40. 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 17.2

Brentano said that he was most grateful for inclusion of reference to German reunification in NATO communiqué.3 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 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 [Page 61] 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 offset 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 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.4 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 [Page 62] 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.

Secretary referred to discussion which had taken place with Schaeffer December 16 on support of visiting forces in Germany. He said he did not wish to discuss it. However, on basis of talks he had had with British and French, he thought Germans should recognize matter has political aspects and is not merely financial problem. Brentano said he had received detailed report on meeting from Schaeffer. Schaeffer was prepared to have negotiation under Article 4 of finance convention and thought early agreement could be reached. He said British proposals went quite far on both substance and form. While he agreed there were political aspects, he pointed out it was impossible for Federal Republic to diverge from agreements approved by Bundestag and policies which had been explained. Specifically, they could not justify to Bundestag reversion to system of occupation costs. He understood from Schaeffer that there was no great need for speed since there were adequate amounts for next year.

Secretary pointed out that British are very sensitive on financial matters in view of narrow margin on which they live. When their reserves decline, they become very sensitive about various policies. Their financial difficulties affect all of their policies and contribute to their position on such matters as Common Market. Brentano said Schaeffer had informed him that he was prepared to deal with foreign exchange problem by increasing purchases of military equipment abroad and had mentioned figure of 2.5 billion.

Separate telegram sent on EURATOM.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 740.5/12–1755. Secret. Repeated to London, Bonn, and Moscow.
  2. Dulles was in Paris to attend the Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council, December 15–16.
  3. For text of the NATO communiqué, see Department of State Bulletin, December 26, 1955, pp. 1047–1048.
  4. Reference is to the agreements between the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic, signed at Moscow, September 20, 1955; see Document 218.
  5. Secto 22 from Paris, December 17; for text, see vol. IV, p. 372.se