111. Memorandum From the Secretary of State to the President1


  • Your Talks with Chancellor Adenauer

Before your meeting with the Chancellor on Tuesday2 morning, I will have two talks with him on Monday. We plan to discuss disarmament, German reunification, NATO military problems, the status of the German military build-up, European integration, and relations with the Soviet bloc. The Chancellor will also raise the question of German assets in the United States. We plan to raise with him the question of financial support for United States forces in Germany if a settlement has not been reached by that time.

The Chancellor will have two principal problems on his mind. One is the implications of the increased development of nuclear weapons. The other is the question of disarmament and its relation to German reunification.

As you know, the Chancellor is deeply troubled from a moral viewpoint about the implications of nuclear warfare. In addition, nuclear weapons have become a major campaign issue in Germany which is causing him serious difficulty. The Chancellor has taken the position that the German Federal Government is not seeking atomic weapons, but he has refused to foreclose the possibility of eventual German possession of tactical nuclear weapons if an agreement on disarmament is not reached in the next several years. He has also defended the stationing of United States units with atomic capability in Germany. His position is being sharply attacked by his Socialist opposition. You may wish to mention your appreciation of the courageous stand which he has taken.

At the same time, the Chancellor is very much concerned that Western defense efforts are being too exclusively centered on nuclear capability, particularly in the British case. He fears that we will drift into a position in which we will be unable to deal with any difficulty except by resort to nuclear weapons.

The Chancellor will wish to be reassured regarding two points of American policy. One is the maintenance of United States forces on the continent. The other is our determination to respond to a Soviet attack on Europe, concerning which he has lingering doubts.

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It would be useful if you could discuss with him the role of nuclear weapons and assure him that we believe that the NATO shield forces, which must be ready to use nuclear weapons in all-out war, should be sufficient to also be able to handle limited hostilities without necessarily using nuclear weapons. It will also be desirable that you assure him of our firm determination (a) to fulfill our obligations under the North Atlantic Treaty, reacting instantly to a Soviet attack, and (b) to contribute on a fair share basis to the defense of Europe.

In this connection, it would be useful if you could emphasize to him the importance of an effective contribution by Germany to NATO defense in Europe. You might say that, while we appreciate the political difficulties which confront him, we have a feeling that the Germans have not set their sights high enough in the terms of the effort which they are making. Once the election is out of the way, we look forward to a real effort on their part to move forward rapidly with the creation of the forces which we have been expecting for some time they would contribute to NATO. You may wish to stress the importance to the alliance of every nation contributing its fair share to the defense effort.

The Chancellor is most anxious that we should continue our negotiations with the Soviets in an effort to reach an agreement on disarmament. At the same time, he is concerned, as are the German people, that an agreement of substantial scope on disarmament might be reached without having come to an agreement with the Soviets on German reunification.

I will have gone over the disarmament problem with him in some detail. It would be most helpful if you could do so as well and review the main aspects of the problem with him. I recommend that you also assure him that we will do nothing in the disarmament field which would prejudice the reunification of Germany. On the other hand, it would be well if you could emphasize the importance of our continuing to explore the possibilities of a disarmament arrangement with the Soviets in a flexible way.

The Chancellor may raise with you the possibility of a new Four-Power conference with the Soviets later in the year.3 What he [Page 258] may have in mind is pressing the issue of German reunification simultaneously with the disarmament discussions in order to keep at least a loose link between the two and to take advantage of any flexibility in the Soviet position. You may wish to point out the dangers involved in a new meeting unless there is real grounds for believing we could make progress. You might suggest that it would be premature to consider the matter until we can gain a clearer idea of Soviet intentions from the London discussions. In the light of the development of the talks with the Chancellor, you may wish to express a willingness to review the question later in the year.

The Chancellor will also probably raise with you the question of German assets in the United States and perhaps the forthcoming sale by the Alien Property Custodian of the predominant German share in the Stinnes Company, an American holding company with properties located in Germany. If he does, it would be desirable to bring the Attorney General into the discussions.

The Chancellor will hope that the final communiqué will be of assistance to him in Germany from an election viewpoint. We will have to devote a part of the meeting on Tuesday to a discussion of the communiqué.

John Foster Dulles
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.62A11/5–2457. Secret. Drafted by Reinstein.
  2. May 28.
  3. On May 25 at 5:05 p.m., Dulles telephoned the President. The transcript of the conversation reads:

    “The Sec. reported the word from the German Embassy re the proposal to have a four-power conference on German reunification. Adenauer wanted the Secretary’s views. The Secretary said he would be very dubious about the propriety of our joining with the Germans to make such a statement. The British and the French would be upset. The Sec. said that if Adenauer does bring it up with the Pres. he would suggest that the Pres. be a little reserved about it. The Sec. says in this matter we should not tread on the toes of other countries. We do have joint responsibility with the British and French on German reunification. The Sec. said that if the paper from the Germans appeared significant he would call him at Gettysburg tomorrow morning.” (Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers)

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