425. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Mr. Frol Kozlov, Deputy Prime Minister, USSR
  • Mr. Merchant, Assistant Secretary, EUR

[Here follow four paragraphs discussing unrelated subjects; for text, see volume X, Part 1, Document 81.]

Kozlov then raised the question of Berlin and said that we were totally wrong in claiming that the Soviet Union wanted to annex West Berlin. I said that we had never claimed this but that we had pointed to [Page 966] Khrushchev’s statement repeated by Gromyko that the most logical and correct solution for West Berlin was for the East German regime to absorb it. He said that this was entirely true given the geographical facts but that statesmen cannot always achieve the most logical solution of a problem; they must in fact seek what is possible.

Kozlov then launched into a standard tirade on the folly of reunification which he said the British did not want, the French did not want and even Adenauer did not want. I told him that I thought he was incorrect in this but that in any event the United States would not cease to seek the reunification of Germany by peaceful means since we were satisfied that in the long run it would be disastrous for everyone if Germany were to be kept divided. I said that with a country located where Germany was with an industrious and nationally minded population, long-continued division would almost inevitably lead to irresponsible leadership. I said what really puzzled us was the failure of the Russians to understand our desire to see Germany reunited while moderate leadership was still available and when a reunified Germany could be established under such leadership on terms where it would never be a menace to any of its neighbors. I said that we, like the Russians, had fought two wars against Germany in my lifetime and that it was impossible for us to understand why the Soviets did not share our point of view on a point where it seemed that both our interests were identical.

Kozlov launched into a personal attack on Adenauer. I said that we could not accept such views and that Adenauer was not only a friend but we felt a wise statesman. He said, “I am warning you Adenauer will turn against you and if not Adenauer then his successor. You will recall this warning of mine of July 3.” I said he was wrong. He then said that a future West Germany might turn against the West just as Hitler had signed the pact with Stalin in 1939. He said that Russia had signed that pact because the United States and the West were seeking to direct Hitler against the Soviet Union and that the Soviet Union had taken the historically correct decision in the circumstances. I said that there had been no such desire or intention in the West and that in point of truth the Soviet pact with Hitler had been responsible for World War II because it gave Hitler the encouragement to attack France and the United Kingdom. He continued to argue the point and I finally said that I thought we could agree sooner on past history—even his version of the War of 1812—than we could on modern history. He said that he would remind me again of his “warning of July 3.”

At this point Ambassador Menshikov came up and the plane was towed up for boarding.

[Page 967]

I said goodbye to Kozlov, wishing him a pleasant and an enlightening trip through our middle and far west. I said that we should continue our conversation at some point and that I thought it would last several days since he had not convinced me and obviously I had not convinced him.

The conversation was conducted throughout in good temper and Kozlov made a point of cordiality in saying goodbye.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF1409. Confidential. Drafted by Merchant.