248. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Private Conversation between President Eisenhower and Chancellor Adenauer


  • The President
  • LS—Mrs. Lejins (interpreter)
  • Chancellor Adenauer
  • Mr. Heinz Weber (interpreter)

After the usual hearty greetings, President Eisenhower invited the Chancellor to discuss any questions which he might like to bring up prior to the talks involving a larger group. Chancellor Adenauer thereupon [Page 659] presented to the President a memorandum concerning the intellectual basis of the fight against communism.1 He indicated that he had discussed similar matters with the President in December2 and expressed his hope that the President would take the time to read the memorandum and would let him know whether he agrees with its premises. President Eisenhower promised to send him a note concerning the matter but stated that he could say at once that he heartily agreed with the second sentence of the memorandum which stated something to the effect that communism is governed by Marxist-Leninist principles and that the Communist Party rules supreme in the Soviet Union. Chancellor Adenauer then stated that the memorandum deals with the intellectual aspects of the struggle with communism and that we must expect this struggle to continue for years to come. The President agreed, saying that he has been emphasizing in his speeches that the aims and objectives of communism cannot be expected to change.

Chancellor Adenauer then spoke about the importance which he attached to the question of disarmament. He stated that he had addressed the Council for Foreign Affairs in New York the day before and had there expressed and emphasized the need for a coordinated disarmament program. He stated that in spite of the work of the UN Ten Nation Committee he felt it would be necessary for the leaders of governments assembling in Paris to do everything in their power to achieve progress in disarmament. He was very emphatic in his statement that he felt it was the human duty of the Big-4 leaders to work for effective disarmament in order to free humanity at long last from fear. He then proceeded to inform the President that he was in Berlin in January and had there addressed the parliamentary body, composed of freely elected representatives of the population. He had discussed with them the question of Germany and Berlin. Three weeks ago he had discussed the same questions in the Bundestag and found that, for the first time since 1949, there was complete unanimity on this question between the Government and the Opposition. President Eisenhower interjected that this was a very welcome development and he wished he could say as much at home.

Chancellor Adenauer agreed that this unanimity was a good thing and expressed the hope that it might remain until after the 1961 elections. Naturally the election campaign was bound to bring out and accentuate differences. However, he stated his party had to win in order to continue the line followed by Germany during his administration and which in fact closely followed the policies set up by President Eisenhower [Page 660] himself. Then he, the Chancellor, proceeded to say that regardless of whether the Summit Conference achieved any immediate success or for that matter any success at all, the fact of this Summit Conference was a monumental historic event and of merit, which could not but help improve the world situation ultimately.

President Eisenhower then stated that he had heard that there were several points on which the Chancellor might have some doubts or misgivings, and the President therefore wished to reassure him. From General Norstad and others the President had heard that the Chancellor feared a withdrawal of American troops from Europe. Mr. Eisenhower emphatically assured the Chancellor that there was no intention of doing so until substantial progress had been made in achieving a workable disarmament program. Until that time such a withdrawal would not even be discussed. Secondly, the President wished to assure the Chancellor that the American flag would continue to fly over Berlin as long as present conditions prevailed and no agreement acceptable to the populations of West Berlin and Western Germany had been concluded. The President assured Mr. Adenauer that this is his firm position to which he will adhere as long as he is in office.

The Chancellor hastened to assure the President that he himself had never doubted the firmness of the US position on these points, but that he had heard doubts and questions on the American side concerning the steadfastness of German public opinion and the intentions and firmness of the German Government. Such rumors were completely untrue. Western Germany was firmly resolved in its stand. The Chancellor recalled Mr. Dulles’ last trip to Bonn in February 1959,3 at which time Mr. Dulles had stated that the United States was ready to use force to overcome any obstacles which the GDR might create for the allies in Berlin. At that time Mr. Adenauer had told Mr. Dulles that he fully agreed with this stand and considered it the only correct one. He wished to reiterate this belief to Mr. Eisenhower at this time and wanted the President to know that the German Government was resolved and ready to do everything necessary for the allies to break opposition with force. Mr. Eisenhower then stated that it appeared that the stand of the two governments in this question was firm and clear. He continued to say that the Chancellor realized, of course, that all types of political thinking were represented in the United States. For this reason it was possible to hear speeches which contained ideas quite different from those expressed by him in the above question. However, these speeches were of no political import. Mr. Adenauer then stated that in his opinion certain [Page 661] circles, probably at the instigation of the USSR, were starting rumors to spread distrust among the Western Allies.

The President said that he would like to discuss one more personal question. Mr. Dulles’ papers were being stored at the Princeton Library, and Herbert Hoover, Jr. was taking a particular interest in the matter. He had expressed the hope that the Chancellor might find it possible to make his correspondence, or copies thereof, available to the Princeton Library in order to complete the collection. These papers would, of course, be held under the conditions prescribed by the Chancellor himself in case, for instance, he might not wish them to be opened until 25 years after his death or some other specified period. The Chancellor expressed his willingness to cooperate, saying that he received an honorary degree at Princeton the day before, whereupon the President laughingly said that Mr. Adenauer should in that case be all the more willing to cooperate in this project as an alumnus of the institution. The President promised to tell Mr. Hoover that the Chancellor was willing to cooperate and that, if the Chancellor wished, Mr. Hoover might write him a memorandum concerning the history and development of this collection. The Chancellor appeared to be favorably inclined toward receipt of such a memorandum. He then indicated that there were several personal matters which he wanted to bring to the President’s attention. First, he wanted the President to know that he had just come from Mr. Dulles’ grave, where he had deposited a wreath. Secondly, knowing about the President’s interest in photography, he had taken the liberty to bring him one of Leitz’ latest products and, thirdly, to strengthen the President in the difficult times ahead, he was sending him some wine, which should not, however, be permitted to freeze. At the same time he admonished the President not to use the wine too sparingly.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 559, CF 1610. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Lejins and approved by the White House on March 18. The conversation took place at the White House.
  2. A translation of this memorandum is ibid., PPS Files: Lot 67 D 548, Germany, attached to an undated draft memorandum from Calhoun to Goodpaster.
  3. See Document 59.
  4. For documentation on Dulles’ visit to Bonn February 7–9, 1959, see vol. VIII, Documents 164 ff.