187. Message From Prime Minister Macmillan to President Eisenhower0

Dear Friend, Thank you very much for your message of February 24.1 You have just about summed up what Khrushchev is in effect saying to us. In fact I used very much the same words when I was telling him today what I thought his attitude amounted to.

I think that I had a pretty useful conversation from our point of view and that it left him disappointed. I would not respond to his pleas that I should advance some fresh proposals for Germany and Berlin. I stuck to the point that nothing that he could do would extinguish our rights of access to Berlin and our determination to do our duty by staying there. I said that it was he who was threatening us with war and not the other way round and that this kind of thing did not square with his professed desire to settle our differences by negotiation. The two positions taken up by each side were not reconcilable. Since it was no use his thinking that he could force us to abandon our rights and our duties he must make up his mind to negotiate with us in a sensible way. As to the level and agenda of negotiations I was not going to argue about that with him in Moscow. He must answer our Note of February 162 and we would then consult with our allies.

Atmosphere has been very cool since his speech of yesterday. I have told him Doctor Adenauer whom he had insulted was my friend and that I hardly believed that he would think well of me if I did not stand by my friend. I said that precisely because the situation which lay ahead was so dangerous I must make it absolutely clear to him that the British Government would stand by and cooperate with their allies.

Almost the only point on which we found ourselves in agreement today is that the situation might in fact become extremely serious. I do not pretend that I have shaken his resolve any more than he has shaken ours. On the contrary all indications are that he means to go ahead with his plan for turning over approaches to Berlin to D.D.R. and for making a peace treaty with them. But at least I hope that my language may have had some good effect in making him realize the strength of our determination and what is involved.

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It is on this rather dark note that I am now leaving for a four day journey around Russia. I thought that you would like to have my latest news before I set off.

With warm regards,

As ever,

  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204. No classification marking. Transmitted to Herter by Ambassador Hood under a February 26 note for delivery to the President.
  2. Document 184.
  3. See Document 176.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.