335. Memorandum From the Ambassador to the Soviet Union (Bohlen) to the Secretary of State1


  • Soviet policy and tactics on Item 1

In connection with the discussion of the present status and future prospects to be adopted in regard to Point 1 of the Agenda, I hope the following comments concerning the Soviet policies and tactics in pursuance thereof being pursued by Molotov will be of some assistance.

Molotov is faithfully carrying out the lines of Soviet policy laid down by Bulganin at the Summit meeting, repeated in his Supreme Soviet speech and consistently emphasized in all Soviet commentary [Page 701] on the subject of general unification and its relation to European security. The policy objective being sought is obvious and requires little elaboration. Its principal purpose is the maintenance of status quo in regard to Germany and in particular the maintenance and protection of GDR. Whatever slight variations Molotov might bring from Moscow on German unification, there is no reason to believe that the Soviet Government will change this primary purpose. In this sense a failure on the German unification issue at this Conference will be regarded by Moscow as a success. So strong is the Soviet determination in regard to GDR that I do not believe Molotov is really embarrassed by being forced to declare his position on free elections. In fact, I gain the impression that far from attempting to disguise this opposition, he seems interested in proclaiming it, in order, I believe, to convince West German opinion that there is absolutely no hope of any progress on unification via the Four-Power route and that the only chance lies in West German negotiations.

In general, however, in view of the adamant Soviet position, we are on strong grounds on the question of German unification but we should perhaps, in arguing the point tomorrow, avoid helping the Soviets to create the above impression in West German opinion.

The problem of European security is admittedly more complicated and even dangerous. In essence our position suffers from the inherent disadvantage of putting forth specific proposals on the basis of a hypothetical situation, in this case the unification of Germany. Molotov, I would say, is clearly aware of this factor and is seeking to concentrate discussion on security without however having the slightest intention of meeting the basic condition on which our proposal rests. There are a number of advantages he may hope to extract from this situation. One, to develop, as he has, the thesis that the Western proposals are designed to force Germany into NATO and that this is the sole Western interest in German unification. He has not yet, however, pushed this point to the full and has refrained from pressing the Western Ministers as to what would be the nature of a security treaty in the event that a united Germany is not a member of NATO. He is doing this not because he does not see possibility of embarrassment that he might cause to the Western positions but for other reasons. By avoiding a complete frontal attack on our proposals and in stressing the similarity of certain faults in the two drafts, he hopes to move towards some form of limited security arrangement or assurances between East and West, based on the present line of demarcation in Germany. His references to Eden’s proposal at the Summit meeting make this quite evident. By stressing the similarity between the two drafts on zones, inspection and limitation of forces, he is trying to establish the position that these aspects of security are admitted by both sides to be good in themselves [Page 702] in order to make it more difficult for the West to refuse to put them into effect on the basis of a divided Germany. If, as is our policy, we should refuse to consider any arrangement based on the division of Germany, he would charge that the Western proposals were merely “declaratory” and not based on a genuine desire to enhance European security but only to force Germany into NATO.

If it becomes apparent, which is by no means yet the case, that the Western Powers will not entertain any form of arrangement or even virtual assurances based on status quo, he may then turn to a more specific and detailed attack on our proposals with a view to bringing out more clearly that they would have little teeth in them if Germany is not a member of NATO and at the same time try to draw the Western Ministers into a discussion of a hypothesis of a neutral Germany which Soviet propaganda could then use in Western Germany to undermine support for West German membership in NATO and WEU. In general, I believe that we should avoid any further discussion if possible of the security proposals but make absolutely clear our view that if Germany is to remain divided this essential cause of insecurity cannot be papered over by any assurances or arrangements in the security field. To do so, even in the most innocuous language, such as the willingness to renounce force, would be, in effect, to give our acquiescence to the maintenance of a divided Germany. An unwillingness to discuss the various hypotheses concerning a united Germany’s position in Europe might have the disadvantage of appearing to support Molotov’s assertion that we only envisage a united Germany in NATO but, on balance, I believe it would be less disadvantageous than the dangers of being drawn into a discussion of security on the assumption of a neutral Germany.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–GE/11–755. Secret.