185. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Meeting Between the President and the Austrian Foreign Minister


  • United States
    • The President
    • William R. Tyler, EUR
    • Mr. Galen L. Stone, WE
  • Austria
    • Foreign Minister Bruno Kreisky
    • Ambassador Wilfried Platzer, Austrian Embassy
    • Ambassador Kurt Waldheim, Austrian Foreign Office
    • Minister Hans Thalberg, Austrian Foreign Office

The President greeted the Foreign Minister and said that he had heard that President Truman had admired very much the speech that [Page 389] the Foreign Minister had given in Kansas City. Foreign Minister Kreisky said he had enjoyed talking with the former President and had received a fine lesson in modern American history. He had met many, many businessmen and other civic leaders.

The President said we were having some difficulties with the Soviets on the autobahn. Our convoys were still being held up. We did not know what this development indicated as far as the Soviets were concerned. Foreign Minister Kreisky said he had just heard of this development. He had just told Mr. Tyler1 that the real problem was that Khrushchev was very popular with the Soviet people because he stood for two things—peace and de-Stalinization—but having popularity with the Russian people meant nothing to the Communists. An outstanding German Communist had once told him that Stalin thought he could build up the same apparatus in China as they had developed in the Soviet Union. The German Communist was asked if this were done what would happen if there had to be a choice between the support of the majority of the people and support of the people in the hierarchy. He replied he thought in any event the decisions must conform with the pressures of convictions of the hierarchy. This conformed to the Communist pattern.

Foreign Minister Kreisky said that as far as he could see there were only two individuals in the Soviet Union who might be in a position to succeed Khrushchev. There was no doubt in his mind but that the Soviet leaders were already preparing for the period after Khrushchev. These two men were Brezhnev and Malinovskiy. He did not include Malinovskiy as one of the two because he was important as a Marshal of the Soviet Union but because he was important as a Communist leader. The Foreign Minister had known Malinovskiy personally right after the war in Vienna and said he thought he was intelligent. Malinovskiy had served in the French army during the First World War and spoke French. He thought Malinovskiy was a brilliant man. He said Malinovskiy had told him a story that shortly after the war when the Soviets were occupying Austria Stalin had received a message from the then Austrian President Karl Renner to say that the people had nothing to eat and Stalin had telephoned from Moscow to Malinovskiy and had asked him what he could do. Malinovskiy said he replied that he could provide 20,000 tons of wheat. Stalin expressed surprise at this relatively large amount. Malinovskiy said he wanted to tell Stalin a story and he told the story of Peter the Great who had received a delegation of Germans who had asked for some material assistance. Peter the Great had reportedly replied that he would not give them the material assistance [Page 390] they required but would give them a whole city. When one of his ministers started to protest, he told him to shut up and said he was giving them their own city.

The Foreign Minister said he thought Kozlov was out of everything because he was a very sick man. Mikoyan was not a Russian and the other leaders such as Suslov were basically technicians.

The President said he thought the timing of the recent Soviet action on the autobahn was quite curious. The Foreign Minister said he was certain that this action did not have the approval of Khrushchev. Also he was convinced that it could not be said that this development was caused by a lack of communications or bad organization. The Soviets might have their problems but they were not in the organization or communications of the Soviet army.

The Foreign Minister said that Khrushchev might have a great deal of popular support and have a commanding position within the Politburo but there were two areas which gave evidence that he did not have complete control. One was Albania and the other was Molotov. Albania was a relatively small country and if Khrushchev wanted to, the Russians could take it over in two hours. The Albanians had more people in their Embassy in Vienna than there were in the Austrian Embassy in Washington. These people distributed booklets against the Soviet Union. As for Molotov, he was still walking the streets of Moscow. The Foreign Minister said he was convinced that the leaders of the Communist parties in Europe and Asia were continuously working to overcome the Peking–Moscow split.

The Foreign Minister said in his opinion the President’s policy was the only possible one at this time. We had to be responsive to the Soviet approaches. We could never find out how far the Soviets might be prepared to go unless we were willing to meet them. He personally believed that a policy could only be built through direct conversations. The Foreign Minister said in this context he had been in favor of Mayor Brandt of Berlin meeting personally with Khrushchev. To make it a question of policy whether to meet with the Soviets or not would always be doomed to failure. It was important to meet.

The Foreign Minister said he thought that the role of Germany in East-West relations would be easier after Adenauer had stepped down. Erhard would be more in favor of dealing with the Soviets. On the other hand Adenauer would use his power against such dealings and he would use it with all the resentment of an old man but in a short time the Christian Democrats would react against him. The party would soon decide in favor of the new Chancellor. It would be an extremely difficult situation.

[Page 391]

The Foreign Minister said that German Foreign Minister Schroeder was a much more intelligent man than Erhard. Erhard was not a very clever man. He was not a man to handle political power and would have a lot of difficulties. Erhard had had to wait a long time before becoming Chancellor and Adenauer had done a great deal to undercut him by making such remarks as saying that Professor Erhard believed he was a German miracle. The Foreign Minister felt that Erhard would not be Chancellor for a long period of time. Foreign Minister Schroeder was a coming man and former Defense Minister Strauss was not dead politically. The Foreign Minister said he personally believed that if a coalition government was formed with the Socialist Party, Strauss would be in the government. The situation after Adenauer was really not a very clear one but any real political change could only emerge from a great coalition. Neither party could run the risk of making a major move vis-à-vis the Soviets for fear of being accused of treason against Germany.

The Foreign Minister said he thought the next election in Germany might see an increase in Socialist strength by about three percent. He felt that personalities could only affect the vote by some two to three percent. Below that was a hard core of votes which would not change.

The President asked for the Foreign Minister’s judgment regarding Europe and the United States. He pointed out that our policies toward Europe were based on past as well as present policies. The Foreign Minister replied that to speak of Europe as a unit was unrealistic. He felt there would be no unified Europe. Rather Europe would be divided into two major groupings. One would be the Europe des patries and the other would be a Europe des affaires. Europe would not be a unit because De Gaulle detested integration and there was no real desire among the Six to integrate with France. The second point he wished to make regarding Europe was that one must understand that there was a real divergence between generations. The younger generation was for the unity of Europe and was not for de Gaulle. The Foreign Minister said that if one compared the crowds in Germany that greeted De Gaulle with the crowds that had greeted the President you would find that those who cheered De Gaulle came from the middle generation and those that cheered the President were predominantly from the younger generation. The younger generation was now extremely tired of the old man who was in power. They were attracted to the President because he represented a young nation and was himself young. The Foreign Minister said he was not saying this out of flattery but that this was a fact. The whole way of living of the younger generation in Europe was nearer to the younger generation of America in such things as clothes, dances, newspapers, etc. He could see it in his own children. The American way of life had had a lot of influence on European youth. The Foreign Minister said he had also noticed during his visits around the United States [Page 392] that Europe had had an influence on American youth. This was not a political fact but it was the basis for political conclusions.

As far as De Gaulle was concerned the Foreign Minister said that no one could change him. He was an old man and he had made his policies with a view to history. He ignored Parliament. It was an ironic fact that the one party in France which had always been against Parliament, namely the Communists, had lost out because Parliament had no power. By liquidating the French Parliament, de Gaulle had made the French Communists powerless. De Gaulle was following a policy of absence.

The Foreign Minister said he thought the only way to handle De Gaulle, if it was possible to do so, was to ignore him and not to provoke the French. De Gaulle was a great man for France and he was a great man in his own right. He believed that the Anglo-Saxons had to be kept outside of Europe. Swiss Foreign Minister Wahlen had told him that De Gaulle should have said that the United Kingdom could join Europe but they would have to come “naked as a worm”.

  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 66 D 149. Secret. Drafted by Stone and approved in the White House on October 22. The meeting was held at the White House.
  2. No record of the TylerKreisky meeting has been found.