74. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Meeting of the Interdepartmental Coordinating Group on Germany and Berlin—July 18, 1961

[Here follows a list of participants. Assistant Secretary of State Kohler presided at the meeting.]

The meeting discussed in lively conversational form the various aspects of courses a and b of NSC Directive 592 and the form these aspects were given in the collection of prepared documents for the NSC Meeting of July 19, 1961.3

The discussion ranged over the merits of a rapid, spectacular build-up versus the slower build-up and the usefulness of a permanent re-enforcement of conventional forces; it ranged over the need for American leadership in order to bring along the allies, over the financial burden the various courses might bring on, the limited effect economic sanctions would have by themselves, the enormous difference in defensive posture even a small type build-up would have in Europe. It also covered the weaknesses of the concept of a tri-partite “probe” along the Autobahn, the merits of declaring a national emergency, the need to modernize outdated equipment of our conventional forces, the timing of troop deployments and troop availability, the Allied attitude, the apparent desire of the President and the Secretary to avoid declaration of a national emergency at this time, the psychological lack of preparation of our country, the views of the “Sovietologists”, the danger of the first probe’s failure, the airlift capability and other points.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/7-2461. Top Secret. Drafted by Mautner on July 24 and approved by Johnson on July 31. A typewritten note on the source text indicates the meeting began at noon, recessed for lunch, and reconvened at 3 p.m.
  2. Document 68.
  3. Reference is to “Documents Prepared in Response to NSC Action Memorandum No. 59 of July 14, 1961,” July 18, which consisted of a memorandum of transmittal and Annexes A (Report Evaluating Two Alternative Courses of Action), B (Report on Economic Sanctions), C (Department of Defense Submission), and D (Political Timetable for Three Alternative Courses of Action). (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Germany, Berlin, Coordinating Group)