52. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Soviet-GDR Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance


  • [Here follows the same list of participants as Document 51.]

At Foreign Minister Schroeder’s request, the interpreter read a report on the speech made by Ulbricht in Moscow today at the signing of the Soviet-GDR Treaty of Friendship, Mutual Assistance and Cooperation.2

Schroeder said he wished to draw particular attention to the passage in which Ulbricht had stated that German unification was possible only through negotiations between the two German states, but that in such a case the treaty could be revised. Schroeder wondered whether this was part of the treaty itself or merely an interpretation of it by Ulbricht. If it were the former, then maybe it could be regarded as a sort of alibi on the part of Khrushchev for not taking any action on German reunification.

The Secretary said we had just received a report from Ambassador Kohler in Moscow on the delivery of the oral démarches to the Soviets about the USSR-GDR treaty that had been agreed on in Washington yesterday.3 The US, British and French démarches were being delivered separately in Moscow today. The three démarches did not include the sentence which had been suggested by the Secretary rejecting Soviet charges of German revanchism. The British in Moscow had objected to this sentence on the ground it was superfluous. The Secretary said that even so we could get this sentence back in the picture in our oral statements on the matter.

The Secretary continued that, with regard to Ulbricht’s statement about “the only path to reunification”, he wondered to what extent this mention of reunification had been considered necessary by Ulbricht from the standpoint of East German public opinion.

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Schroeder said that in the past East Zone leaders had for many years claimed to be the champions of German unity. It was true the theme had been neglected for some time but they now seemed to be reactivating it. Possibly this was being done for the benefit of the young people in East Germany.

The Secretary said we should be prepared for any follow-up on this assertion of “GDR sovereignty”. We should have the Ambassadorial Group review the situation and check our intelligence as to whether the agreement contemplates making any new difficulties on the Autobahn, for example in connection with the scheduled July 1 meeting in Berlin of the Bundesversammlung.

Schroeder said he felt that what was needed at this moment was a demonstration of a common position by the Three Powers. He pointed out that the démarches in Moscow had been delivered separately4 and that the Three could not agree on the admirable sentence suggested by the Secretary. It was important that there be some sort of joint declaration by the Three that no impairment of Berlin access could be accepted. It might be desirable to move quickly since Pankow might wish to test Western resolution. The Three Powers would have to make quite clear that no changes in the Berlin situation could be accepted.

The Secretary said that after we had a chance to study the text of the treaty, there should be consultation among all four of us very quickly to consider the issuance of a joint statement. Such a statement might also be helpful in meeting the German problem about support for reunification.

Schroeder said he felt such a statement should be made on June 15 or 16. The Secretary agreed, but pointed out the difficulty of transacting business over weekends.5

State Secretary Westrick referred to the passage in the Ulbricht speech describing West Berlin “as an independent political unit”. It would be a good idea for any joint statement to take issue with that statement, which was always coming up from the Communist side in the pass negotiations and other ways.

The Secretary said we might have some problems with our Allies on this.

Westrick said he could not imagine any real problem with the Allies, who had never said that West Berlin was an independent unit. Schroeder said he thought that we had already had formulas on this point that we could refer to. He agreed with Westrick that we should take a position on it. It would also be helpful for there to be a joint Allied statement about reunification. There had not been such a statement for some time.

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The Secretary inquired if Schroeder attached any significance to the distinction between this treaty and a peace treaty. Schroeder replied in the affirmative. He said that a peace treaty would involve important arrangements in the field of European security, and these could not be undertaken as long as Germany was divided. The present treaty seemed to be a substitute, at least for the time being, for a peace treaty.

Westrick inquired whether Dobrynin had stated to the Secretary that the present treaty was not a peace treaty. The Secretary said that Dobrynin had only read an oral démarche and had added no comment.6 He had not said that this was not a peace treaty or not to take it seriously.

Westrick said he had been referring to the report in this morning’s New York Times. Schroeder said this was probably just speculation. The Secretary said that maybe the Soviets had intimated something of the sort to the press in Moscow, but Dobrynin had intimated nothing at all to him beyond the oral démarche.

  1. Source: Johnson library, National Security File, Country File: Germany, Erhard Visit, June 1964. Confidential. Drafted by Creel and approved in S on June 19. The meeting was held at the White House. The source text is marked “Part 2 of 4.” Memoranda of conversation dealing with the French attitude toward NATO and internal German politics are ibid. A memorandum of conversation covering the discussion of German-Chinese relations is Document 51.
  2. Not found with the source text. Extracts of the joint communiqué are printed in Documents on Germany, 1944–1985, pp. 872–875.
  3. Telegram 3740 from Moscow, June 12. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 21 GER E–USSR) For text of the U.S. statement on the Soviet-East German agreement, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1964, p. 536.
  4. For text of the démarche, see Documents on Germany, 1944–1985, pp. 869–872.
  5. For text of the three-power statement, released on June 26, see Department of State Bulletin, July 13, 1964, pp. 44–45.
  6. A memorandum of their June 8 conversation is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, volume XIV.