64. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Secretary of State and the German Ambassador (Krekeler), Department of State, Washington, August 6, 19561

The Ambassador called to give the Secretary a communication from Chancellor Adenauer (translation attached) in response to the Secretary’s message to the Chancellor of August 3.2 The Ambassador requested that the Chancellor’s message be kept confidential since the German Cabinet will not meet until Wednesday to make a decision on the Suez Conference. The Ambassador asked whether we had any information regarding a rumor to the effect that Israel is mobilizing its military forces and that Soviet warships will proceed to Egyptian waters.

The Secretary said that we had had no such indication from Israel although we had heard that Jordan was fearful that it might be subjected to an attack by Israel. As far as we can determine there is no basis for rumors regarding Israeli mobilization. The Secretary said that we find ourselves in a very delicate situation with reference to the Israeli-Arab situation at this moment and that it is very difficult to make any move to restrain the Israeli without unduly encouraging the Egyptians.

The Ambassador said that he had heard the Secretary’s television report on Friday evening and he gathered that the United States had been cast in the role of restraining our allies from “unwise” action. The Secretary said that it had not been an easy task since both France and the United Kingdom feel that they cannot tolerate [Page 139] the situation created by Nasser’s action3 and that they must react strongly or they will be “finished” as world powers. On Friday evening he had spoken of a “decent respect for the opinions of mankind” and while this remark was directed particularly at Egypt it also applies to the United Kingdom and France. The Secretary hoped that moderating influences would prevail at the Conference which has been called for August 16.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Secret. Drafted by Elbrick.
  2. Adenauer’s letter of August 5 acknowledged Dulles’ letter of August 3, in which Dulles urged the Chancellor to accept the British invitation to a conference on the Suez Canal in London, August 16. Dulles’ letter was transmitted to Bonn in telegram 341, August 3. (Ibid., Central Files, 974.7301/8–356) For documentation on the Suez Canal Conference, see volume XVI.
  3. On July 26, 1956, Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser announced that Egypt was nationalizing the Suez Canal Company.