201. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State0

365. From Harriman.1 Harriman, accompanied by Kohler, Kaysen and Akalovsky, met with Khrushchev in latter’s Kremlin office from 3 to 5:45 p.m., July 26. Khrushchev accompanied by Gromyko and Dobrynin.

[Here follows extensive discussion of the test ban agreement, trade, China, and nuclear weapons.]

Khrushchev said perhaps we should move from particular to general. Of course, it would be better if we solved general problem because in such case particulars would fall in place. However, great efforts would be required to resolve general problem and apparently we unable to do it now. Yet, particular or individual measures would also mean progress toward disarmament and they were easier to achieve. Noted we were celebrating today agreement on what was also a partial disarmament measure. At this point Gromyko whispered in Khrushchev’s ear.

Khrushchev continued Sovs believed conditions were now right for conclusion NAP between NATO and Warsaw. Everybody supported this except one man who was against, i.e., Adenauer. De Gaulle, without coming out against NAP on his own, supported Adenauer but he did it only to have Adenauer on his side in his fight against US. All other NATO members were in favor of idea. He had spoken with Spaak and Wilson2 and they favored such step. He knew Macmillan would also agree. This matter was ripest for solution. Thus if only US mustered courage to get Adenauer to agree, this step could be made. For if Adenauer agreed De Gaulle would be disarmed.

Khrushchev then said people in West Germany were now seeking new ways, e.g., Brandt too judging by his recent statements seemed to be concerned about present situation and wanted find new ways. US should prompt West Germans to find new ways, but it now appeared that US as victorious power was afraid of the vanquished. Thus, NAP was ripe for solution, and Sovs were pleased they had found understanding re this question on US and UK part. As to further steps, he had [Page 540] listed them in his recent speech.3 Indeed, in interview he had given to Pravda and Izvestia today, he had also referred to those steps. One of such steps could be establishment of control posts on communications routes to prevent surprise attack; such measure would not harm prestige of any country. Also a peace treaty with Germany was necessary because so long as there was no peace treaty there could be no question of disarmament. For before healing wound one must remove pus. This was standard surgical procedure, and Sovs saw no difficulty in doing it. Some people spoke of general elections in Germany, but such elections were quite inconceivable; indeed, they were impossible. Khrushchev said he fully understood US desire see united capitalist Germany and Sovs were not offended at all that US entertained such desires. For that part, Sovs also wanted have united socialist Germany. However, US desires were unrealistic because things did not depend only on US desires. Sov desires were also unrealistic because things did not depend only on Sov desires. Meanwhile, West Germany, East Germany and West Berlin existed and this situation should be legalized. Khrushchev suggested it could be written into document that all parties would assist Germans in agreeing on creation of single unified state. Once pus was removed we could sit down and discuss solution of disarmament. There was nothing insuperable. Said he deeply convinced that everything that was being done now was done to satisfy Adenauer’s caprice.

Khrushchev went on that while he did not wish to be visionary he did not rule out possibility of US policy prompting Germans seeking a Rapallo-type arrangement with USSR. Rapallo policy had been in both German and Sov interests, and such policy in interest all classes in West Germany even today. This idea was now growing in minds of West Germans and would progress even further. For West Germans had joined NATO in hope they would thereby satisfy their national aspirations. They had hoped that leaning on US, which at that time had had monopoly of nuclear power, they would achieve situation where USSR would be forced agree liquidation GDR and establishment united capitalist Germany. However, those hopes had not been destined to come true and there was no chance they would materialize. De Gaulle had said he recognized borders established after last war. US had said similar things in private, and thus only difference was that De Gaulle had stated this publicly while US said this tete-a-tete.

Harriman turned to Kohler who pointed out US had not expressed formal recognition of borders but had merely said force would not be used to change them.

[Page 541]

Khrushchev suggested Harriman should not beat around bush: Harriman understood what he meant and he understood what Harriman meant. Macmillan had taken similar stand, and other NATO members, such as Norway, Holland and Belgium believed this was most reasonable position. True he was not sure about Luxembourg, and this caused him great concern. Even Adenauer recognized this, for he said he had no intention of changing existing borders by means of war. Thus, Adenauer had suffered defeat in all of his aspirations, and was now leaving arena. New man would come, although he, Khrushchev, did not know who it would be, but if even he should fail understand this point he would have to go. Other man would replace him and eventually there would be another Wirt (signer of Rapallo) in power and East Germans would sign another Rapallo. Reiterated Rapallo had been in interest of all Germans. For under Rapallo Germans had obtained unlimited orders from USSR and had received raw materials from Sovs, both industrial and agricultural; Sovs had been unlimited consumers of German industrial commodities. Such situation in interest of both Germans and Sovs and would be contributing factor to world peace. Repeated should support forces seeking new avenues, and that would be most noble course US could take. Otherwise Germans would eventually turn against US.

Harriman said he not losing any sleep over this. Brandt had said West Berlin should increase exchange of goods with East. This healthy idea and West Germany should do same. However, so long as Sovs sat on East Germany they could not expect friendship from West Germany.

Khrushchev interjected this was where main US delusion lay.

Harriman commented Khrushchev was very heavy.

Khrushchev said he weighed a lot but did not asphyxiate Germans. In fact, he was in state of weightlessness with respect to Germans and their interests.

Harriman said like in outer space.

Harriman continued German question had been discussed by Rusk with Gromyko and Dobrynin and hoped they would be able continue discussion this matter as it related to non-aggression in West Berlin. Recalled he had told Gromyko we believed there was relationship between access to W. Berlin and non-aggression arrangement. Sovs should take this into account.

Khrushchev interjected this would not work. West Berlin problem related only to peace treaty. He could say here and now that on basis relationship between access and NAP there could be no results.

Harriman continued this matter would be first discussed in Paris. Rusk could discuss it with Sovs. Secretary planned stay after formalities of signing TB treaty were over and have talks which had been planned [Page 542] before. While he did not wish commit Secretary, he believed Secretary might have some response from our allies re consultations we had agreed upon yesterday, although consultations would not be completed. [Here follows discussion of the production of fissionable materials.]

Khrushchev then said wished return question of Germany. Said he somewhat surprised by what Harriman had said, and although Harriman had repeated his remarks he, Khrushchev, did not believe Harriman really thought so. Specifically he had in mind Harriman’s remark re Sovs sitting on GDR. This remark meant Harriman not properly informed re situation in GDR. In fact, per capita consumption of meat in GDR was somewhat greater than that in FRG, something like 63 kg. versus 60 kg. Same went for consumption of butter. Indeed, during his visit to GDR he had been pleasantly surprised by situation there. Situation in GDR had changed greatly after border and control thereof had been established. People there were very happy with their govt, except of course for some category of population; but then even in US there were some people who were displeased with US Govt.

Khrushchev continued more and more people in West Germany beginning realize present situation in Germany was to US advantage but not to German advantage, e.g., at Kohler’s recommendation US had applied pressure on Germans and had deprived them of orders for pipe. Germans would never forgive US for this. Adenauer had held meeting with businessmen on this subject and had promised them further development of trade with socialist countries. If US continued to prevent Germans from signing peace treaty, he quite sure there would be another Rapallo. Did not know how many years this would take, perhaps 5 or 10, but this was only way out for Germans. Reason for this was the Germans becoming convinced US, France, and other Allies could do nothing to GDR and unable establish united capitalist Germany.

Harriman said Khrushchev mistaken as US had never stopped Germans from entering in peace treaty. As Kohler [Khrushchev] knew very well, West Germans themselves had always been unwilling to do so. We had never stopped them. Not only Adenauer but also broad masses in West Germany held this view.

Khrushchev interjected this had been true until now, but turning point was approaching.

Harriman continued West Germany would never turn to Sovs so long as they prevented unification. Once Germany was unified, he believed Germans would be much more cooperative. In any event, there was no point arguing who right in this matter. Point was to come to some constructive understanding. Expressed hope Rusk could pursue this discussion when here. Commented US had never prevented increased [Page 543] interchange between Germans and expressed hope what Khrushchev said meant he was ready to tear down Berlin wall.

Khrushchev said could assure Harriman wall would not be removed even when peace treaty signed. Wall would be torn down only when unified socialist Germany established.

Harriman remarked this long time off.

Khrushchev said did not know and was not saying when this would happen, but what he was saying was present situation would remain until then. Sovs felt fine, even very fine, with wall; they felt cozier and more tranquil. Therefore, Sovs in no hurry. Wall played very important role and he furious with himself not to have thought of it earlier.

Harriman recalled Khrushchev had said to him Lippmann was right re wall.

Khrushchev replied Lippmann was right, but it had not been Lipp-mann who had recommended establishment of wall to Sovs. In reply to Harriman’s question he said from time to time Sovs would step on President’s foot so he could realize he should cut out his corns.

Harriman had observed previously that Khrushchev had used this simile in conversation with Spaak. Said did not know that President had corns, but assuming he had how did Khrushchev propose to tread on them.

Khrushchev said that was a secret.

Harriman commented that might be Khrushchev’s secret weapon.

Khrushchev continued that, for instance, he had seen press reports about plans establish civil air communications with West Berlin. Said such communications would not be allowed; if necessary planes would be forced down and extreme measures would be resorted to. Asserted establishment such communications contrary to Potsdam Agreement which allowed only US, UK, and French military transport planes in corridors. Thus, here was one corn, and Sovs would find corns without difficulty.

Khrushchev continued he could cite another corn. Western powers now enjoy low tariff privileges for cargo transport in Germany, privileges which had been acquired by right of victorious power. However, this could not be tolerated any longer, because 18 years had passed since end of war. This arrangement entails financial loss by GDR and would be ended.

A third corn, Khrushchev went on, lay in following situation. Western powers now using GDR cables for their telephone and telegraph communications and pay nothing or next to nothing for such use. Thus, Sovs would find corns, these as well as some more. Said he sure world public opinion would regard these claims by GDR as fully justified. US should take them into account, as GDR might soon advance them. Sovs [Page 544] believed all these measures economically justified. Western powers had been using GDR territory on grounds they had won war; 18 years had passed since end of war—did they want enjoy these privileges for hundred years? Moreover, he wished point out that West Germany had been supposed pay reparations to USSR, but had not paid with US support.

In short, Khrushchev said, best thing to do was to wash our hands and put final end to WW II by signing peace treaty, so that questions could be resolved on peaceful basis by agreement between Govts FRG, GDR and West Berlin. Observed as soon as discussion turned to this problem relations between us too cooled off, and this was additional proof this boil must be done away with. Wondered why the hell US or USSR needed it; Sovs certainly did not.

Harriman remarked Rusk would talk with Gromyko about this question, and did not believe useful for him take Khrushchev’s time to pursue it further.

Khrushchev smiled and commented Harriman apparently wanted leave unpleasant questions to Rusk.

Harriman said he was interested in what he had said, and had been glad to listen. Said he understood Khrushchev had said to Spaak he would take off his hat and bow apologizing after he stepped on corns.

Khrushchev laughed and said yes, that was way it was done sometimes. One stepped on someone’s foot accidently, apologized, but then ground his heel a bit.

Harriman commented as long as Khrushchev said it with a smile, he was not taking it seriously. Said he was not trying throw all unpleasant questions on Rusk, but noted he had been exiled to Far East for two years. It was Secretary who had been dealing with this problem. [Here follows discussion of Laos and Cuba.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 US/Harriman. Secret; Eyes Only. Passed to the White House.
  2. Harriman was in Moscow July 14–25 for discussions leading to the initialing of a nuclear test ban agreement.
  3. Paul-Henri Spaak, Belgian Foreign Minister, and Harold Wilson, British Labour Party leader.
  4. For text of this July 19 speech (ENDC/113, August 23, 1963), see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1963, pp. 542–543, or Documents on Disarmament, 1963, pp. 247–249.