118. Telegram From the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and European Regional Organizations to the Department of State0

Polto 804. For the Secretary from Finletter. I have just received following letter addressed to you by Stikker which I am sending by telegraphic means because of its importance. As you will note copies of this letter have also been sent to Adenauer and Home (original letter being forwarded by pouch).

“I thought it might be worthwhile as a follow-up to the discussions you and I had during the meeting to give you my personal evaluation of the present feeling in the North Atlantic Council on Berlin.

“The meeting was a useful one. Very frank exchanges took place; and I think we had more of a real discussion—as opposed to a series of prepared statements—than at any Ministerial Meeting I remember. All of us, I am sure, as a result of it have gained a better appreciation of the problems facing us not only in Berlin but all over the world.

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“So far as Berlin itself is concerned I have no doubt that what I call the ‘other eleven’ in the Council—that is the whole membership less the United States, United Kingdom, France and the Federal Republic—solidly support the four in wanting to take a strong line in defence of their basic rights. Given the attitude of the Russians, no other position is possible. On the other hand, they feel that if they are to maintain public support for a policy which may lead them up to the brink of war and even, conceivably, over it, they must at the same time be able to assure their peoples that nothing is being left undone which might possibly lead to a peaceful settlement. They, therefore, consider that the three responsible powers must do everything they can to settle the Berlin problem by negotiation; and, moreover, that despite the uncooperative attitude of the Russians, the three should individually and collectively do all they can to get negotiations under way.

“You are, in effect, asking the Alliance to arm in order to parley. If we do not parley, not only will it be difficult to induce the other powers of the Alliance to arm effectively, but we shall have real difficulty in holding the Alliance together.

“This brings me to the second thing I want to say. It may be true, up to a point, that the differences which arose over the communiqué1 stemmed not from a disagreement over the basic question of whether there should be negotiations at all, but from varying appreciations of the desirability of negotiations at this particular moment, and of whether or not a genuine basis for negotiations exists; and clearly this is the only line we can possibly take in public. But the fact remains that on Friday afternoon, the Council came as near as in my memory it has ever come to a public breakdown over a major issue. I am not suggesting that the blame can all be laid at one door. But the fabric of the Alliance will not stand many more scenes like that of last Friday.

“I realise the difficulties. I also realise that this is a problem not only of keeping NATO together—for I truly think it is as serious as that—but of presenting a united three (or four) power front to the Russians. But unless some way can be found of carrying on the dialogue without an open split in the Alliance, and unless the ‘other eleven’ can be told that this is being done, I foresee the greatest difficulty in obtaining from the rest of the Alliance the political and military support without which Western policy cannot succeed; and we shall enter a period of grave danger for the whole future of NATO.

“I am sending copies of this letter to Chancellor Adenauer and Lord Home.”

(Signed) D.U. Stikker.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 375/12–1861. Secret; Limit Distribution.
  2. See footnotes 1 and 2, Document 119.