174. Telegram From the Embassy in Germany to the Department of State0
1780. Paris pass USCINCEUR, USRO, SHAPE. While still on American soil, Mikoyan publicly attacked Adenauer and Strauss by name. He singled Adenauer out as major obstacle to peaceful settlement [Page 364] between Soviet Union and West, in Europe. He identified him with inflexibility, with implacable hostility not merely to Soviet Union but to any agreement. In so doing he was also attacking Secretary Dulles and attempting create gulf between these two statesmen whose close personal relationship well known and peoples of America and Western Europe whose yearning for peace could be satisfied, were it not for sinister collusion.
Personal attack Strauss related to attack Adenauer, and conjures up image renascent German militarism, and “furor teutonicus”, now barely held in check but liable emerge and break out again at any time and drag not merely Europe but whole humanity with it into apocalyptic holocaust.
Thus unholy association Dulles, Adenauer and Strauss, presented by Soviet leaders, not only prevents solution Europe’s problems, but contains within itself seeds destruction in the future. This may be said constitute major theme current Soviet political warfare, background against which Soviets formulating their tactical moves in period negotiation into which we seem be entering.
We believe it utmost importance be aware appeal which such theme likely have in coming months, unless West finds way educate public opinion so that goal Soviet policy as clear to man in street as technique by which Moscow hopes to reach it.
One of major trends in Western thinking recent months is illustrated by the extent to which public opinion now disposed take at face value expressed Soviet fears with regard Germany. Important we clarify our own thinking on this subject.
Generally agreed that Germany’s role in Soviet eyes is of different order from that any other foreign power. Recollections of last war, of formidable industrial and manpower potential German people, and of political processes by which inoffensive Weimar Republic was suddenly transformed into reality Hitler’s war machine, lend color and plausibility to fears this may happen again, notwithstanding disapproval and lamentations Western governments whose failure prevent this event 30 years ago seems suggest that they would again be powerless comparable circumstances. In Soviet political calendar next two or three years are no longer and no safer than time which elapsed between 1930 and 1933.
Easy for Soviet Union harp on these historical facts and evoke in minds peoples Western Europe who have also recently suffered so much from German aggression sympathetic response to basic thesis that Germany fundamentally still potential aggressor, which might in altered circumstances abuse weapons intended only for her defense, and embark once again on mad adventure. Assurances by West, expressed [Page 365] in most formal and binding international agreements, such as the North Atlantic Treaty, do not carry full conviction, because they relate only to present international situation. Such assurances provide no convincing guarantee that future course events will respect their present validity. With such arguments, Soviet Union can exert powerful influence on Western popular attitudes. In proportion as rearmament Germany passes from planning and training stage to physical completion, so fears and warnings for future uttered by Soviet Union gain in plausibility and in political effectiveness.
Would emphasize that we here concerned less with sincerity Soviet propaganda when it points signs “revanchist” Germany, than with degree plausibility which such accusations may achieve, and consequent effect Western popular thinking.
When we ask ourselves what Kremlin’s real attitude is toward Germany, think we must accept fact that whether it sincerely believes in danger renewed German aggression or not, it will never renounce exploitation Western fears of militaristic resurgence Germany, for these fears are factor of great value to it in prosecution its long term policy: isolation and neutralization Germany, disintegration of Western defensive system, eviction US armed forces from European continent, and absorption Europe—in other words liquidation of the European front in world-wide Soviet campaign against United States.
This exploitation historical and emotional factors which militate in its favor takes specific form of warnings about consequences of the “nuclear rearming” Germany. Even though can be demonstrated that additional quota Western military strength represented by nuclear capability Western German NATO forces relatively marginal, Soviet Union can marshal powerful argument, which Khrushchev has already used, which is, in our opinion, far more difficult to counter: that such nuclear equipment “in German hands” vastly increases danger that if, one day, German policy rests in hands of a “revanchist” madman (i.e.: type of German in whose role Soviet Union has cast Strauss), Germany will be in position create incident, independently of will of Western Powers, which may prove uncontrollable and which will inevitably involve Soviet Union itself. In this hypothetical case, emphasis is laid on future irresponsibility and uncontrollability Germany, rather than on its role as an instrument of deliberate Western aggressiveness.
May be that this element in Soviet attitude toward the problem of Germany contains sufficient degree sincerity to justify most careful examination of possibility mutual concessions leading to stabilization situation Central Europe, so long as we adhere firmly to principle that our own security position must not be weakened as result any concessions we may make, and so long as we continue assume that even stabilization situation in Europe would not signify that Soviet Union had given up its [Page 366] long-term goal of European domination, or the continuing exploitation of the means to reach it.
Vital importance adhering to basic principles our European policy underscores necessity our avoiding, particularly at this time, any course action, or posture, suggesting disposition compromise on these principles. This consideration prompts us express our concern at extent to which concept flexibility by West seems to be acquiring overtones willingness by United States to abandon some of premises on which our policy has hitherto been based.
It one thing retain our basic position and to cast about for ways presenting it more convincingly and attractively to public opinion in the West and elsewhere in the world. It quite another thing to hoist flag of flexibility as though it were kind of new rallying-point around which an entirely new strategy is to be planned. Flexibility in negotiating tactics, in willingness discuss all approaches to problem is desirable demonstration Western initiative. However we may already have reached point dangerously close to popular belief that West abandoning its former steadfastness, i.e.: its adherence to basic principles which have hitherto governed its policies in relation to Soviet Union and problem Europe. Widespread acceptance such belief would undermine Chancellor’s authority Germany, and would represent substantial victory for Moscow.
If we enter conferences this spring against such background popular expectation, we may be later faced with unpleasant prospect disillusionment in our own camp, and possible generation pressures which might drive some of Western governments to dangerous compromise.
Maybe we shall have, so to speak, to institutionalize international conferences, to be prepared wage continuous war [of] negotiation in public forum, at every level, with or without agenda or preparation (short of summit meetings), and to outlast the Soviet Union at conference table.
Out of this process, at some stage when substance of discussion has been exhausted, possible there will emerge in West sense of necessity for bilateral discussions between ourselves and Soviet Union. Feel we should be prepared consider such an eventuality, for which the preceding trial by conference would have set the stage for us and our Allies.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/2–1659. Secret; Priority; Limited Distribution; Noforn. Transmitted in two sections and repeated to London, Paris, Moscow, Berlin, and USAREUR Heidelberg.↩