10. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Berlin and Germany


  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Tyler
  • Mr. Bundy
  • Prime Minister Douglas-Home
  • Foreign Secretary Butler

After the Secretary’s dinner for the Prime Minister at Blair House, he outlined to the Prime Minister and to the Foreign Secretary the three-phase proposals on Berlin and Germany. He told them that he could not leave the paper2 with them because the proposals merely represented tentative ideas on a bolder approach to the problem, and could not be considered as a US Government position. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary expressed interest in the idea, but the Prime Minister [Page 19] said he strongly doubted whether the German Government would ever be willing to move decisively on the major issues, such as the boundaries question and security, which would be the condition for any Soviet acceptance of proposals by the West.

There was some discussion of how it might be possible to talk to Schroeder about this kind of approach without having the Germans go through the roof. Mr. Butler said he thought his personal relations with Schroeder were good and getting better, and that he might be able to talk to him alone (and he emphasized that this meant without anyone else being present) when they met again in March for the next WEU meeting. Another possibility might be for Schroeder to come to Geneva from his skiing vacation in Switzerland to see Mr. Butler when the latter goes there in another ten days. Mr. Butler said he would think the matter over.

The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary both lamented the negative state of mind of the Germans with regard to observation posts and said they hoped that some way might be found to bring them around to a more positive attitude. Mr. Tyler commented that the Germans probably saw in the observation posts proposal the thin end of a wedge which might lead to a reduction of forces and other types of “thinning out” in Central Europe before an acceptable political solution had been negotiated with the Soviet Union. He added that, in his view, any direct or implicit linking of observation posts with “thinning out” would merely confirm German suspicions and increase their opposition.

The Secretary said we should persevere in our search for a possible initiative on Germany. This should be done by the kind of discussion they were now having and should be very tightly held. These matters should not be dealt with in the Ambassadorial Group. The Secretary suggested that we go back over the last three years and take a look at all the ideas and suggestions which the Germans have floated at one time or another on the Berlin and Germany question, and which have not been subsequently followed up. He thought that proposals could be put together on such a basis, which would contain many of the elements in the package which he had just described to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary.

Mr. Bundy, who had joined the group halfway through the talk, emphasized the desirability of examining every possibility of coming up with a peace initiative in the course of this year which would win widespread public support.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 28 GER B. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Tyler. Prime Minister Home visited Washington February 12–14 for talks with President Johnson. Preparatory documents, briefing papers, and memoranda of conversation from the visit are ibid., Conference Files: Lot 66 D 110, CF 2368–2369.
  2. No copy of the paper was found.