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Documents on Germany, 1944-1959: background documents on Germany, 1944-1959, and a chronology of political developments affecting Berlin, 1945-1956

Report by Secretary of State Dulles on the Geneva foreign ministers meeting, November 18, 1955,   pp. 178-185 PDF (3.4 MB)

Page 180

First of all, we talked about European security and Germany. The
Soviet Union wanted security against the possible resurgence of
German militarism. This was not unreasonable in the light of what
the Russians had suffered from the German armies during World
War II. The Western Powers were indeed prepared to meet the
Soviet Union in this matter.
We made security proposals of a serious and far reaching nature.
Perhaps the best proof of their merit is the fact that the Soviet Dele-
gation later came up with security proposals which copied many
features of our own.
But there was one basic and decisive difference. Our proposals
were based upon the reunification of Germany. We do not believe
that solid peace in Europe can be based on the injustice of a divided
Germany. The Soviet proposals were based on preserving the So-
viet puppet regime in East Germany and the indefinite division of
Germany, at least unless Soviet control could be extended to all
The Soviet Union at the Summit Conference had explicitly prom-
ised to consider the reunification of Germany by free elections and
had explicitly recognized the close link between the reunification of
Germany and European security.
We tried hard, but in vain, to get the Soviet Delegation to discuss
seriously the problem of the reunification of Germany.
When the Soviet Union came to face up to what that involved, it
balked. Obviously, if Germany were reunified by free elections this
would mean the end of the puppet regime which the, Soviet Union
has installed in East Germany. This in turn would almost surely
have serious repercussions upon the other satellite countries of East-
ern Europe. There the Soviet-controlled governments are facing ris-
ing pressure. Many within the satellite countries believe that the
"spirit of Geneva" means that they are entitled to more tolerance
and to governments more responsive to the needs and aspirations of
their own nation [s].
So the Soviet Union took the position that while they were eager
to get a treaty of European security they would not be willing to
sacrifice their East German regime to get it. Despite what they had
agreed to at the Summit Conference, they declared they would pre-
serve their regime in East Germany, in clear defiance of the ardent
wishes of the East Germans themselves.
Some had thought that the Soviet Union might be willing to allow
Germany to be reunified by free elections if reunified Germany would
not enter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But in fact the
Soviet Delegation made it abundantly clear that it would not permit
Germany to be reunified by free election[s] even on such terms.
So we see that although the Soviet Union doubtless wants a Euro-
pean security system to which it is a party, it is not willing to provide
an essential prerequisite, namely the reunification of Germany in
The second problem that we had to discuss was that of limita-
tion of armament. Primary responsibility in this field is now with

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