22. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Comparison of Quemoy with Berlin


  • Ambassador Wilhelm C. Grewe, German Embassy
  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Frederick W. JandreyEUR
  • Mr. Martin J. HillenbrandGER

At his request Ambassador Grewe called on the Secretary today to discuss primarily the de Gaulle proposals (see separate memorandum of conversation).1 However, Grewe thereafter also noted that he had been instructed to express German concern over comparisons being made between Quemoy and Berlin. He had already taken the occasion of his recent meeting with Mr. Murphy2 to express this concern. What particularly bothered his Government was that, if there were to be any change in American plans involving, for example, withdrawal of forces from Quemoy, there might be unfavorable repercussions on our position in Berlin. Grewe said that he had been satisfied with the explanations given by Mr. Murphy, but would be glad to have the Secretary’s views on this subject.

The Secretary commented that Quemoy and Matsu were militarily indefensible, which was likewise the case with Berlin. Nevertheless, we were prepared to defend them. Grewe commented that this was much appreciated in Berlin. The Secretary continued that he would not conceal from the German Ambassador that, if American policy were to be dominated by those who tried to find excuses for falling back, and this became the general mood, the same school of thought might find itself in the same frame of mind about Berlin. Such a mood was contagious. This was one reason why the German Government should back American policy. Many columnists and other critics of our policy were prepared to fall back and back until they were all the way back home. No one who has an area to be defended by us should favor our falling back in the Far East. This would only encourage the very forces that would ask “Why [Page 45] should we risk war over Berlin?” We are willing to take such a risk wherever the Communists are trying to invoke force in order to obtain something which they did not have before. The Allies must stand together on this. The Secretary referred to the recent Spaak statement in Boston, to which he had alluded in his recent press conference,3 stressing the need to stand together. It was therefore important, if the United States were expected to carry out its commitments in Berlin, that it not be urged to give way elsewhere.

Grewe said he could assure the Secretary that the American position had German Government support. In response to a query from the Secretary as to whether this had been made clear, Grewe said he was not certain. The Secretary emphasized that it would be helpful if the German Government could make its support clear. We would like to have something we could point to. Many critics of American policy have claimed that we have no support elsewhere in the free world. Hence, this was important. Grewe said he would try to get something.

[Here follow five paragraphs on the Far Eastern situation.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/10–858. Secret. Drafted by Hillenbrand and initialed by Jandrey.
  2. No memorandum of this part of the conversation has been found; however, it was summarized in telegram 728 to Bonn, October 8. (ibid., 740.5/10–858) The de Gaulle memorandum, September 17, is printed in vol. VII, Part 2, Document 45.
  3. Murphy and Grewe last met on October 3; the telegraphic summary of that conversation contains no reference to Berlin. (Telegram 697 to Bonn, October 10; Department of State, Central Files, 396.1/10–358)
  4. For a transcript of Dulles’ press conference on September 30 and Spaak’s address to the Atlantic Treaty Association in Boston on September 27, see Department of State Bulletin, October 20, 1958, pp. 597–604 and 607–611.