41. Letter From Secretary of State Dulles to Chancellor Adenauer1

My Dear Chancellor: I have received and have studied carefully your letter of December 12, 1955.2 I share the conclusion to which you have come, as indeed does President Eisenhower with whom I have discussed your letter.

I believe that the first Geneva Conference was not only inevitable, but good, in the sense that it was necessary to demonstrate to all the world the sincerity of our peaceful purposes. This was done in a way which none could misunderstand. The initiatives which President Eisenhower took at that first Conference were accepted by all the world as coming from a man and from a nation which entertained no aggressive purposes. However, as President Eisenhower said at that Conference, its value would depend largely upon what happened afterwards.

I doubt, however, that subsequent events are due to any false impressions which these Soviet rulers got at the first Geneva Conference. While that Conference did make evident our desire for a just peace, there was plenty of emphasis upon justice and plenty of firmness. We now know that plans for opening the new front in the Near East were already under way even before the first Geneva Conference was held.

The second Geneva Conference and the recent conduct of the Soviet rulers in Asia have shown the world that the sincerity of Western purpose, demonstrated at the first Geneva Conference, was not matched by any comparable sincerity on the part of the Soviet rulers. At the second Geneva Conference they flagrantly violated their agreement that Germany should be reunified by free elections. They went on in Asia to make speeches designed to stir up hatred as between peoples and nations. There has emerged a pattern sufficiently clear so that all the world can see it. In India they attempted to arouse popular passion against Portugal on account of Goa, and against Pakistan on account of Kashmir. In Burma they attempted to [Page 64] arouse popular emotions against Britain. In Afghanistan they attempted to arouse popular emotions against Pakistan on account of Pushtoonistan. They are trying to arouse the Arabs against Israel. In Cyprus they seek to arouse the Cypriots against Britain, and they are most recently trying to sow trouble between Italy and Britain by suggesting that the inhabitants of Malta are Italians.

Thus, the Soviet rulers are exposed as having not only violated their formal agreements given at the first Geneva Conference, but they are violating the spirit of that Conference, and indeed, elemental standards of decency, by seeking wherever they can to create tension and to envenom the relations between free nations and peoples, in the hopes that they can gain therefrom.

This is indeed a very evil purpose. However, it is so evil that it should be possible to have it react against them.

So much for the Geneva Conferences.

You say that those in free countries who influence public opinion, and particularly mass opinion, have no clear idea on Communism and what Communism does in Russia and elsewhere.

That is, I am afraid, true of many countries, though happily it is not true here in the United States. Not only our political leadership, on a bipartisan basis, but also the religious leadership and the labor leadership of the country are well informed on the points you mention. The task is to bring a similar realization to other countries.

There has been a reluctance in Europe to do this. Perhaps that is expressed by our proverb “Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise”. Also we have the simile of the ostrich who is supposed to gain a sense of security by burying his head in the sand so that he cannot see.

I agree with you that we must find ways to deal with this. We are quite disposed to give practical consideration to your suggestion of a “great information campaign that is ideologically synchronized”. Perhaps as far as Europe is concerned, the Council of NATO is the best common agency. Action taken at the last NATO Council meeting could and should lay the foundation for this. However, I doubt that it is practical to have any single agency for carrying on this campaign on behalf of the Western countries. There can be a common understanding as to the general line to be pursued, but I doubt that it is profitable to seek agreement as to detail or as to method which will probably have to be left to the individual countries.

Our own labor leaders can, I think, be helpful. Also, I am taking on January 2 to some of our religious and civic leaders.

There is another point which, in my opinion, should also be dealt with. That is to explain to our own peoples and to the peoples of the world the real principles which underlie our mutual security arrangements. The Soviet rulers constantly attack these as “military [Page 65] blocs” created for aggressive purposes. We tend to be put on the defensive, although in fact what we are doing is to carry forward into the international field modern principles of security which are today practiced within every civilized nation. Except in the most primitive societies, security is no longer left to individual action. There is collective security, which largely functions through the creation of collective power to punish aggression. It acts as a deterrent. This is what the free nations are now seeking in the international field. It is the modern and enlightened way of gaining security as against vast aggressive despotisms represented by the Soviet bloc.

Naturally the Soviet rulers would like to see the other nations weak through separateness. They do not like them gaining strength through collective measures.

We should ourselves understand what it is we are doing, and explain it. I have tried to do so in this country, in many speeches which I have made. However, other Foreign Ministers do not seem to find it useful to popularize the sound and forward-looking principles which underlie our collective security systems. Neither do they contrast our defensive groupings with the Soviet system of annexing, either formally or in fact, other countries and other peoples; so that there is now a unified mass under centralized Communist direction consisting of approximately 900 million people and embracing what until recently were nearly a score of independent countries.

The Soviet system destroys independence; ours preserves it.

The President and I have noted with great interest what you say about your own political situation and particularly your idea with reference to your coalition. This is, of course, a matter where we do not feel competent to form any judgment. Certainly, however, I would agree with your general thesis that a smaller group that is cohesive is better than a larger group which is of uncertain purpose—subject, of course, to the qualification that under our parliamentary systems it is necessary to have a majority in order to have political power.

We are glad to know your determined purpose to contribute military strength to the Atlantic alliance. This is important, not only from a purely military standpoint. It is important as a demonstration of national will, and it brings with it important byproducts in terms of increased unity and fellowship.

We think it also important to move forward as rapidly as practical with programs for European integration. I am delighted to have your assurance that you will participate in every such measure, be it the future creation of a common market or the atomic pool. This evolution toward integration is, of course, a trend to which President Eisenhower and I attach the utmost importance. I discussed this [Page 66] somewhat with Dr. Von Brentano in Paris.3 No doubt the President will be discussing it next month with Anthony Eden.4 I think you will find the United States is prepared to act sympathetically toward every sound proposal for the closer integration of Western Europe.

At the same time we must not, as you say, allow the problem of the unity of Germany to become quiescent. I am wondering whether there are not certain types of “contacts” which you could urge along the lines of those which we urged at our second Geneva Conference.

No doubt these would be rejected by the GDR, but the proposals and their rejection would not be without political consequences.

After all, the Federal Republic is a great and powerful force and a tremendous magnet of attraction, as evidenced by the steady flow of Germans from the East to the West. I believe it is possible to do more than is now being done to create conditions in East Germany so that the Soviet rulers will feel that to attempt to hold this area involves more liabilities than assets. I wonder whether ways might perhaps be found by which the East Germans could indicate through passive resistance, slowdowns, and the like, that they are predominantly responsive to the political policies of the Federal Republic. This is, of course, a delicate matter. But we already know that the Soviet rulers and their satellites in East Germany are gravely concerned at the lack of loyalty to them on the part of the East Germans, and perhaps evidence of this could be multiplied without precipitating violence which could liquidate the most loyal elements.

In conclusion, let me say that the most cheering note in your letter is your statement that you do not intend to please the Soviets by dropping out of the picture in the next two years. The task ahead needs your presence and powerful personality to win the election of 1957 and to organize the victory. Then, as you say, your foreign policy can move on to assured success.

Faithfully yours,

John Foster Dulles
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, Strictly Confidential File. Secret; Personal and Private. Transmitted to Conant on December 29 with the instruction to deliver it personally to Adenauer. Dulles also cautioned Conant:

    “The Chancellor is particularly anxious that this exchange be kept on a private and personal basis. The only persons who have knowledge of it here besides myself are the President, Herb Hoover, and Livie Merchant.” (Ibid.)

    On January 6, 1956, Conant in a personal letter informed Dulles that it had been impossible to deliver the letter personally because of the 81st birthday celebration of the Chancellor, but that he had given it to Brentano, who assured him that he would pass it along at the earliest opportunity. (Ibid.)

  2. Document 39.
  3. See Secto 23, supra.
  4. Prime Minister Eden visited the United States, January 31–February 1, 1956. For documentation, see vol. XXVII, pp. 610 ff.
  5. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.