incorporate the evacuated territory into the NATO area, this will make our proposal less one-sided and will answer their objection that we are increasing the threat to the Soviet Union by adding this territory as a military Stutzpunkt. The question seemed to him to be the following: at what moment of the conference should such a proposal be made.

Pinay said that we must get this point clear between ourselves. The Soviets would reply with “do the same”.

Dulles said that he thought that this was an idea that deserved further study. We had communicated with General Gruenther about this. He said that he would recommend against any demilitarized zone. He said that if it should become necessary for political reasons to accept a demilitarized zone, he would desire the opportunity to comment. The Secretary said that the concept was attractive, but that the practical application of the idea was difficult and dangerous. For example, suppose that there were riots or disturbances in the East zone, could the German Government send in troops to restore order? Could recruits be trained in that area? What would happen to the seven GDR divisions already existing in that area; would they all need to be moved to West Germany? These were difficult problems. There were others in addition. He thought that there might be a possible serious exposure if part of the country were demilitarized. The idea that we should do this only toward the end of the conference for propaganda purposes was attractive, but we all knew that the Soviets usually reserved their position until the last minute. Concessions made at the end of this conference might plague us at the beginning of the next conference. He accordingly felt that the concept needed to be examined further before it would be acceptable to the US Government.

[Page 627]

Brentano (referring to the next to last paragraph of Part C, Annex VII, Page 13) said that he thought the question left open was merely that of when the matter could be mentioned.

Dulles said that as he understood the matter, not filling up an area with NATO forces was not the same as demilitarization.

Pinay stated emphatically that the French Government would wish to make the same reservation as the US. The US was not alone in its views.

Macmillan said that he felt that there was more agreement than might appear on the surface. He agreed that it was unwise to define any special measures, especially as a demilitarized zone. But would it not be wise to find a formula that would not appear to make such an offensive demand of the Soviets? He thought that this could be done safely, and that we could make our point of what we meant by special measures. The point would be that we did not intend to move into the area when the Soviets got out. He thought that this was good propaganda, it could be safely made.

Dulles said that the fact that we were not far apart could perhaps be made clear from something that he had said at Geneva. He had employed some such phrase as the following: “if the Soviets feared that by getting out we would move in, that was a specific point which we could meet”.

Macmillan said that was a good formula, they could take that phrase and make something out of it.

This was agreed.

Brentano said that he would like to raise another question with regard to plans for inspection and control. He explained that it was the position of the German Government that any such plans should only take place upon the supposition of German unification.

Pinay said that he agreed. Any inspection area would need to take place within the framework of German unification.

Macmillan said that he agreed absolutely. When they came to the discussion of Disarmament, any suggestion such as Sir Anthony Eden’s Plan for a pilot inspection scheme8 would appear in this context, like the President’s aerial inspection proposal, rather than in the discussion of European security. The Prime Minister had made his proposal; the Prime Minister does not withdraw his proposal; but the British would like it considered as a Disarmament problem rather than in connection with European security.

Brentano said that the Federal Republic had felt that Disarmament was, of course, an essential element; but when in the course of the discussion German unification is shoved off for a plan of inspection within the field of Disarmament, the status quo is implied as the [Page 628] point of departure. This was unthinkable for the Federal Republic unless the precondition of the German unification was made quite clear. They could agree to inspection and controls, but not unless there were parallel or preliminary decisions with regard to reunification.

Pinay expressed his agreement.

Macmillan repeated that the Prime Minister had put forth his plan at Geneva. Molotov would probably ask what had become of it. Macmillan felt that he owed it to the others to indicate the kind of reply that he would give: he would say that that plan, so far as it bore any relation to European security, had become merged with our proposals here made concerning German reunification and European security. What remained of it was a general idea in the same category as President Eisenhower’s suggestion for aerial inspection: it was a general suggestion for consideration apart from European security which presupposed German unification.

Brentano said that he was more in sympathy with the view expressed by Pinay. The Germans were not against any general disarmament, but they were afraid that if plans for inspection in the context of Disarmament became separated from the question of German reunification, it would be dangerous. The Soviets would undoubtedly press for European Disarmament, and would depart from the point of the status quo. Chancellor Adenauer had just written a letter to Sir Anthony Eden with regard to this matter.9

Pinay said that he perceived danger in any suggestion which would involve the participation of the two Germanies.

Macmillan said that he would, of course, take note of what his colleagues had said, but the difficulty was that the Prime Minister had made the proposal and the Soviets would push for it. He wished to be sincere. He proposed to say that the Prime Minister’s proposal had two aspects: one aspect was that of the demilitarized zone, etc., etc., and he would explain that anything of this nature had been merged into our Security Plan, that is the security and the European aspect. The other aspect would be that before one tried out vast schemes of inspection, it might be better to have a pilot scheme, not necessarily in the European field at all. It was merely that you do things on a small field first. That should get us out. It would be explained as a general idea, not related to any specific field.

Brentano said that the Germans would merely like to take the position that no plan for disarmament and inspection in Europe should take place on the basis of the participation of two Germanies.

[Page 629]

Dulles said that he would like to ask Macmillan whether, if this scheme were to operate in Central Europe, it would be only within the framework of our security plan. It could be operated elsewhere, for example in Norway or in other parts of the world.

Macmillan said yes. … Dulles asked whether Brentano had any further comments with regard to the new paragraph 7.

Brentano explained again that he agreed with the purpose and sense of this paragraph, but he believed that the last half of the sentence reading “unless these forces are present in the territory concerned under collective defense arrangements” was complicating. He wondered whether this part of the sentence could not be dropped, as something which was self understood.

Pinay said that now we were falling back into the morning’s discussion. If we pressed this part of the sentence, Germany could demand the withdrawal of NATO forces.

Brentano said no.

Pinay said yes.

Brentano said no.

Pinay said yes, that Germany could stay out of NATO.

Brentano said that NATO gave the right to station troops.

Pinay said that there was nothing in NATO that obliged Germany to keep the Allied troops.

Brentano said that when the Federal Republic had joined NATO, and when united Germany should adhere to NATO, it accepted all the obligations of the Alliance including the right to station NATO troops. He said that as he had explained before, he had nothing against the purpose of this sentence, but he was of the opinion that it would give rise to debate. However, if the others wished, he would acquiesce.

Pinay said that they had discussed this question all morning and had reached this conclusion.

Brentano said “all right”. Brentano added that he had no further questions, except perhaps with regard to the arrangements made for NATO consultation tomorrow.

Pinay explained that Dulles would present the European security aspect, Macmillan the Disarmament aspect, and he (Pinay) would do the East-West contacts.

Macmillan said that he would like to raise the question of the press at Geneva. This time there would be documents. He thought it was important for the press to be able to publish documents that were tabled. How would this matter be handled?

Pinay said that he felt that perhaps the best method would be for the conference to issue a general memorandum each day. Macmillan asked whether all the documents could not be published.

Pinay said no, only a general memorandum.

[Page 630]

Macmillan asked whether this would then be the same procedure as before. Pinay commented that it was difficult to decide this question in the absence of Molotov.

Macmillan asked whether the Eden Plan could in any event be published.

Pinay said not before the first session.

Macmillan said that this was a problem which must be thought about. One way would be to publish all the documents and to keep the discussions secret. At present we only had the Eden Plan on the table, which went back to Berlin. It was old hat.

Brentano said that it would have more impact on the public if the West should demonstrate its initiative by giving out both plans (Eden Plan and European Security Plan) on the first day.

This was agreed.

Macmillan said that that was the question he wished to pose. Very well, they would publish on the first day.

Pinay then read the draft of a communiqué of the Ministers’ meeting, which was agreed. The meeting closed at 6:45.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 564. Secret. Drafted by Kidd. A telegraphic summary of the meeting was transmitted to the Department in Secto 16 from Paris, October 24. (Ibid.)
  2. The Foreign Ministers met at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on October 24 to discuss a draft memorandum on European security to give to the Soviets at Geneva. The U.S. Delegation reported on the two meetings in Sectos 10 and 11 from Paris, October 24. (Ibid.) For text of the memorandum, see Department of State Bulletin, November 7, 1955, pp. 729–732, or Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 27–33.
  3. Dulles’ letter to Brentano was transmitted in telegram 1112 to Bonn, October 19. (Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/10–1955) Brentano’s reply was transmitted in telegram 54 from Bonn to Rome (1305 to the Department of State), October 22. (Ibid., 396.1–GE/10–2255)
  4. See Document 284.
  5. Not found in Department of State files.
  6. Reference is to Annex II of the Report of the Paris Working Group; see Document 288.
  7. Annex VII of the Report of the Paris Working Group is not printed.
  8. Document 254.
  9. Reference is presumably to the letter of October 24 that Adenauer describes in Erinnerungen, 1955–1959, pp. 34–35.