305. Telegram From the Embassy in Germany to the Department of State 1

1995. Eyes only for the President and the Secretary. Re Deptels 2282 and 2283.2 When I called on Chancellor late yesterday I found him perturbed by Grewe’s report of conversation with the President.3

Chancellor said, however, that first he wished to clarify press confusion about his remarks to CDU Parliamentary group on Feb 21 re Foreign Ministers Conference. What he had said, he contended, was that if, after one or two more sessions, Thompson-Gromyko talks were still on dead center, four Western Foreign Ministers should perhaps meet to assess situation; he had not said anything about possibility of East-West Foreign Ministers Conference, as press had reported. Indeed, he added, he was of opinion there might well be “pause” in East-West talks if Soviets continued merely to reassert their maximum positions. He asked specifically that I clarify this matter for the President and the Secretary, and explain that his purpose in all this was to make another effort to bring French more into line with US-UK-FedRep thinking. He added that he had not discussed this idea with de Gaulle at Baden-Baden since such blunt approach would have been unproductive, but would write him in this sense if it transpired that Foreign Ministers meeting might be useful.

I then took opportunity to read from reftels our views on discussions with Soviets. Chancellor said he agreed in general with our assessment, and went on to say that while he was grateful for expression of US confidence in FedRep, he had no thought of opening bilateral talks with Soviets at this stage. He reiterated his view that Soviets could not be expected to make concessions to Germans which they were not prepared to make to Western Allies.

Adenauer then read to me extract from Grewe’s telegram quoting the President’s remarks re apparent necessity to reiterate clarification of US policy and strategic position to him, and referring to press reports of German doubts thereon. There was obvious misunderstanding, he said, exclaiming “The President is being unfair to me”. Referring to Kissinger briefing, he said it was not correct that he had been given this [Page 841] information before; most complete briefing on military strategy which he had had heretofore had been in Washington, and that was in general terms, whereas Kissinger had been much more specific, had dealt with concrete facts, and was thus much more informative and reassuring. I reminded him of press reports from Bonn of German doubts, some general, some attributed to Strauss and even to him, and said I thought point was these problems should be taken up with us if they existed, since the President had regard for his views, but Chancellor seemed to find it incredible that we could doubt his fundamental confidence in US policy generally and his particular trust in the President’s leadership. He admitted his worries about Western Alliance as whole, and said he was most concerned re Western unity. This brought him back to Grewe’s report re the President’s comments on naval blockade. I quoted the President’s comments from Deptel 2283, to which he replied this might well be so, but his position was simply that naval blockade should precede military moves foreseen in current contingency plans. He went on to say he was aware of problem of agreement on economic embargo and naval blockade in NATO, and spoke bitterly of British and Canadian resistance in these fields.

Chancellor did say he was again optimistic re European integration. He seemed confident agreement could soon be consummated on political unity, and said once European integration was accomplished fact West could face Soviets with far greater confidence. He came close to saying this would be time to take up solution of German question with Moscow.

At this point conversation turned again to stalemate in discussions with Soviets. Chancellor had not seen report on Soviet reaction to German memo,4 but he read to me telegram from Kroll which in general did not differ from Washington assessment, but which did attribute to Ambassador Thompson an opinion that talks with Soviets could not succeed unless West adopted more flexible attitude, and implied that Thompson favored less rigid attitude on part of FedRep toward Soviet Zone regime. I replied that if this was meant to suggest that Thompson was advocating concessions beyond those agreed by four Western Allies in concert, then I must question Kroll’s accuracy or his veracity. Adenauer said he accepted this, and commented that in fact it had just come to his attention that in his press conference on leaving Bonn Kroll was alleged to have made remarks favoring greater degree of recognition of DDR; he was looking into this, and if it proved to be true, Kroll would be out of Moscow “in no time at all”.

[Page 842]

Chancellor then dwelt at length on iniquities of Ulbricht and his regime, describing how much worse conditions were in East Germany than in Poland and other satellites, and explaining how impossible this situation made it for FedRep to try to deal with East German Communist authorities. He went on to say that were Soviets to get rid of Ulbricht and ease conditions for East Germans, this would of course create entirely new situation, and indicated that in this case he would welcome bilateral talks with Moscow.

Conversation, which lasted about hour and half, was frank and cordial exchange, and ended with brief review of Iranian Prime Minister’s visit, with which Adenauer is pleased, and other local events.

In spite of Chancellor’s protestations, I believe the President’s remarks to Grewe have served to make him appreciate just how far he seems to have gone in private conversations in voicing doubts re US policies. I would guess that he will behave most correctly for a while, although I do not mean to imply that he is corrigible or that his worries can be laid to rest unless some solution can be found for Berlin and German question, or at least until FedRep is firmly anchored in Western Community.

I was struck anew in this conversation by fact that Chancellor is aging more rapidly, with emergent quality of frailty. I was not surprised therefore when Osterheld, Chancellor’s aide who was present during conversation, commented on my way out that his doctor was most anxious to get him away for a holiday, and meanwhile was trying to protect him, even refusing consent for him to meet Iranian Prime Minister at airport yesterday despite sunny, mild weather. He went on to say Adenauer is finding it difficult to run coalition government, and wondered aloud how much longer he could hold out, saying test would be whether Chancellor could regain his strength during rest at Cadenabbia beginning March 18.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.62A/2-2362. Secret; Priority.
  2. Telegram 2282, February 19, transmitted an extensive summary of points Dowling might raise with the Chancellor. (Ibid., 611.62A/2-1962) Regarding telegram 2283, see the source note, Document 300.
  3. See Document 300.
  4. For text of the February 21 German memorandum, see Dokumente zur Deutschlandpolitik, Band 8, pp. 162-171.