43. Summary of Discussion0


The President remarked that the Prime Minister and he had discussed privately the course of the conversations on Berlin with the Russians.2 The fact, which they had no particular explanation for, that the Russians had relaxed pressure, made it appropriate to move ahead; after his return from Athens the Secretary would see Dobrynin again. The President noted that he and the Prime Minister were in agreement on these talks.


  • Berlin and Germany

The Secretary, pointing out that we were in Berlin and were going to stay there, stressed that both we and the British should point out to Bonn and Paris that we had made no concession to the Russians. The course of future discussions is another question. We had no apologies for the stand we have taken, and the nervousness displayed by some of our allies is out of place. In answer to the Prime Minister’s question, the Secretary said that in yesterday’s talk with Dobrynin he had pointed out that we had gone some way to meet the Soviets on points of interest to them. However, there were no signs that they were prepared to give us any satisfaction; we were nose to nose on the key issues. Dobrynin’s attitude, which showed no obligation or interest in accelerating things, was puzzling. There were some signs of interest in a modus vivendi paper.

The Prime Minister commented that he had remarked to the President that it was difficult to negotiate when we were under pressure, as we were then accused of appeasement; we should press forward when we are not under the disadvantage of pressure. As an agreement would involve too much loss of face for the Soviets, we might end up with some sort of modus vivendi, an agreement to disagree. The results, the Secretary remarked, would depend on whether the Soviets have decided they cannot make progress on their proposals. Our concern is their commitment [Page 124] to a peace treaty; if our rights are not respected when such a treaty is signed, there will be a dangerous situation. The Secretary suggested that the danger, which would arise when pressure was resumed, could be lessened by remaining in contact. In the meantime we should try to alleviate the nervousness of our allies.

In response to the President’s question, the Prime Minister said he had no plans to see Adenauer. Depending on his talks with Schroeder, the Secretary indicated he might see Adenauer on his way home from Athens. The President, indicating his concern that the Germans might at some future time wish to put the blame on us, said that it was most important that Adenauer show his approval. The French had disassociated themselves from what we were doing; it was important not to let the Germans do the same thing. The Secretary said he thought Adenauer was not receiving accurate reports, adding that we had one point of disagreement with the Germans. Even without reunification in the near future, we thought it was in our interest for the West Germans to multiply contacts with East Germany, but the Chancellor seemed nervous over doing so. Ulbricht’s personality was, apparently, a real stumbling block.

The Prime Minister mentioned his concern over the myth growing up and about what the younger generation of Germans would think about our policy. The President commented that such a myth, that we had let the Germans down, had already grown up in connection with the Berlin wall. In response to the President’s question, the Prime Minister said that he was already planning to see De Gaulle in June, and he would go to see Adenauer if it would help, even though it was becoming somewhat more difficult to talk to him. The Prime Minister thought it important to get the younger Germans with us, as Schroeder, a good man, was. The Secretary remarked that we hoped to make some prog-ress with Von Brentano, who would be here shortly.

The Prime Minister, expressing great concern, said now was the time to get an agreement, or a modus vivendi as the Soviets would not make a formal agreement. Such a result might not be too far from what we had considered and almost agreed on just before the new American administration assumed office. These talks, he recalled, broke down on the point of what would happen after five years. The Secretary said we were trying to return to something similar, but using Deputy Foreign Ministers. The Secretary, in answer to the Prime Minister’s question, said we had given a paper to Gromyko in Geneva, but nothing since. After the meeting of the four Foreign Ministers, we might amplify the Geneva paper. We had to be precise enough to cover ourselves after the Soviets signed their peace treaty. The Prime Minister thought a summit meeting might produce a modus vivendi.

At another point in the day’s discussions the Prime Minister raised Berlin again. He favored the idea of working toward something which [Page 125] could be put to the heads of government. He was willing to do everything he could with Adenauer and De Gaulle. He expressed concern about the possibility of a crisis in East Germany, of a Hungarian-type uprising, which would be very embarrassing. The Prime Minister was sure that we should take advantage of the period of calm; the storms were just below the horizon. If a storm were to come, many of those now criticizing us would not be of much help. We could not wait because of De Gaulle.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/4–2862. Secret. The source text bears no drafting information, but possibly Secretary Rusk, who was also present, drafted it. The meeting was held at the White House.
  2. Macmillan visited Washington April 27–29 for talks on questions of mutual concern.
  3. No record of the private conversation has been found.