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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 182

of each other which is a foundation for durable peace. But after a
generation of fanatic indoctrination, the Soviet rulers can hardly
bring themselves to loosen their existing thought controls to permit
of freer contacts with the free world.
On all these matters dealt witlh at Geneva we tried to negotiate
seriously with the Soviet Union. We wanted to reach constructive
agreements if that could be done. But we were not prepared to reach
agreements at the expense of the aspirations or security of the United
States or its partners. Neither were we willing to make so-called
"agreements" which were really meaningless. So when the Soviet
Union showed itself unwilling to negotiate seriously on this basis we
came away without agreement.
It would have been easy to make some apparent agreements with the
Soviet Union-but they would have been without real content. They
would have given an illusion of a meeting of minds, where none in
fact existed. The three Western powers stood steadfastly against that
kind of a performance. In doing so, they showed their confidence
in their own strength and in the steadfastness of their own people.
Thereby, this Conference may have improved the prospects for real
agreements in the future.
I now turn to the answers to the questions which I put at the
(1) Does this second Geneva Conference end the so-called "spirit
of Geneva"?
The answer to that question depends upon what is meant by the
"spirit of Geneva". Some felt that the spirit of Geneva was some
magic elixir which would of itself solve all of the great problems of
the world. Obviously, it was not that. Any such view was doomed to
That was never the view of the President nor myself. We con-
stantly warned against that view. President Eisenhower, before he
went to Geneva, said that that Conference would be a beginning and
not an end. At Geneva he said that the value of the Conference could
only be judged by what happened afterwards. And after he returned
he told the American people that the acid test of the Summit Confer-
ence would begin when the Foreign Ministers met.
That testing, so far as it has gone, has shown that the Soviet leaders
would like to have at least the appearance of cooperative relations
with the Western nations. But it has shown that they are not yet will-
ing to create the indispensable conditions for a secure peace. Also
they have seriously set back the growth of any confidence the free
world can justifiably place in Soviet promises. They did this by
refusing to negotiate for the reunification of Germany, to which they
had agreed in July.
However, they seem not to want to revert to the earlier reliance on
threats and invective. In that respect the spirit of Geneva still
(2) Has the outcome of the second Conference at Geneva increased
the risk of general war?

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