229. Memorandum of Discussion at the 296th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, September 6, 19561

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and items 1 and 2. For item 2, “U.S. Policy Toward Latin America,” see volume VI, pages 101113.]

3. U.S. Policy Toward East Germany (NSC 160/1; NSC 174; NSC 5608/1; NSC Actions Nos. 1530–b and 1575–c; Memos for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated August 7 and September 5, 1956)2

Mr. Jackson said that in view of the shortness of time and of the apparently non-controversial character of the proposed policy statement on East Germany, he would omit the usual summary statement as to the contents of this policy. He confined himself, therefore, to explaining to the National Security Council that, as in the case of the policy with respect to the Soviet satellites (NSC 5608/1), the paragraph on East German policy dealing with the attitude of the United States toward spontaneous manifestations of opposition to the Communist regime and in general to active resistance to the Communist regime, would not appear in the policy statement which received normal distribution, but would be placed in a special limited distribution annex. Mr. Jackson reminded the Council of the reasons why, in its earlier action on the satellites paper, it had been deemed prudent to handle this sensitive matter in this fashion. The same considerations applied in the case of East Germany. (A copy of Mr. Jackson’s briefing note is filed in the minutes of the meeting.)3

Secretary Dulles then explained that he had just received this morning from Ambassador Conant a suggestion for an additional [Page 561] first sentence in paragraph 18 of the statement of policy on East Germany.4 He read Ambassador Conant’s proposal, which was accepted by the President and the Council.

Secretary Dulles then said that he was somewhat worried about the content of paragraph 14 of the proposed statement of policy toward East Germany. The paragraph read as follows:

“Encourage the East German people in passive resistance to their Soviet-dominated regime when this will contribute to minimizing East German contributions to Soviet power or to increasing pressures for reunification. FOSTER disaffection in the East German armed forces.”

Secretary Dulles pointed out that if strikes or violence should occur within East Germany, the Communists might claim that we had incited such strikes or violence. The President inquired whether a strike was to be considered passive resistance. He said he was particularly concerned that we not endorse a policy of encouraging the East German population to run risks and incur reprisals when we are not actually in a position to help them. This paragraph should be handled with great care, and the President said he would prefer to rewrite it to say that we should encourage passive resistance of a sort which would not involve reprisals against the East German population.

Mr. Jackson made several efforts to indicate that paragraph 14 was concerned only with passive resistance, and that the attitude of the United States toward resistance which involved the possibility of violence was being handled in this paper, as in the satellite paper, by being confined to an annex with special limited distribution.

Mr. Jackson’s explanations apparently did not reassure Secretary Dulles, who still expressed the fear that if the contents of paragraph 14 should ever become public the Communists would be in a position to say that U.S. policy had actually encouraged such uprisings as had lately occurred in Posnan.

After further discussion, it appeared to be the consensus of the Council that paragraph 14 should likewise be placed in the special limited distribution annex to the statement of policy on East Germany.

The National Security Council:

Discussed the draft statement of policy on the subject, prepared by the NSC Planning Board pursuant to NSC Action No. 1575–c and transmitted by the reference memorandum of August 7; [Page 562] in the light of the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff transmitted by the reference memorandum of September 5.
Adopted the statement of policy transmitted by the reference memorandum of August 7, subject to the following amendments:
Page 5, paragraph 14: Delete; and renumber subsequent paragraphs accordingly.
Page 5, paragraph 18: Insert the following as the first sentence of the paragraph: “Utilize both public affairs and diplomatic channels to focus world opinion on the injustices of a forcibly divided Germany and the oppressive actions taken by the East German regime against the population.”
Agreed that paragraph 14 of the draft statement of policy transmitted by the reference memorandum of August 7, and paragraph 1 of the “Supplementary Statement of Policy” circulated as the Appendix to NSC 5608/1 editorially revised to apply to East Germany, should be given a special limited distribution as an Annex to NSC 160/1.

Note: The statement of policy on the subject, as amended and adopted in b above, subsequently approved by the President and circulated as a Supplement to NSC 160/1 for implementation by all appropriate Executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government, and referred to the Operations Coordinating Board as the coordinating agency designated by the President.

The Supplementary Statement of Policy adopted in c above and approved by the President, subsequently circulated by special limited distribution as an Annex to NSC 160/1.

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Drafted by Gleason on September 7.
  2. For texts of NSC 160/1 and 174, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. VII, Part 1, pp. 510520, and vol. VIII, pp. 110128, respectively. For text of NSC 5608/1, see vol. xxv, pp. 216221. The other documents are not printed. (Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351)
  3. The minutes of all National Security Council meetings are in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, Official Meeting Minutes File.
  4. For text of the statement of policy as approved by the Council, see infra. No earlier draft has been found in Department of State files.