377. Letter From Secretary of State Dulles to Chancellor Adenauer1

My Dear Chancellor: I had hoped that I might be able to stop by and see you on my way home. However, it looks as though we would not get through in time tomorrow for me to do so on Wednesday, and I do not feel I should delay a whole day in returning to Washington to report to the President.

President Pinay reported on his talk with you last Sunday2 and gave a most reassuring account of your good health and spirits. I at once cabled that news to President Eisenhower who will be delighted, as am I.3

The Conference here has, I think, served an indispensable purpose. As President Eisenhower said, it would be this meeting that would provide the “acid test” of the intentions of the four powers and determine whether or not their verbal agreements could be translated into actual deeds.

I fear the Conference did not pass that test, but it was important that the nations should be subjected to that test. It is better to know the truth, however unpalatable, than to go on under an illusion.

We came here prepared to make very serious proposals on security designed to promote the reunification of Germany. However, the Soviets have, as you know, never once indicated any terms whatsoever upon which Germany could be reunified, except that they implied that this might be possible when the GDR could take over all Germany.

They have tried to give the impression that Germany might be reunified if it would be neutral or if the NATO and Brussels arrangements were liquidated. But they have never said this. They have, to be sure, asked for the liquidation of NATO and Brussels and for assurance that Germany would not join any “military bloc”. But never have they said that even on these conditions they would permit Germany to be reunified. On the contrary, they have made clear their steadfast allegiance to the GDR and their opposition to anything which might lead to its liquidation.

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I think that clears the air at least for the time being.

I believe that the present position of the Soviet Union stems not from strength but rather from weakness. At the present time there is uneasiness within the satellite countries. The present rulers are in the main of the old Stalin school, and the people are demanding a government which will be less harsh and more tolerant and more expressive of the “spirit of Geneva” as they understand it.

I think this accounts for the fact that the Soviet Delegation here has not felt that it could under present circumstances contemplate developments which could undermine the GDR, as that would have repercussions throughout the entire satellite world. Also that is why they have almost openly provoked an ending of the “spirit of Geneva”. However, I think we can fairly anticipate that the satellite situation will gradually be resolved—I think in favor of governments which while initially still Communist will be much more nationalistic and responsive to national needs, i.e. along the Tito pattern. When this happens, the GDR can be reappraised by the Soviets. It will not be primarily significant in relation to all of Eastern Europe, but as an item that can be dealt with independently. When this time comes, then I think the Soviets may well reappraise the German situation and accept the farreaching security assurances we were prepared to give in exchange for the reunification of Germany.

In the meantime it seems to me that the most constructive line to pursue is the development of the European idea. There are possibilities there for creative, constructive developments which can capture the imagination of the peoples of Western Europe, particularly the youth. The United States, while not a direct party to this European movement, stands ready to give it whatever support is practical.

It is probably not necessary for me to recount here the developments with reference to the Conference items of Disarmament and Contacts. Developments there have been, in their way, as disappointing as in relation to German reunification. At no point have the Soviets been willing to make even a gesture to preserve the “spirit of Geneva”.

As indicated above, I suspect that this spirit was a heavy liability to and within the Soviet Union itself, and even more within the satellite countries. Also I think they saw opportunities for spreading their influence in the Middle East and Africa which they could hardly have pursued consistently with the “spirit of Geneva”. So perhaps external ambitions as well as domestic preoccupations may have contributed to their present posture.

While I am of course disappointed, I am by no means despondent. On the contrary, I feel that analysis of the causes of the present impasse gives us ground to hope. I know that the cause for which we [Page 797] stand is a just and righteous cause and that if we are faithful to it, it will prevail.

Faithfully yours,

John Foster Dulles4
  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 586. Personal and Confidential. Drafted by Dulles and cleared by Merchant and Conant, who had come to Geneva on November 15 for consultations with Dulles.
  2. Pinay and Adenauer met at Bonn on November 13 to discuss the Saar.
  3. Dulte 80 from Geneva, November 15, reads:

    Pinay came back from his talk with Adenauer reporting Chancellor was in splendid condition mentally and physically. Pinay said ‘he seemed ten years younger.’ I know you will be glad of this good news.” (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 621)

  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.