74. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State0

2918. No sign whatever of any weakness or wavering in Foreign Office working level reaction to Khrushchev Berlin proposal.1

On the record press guidance confined to saying text not yet officially received. News agency text being studied and consultations with Allies will be next step.

Off the record guidance as follows: (1) note is based on premise that quadripartite obligations about Berlin have ceased to be valid and this we do not accept. (2) Whatever Khrushchev is offering to us, i.e. access to Berlin and quadripartite consultations about Berlin, he is offering as act of grace with six months time limit. These are rights which we enjoy [Page 135] absolutely. (3) He seems to assume that West Berliners will be delighted at prospect of demilitarized “free city”. West Berliners will themselves no doubt express their views on this alternative to existing regime. (4) Khrushchev says that natural solution is for whole of Berlin to become part of “state” whose land surrounds it. We think that natural solution for Berlin is that it should be capital of reunited Germany. (5) Soviet Union cannot unilaterally renounce its Four Power obligations. If it chooses to give up its rights then in theory these rights revert to other three powers with whom agreements were made and not to G.D.R. Government.

[1 paragraph (6–1/2 lines of source text) not declassified]

FonOff official’s personal comment was that Allies cannot talk to Soviets on basis latest proposal and since cannot refuse to talk at all must propose some preferable basis which presumably must be along lines reunification of Germany and European security, perhaps in terms of implementation of 1955 Geneva Summit Agreement.2 But he said did not see how such conference could avoid deadlock. Soviets would insist on inclusion discussion latest Berlin proposal and he doubted they could back down.

Lloyd last evening sent another and more urgent instruction to UK Embassies Washington and Paris about immediate necessity of instructions to permit ambassadorial level consultations in Bonn. This followed a second report from Steel that US and French Ambassadors appeared to be without adequate instructions and were “in doubt as to their attitude” about consultations in Bonn. One reason for FonOff’s strong preference for Bonn as site of discussions is that they have experts there whereas few UK experts in Washington and Hood obviously could not carry entire burden himself. Whenever this subject discussed FonOff official has always emphasized strong UK respect for Bruce’s pre-eminent qualifications.3

Report from Steel arrived during conversation with FonOff official saying summoned by Adenauer at 16:15 Bonn time. Steel proposed to lay special emphasis on need for full and immediate quadripartite consultations in Bonn and importance “unequivocal verdict” from people of West Berlin in impending elections.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.0221/11–2858. Secret; Priority. Repeated to Paris, Bonn, Berlin, and Moscow.
  2. See Document 72.
  3. For text of the Heads of Government Directive to their Foreign Ministers, July 23, 1955, see Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. V, pp. 527528.
  4. The question of where discussion of the Soviet note should take place occupied the three Western powers and the West Germans for nearly 2 weeks before they could agree that these talks should take place at Paris before the North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting, December 16–18. Documentation on the several proposals advanced by each government is in Department of State, Central Files 762.00 and 762.0221.