278. Memorandum of Conversation0



Paris, April 29–May 2, 1959


  • United States
    • The Secretary of State
    • Ambassador Bruce
    • Mr. Merchant
    • Mr. Hillenbrand
  • Germany
    • Dr. von Brentano
[Page 656]


  • German Attitude Towards Report of Working Group

Dr. von Brentano began by saying he was grateful for the opportunity to see the Secretary privately. He had just had two days with Chancellor Adenauer in Italy,1 who sent his greetings and indicated he was looking forward to seeing the Secretary as soon as possible. The Secretary indicated that he too hoped to see the Chancellor soon. Dr. von Brentano stated that he could not emphasize how important it was that the Foreign Ministers agree on basic principles during their meetings in Paris. Any split would be highly dangerous for the Geneva Conference. He said that he did not know what the Secretary thought of the Khrushchev letter to Macmillan,2 but both he and the Chancellor regarded it as highly dangerous particularly since they had been given only a summary. They would like to know the contents of the other parts not included in the summary.

The Secretary noted that we had the same question in our minds. Up to now we had had no opportunity to discuss the Khrushchev communication with the British themselves.

With reference to the Working Group report,3 Dr. von Brentano said the Germans had had strong reservations against the intimations of measures against surprise attack in a limited area which the British had attempted to write into Stage II of the Phased Plan. Moreover, they were unable to accept the designation of countries by name in which special measures were to take place. In response to the Secretary’s query, Dr. von Brentano indicated that the use of coordinates would be acceptable if the areas were designated as in the disarmament proposals of 1957.4

Moreover, he continued, any treatment of Germany which tended to make impossible Germany’s continuing participation in NATO would be unacceptable. The Secretary said that we were not prepared to countenance anything which would exclude Germany from NATO. Our position was that security arrangements must be part of a complete package settlement. A unified Germany must have freedom of choice to join NATO.

Dr. von Brentano said he saw no difference in principle between us. He hoped that the German reservations to the security sections of the [Page 657] London Working Group report would not be misunderstood or lead to fear and mistrust. He said that any revival of Four Power control would have undesirable psychological effects, intimating that the restrictions on production of ABC weapons in Article 17 of the Phased Plan would have this result. The Federal Republic would be glad to guarantee that a unified Germany would voluntarily wish to perpetuate the renunciation of production of these weapons, but a system could not be tolerated which would let the Soviets into West German factories and lead to mass industrial espionage. The Federal Republic was willing to discuss production controls within the framework of general disarmament, and would not object to the inclusion of Germany within any generalized control system.

The Secretary said he was glad to have emphasized that the Foreign Ministers must reach an agreement during the Paris meetings. It would be highly undesirable to leave any loose ends hanging prior to Geneva. Whether it was considered practical or not, the Western Powers must keep their eyes on the goal of German unification. They must pull together on this basic point or the rationale of our entire position would collapse.

Dr. von Brentano said he agreed and that the Western Powers would deceive themselves if they thought that the political problem of German participation could be put aside while other matters were dealt with.

The Secretary noted that the Germans appeared to have two major objections to the security aspects of the report: a) the singling out of Germany by name; b) any type of inspection system which involved the possibility of industrial espionage by the Soviets.

Dr. von Brentano said this was correct, but he would like to put the matter somewhat more generally. The Germans would accept any control system on a broader basis if other countries were involved. However, he believed the British ideas of special controls for the Rapacki area were psychologically and politically pernicious. He wished to say frankly that he most sincerely felt that any solution which would give the opposition in Germany a chance to discuss disengagement and the Rapacki Plan would be disastrous. Public opinion in Germany was now fairly sound but would be weakened by such proposals. Germany must remain part of the Western Alliance system; otherwise neutralization would grow. In this connection he referred to recent SPD reunification plans5 which, he commented, must be rejected in their entirety. Not only the question of NATO membership was involved, but also Germany’s [Page 658] role in the movement toward integration, for example, EURATOM and the Common Market.

In concluding, the Secretary said that he could repeat without equivocation that the U.S. had no thought of suggesting any arrangement which would alienate Germany from her European connections. He thought that these basic concepts might not be understood in the same sense by the British, particularly the need to strengthen the movement towards European integration.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1275. Secret. Drafted by Hillenbrand and approved by Herter. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office.
  2. Adenauer was at Cadenabbia on vacation.
  3. Regarding Khrushchev’s April 14 letter to Macmillan, see Macmillan, Riding the Storm, pp. 652–656.
  4. See Document 271.
  5. Presumably Brentano is referring to the proposals submitted to the subcommittee of the U.N. Disarmament Commission on August 2 and 29, 1957, which delimited by latitude and longitude an inspection zone in Europe. For texts of these proposals, see Documents on Disarmament, 1945–1959, vol. II, pp. 837–839 and 868–874.
  6. See footnote 3, Document 254.