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Letter from Eisenhower to Adenauer on the Outcome of the Washington Conference (July 25, 1953)

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It has always seemed to me – and these recent events, to me at least, clearly confirm the thought – that there can be no solution without free elections and the formation of a free all-German Government, leading to unification. From that point on can flow a logical, orderly sequence of events, culminating in an honorable peace treaty and the re-emergence of a new united German Republic, dedicated to the welfare of its own people, as a friendly and peaceful member of the European family of nations.

To this first step of free elections, the Government of the United States will continue to lend the full force of its political, diplomatic, and moral support.

There are sincere people in Germany, in the nations of Western Europe, and even in my own country, who have come to believe that free elections, and therefore the unification of Germany, contradict and possibly exclude the concept of the European Defense Community which has been ratified by both your Houses of Parliament and is now before your Constitutional Court. I do not and have never accepted this theory that the EDC and unification of Germany are mutually exclusive. Quite the contrary.

As the three Foreign Ministers stated at the conclusion of their recent meeting in Washington, since the European community corresponds to the lasting needs of its members and their people for peace, security, and welfare, it is looked upon as necessary in itself and not linked up with existing international tensions.

It has long been my conviction that the strengthening of the Federal Republic, through adoption of the EDC, the contractual agreements and further progress in the integration of Western Europe, can only enhance the prospects for the peaceful unification of Germany, by increasing the attractive power of this prosperous Western Germany vis-à-vis the Soviet Zone, an attractive power which has already been demonstrated by the steady stream of refugees in recent months, as well as the demonstrations which began on June 17. This increasing contrast between Western and Eastern Germany, the latter with its bankrupt regime and impoverished economy, will in the long run produce conditions which should make possible the liquidation of the present Communist dictatorship and of the Soviet occupation.

While a future all-German Government must obviously be free to choose the degree to which it wishes to enter into defensive and other arrangements compatible with the principles of the United Nations, I can hardly imagine that it would seek the path of complete and premature disarmament in the presence of other nations still heavily armed. I believe this is a matter worthy of serious attention. Those who in Germany believe they can suggest an easy, safe solution through defenseless neutralization should carefully ponder the true wisdom and safety of such a course.

Speaking for America, and I believe the rest of the free world shares this view, I can say that there has been enough bloodshed and enough misery and enough destruction in the past 50 years to deter any people or any Government of the West from any ideas of military aggression. But the peace we all so dearly seek cannot be maintained through weakness. EDC will be the simplest, most unequivocal, and most self-evident demonstration of strength for peace.

No one can foretell what the unfolding months will bring, but it can certainly be said that the workers of Berlin's Soviet Sector and the workers of East Germany, with the workers of Czechoslovakia, have started something that will have an important place on the pages of history. May the concluding chapter of that history record the reemergence of freedom, of peace, and of happiness.

Source: Letter from President Eisenhower to Chancellor Adenauer, on the East German Uprising (July 23, 1953); reprinted in Documents on Germany, 1944-1959: Background Documents on Germany, 1944-1959, and a Chronology of Political Developments affecting Berlin, 1945-1956. Washington, DC: General Printing Office, 1959, pp. 110-12.

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