189. Telegram From the Embassy in Germany to the Department of State0

1895. From Bruce. Van Scherpenberg sent for me last night at insistence Chancellor (home nursing cold without fever) and FonMin (home [Page 395] with bad case influenza). Said they and himself, despite efforts comply with US request to advance ideas regarding solution German problems felt they had nothing novel to contribute. Whatever views they had in security field they were reluctant to put forward lest they seem to disregard what might be American security interests far more important than their own. I could develop nothing from this cryptic statement, which I personally feel reveals what already reported by Embassy: (1) difficulty obtaining constructive suggestions from FedRep; (2) dissatisfaction of Chancellor with Working Group papers, including German, thus far prepared.

State Secretary continued that, because of above situation, they would welcome a visit to Bonn before March 9 Paris meeting by some high level Dept officer, preferably Murphy or Merchant, with whom they could have frank and secret discussions. This could take place March 6, 7 or 8 and last only a day. He asked if I saw any objection. I answered I knew the officers named were even busier than usual, and could venture no guess as to availability. Second I thought, especially under prevailing circumstances, visit to Bonn would be misconstrued in other capitals and give rise to widespread speculation. He responded US officer could also go Paris and London.

I asked what, if anything, he wished me to do. He said if I had no objection, they would transmit request through Ambassador Grewe, and would I please support it. I told him I would report it, that nothing would please me more than to have Murphy or Merchant come here, such talks would indeed be useful, but Dept alone could decide as to availability or advisability.

My own reaction is that it has always been productive to have Secretary, or failing him, some high Washington official in whom Chancellor has confidence, see him, hear his latest comments on foreign policy and relate our own. Under such circumstances I believe he talks with greater freedom than he does to his own associates. At present, he is preoccupied over his talks with de Gaulle on March 4, and those he will have later with Macmillan, as well as fear Working Groups Paris may develop undesirable plans. In addition, he is naturally very concerned over Berlin, reception Macmillan in Moscow, etc. However, in this instance, I think the timing is bad, and Soviets as well as others might construe and propagandize such meeting as showing uncertainty on part West.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/2–2859. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution.