164. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, June 14, 1955, 11:30 a.m.1


  • The Secretary of State
  • Robert Murphy, Under Secretary
  • Ambassador James B. Conant
  • Livingston T. Merchant, EUR
  • Cecil B. Lyon, GER
  • 2 interpreters
  • The Chancellor
  • Ambassador Heinz L. Krekeler
  • Dr. Georg Federer, German Embassy
  • Ambassador Herbert Blankenhorn
  • (NATO)

The conversation opened with an exchange of pleasantries after which the Secretary stated that he had added a sentence covering neutrality with respect to Germany in the proposed joint communiqué to be issued following the Chancellor’s talk with the President.2 The Chancellor indicated that he was very happy to include that sentence.

The Chancellor indicated that he would prefer not to discuss subjects in which he was interested until after the Secretary had raised matters of concern to him.

The Secretary said he thought that yesterday they had adequately covered the question of the Four Power meeting but that he believed the Chancellor might wish to raise certain questions in connection therewith with the President and might also wish to discuss with the President the subject of the Chancellor’s invitation to visit the Soviet Union and the question of German unification. The Secretary then referred to his invitation to the Chancellor to lunch with him in New York and to discuss with him and the British and French Foreign Ministers these various matters. The Chancellor expressed his appreciation for the invitation.

Berlin Autobahn Situation. The Secretary said that in his view, in accordance with its commitment given to the Three Powers in 1949, the Soviet Union has an obligation to maintain the normal conduct of traffic to and from Berlin. The Secretary stated that he did not believe that that undertaking wholly excluded exploration by the Chancellor’s Government with the authorities of East Germany as to what constituted normal charges that might be imposed on the Autobahn traffic. The Secretary said that if the tolls were arbitrary and designed to impair traffic and not to cover the cost of the upkeep of the Autobahn, then the question, he believed, fell within the sphere [Page 387] of the 1949 agreement between the Four Powers. The Secretary added that, subject to concurrence in New York of his British and French colleagues, whose governments are parties to the same agreement, he hoped to mention this matter at San Francisco to Mr. Molotov. He would say that he hoped that the question might be resolved before the Four Power meeting, which was ostensibly being held to minimize difficulties and this action in Berlin was creating difficulties.

The Chancellor stated that he did not know whether or not the Secretary was familiar with the Ordinance providing for these tolls which had been issued by the German Democratic Republic and which referred to all roads and highways in the GDR as well as military vehicles. Thus the only vehicles which remain to be taxed were West German and West Berlin vehicles plying between West Germany and Berlin, which in the Chancellor’s view made the matter purely a political one. He added that in his view the Ordinance was not purely financial but had been issued to cause concern to residents of Western Germany buying in Berlin. It was clear, the Chancellor continued, that there was a certain amount of wear and tear on the highways and that the West Germans were prepared to discuss this question and pay justified charges. However, the Chancellor wanted to emphasize that he did not think the objective was financial but rather political and psychological—to scare off firms from buying in West Berlin. Therefore, the Chancellor would be very appreciative if the matter could be taken up with Mr. Molotov, if the British and French Foreign Ministers agreed, as falling within the sphere of the 1949 agreement.

The Secretary said that we would attempt to soften the situation up from the Soviet side but he hoped that the Chancellor would see to it that discussions were continued at the technical level also so that by working at these two levels the problem might be solved.

The Chancellor indicated that they had not been very successful in their attempts to initiate talks on a technical level but they would continue to try.3

[Here follows discussion of anti-cartel legislation, European integration, an air transport agreement, the Chancellor’s invitation to visit Moscow, and refugees.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot M–88, Box 170. Confidential. Drafted by Lyon. Chancellor Adenauer and Dulles also met on June 13; see vol. v, pp. 224228.
  2. The conversation took place at 11:30 a.m. on June 14; see ibid., pp. 230–231. For text of the communiqué issued by the Chancellor and the President, see Department of State Bulletin, June 27, 1955, pp. 1033–1034.
  3. Experts from the Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic met in Berlin on June 2 and 4. At the second meeting, the East Germans unilaterally announced a reduction in the tolls effective June 10 amounting to about 20 percent. (Telegrams 780 and 785 from Berlin, June 2 and 4; Department of State, Central Files, 962A.7162B/6–255 and 962A.7162B/6–455, respectively)