86. Paper Prepared in the Department of State1



Continue execution of presently planned measures for strengthening national and NATO defenses.
Protracted negotiation: engage the Powers most concerned in a continuing discussion of the unresolved problems not only of Berlin and Germany but of all Central Europe. Keep this discussion going for years if need be, as in the Austrian treaty talks.
Develop negotiating positions which genuinely look toward progress in solving those problems, and make possible enough forward movement from time to time to give the USSR an interest in continuing and subject it to serious political losses in the Free World if it breaks off. This should not be a mere ruse to talk the present Berlin crisis to death, but a statesmanlike program for achieving stability through peaceful change where violent change and immobilism would be equally fatal.
Mechanism: hold a Foreign Ministers’ meeting, explore initial positions, delegate to deputies constituting a Commission on Central European Problems, including Czechs and Poles, with the two Germanies attached as in Geneva.



Solution to the crisis satisfactory from the standpoint of ourselves and our major allies without a war or a permanent increase of tension with the Soviet Union—if possible in such a way as to lay a foundation for eventual decreased tension and even growing cooperation.
Continued independence of West Germany and its association with the West, including NATO and the European Community.
Continued right of self-government by West Berlin, sufficiently close association with West Germany to make it economically viable, and access under conditions which will not be subject to the arbitrary decisions of either Soviet or East German officials.
Increased unity with our three major and our other NATO allies; increased United States and NATO military strength; use of the present crisis to further political integration of the Western World.
Creation, through our conduct, of a clear image to the Soviet Union, our allies and the world generally that we are a united people, confident of our own capabilities and realistic in the understanding of German and world problems, and that we have the capacity to act with firmness and a willingness to take whatever reasonable risks are called for.
Evolution of an increasingly stable modus vivendi in Central Europe, including the removal or reduction of tensions at the points of East-West contact there and the normalization of relations to the maximum degree possible across the contact. In this connection, to contrive to minimize fear of Soviet and German aggression, to achieve as tolerable a regime in East Germany as is possible during the period of its domination by the Soviets, and to encourage long term progress toward self-determination in Eastern Europe.
Unity of the German people in political freedom if desired both by the peoples of East and West Germany at the time the choice is made, but not at the expense of a war with the Soviet Union or creation of a situation which would likely lead to war.
Assurance that gains made as a result of negotiations will be of an enduring rather than a purely transitory nature so as to minimize the possibility of recurring crises over the Berlin/German issue.
Conviction on the part of the Free World and the peoples of Eastern Europe that the United States and our allies have been reasonable in handling the post-war German question, while remaining faithful to our commitments and to such fundamental principles as self-determination of peoples.



To stabilize the regime in East Germany and prepare the way for the eventual recognition of the East German regime;
To legalize the eastern frontiers of Germany;
To neutralize Berlin as a first step and prepare for its eventual take-over by the GDR;
To weaken if not break up the NATO alliance; and
To discredit the United States or at least seriously damage our prestige.



It is desirable for the West to take the diplomatic initiative at a fairly early stage, but only after a clear demonstration of our will, buttressed by concrete acts, to resist any Soviet attempt at a unilateral resolution of the crisis. Such acts are now in train.

Certain political events are significant in the timing of such an initiative, notably the Belgrade “neutrals” conference, Sept. 1; the West German election, Sept. 17; the convening of the UNGA, Sept. 19; meeting of the Soviet Party Congress in October.

The scope of the agenda for negotiations is important. Because of the disadvantages to the West of limiting it too narrowly to Berlin where we are most vulnerable, as demonstrated at Geneva in 1959, we should aim at a fairly broad agenda, with all-German and even European aspects.

Initially the exchanges should be at the Foreign Ministers level. A lower level probably would be futile and a summit should be avoided.

Hence, at the Foreign Ministers meeting scheduled August 5 and the NATO meeting agreement should be sought with the principal allies to propose a Foreign Ministers meeting of the Four Powers having all-German responsibilities to consider the questions of European security, including Germany and Berlin. The agenda would be worked out through normal diplomatic channels. It would be advantageous to issue such an invitation late in August (before the Belgrade meeting) and hopefully well in advance of any Soviet initiative. If couched in general terms it is not believed that such an invitation would cause an unfavorable German reaction. A meeting might be proposed for early November (after the Moscow Party Congress).

If the Soviets issue an invitation for a Foreign Ministers conference in terms comparable to what we would propose, we should accept, subject to the working out of a suitable time and agenda. If the Soviets propose a general Peace Conference, the Western Powers, without foreclosing the possibility of an eventual conference, should counterpropose the Foreign Ministers meeting previously suggested.



The Western Powers would make substantive proposals at a Foreign Ministers’ Conference and would suggest that they be considered [Page 239] by a Commission on Central European Problems, which would include the Czechs, the Poles, and German advisers. These proposals are described below, without regard to the tactical questions associated with their presentation. We might initially bring forward proposals which would be less acceptable to the Soviets, and then gradually modify them if and as negotiations showed some signs of being fruitful. It would be essential, however, to be sufficiently forthcoming to attract the Soviets to the protracted negotiations we envisage.

German Unity. We would put forward a modified version of the Western Peace Plan, but not so called. It would include essentially the Mixed German Committee of Stage II, with some modifications and with emphasis on its role in all-German relations and in negotiations regarding German unity, but without fixed time limit for all-German elections and with its life being extended to 7 years as proposed by Ambassador Thompson. The Mixed Committee’s functions might be expanded to include the promotion of not only contacts and cultural exchanges but also trade and credits between the two parts of Germany, with a clear implication that this might involve an expansion of West German credits to East Germany. Numerous deletions would need to be made from the existing Western Peace Plan, and among these should be the provision for an all-Berlin solution and the security provisions of Stages II and III.
European Security. We would suggest that the Commission on Central European Problems develop arrangements to assure European security and to safeguard against surprise attack in Europe. We would indicate our willingness to consider some or all of the following:
The Western Powers going on record as opposed to any forcible change in the existing German frontiers. (Alternatively, we could announce our intention to approve these frontiers substantially unchanged in a final German settlement.)
Guarantees that neither GDR nor FRG armed forces should have independent control of nuclear weapons or delivery systems.
A Four Power non-aggression declaration or pact, to which other NATO and Warsaw Pact countries could declare their adherence (thus avoiding treaty relations with the GDR).
A Central European zone of inspection of armed forces against surprise attack, and possibly eventually their limitation under agreed international arrangements (such zone not to be exclusively German).
A tacit agreement not to deploy MRBM’s in Germany. (Such deployment is presently precluded, as far as the US is concerned, by the statement of US policy toward NATO and the Atlantic nations, approved by the President April 21, 1961.)3
An outline German peace treaty. This should indicate our views as to Germany’s position and role in the international community, with broad guarantees of security both for Germany itself and for its neighbors vis-a-vis Germany. It would be adaptable to whatever decision the Mixed German Committee may eventually make as to Germany’s unification.
Berlin. We should, ourselves, seek to have the question of Berlin put aside while we first discuss Germany and European security. We would raise the question of Berlin only if the Soviets move toward unilateral action affecting Berlin, either by signing a treaty with East Germany or interfering with our access rights. We should, however, make clear that any agreements reached on the questions of Germany and European security will go into effect only if a satisfactory settlement regarding Berlin is reached without a fixed time limit.

When the question of Berlin is discussed—either as the last item on the agenda at our initiative or earlier at Soviet initiative—we should make a determined effort to obtain an arrangement which would put an end, once and for all, to recurring crises over Berlin. We should bring into play all the bargaining power we hope to gain from the German and European Security negotiations. To this end, we should propose placing access to West Berlin under the administration of West Berlin itself or, if this is not possible, of an International Authority, exercising such powers as necessary to assure free, unimpeded access under fair conditions to all nations. In return, we should offer the concessions regarding force levels, subversive activities, etc., offered by the Western Powers at Geneva in 1959, plus possibly a unilateral declaration that all-German political activities (notably meetings of the Bundestag) would not take place in Berlin so long as the agreed arrangement was being fulfilled in all other respects. While the Free City proposal is unacceptable, we can—and do—recognize that West Berlin is not an integral part of West Germany and is subject to certain reservations not applicable to West Germany.

If the Soviets reject our proposals and move toward unilateral action in Berlin, we might propose the reciprocal declarations called for in “Solution C” plan (London Working Group Report, 1959).4 This would mean that East German officials could handle access arrangements, provided that they observed the procedures now existing. Some additional features (e.g. of the July 28 proposal re force limitations and “questionable activities”)5 might be included. There could be a UN presence to [Page 241] give added assurance that agreed arrangements would be fully observed.

The various proposed solutions for the Berlin problem which would depend primarily on UN action, including the proposals that the headquarters of the UN be moved to Berlin and that all-Berlin be placed under UN controls, were considered. Except as mentioned in “Solution C”, none are recommended at this stage, because of the current Soviet attitude toward the UN, including their “troika” proposal, and because Ambassador Thompson feels that an all-Berlin solution is so distasteful to the Soviets that they would exact a higher price for it than for a solution covering only Western Berlin. We will continue to study more limited possibilities for UN involvement.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 65 D 366, CF 1946. Secret. Attached to a July 29 memorandum from McGhee to Rusk, which stated that this paper was a first draft of a paper on negotiations arising out of the Berlin crisis. On August 4 McGhee sent a copy to Acheson. (Ibid., Central Files, 762.00/8-461)
  2. From a memorandum from Ambassador L.E. Thompson to the Secretary, June 19, 1961. [Footnote in the source text. Regarding this memorandum, see footnote 3, Document 49.]
  3. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, vol. XIII, Document 100.
  4. Ibid., 1958-1960, vol. VIII, pp. 639641.
  5. Ibid., pp. 1082-1083.