197. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Situation After Collapse of Summit Conference


  • The Secretary
  • Ambassador Grewe, German Embassy
  • Mr. Martin J. Hillenbrand, GER

Ambassador Grewe said that he had asked for this meeting with the Secretary primarily to review the situation after the collapse of the Summit Conference. However, he had an initial point to make relating to German dissatisfaction with the apparent degree of participation contemplated for the Federal Republic in Western contingency planning on Berlin. He noted that the French and British Ambassadors had met with Mr. Merchant on Tuesday,1 and that he had been called in at a later point of the discussion to be informed of the decisions which had already been taken. This was not the type of consultation on contingency planning which the Federal Government had hoped for. The Germans thought they had received assurances in Paris that they would be brought more fully into Allied consideration of the subject. There was no intention to deny the basic Three-Power responsibility in this field, but the Federal Republic would like to participate more fully in discussion of subjects of [Page 532] such vital concern to it. It was difficult for him (Grewe) to ask the right questions when confronted merely with decisions previously taken when he had not actually shared in the discussions leading up to those decisions. Hence, Ambassador Grewe continued, he hoped that, in the future, German participation would be more adequate.

The Secretary said that he assumed that Ambassador Grewe knew what the position of the United States on this subject was. [1 line of source text not declassified] He was under the impression that the Federal Government had been pretty much brought up-to-date on Western contingency planning after the Paris talks. An area still requiring intensive study was that of harassment of civilian access and of the economic countermeasures which might be taken in reprisal thereto. The problem of a possible Eastern attempt slowly to strangle the Berlin economy was one to which no one seemed to have the answer. Attrition of this kind might create a situation of a very serious nature. The Secretary noted that the old Quadripartite Working Group on Germany including Berlin could be convened at any time if the Germans felt this would be useful.

Ambassador Grewe said that [2 lines of source text not declassified]. He thought it would be a good idea to revive the Four-Power Working Group to study various aspects of the separate Peace Treaty problem. He thought it was overly optimistic to assume that the Western Powers would now have a protracted respite on Berlin. All that Khrushchev had indicated was a period of six to eight months, the Secretary commented. Ambassador Grewe observed that the German Ambassador in Moscow had called attention to the fact that Khrushchev’s statement of June 32 had continued to lay stress on the necessity of a Peace Treaty and had threatened to go ahead with its signature if the Summit Meeting did not take place after the period which the Secretary had indicated. The Secretary said that it was difficult to understand why Khrushchev had specifically picked out a period of six to eight months. From the U.S. point of view, this was the most impossible time to expect the Government to be able to enter into the kind of discussions apparently envisaged. Ambassador Grewe commented he did not take this particular time period too seriously. The Secretary said it was not to be excluded that the Soviets would make overtures to the newly elected President before he actually assumed office, perhaps through a neutral country. As far as discussion of the Peace Treaty was concerned, the Secretary continued, he would ask Mr. Kohler to convene the Quadripartite Working Group as soon as feasible to discuss this.

[Page 533]

Ambassador Grewe gave the Secretary a copy of a German Intelligence Report (attached)3 containing certain points allegedly made by Khrushchev in a meeting which took place on May 20, 1960, of the augmented East-German Politbureau, relating to the reasons for the failure of the Summit Conference. After reading this report, the Secretary commented that the last sentence was corroborated by little pieces of evidence which had come to our attention that the Soviets had instructed their representatives abroad to try to be as friendly to Americans as possible. This was being done to the point of embarrassment. Ambassador Grewe noted that the Soviet Commandant in East Berlin had come to West Berlin for the U.S. Armed Forces Day Observance, even though Khrushchev was leaving East Berlin at the same time. The Secretary said that an element in the situation might well be Khrushchev’s bitter personal feeling towards the President, whom he had built up in terms of their personal relationship. The U–2 incident might have exposed him to criticism at home. The Secretary went on to say that we are on the alert for possible Soviet probing operations elsewhere than in Berlin. We had noted a build-up in the Quemoy–Matsu area, and there had been heavy shelling of a ship in the Channel. However, this did not mean that something was necessarily imminent. Perhaps trouble was being brewed for the occasion of the President’s visit. The whole question of the Soviet relationship to China was still not clear. He recalled a French newspaper article based on interviews with a number of prominent Frenchmen which appeared before the American delegation left Paris. Of those queried, two-thirds mentioned Chinese pressure as having had something to do with Khrushchev’s state of mind in Paris. It was hard to come to any conclusions, but certainly China was the one country that seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed what happened in Paris.

Ambassador Grewe said that the German view was that Chinese pressure was one element but not the decisive one in the situation. Criticism of Khrushchev in the Soviet Union was directed not so much at the substance of his policy but rather at the manner in which he was carrying it out, for example, his consorting with Western capitalists. The Secretary noted that we had received the impression in Paris that the decision on the Summit was made before Khrushchev arrived in Paris. Ambassador Grewe pointed out that the Intelligence Report which he had given the Secretary indicated that the Conference might have gone on under certain conditions. There was no evidence that this was the case, the Secretary commented. The President had offered to have a bilateral meeting with Khrushchev to discuss their dispute on the ground that this was not a part of the Summit Meeting proper. In this response, Khrushchev did not mention this offer nor did he do so at any [Page 534] time during his stay in Paris, although he has referred to it more recently.

The Secretary went on to say that he agreed that it would be foolish to assume that the present Berlin situation will drag out indefinitely. The East Germans were obviously disappointed that the Soviets had not agreed to move ahead when Khrushchev was in East Berlin.4 Ambassador Grewe commented that his personal theory had actually been that the whole episode in Paris was intended to reverse the order of events, that the Soviets would go ahead and sign their separate Peace Treaty and thus create a crisis situation which would lead to the convening of a new Summit Meeting under heavy pressures, perhaps during the American electoral campaign when the U.S. Government would be most distracted.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated matters.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–PA/6–960. Secret. Drafted by Hillenbrand and approved in S on June 15.
  2. At the meeting on June 7, agreement was reached that the three Embassies at Bonn should study the problem of possible DDR/Soviet harassment of civilian access to Berlin, that the Federal Republic should participate in the study, and on what the terms of reference for the study group should be. (Telegram 2592 to Bonn, June 9; ibid., 762.0221/6–960)
  3. For a transcript of Khrushchev’s press conference at Moscow on June 3, see Pravda, June 4, 1960, or Current Digest of the Soviet Press, vol. XII, no. 23, pp. 3–8.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Khrushchev visited East Berlin following the collapse of the summit conference.