225. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Germany1

1526. Eyes only for Ambassador. If Chancellor’s physical condition permits, you should request early appointment to deliver in person following letter from President. If appointment impossible letter should be sent to Chancellor by most expeditious means.

[Page 637]

Begin Text:

I was very sorry to receive reports from Bonn over the weekend of your having to take to bed with the grippe. I sincerely hope this limitation of your activity is for the most part precaution and that you will soon be free to pick up your full schedule.

The extra strains you underwent during your successful visit to Washington last week no doubt contributed to your present physical difficulties. On the other hand, I cannot but feel, as I hope you do also, that the benefits of the trip offer some compensation for your discomfort. At whatever cost to yourself, you have done a great service for Western unity.

I regret that it will be impossible for you to carry out your original plan for a meeting with President de Gaulle on November 30, but I note that you will now be seeing him on December 9.

I should be less than frank if I did not tell you that I have been disappointed by what I have learned from Prime Minister Macmillan about his talks with President de Gaulle, particularly as to the latter’s continuing negative attitude on the subject of negotiations.2 As you know, we concluded during our conversations in Washington that negotiations with the Soviets, prior to signature of their separate peace treaty and based on a realistic and agreed Western negotiating position, are a necessary part of getting us through the present crisis so that we can pursue the larger common purposes which we discussed and which were reflected in our Joint Communiqué.

As you will recall, my own rationale underlying the approach to negotiations on which we agreed was set forth in some detail in my letter to you of October 13.3 I continue to regard it as essential that we make an effort to achieve a satisfactory and peaceful resolution before moving on to the greater problem which a failure of diplomacy must bring. It is highly important that President de Gaulle be brought to accept this and that his Government join with us in utilizing all of the available resources of diplomacy. Failure to do this will create severe strains in the Western Alliance and set in motion a chain of causation which can only be detrimental to our common interests.

It seems obvious that President de Gaulle’s attitude is significantly influenced by his estimate of what he considers to be German interests and reactions in this matter. He cannot, therefore, but be strongly and perhaps decisively influenced by the position which you and your Government [Page 638] take. You are in the best position to assure him that what we both believe to be the logic of history in the development of the Berlin crisis is not a necessary prelude to defeat but rather a source of strength and unity if the Alliance must meet its ultimate test.

You may wish to consider the desirability, even in advance of your meeting on December 9, of supplementing the letter which you sent President de Gaulle from Washington with a further letter making the point again that your Government does favor early negotiations with the Soviets and the Western initiatives which will be necessary to lead to them. If you see any useful way in which I might follow up on your own presentation to President de Gaulle, please let me know.

I regret that so much time and effort must be consumed in discussions of tactics and procedures within the Alliance, but I regard the present impasse as most serious and one from which we must make strenuous efforts to extricate ourselves. I know you are aware of this and share my concern about the effects on the Alliance which continued division must have. End text.

For Dowling:

British have informed us that Ambassador Steel has been instructed to see Chancellor as soon as possible to convey to him Macmillan’s hope that when Chancellor visits de Gaulle, or in any message he may send should his visit be postponed, he will not fail to impress upon de Gaulle that German Government is definitely in favor of early negotiations with Soviets and that he will do his utmost to persuade him to modify his attitude.
British have informed us that French did not give impression that Adenauer letter sent via Carstens had been as positive about negotiations as we had anticipated. Implied Chancellor had not confirmed to French position he had taken in Washington in favor of negotiations and of proposal to concert agreed position at meeting of Western Foreign Ministers in December in Paris in preparation for talks with Soviets early in 1962, possibly at level of Foreign Ministers.
In event you are able to deliver letter to Chancellor in person, you should stress seriousness with which we regard continuation of impasse created by negative French attitude in face of unanimous feeling of other NATO countries that talks with Soviets are essential part of process either of resolving Berlin question peacefully or of preparing Alliance for ultimate confrontation.
You should also make point that effectiveness of Adenauer approach to de Gaulle will partly depend on degree to which latter convinced Germans not acting primarily because of US pressures but out of own conviction.
For further background and argumentation, you may draw on relevant briefing papers prepared for Adenauer visit copies of which pouched Bonn November 22.
  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204. Secret. Drafted by Hillenbrand, cleared by Rusk and Bundy, and approved by Kohler.
  2. de Gaulle visited England November 24-26. On November 27 Macmillan wrote to President Kennedy summarizing his talks with de Gaulle. For text of this letter and a further description of the visit, see Pointing the Way, pp. 415-425.
  3. See Document 176.