GHDI logo

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

Five weeks after the June 17th workers’ uprising in East Germany, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote to Chancellor Konrad Adenauer to reaffirm the position of the Western powers – the precondition for solving the German question was the holding of free elections throughout Germany and the subsequent formation of a unified German government. Eisenhower made clear that, for him, the Western integration of the FRG posed no obstacle to reunification; rather, he felt that it would strengthen the superiority of the Western political and economic system and lead to the dissolution of Communist rule in East Germany.

print version     return to document list previous document      next document

page 1 of 2

During the development of the conversations between the U.S. Secretary of State and the Foreign Ministers of Great Britain and France, it occurred to me that it might be helpful if I were to write you a letter in amplification of the thoughts so tightly compressed in the final communiqué.

It seems to me that certain definite patterns are emerging from the situation in East Germany and the Eastern Europe satellite countries – patterns which will unquestionably have a profound effect upon the future, including the proposed meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Four Powers.

I think, therefore, that it will be useful for me to share my thoughts with you in some detail at this time.

Great historical developments, such as the recent Berlin and East German anti-Communist demonstrations, rarely have single roots. Nevertheless, I am quite certain that future historians, in their analysis of the causes which will have brought about the disintegration of the Communist empire, will single out those brave East Germans who dared to rise against the cannons of tyranny with nothing but their bare hands and their stout hearts, as a root cause. I think also that those same historians will record your own extraordinary steadfastness in the cause of European peace and freedom over many, many years.

In analyzing these recent developments, there appear to be five points of greatest significance.

First, this eruption against Communist oppression was spontaneous. I know that I need not go into any elaborate denial with you of the fantastic explanation put out by Moscow that the uprising was caused by American provocateurs. No provocateur of any nationality can persuade human beings to stand up in front of rumbling tanks with sticks and stones. Such action comes from the heart and not from any foreign purse.

Second, this uprising was not just a momentary flash of desperation. The continuing news of disorders in Eastern Germany indicates a fundamental and lasting determination to be fully and finally free, despite long years of stern Sovietization.

Third, nowhere were the rioters “bourgeois reactionaries” or “capitalist warmongers.” They were workers. Therefore, the martyrs who fell before Russian Communist guns were the very same workers in whose name the Kremlin has falsely and cynically built their empire of oppression, their far-flung “workers' paradise.”

Fourth, the fact of the uprising, the conduct of the German Communist leaders during the event and their actions since the event, all indicate the complete political bankruptcy of the SED [Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands].

Fifth, and to me of utmost significance, when the riots developed in the Russian sector of Berlin, the workers' chant was, “We want free elections.” In this phrase, the people clearly and simply summed up their yearning for the alleviation of their grievances and sufferings.

The combination of these five facts actually forms the background for that portion of the July 15 [14] Foreign Ministers' communiqué dealing with German unification and free elections. And the communiqué itself, as you know, is actually the diplomatic confirmation of your own earlier statements, of my June 26 cable to you, and most important, of the resolution of the German Bundestag of June 10.

For the past many months there have been endless arguments and debates on both sides of the Atlantic over the respective priorities of such words and phrases as “unification,” “peace treaty,” “free elections,” “withdrawal of occupation troops,” etc.

first page < previous   |   next > last page