219. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, September 30, 1955, 12:05 p.m.1

SUBJECT

  • Conversations with Foreign Minister Brentano

PARTICIPANTS

  • Foreign Minister von Brentano
  • State Secretary Hallstein
  • Ambassador Krekeler
  • Mr. Von Kessel
  • Mr. Limbourg
  • Mr. von Lilienfeld
  • Mr. Weber (interpreter)
  • The Secretary of State
  • Mr. Gray, Assistant Secretary of Defense
  • Admiral Davis, Department of Defense
  • EUR—Mr. Merchant
  • C—Mr. Mac Arthur
  • S/P—Mr. Bowie
  • GER—Mr. Reinstein
  • GER—Mr. Kidd
  • Mrs. Lejins (interpreter)
[Page 539]

[Here follows discussion of European security.]

Brentano said that he would like to mention a second question of some concern to the Germans, namely, their fear that the transfer of quadripartite rights and obligations from the Soviets to the Pankow regime, which appeared to be the effect of the recent Soviet–GDR agreement,2 would cause difficulties with regard to Berlin. This would not necessarily amount to a reimposition of the blockade, but all the world knew how easy it was to impose harassments and impede traffic to Berlin. Brentano was most grateful for the declaration made in New York on Wednesday and a note which he understood would be delivered to Moscow. He hoped the United States would follow this situation very carefully, especially with regard to any possible violations of the 1949 agreements of the Foreign Ministers.3 There was much concern in Berlin, which could develop in a way that would be politically harmful. He had spoken with Governing Mayor Suhr just before leaving Germany, and he would be grateful if he might report to Suhr that the Secretary was following this situation carefully. Suhr was apprehensive of a crisis in Berlin.

The Secretary said that we shared the concern expressed by Brentano, particularly with regard to the ostensibly greater authority given to the Soviet Zone regime. That group (the GDR) was in a position to turn on and off economic pressures on Berlin in a way that could be very disturbing and that could shake the confidence of business people in their ability to do business on a reliable basis with Berlin. It had occurred to us that the Federal Republic could organize itself more effectively to exert economic countermeasures. The Federal Republic had the greater part of the trade with the GDR, and perhaps with resourcefulness and better organization of procedures for taking countermeasures, steps might be taken which could tend to deter the GDR from further acts regarding Berlin. The United States would be willing to cooperate with and back up the Federal Republic, but it seemed to us that the primary responsibility lay with the Federal Republic, because it was the most immediately concerned and had the most economic relationships with the GDR.

Brentano said that this was self-understood, and that the Federal Republic would certainly have recourse to certain economic counter-measures if or when something was started by the East Zone regime. On the other hand, it had to be recognized that when difficulties were created, this was usually upon instructions from Moscow rather [Page 540] than anything representing the will of Pankow. Therefore, he was not quite sure whether the Federal Republic’s countermeasures would be decisive and sufficient.

The Secretary said that it seemed to him to be useful not only to take countermeasures, but to make plans in advance for counter-measures, so that the very existence of these plans might operate as a deterrent. The point was not to have to take countermeasures but to possess plans which constituted a threat. He agreed that if instructions were received from Moscow, perhaps nothing would deter the GDR. On the other hand, one could never know for certain to what extent these harassments represented basic Soviet policy, or to what extent they represented merely a test probe to see how we would react. One could not be certain that countermeasures would have an effect, nor certain that they would not have an effect.

[Here follows discussion of European regional affairs; for extracts, see volume IV, pages 330331.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.62A11/9–3055. Secret. Drafted by Kidd on October 3. Brentano visited Washington following his meetings in New York with the three Western Foreign Ministers to discuss arrangements for the upcoming Foreign Ministers meeting at Geneva.
  2. See the editorial note, supra .
  3. Presumably a reference to the communiqué, dated June 20, 1949, printed in Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. III, p. 1062.