184. Message From President Eisenhower to Prime Minister Macmillan0

Dear Harold: Thank you very much for the message giving your impressions after forty-eight hours in Moscow.1 I have no doubt that the conclusions presented in your first paragraph are quite accurate.

[Page 387]

We are of course aware of Khrushchev’s apparent rigidity with respect to the Soviet attitude toward Berlin and Germany. This morning, February twenty-fourth, we received cabled extracts from the statement that he made today in Moscow2 that are seemingly even more belligerent and unyielding than those he has made in the past.3

Presumably the conversations which you and he are carrying on should be producing a better atmosphere in which the West and the East can negotiate. By Khrushchev’s own words he had no apparent interest in such a development. For example, he is quoted this morning as saying that, if the West should attempt to maintain contact with Berlin either by ground or by air, such an attempt would be considered a “threat of war.”

To attempt to draw any conclusion as to his basic purpose in such statements would be nothing more than an exercise in speculation. However, it seems that he is intensifying his efforts to create division within the Western group and thus to weaken our resolution. In effect he is saying, “We are destroying the Western rights in Germany and in Berlin, and if you make any attempt to defend those rights you are guilty of aggression and warlike acts.”

Tomorrow morning I shall probably have some searching questions put to me by the press respecting the latest statement of Khrushchev, and the rigidity of the line he is taking.4 I shall say as little as possible, particularly during the duration of your visit. However, I believe I should reiterate that the West is a unit in its determination to defend its rights and to carry out its responsibilities respecting Berlin, and that, while we are completely ready to negotiate where there is any possible negotiable ground, we are not going to be divided or defeated by threats.

With warm regard,

As ever,

  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204. Secret. Attached to a brief note from Herter to Hood asking him to transmit it to the Prime Minister.
  2. Document 183.
  3. For text of Khrushchev’s speech to the workers of the Kalinin district of Moscow, February 24, in which he insisted on a summit conference to solve the German question, see Pravda, February 25, 1959.
  4. In a draft attached to the source text the following paragraph appears at this point:

    “Moreover, at the very moment he is insisting that a Foreign Ministers meeting is out and that there should be a Heads of Government meeting, he tells you, as the Head of a major Western Government, that the Soviet position on these vital questions permits no room for maneuver. In effect he is saying that even a Heads of Government meeting would be completely useless except as it would give opportunity for a combined surrender by the West to the East.”

  5. For the transcript of President Eisenhower’s press conference on February 25, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1959, pp. 208–218.