422. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Mr. Kozlov’s Call on the Secretary


  • United States
    • The Secretary
    • Mr. Murphy
    • Mr. Merchant
    • Mr. McSweeney
    • Mr. Akalovsky (Interpreting)
  • USSR
    • Mr. Kozlov
    • Ambassador Menshikov
    • Mr. Soldatov
    • Mr. Sukhodrew (Interpreting)

Mr. Kozlov noted that he had spent a couple of days in New York and Washington and that so far it has been a very useful visit.

The Secretary expressed the opinion that Mr. Kozlov had had very good reception everywhere he had gone and that he must be tired of seeing his picture in the papers.

Mr. Kozlov recalled his visit to the construction site of the U.S. atomic ship Savannah and said that American engineers were very much interested in the Soviet atomic ice-breaker Lenin, a model of which is exhibited in New York. He also recalled seeing the full-scale model of the reactor that is to be used in the Savannah. He said that American engineers showed great interest in the Soviet reactor model that is on display in New York; they would like to see it and exchange experiences with Soviet technicians so as to eliminate the deficiencies that might exist in their designs. Thus contacts had been found between the engineers of our two countries, in the most important, even cardinal area, of modern technology. It was now up to the diplomats to render assistance to such contacts.

The Secretary remarked that help from the other side would be needed too, and that both sides should display willingness to reach agreement if any success was to be reached in international negotiations.

Mr. Kozlov, referring to the Foreign Ministers Conference in Geneva, stated that the Soviet position was clear and that the West had [Page 956] failed to give a reply to that position. The Soviet proposals were a real basis for improving the relations between our countries. The abcess in Central Europe must be removed—this would immediately bring about a healthier situation in that area.

The Secretary said that he wanted to speak frankly and reconstruct the history of the Geneva discussions. He said that the Soviet Union apparently felt that the situation in Berlin was displeasing to it and that it was fraught with danger, danger which is rather difficult for us to understand. As a result of this feeling, the Soviet Union, instead of taking diplomatic or other steps, took a very severe line and said that the Western powers should get out of Berlin and that if they didn’t get out of Berlin within a certain period of time certain things would happen. The first indication of Soviet dissatisfaction had almost been in the form of an ultimatum.

Mr. Kozlov replied that he believed that Mr. Herter himself is displeased with the situation in Berlin. After all 14 years have elapsed since the war and both sides should think out ways of changing that situation. Also speaking frankly, Mr. Kozlov said, the Soviet proposals were in no way an ultimatum—such an interpretation was an artificial one. The Soviet Union proposes that for one year or some other period of time an all-German committee should work and if that work should produce no concrete results new negotiations should be initiated. The Soviet proposal was for negotiations and thus was not an ultimatum. As to the period of time to be allowed for the work of an all-German committee, this question could be discussed again so as to reach agreement on a mutually acceptable time limit. The question of the time limit is not a question of principle; however, the question of liquidating the occupation regime in West Berlin is a question of principle, since the situation in West Berlin is abnormal. The people themselves dislike it and the parties concerned should agree to terminate that situation 14 years after the war.

The Secretary rejoined by saying that if Mr. Kozlov, in mentioning the people, wanted to say that the population of West Berlin was unhappy and wanted a change, then he should remember the fact that last December that population had had an opportunity to express its will in free elections and had indicated its preference for the continuation of the present situation. The U.S. is also of the opinion that the situation in Berlin is an abnormal one and that the Berlin problem should be resolved; however, as far as the time limit is concerned, the U.S. took the position that the time limit should be the time of the unification of Germany. The Western peace plan1 had been put forward in good faith and it provided for an all-German committee which would have to work out an electoral [Page 957] law. Mr. Kozlov had mentioned the wishes of the people—the U.S. has no desire to go against the wishes of the people, but it knows of no way to learn about these wishes other than free elections. The Western powers had proposed that if no decision were reached by the all-German committee then two alternatives should be placed before the German people. If the German people, in a free vote, expressed themselves for separate solutions for the two parts of Germany, the Western powers would respect that wish. On the other hand, we had hoped that if the German people expressed themselves for a unified solution, that the Soviet Union would respect that wish too. However, the Soviet Union rejected all these proposals.

Mr. Kozlov said that no harm would be done if the two Germanys were given an opportunity to sit down, argue, and try to resolve their problem. Both sides would assist them in their work, but the main thing is for the Germans to sit down and to decide on the conditions for unification. If a solution is found, then the West Berlin problem will be resolved also. This would be particularly true in view of the fact that the Soviet Union has proposed that the West Berlin population select its own social system. The Soviet Union never has and never will insist on changing that social order, although there had been false statements to that effect. If the West Berlin population wanted to continue having their present social order, that would be all right with the Soviet Union. Access to the city would also be free. As far as the question of troops in West Berlin is concerned, it had been also constructively outlined in Soviet proposals. The Western powers say, Mr. Kozlov continued, that they cannot abandon to the Soviet Union’s mercy 2.2 million people— but the Soviet Union doesn’t want that at all. If the West Berlin population likes Mayor Brandt, that is all right with the Soviet Union. However, the occupation regime can no longer be tolerated and especially so in view of the fact that the occupation regime includes propaganda against East Germany and the USSR. Adenauer also speculates on the present situation and uses it for his own purposes; recently he took a step that the Soviet Union could not call a very good one. The Soviet Union wants to change this entire situation peacefully, through negotiation. Referring to the Secretary’s remark that the West Berlin population had expressed itself in favor of the present order, Mr. Kozlov said that the Soviet Union had nothing against that. True, the Soviet Union would never recognize Adenauer’s claim for West Berlin, but it would never disregard the will of the population, who should select their social order themselves. The Soviet Union is of the opinion that never, in any area of the world, can a social order, socialist or capitalist, be imposed from above by force. As for West Berlin, the Soviet Union would gain no advantage, political or economic, from a change in the social order there. The Soviet Union is prepared to give guarantees to world public opinion [Page 958] that it would fulfill its commitments with regard to West Berlin and the G.D.R. has also expressed its readiness to do the same.

The Secretary said he wanted to comment on one particular point. Mr. Kozlov had said that in no area of the world could socialism or capitalism be imposed by force. The Secretary stated that Mr. Kozlov would probably realize that he would question that statement, particularly as far as East Berlin or East Germany was concerned. The Soviet Union has complete control over these areas and it was our hope that it would allow the people in these areas to express their will freely. The Soviet Union has some 27 divisions in East Germany and the people in that area have had no opportunity to speak.

Mr. Kozlov said that the German people had voted more than once for the existing social order and that Mr. Ulbricht and other East German leaders had been approved by the German people and had been elected to the Reichstag, as representatives of the German people, even earlier, under the capitalist system that had existed before Hitler.

The U.S., however, should realize that there are two German states in existence now and that they should decide themselves with regard to the basis for the unification of Germany. East Germany and West Germany should work on this problem together. Two wars, in 1914 and 1941, had been fought because of the Germans, and it was now up to them to resolve their own problems. As far as Soviet divisions are concerned, they are stationed in that area under the provisions of the Warsaw Treaty, just as U.S. divisions are stationed in various areas under certain agreements, but that of course was the U.S’s own business.

The Secretary stated that he wanted to raise a point which had been discussed in Geneva several times but had never been clarified, although the Soviet delegation had given many indications as to its position on it. At one point in the course of negotiations the Soviet delegation stated that the Western powers had legal rights in West Berlin and that they had certain rights with regard to the access to Berlin. This was reflected in the Zorin-Boltz letters.2 However, at the same time the Soviet delegation indicated that if the Western powers tried to defend their rights the Soviet Union would take certain steps which might lead to war. The Secretary said that he wanted to know whether his understanding of the Soviet position was correct.

Mr. Kozlov answered that of course force would be met by force but that the Soviet Union was against force. There should be no talk about force—there should be negotiations on the elimination of the occupation regime in West Berlin. Misunderstandings that have accumulated during the past 14 years should be removed through negotiations [Page 959] so as to improve the general international situation. The Western position with regard to a reduction in the number of troops in West Berlin and with regard to non-stationing of atomic armaments in that city was also a basis for negotiations, because they were “rational seeds” which should be cultivated.

The Secretary stated that he could not understand how the Western decision not to station atomic weapons could be considered a basis for negotiation. The Western powers had clearly stated that they had no intention of stationing nuclear armaments in West Berlin.

Mr. Kozlov replied that this was a “rational seed” which could be cultivated and developed into something bigger.

The Secretary stated that in Geneva the Western powers had presented a paper on West Berlin3 which, they believed, went a long way to meet the Soviet point of view. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union rejected that paper. The paper, the Western powers believe, was a clear-cut document and it met the point of danger that the Soviet Union had been referring to. The Western powers hoped that this paper could be again discussed when the conference reconvenes in Geneva.

The Secretary noted that Mr. Kozlov had not answered the point he had raised earlier in the discussion and it is quite disturbing to the Western powers. The Soviet Union admits that the Western powers have rights in West Berlin and with regard to access to West Berlin, yet it says that if there is no success in negotiating then it will take unilateral steps which would render all agreements relating to that area invalid. It is difficult to believe that the Soviet Union, which is a great power in the world, would take a unilateral action, because no great power can renounce unilaterally one agreement without casting doubt on the validity of all other agreements.

Mr. Kozlov replied that if the negotiations on the West Berlin question should fail the Soviet Union would be forced to conclude a peace treaty with the German Democratic Republic with all the consequences ensuing from that fact. He recalled that the U.S. itself had contracted unilaterally a peace treaty with Japan in spite of the fact that the U.S. and the Soviet Union had been brothers in arms in World War II. So the Soviet Union would be compelled to do the same, but, Mr. Kozlov said, he wanted to emphasize that the Soviet Union is not in favor of negotiations.

The Secretary stated that as far as the peace treaty with Japan is concerned, the U.S. had reserved completely all Russian rights with respect to that treaty. In this connection he wanted to recall the fact that the [Page 960] Kurile Islands have been under the Soviet occupation regime for 14 years.

Mr. Kozlov replied that the Soviet Union could also reserve all rights of all states, including the United States, in the event that a separate peace treaty was signed with East Germany.

The Secretary remarked that of course this could be done very easily and that this was the import of the Zorin-Boltz letters, but that in the talks in Geneva the U.S. had gained a different impression.

Mr. Kozlov observed that impressions may be different. In this connection he wanted to state that the statement made by the Secretary after Geneva had been disappointing.4

The Secretary said he was sorry if the statement was disappointing to the Soviet Union but it was based on the conclusions reached as a result of six weeks of negotiations. Many things that had been said and proposals that had been made in Geneva gave no alternative for conclusions. The Secretary said that he wanted to cite the following example. The Soviet delegation presented a paper on the status of a free city of Berlin;5 this paper left the future of the city completely at the mercy of East Germany. Mr. Gromyko at one point stated that the best solution for West Berlin would be its incorporation in East Germany. Therefore, we believed that this was what the Soviet Union had in mind.

Nevertheless, the U.S. is going back to Geneva with hope, but if agreement is to be reached, more give will be needed. The Secretary recalled that any Western proposals, excluding that regarding atomic armaments in Berlin had been rejected outright by the Soviet Union; nevertheless, the U.S. will go back to Geneva in good faith and with the hope that mutually satisfactory agreement will be reached.

Mr. Kozlov stated that Mr. Gromyko had said that the incorporation of West Berlin and East Germany was the best solution, but that he had not said that it was the only one. The Soviet Union realizes that it must take into account the views of the other side; it was for this reason that the Soviet Union had proposed the creation of a free city of West Berlin. The status of the Free City could be ensured by neutral troops and also guaranteed by the United Nations, if the U.S. so desired. However, during the next round in Geneva the negotiators must proceed from the actual situation; they should proceed on the basis that the occupation regime in West Berlin should be eliminated and that West Berlin should be made a free city. Mr. Kozlov said he wanted to emphasize once again that the social order for the city would be chosen by the [Page 961] population itself, and that no pressure should be exerted on it from either side.

The Secretary said that he realized that Mr. Kozlov had to leave for another appointment and that if Mr. Kozlov wanted to continue the conversation he had set aside some time tomorrow. If Mr. Kozlov thought that there were any points for further discussion, the Secretary said, he would be glad to meet with him again.

Mr. Kozlov replied that unfortunately this would be impossible in view of his busy schedule. He said that he would like to have another discussion with the Secretary because he liked his approach to problems. He suggested that perhaps at the end of his tour he might meet with the Secretary again.

The Secretary observed that he was to leave on the morning of July 11 and that if Mr. Kozlov could return from his tour about the U.S. by that time, he could meet with him again.

Before the meeting broke off, the Secretary and Mr. Kozlov agreed that they would say to the Press that they had discussed the problems before the Geneva conference and had exchanged views with regard to the positions the two respective Governments hold.6

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF1409. Secret. Drafted by Akalovsky and approved by Herter on July 10. The conversation was held in Herter’s office. A summary of the conversation was transmitted to Moscow in telegram 14, July 1. (Ibid.,) Documentation on the background for Kozlov’s visit and his discussion with other U.S. officials is in vol. X, Part 1, Documents 78 ff.
  2. See footnote 1, Document 295.
  3. See footnote 5, Document 31.
  4. See footnote 1, Document 411.
  5. For text of Herter’s address to the natiori on June 23, see Foreign Ministers Meeting, pp. 342–346 or Department of State Bulletin, July 13, 1959, pp. 43–45.
  6. See footnote 4, Document 415.
  7. Following the meeting with Herter, Kozlov talked with the President from 11:15 to 12:30. Although this conversation dealt largely with other topics, Kozlov reiterated the Soviet view that the occupation regime in Berlin should be terminated. A memorandum of this conversation is in vol. X, Part 1, Document 79.