39. Editorial Note

On June 10 McGeorge Bundy asked the Department of State to prepare a Talking Points Paper to brief the National Security Council on the results of the Vienna talks. (Memorandum from S/S to EUR, June 10; Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/6-1061) On June 12 the Department of State transmitted an 8-page list of talking points including the following on Germany and Berlin:

  • “1. Khrushchev attacked German militarism and said no delay in signature in a peace treaty was justifiable. USSR wanted agreement with U.S. but in its absence would sign a separate peace treaty with GDR, the state of war would cease and all commitments, including occupation rights, institutions and allied access would become invalid. U.S. troops could stay in Berlin under certain conditions; Soviet troops should also be there and neutral troops under UN guarantee would be acceptable.
  • “2. The President contrasted Berlin with Laos. He said we fought to get to Berlin. Our national security is affected by what happens there, and we have contractual rights to which every President involved has reaffirmed his obligations. If we allowed ourselves to be expelled from Berlin no one could have confidence in our commitments and this deeply involves our national security. He, no more than Khrushchev, is prepared to preside over isolation of his own country.
  • “3. President rejected Khrushchev’s charge that reference to national security signified U.S. wanted to improve its position. The U.S. was not pushing but was interested in maintaining position in and access to Berlin. Situation might be unsatisfactory but situations elsewhere unsatisfactory and this not the right time to change Berlin situation. Neither U.S. nor USSR could accept the change in balance of power that would result from Soviet proposal.
  • “4. Khrushchev defended peace treaty as restraint on German revanchists. Said no force could prevent USSR signing treaty. GDR sovereignty [Page 110] would then be established and its violation regarded by USSR as open aggression.
  • “5. In reply to President’s question, Khrushchev specifically said allied access to Berlin would be blocked by peace treaty. President reiterated that our views and interests should be carefully considered and said Khrushchev had laid down a most serious challenge with unforeseeable consequences. Expressed hope Khrushchev would consider both his and President’s responsibilities toward their own countries.
  • “6. Khrushchev maintained USSR wished only to formalize existing situation and gain recognition as a fait accompli of the existence of the GDR socialist state. Continuance of U.S. occupation rights after a peace treaty was impossible to imagine.
  • “7. President said Soviet Union cannot give U.S. rights to the GDR.
  • “8. Khrushchev said USSR prepared to accept interim agreement not involving prestige of two countries right now. Agreement could set six months time limit for Germans to solve question of reunification. Then U.S. and USSR could disavow responsibilities and anyone would be free to conclude a peace treaty. He expressed confidence that our people would not start cutting each other’s throats for ideological reasons. Said USSR can delay no longer, will probably sign peace treaty at the end of the year. He later specifically referred to December.
  • “9. Later Khrushchev said that USSR would be defending peace if the U.S. started a war in Berlin. U.S. should avoid miscalculation, but if U.S. wants war over Germany let it be so. He was confident common sense would gain the upper hand and peace prevail.
  • “10. The President denied any wish to precipitate a crisis but stressed our profound commitment in Berlin. It is strategically important that the world believe the U.S. a serious country whose commitments one could rely on. Said signing of a peace treaty not a belligerent act but denial of our contractual rights would be.
  • “11. Khrushchev said USSR would not accept U.S. rights in Berlin after a peace treaty and was convinced the world would understand the Soviet position.
  • “12. The President said our position in West Berlin was strongly supported by the people there. President is prepared to discuss any problem between us but we should take carefully into account each other’s views and interests. He did not assume office to accept arrangements totally inimical to U.S. interests.
  • “13. Referring to an interim agreement Khrushchev said it would be a formal factor giving the semblance of turning the problem over to the Germans. He referred to the aide-mémoire (later handed to U.S. officials) and concluded U.S. could study it and perhaps return to the [Page 111] question later if it wished.” (Yale University, Bowles Papers, Box 300, Folder 535)

At its June 13 meeting the National Security Council discussed Berlin based on this paper. While no NSC record of the meeting has been found, General Lemnitzer’s handwritten notes on the meeting read as follows:


“Difficult time in store on Berlin.

“Sec State—reviewed pol. situation.

“1st step—answer aide-mémoire, timing is rather vague. Cannot abandon. Western position is difficult.

“Pres—status of supplies.

“Sec reviewed.

“civil defense?

“reorg on CD—costs, $300 m

“$50 m to be used for shelters

“$100 m for new buildings

“Pres—We must get in touch with every American—he must be resp—what can he do—etc.” (National Defense University, Lemnitzer Papers, Box 29, L-215-71)