38. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Germany0

2848. Eyes only for the Ambassador. Verbatim text. Please deliver following personal message from me to Foreign Minister Schroeder at earliest opportunity:

Begin text: The President and I have been shocked at what we can only consider a serious1 breach of confidence in the disclosure to the press in Bonn of certain details of the secret working papers which we have been discussing with your government since our meeting in Lausanne early in March. In giving the revised versions of these papers to Ambassador Grewe on April 9, we impressed on him the need for utmost discretion in our consultations regarding these matters and he informed us that this had been stressed in his report to the Foreign Office.

As you are aware, these are subjects of considerable delicacy which can only be discussed between governments on a basis of mutual confidence that premature public disclosure and comment will not give a distorted impression in a way which can only result in weakening our position as against the Soviets. It is difficult to see how useful consultations can be conducted without the assurance on each side that confidences will be respected.

I know you will personally share my concern and will agree that we must both, in the future, make every effort to insure that subjects of highest importance which are under current discussion between us are not permitted to become public in a way which can only be detrimental to our common interests. We are considering what changes we might make in present consultative procedures, and I should appreciate any suggestions you may be able to make in this connection.

We fully recognize that this is not a problem limited to Bonn and that all of us are subject to the human frailty which expresses itself in unauthorized leaks. But I am quite sure that it is important for us to devise procedures which will make it possible for us to continue in close touch on such an important and dangerous matter as Berlin.

I am looking forward to seeing you in Athens. End verbatim text.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.62A/4–1462. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Kohler and Hillenbrand and approved by Rusk. The source text indicates that Rusk discussed it in substance with the President.
  2. At this point in the source text the word “serious” replaces the word “flagrant,” which is crossed out.