49. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of East European Affairs (Beam) to the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Merchant)1

Von Kessel told me yesterday afternoon in strict confidence that the government is having more and more difficulty with Adenauer because of his age and present state of health. He said Adenauer’s non-lucid intervals out-number those when he is his old self and that the same troubles are arising as occurred with Churchill. I mentioned to Von Kessel that Ambassador Conant had reported seeing Adenauer well and hearty and Von Kessel said this might be so but was probably an exceptional circumstance.2

Von Kessel said that Adenauer’s condition is giving the government such concern that it is considering advancing the date of the elections to next spring, instead of the late summer, in order to take better advantage of whatever contribution the Chancellor is able to make.

  1. Source: Department of State, EUR Files: Lot 59 D 233, Memos 1956–7. Confidential. Also addressed to Elbrick and Reinstein.
  2. On April 25, Conant reported that he had seen Adenauer that morning and found him “in excellent health and good spirits.” (Telegram 3952 from Bonn, April 25; ibid., Central Files, 762A.00/4–2556)