226. Telegram From the Delegation at the North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting to the Department of State1

Secto 23. Following is summary Secretary’s conversation with Brentano and Hallstein December 17.

Brentano said that he was most grateful for inclusion of reference to German reunification in NATO Communiqué.2 As result of Geneva, question had now dropped to second rank. He wondered whether Secretary envisaged making fresh approach to Soviets. Secretary said did not think it would be useful to do so for next few [Page 550] months at least, in view of strong Soviet position at Geneva. Perhaps question should be reviewed in spring of next year.

Brentano said Zorin would arrive in Bonn Monday or Tuesday. He was convinced that Zorin would begin discussion of reunification at early date. He assured Secretary we would be kept informed. In response to question by Secretary, Brentano said he thought Zorin might perhaps make new proposals. Hallstein thought Soviets would take initiative, but perhaps not so immediately. He thought Zorin would begin by exploration of situation, perhaps then make economic offers, and eventually raise reunification question. Secretary said he supposed Soviets would try to convey impression that there would be advantages to Germany in entering negotiations with USSR, but thought that Soviet position on maintenance of division of Germany was quite firm at this time. Brentano agreed, but pointed out that some sections of German opinion would probably eventually exert pressures on government at least to listen to Soviet proposals. Secretary commented that if it became known in East Germany that Soviets were preparing to sell out GDR, East German regime might demand assurances which might tend to off-set such pressures.

Brentano expressed concern over Berlin. He thought Soviets would use pressure on city as means of obtaining recognition of GDR. He thought GDR would place increasing obstacles on traffic and transport to Berlin. He suggested Soviets would attempt to influence German opinion by taking position that if Berlin were to be maintained, Federal Republic would have to deal with Pankow, but this would be impossible to do. He welcomed inclusion in NATO Communiqué of statement regarding joint consultation on Berlin problem and remarked that it might be necessary to think in near future of joint reaction by three powers and Federal Republic.

Secretary said he understood some study was being made of economic relations between East Zone and Federal Republic and perhaps other Western states. He thought this very important line to follow. Federal Republic was strong while East Zone was weak and there should be areas in which Federal Republic could exert counter-measures against Eastern regime. Emphasized value of being prepared to take such measures and to letting this be known as deterrent. Said would probably require cooperation from other Western European countries. Hallstein said Federal Republic dependent to some degree on East Zone, particularly as regards brown coal. Question of counter-measures had been studied in connection with Autobahn toll problem. Economists had reported that Soviet Zone brown coal could not be replaced. He said that steel exports to Soviet Zone so small they cannot be used as means of pressure, and that stopping trade with East Zone would do more harm to Federal Republic than East Zone. He therefore emphasized need for concerted action. Secretary [Page 551] emphasized importance of study of possibility economic counter-measures. He said that if East Germans thought that Federal Republic depended on them, they would be encouraged take greater and greater liberties and suggested that Federal Republic should seek to find ways of becoming independent.

Hallstein said GDR campaign for obtaining recognition, which has been going on for several years, is now reaching climax after Soviet-GDR agreement. While resistance heretofore had been successful, weak points were emerging. He noted that in vote on GDR admission to UNESCO, India, Egypt and Yugoslavia had voted with USSR and Czechoslovakia for GDR admission. He also mentioned granting of consular functions to East German trade mission by Egypt. He said that Federal Republic had threatened to break relations and appeared optimistic regarding Egyptian situation. He said that Federal Republic would be adamant in refusing to have relations with any government which recognized GDR, remarking there was no room for compromise on this issue. He said that in this field too Germans would need advice and welcomed consultation in committee recently established in Bonn. Secretary agreed that only by taking strong and clear position on this matter could recognition of GDR be prevented. He pointed out that Federal Republic is stronger than GDR and that if other countries have to choose between two, they will choose Federal Republic.

[Here follows discussion of support costs.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627. Secret. Drafted by Reinstein. Repeated to London, Bonn, and Moscow.
  2. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, December 26, 1955, pp. 1047–1048.