71. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Preparations for the Summit: Germany and Berlin


  • M. Jean Laloy, Director of European Affairs, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr. Foy Kohler, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs

M. Laloy came in for an informal talk which lasted nearly an hour. The subject matter was mainly the work on Germany and Berlin. The following were high points.

M. Laloy wanted to know how we felt about the maintenance of present rights in Berlin as against a new juridical basis. I reminded him that the President had agreed at Paris1 that we should stand on our present rights and confirmed that this was our fixed policy.
M. Laloy asked about our position on possible recognition of the GDR. I told him that unfortunately we had to recognize the fact of the existence of the GDR since it was clear we were not prepared to use force to liberate it. However the United States would certainly not recognize the GDR either de facto or de jure since it was clear we could not be a party to recognizing as legitimate in any way the Soviet partition of Germany.
M. Laloy was unhappy about the US paper analyzing the contingencies which would face us in the event of an impasse with the Soviets on Berlin and unilateral action on their part.2 He felt its introduction in quadripartite meetings would shock the Germans and raise their suspicions. He felt that the implication of the paper was that the consequences of an impasse were so fearful as to counsel serious concessions to achieve a modus vivendi. I told him that the intent of the paper was rather to present startlingly and provocatively the need for more effective contingency planning to lend conviction to the strong position we expected to take at the Summit. We felt that it was important that the Germans be brought more into this exercise since it lacked reality unless they also took preparatory measures. I said we would welcome any suggestions they might put forward for modification of the presentation.
M. Laloy inquired about our rejection of the recent French proposal to concentrate political and military contingency planning in Paris.3 I told him that I had not studied this proposal personally since I had been absent at the time of its presentation. I understood, however, that our peoples’ reaction had been that instead of creating new machinery the important thing was to reactivate and push on with the existing machinery. In a sense this was what had led to the preparation of such papers as the one discussed in the paragraph above. He said that the French objective in putting forward the proposal had been precisely the same as ours, that is, to make contingency planning more effective. They had felt this could be done better close to General Norstad who would have to carry in any event a great deal of the load. They had not made the proposal out of any desire to enhance the prestige of Paris—they had too many meetings coming up there now in fact. I promised to review the French proposal and let him have my further views.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–PA/1–2660. Secret. Drafted and initialed by Kohler.
  2. For documentation on President Eisenhower’s conversations in Paris December 19–21, 1959, with Macmillan, De Gaulle, and Adenauer, see Documents 5460.
  3. The paper under reference has not been identified with certainty. Possibly it is a 9-page summary paper, dated January 15, which considered the consequences of the Western Powers’ failure to reach agreement with the Soviet Union on Berlin. (Attached to a memorandum from Kohler to Merchant, January 19; Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/1–1960)
  4. See footnote 3, Document 66. On January 18, Hillenbrand told the First Secretary of the French Embassy, Gilles Currien, that this proposal had been discussed with Department of State officials including the Acting Secretary of State who concluded that there was no need to centralize planning in Paris. (Memorandum of conversation; Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/1–1860)