50. Telegram From the Embassy in Germany to the Department of State0
2737. Eyes only for the President and the Secretary. Department telegrams 3071 and 3100.1 I had long conversation of about two hours with Chancellor this afternoon. My reception was unusually cordial, with his underlying attitude being one of injured innocence characteristic of child caught with hand in cookie jar. Conversation, though not wholly coherent or consistent, was frankest and most open exchange of views I have ever had with Chancellor, with embarrassing tendency on [Page 146] his part to deal in personalities. Perhaps most significant element was his desire, explicit and implicit, to re-establish his relationship with the President and the Secretary.
Conversation opened by my expression of our regret at situation which had resulted in sensational press treatment and speculation detrimental to common interests, interrupted only by Adenauer’s assertion that his answers to queries in Berlin press conference had been misinterpreted. He asked if I had brought to the President’s attention his introductory remarks at this conference; I replied that I had, but that press reports had out-run my own. I then referred to his hurt feelings re lack of reply to his letter of April 14, and recounted circumstances of oral reply; he interjected that Carstens had not informed him of this, but he now understood and accepted my explanation.
After remarking that the President and the Secretary had thought Athens meeting had cleared up any misconceptions, I read him Schorr’s broadcast from Berlin of May 9 (Chancellor remarked he simply could not understand where responsible journalists got such ideas), and went on to say that more disturbing to us were reports brought to Washington of private conversations critical of American policies and indicating lack of confidence in the administration.
Chancellor again expressed unhappiness at lack of press responsibility, and referred to press reports of his comments in Berlin against US entry into European Community; he said these were wholly false. When I suggested that reports of his attitude towards US could not be wholly invented, he remarked that he too had been unhappy at reports and indications from Washington re the President’s impatience with him and with Germans. He reminded me of great satisfaction with US-German relations which he had expressed to me at conclusion of his visit to Washington last November, and turned to Osterheld (who, with interpreter, was only other official present at conversation) for confirmation that just a few days ago he had been thinking of writing private letter to the President regretting what seemed to be cooling of relationship, and asking what could be done to repair situation. “Tell me,” he said, “am I not right in sensing a change in the State Department’s attitude on German matters? Kohler has shown himself to be against us, and even Hillenbrand, who knows Germany and whom I remember from his past experience here, seems no longer to understand our position.” I said I could not agree with him, and pointed to full consultation we had had with his government, and to fact that our moves in talks with Soviets had been taken only after Allied agreement. He assented, but without appearing fully to agree with me and went on to remark that what I had said made him feel much better, [8–1/2 lines of source text not declassified].
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I referred once more to private reports of his dissatisfaction with US policy, particularly those subsequent to Athens meeting, but he again evaded issue, saying that perhaps part of problem was lack of precision in diplomatic understanding. He asked if I thought Schroeder and Carstens were less precise in their dealings with us than Brentano had been. I refuted this, although I had to admit there seemed to have been misunderstanding re “principles paper” which was given to Soviets on March 22.
Chancellor then read to me from memorandum which he had prepared for Foreign Office commenting on our latest revision of “principles paper,” but which he had not yet sent forward to Schroeder, detailing various objections thereto. There were number of recommendations for language changes, and introduction showed reluctance to have paper presented to Soviets yet, but basic objections continued to center on international access authority, non-aggression agreement, and nuclear diffusion ban. On first, I said we were prepared to consider any German proposal which he thought better; on second I said merely I disagreed with Stikker,2 and third I used to return to theme of Deptel 3100 and to recite the President’s basic views, his commitment of our resources to Khrushchev’s challenge, and awesome responsibility which led him to continue talks with Soviets while preparing for all contingencies. Adenauer said, with fervor, that he hoped I would tell the President that he supported this policy fully. He added that during previous US administration, there had been much talk of “co-existence”, but neither side had thought this was possible. It was right, he felt, to hold open possibility of honorable agreement with Soviets, at same time endeavoring to convince them that West would protect its interests (he retailed for me again his conversation with Khrushchev in 1955, in which German assistance was asked against both Red China and US).
I asked Chancellor if he supported our policy of continuing talks with Soviets. He said yes, entirely, adding that he only hoped we would continue our efforts to bring France along with us. I replied that he could perhaps do more than we, and he referred with evident pleasure to his forthcoming State visit to Paris in July, saying it would be significant event in Franco-German relations, and adding he would continue his efforts with De Gaulle.
I then asked Adenauer if it would be fair to say, in summing up our conversation this afternoon, that he was in agreement with our basic policy on Berlin. He assented readily, and agreed when I said that I assumed we would be hearing shortly from Foreign Office of his detailed objections to revised “principles paper”, although he pointed out again [Page 148] that his memorandum had not yet gone forward to Schroeder and there might be changes in it.
As final point, I referred again to damages which might be caused by misunderstandings and by public or private criticisms. Adenauer agreed, saying he was grateful for our conversation, that he felt much better about situation, and was now determined to write the President a personal letter in next day or two to explain his position in frank and open terms, and to set out his basic confidence in American policy.
[1 paragraph (7–1/2 lines of source text) not declassified]
My comments follow in next numbered telegram.3