17. Telegram From the Embassy in Germany to the Department of State1

3170. Subject: FRG reunification plan.

As has been reported separately both Krapf and Carstens have urged during the past week that we move ahead energetically in considering the FRG reunification plan now before the Ambassadorial Group in Washington.2 Both have quite frankly referred to the government’s internal political need to show initiative in this field. This fits in with other reports which lead me to conclude that the FonOff, with some reason, fears that unless it can point to progress in connection with the plan, it will come under attack by the more conservative elements in the CDU/CSU (Guttenberg for example), the always experiment minded FDP, and the SPD.
With this in the background, I feel it would be wise to give the FRG some evidence of forward progress in reaching an agreement based on its proposal without much delay. Otherwise we can hardly expect it to accommodate us in our objective of reaching certain agreements with the USSR which, while desirable from an over-all Western point of view, are not likely to contribute directly to a solution of the German problem. A good case can also be made that the West should, in any event, keep up to date a basic negotiating position on reunification, whether or not there is any likelihood of its being accepted by the Soviets.
I recognize, as do the Germans, that anything within the general framework of the FRG plan will not be attractive to the Soviets as a negotiating document. In commenting on the plan earlier (Embtel 2513)3 we [Page 34] pointed out certain disadvantages to its official endorsement by the Allies or its presentation to the Soviets by them. As things are now developing in the FRG, however, I am inclined to feel that in the interest of progress in other areas of negotiation with the Soviets, and of our bilateral relations with the FRG, it will be difficult for us to withhold official support from some such plan indefinitely.
Elements of the FRG plan, from our point of view, provide an essentially sound basis for an Allied agreed plan. We have, in Embtel 2513, made various suggestions on possible modification and we understand that others are presently under discussion in Washington. We have been given to understand by the Foreign Office, moreover, that there is at least a limited flexibility in the relationship of the various parts of the proposal to the whole (para 3, Embtel 2465).4
One feature of the plan which might have attraction for the Communists is its reference to the possible extension of assistance to East Germany (para 6 of the proposal). Recent statements by FRG leaders would indicate the possibility of considering this together with the establishment of humanitarian commissions. We have commented in some detail on other positive aspects of the plan in the Embassy’s A–587.5 The establishment of the humanitarian commissions described in para 4 of the FRG proposal could eventually have favorable results from the all-German point of view, although the Soviets will probably reject the commission concept even if isolated from the rest of the plan since the commissions are described as working “by direction of the four powers.” We cannot know for certain that they will be rejected, however, until the Soviets are tested, and, as the Secretary recently commented, it is not up to us to do the Soviets’ negotiating for them. In any event, the putting forward of this plan, backed by the West, would put the FRG in a position of having taken an initiative in this area which would be helpful in view of the current efforts of the East German Communists to utilize the appeal of increased contacts for their own purposes.
I now feel, therefore, that it will be in our best interest to join with the other Allies and the FRG in developing some such plan, as appropriately amended through consultation, and if the FRG insists, in associating ourselves in some way with its presentation to the Russians. This latter could take the form of an FRG public initiative, which the three Allies could state was with their concurrence, or a tripartite note to the Soviets transmitting the FRG proposal as modified which the Allies would endorse. At the same time, we should make clear to the Germans our expectation that, as Chancellor Erhard agreed with President Johnson in Texas, they would cooperate with us in seeking other areas of possible [Page 35] agreement with the Soviets. This subject will be discussed further in a subsequent Embtel.6
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files,POL 32–4 GER. Secret; Limdis. Repeated to Paris, London, Moscow, and Berlin.
  2. The Embassy reported the conversation with Krapf in telegram 3025 from Bonn, February 25. (Ibid.) No record of the conversation with Carstens was found.
  3. Dated January 19. (Ibid.)
  4. Dated January 14. (Ibid., POL 28 GER B)
  5. Dated October 4, 1963. (Ibid., SOC 14 E GERM)
  6. In telegram 3190 from Bonn, March 7. (Ibid., POL 32–4 GER)