October 25, 2017

1949. Secretary of State Acheson Lays Out American Foreign Policy in Berlin

Acheson Meets With Allied High Commissioners in Germany
"President Truman with John McCloy, U.S. High Commissioner for Germany (center), and Secretary of State Dean Acheson, in the Oval Office of the White House," January 23, 1950 (source)
Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

November 14, 1949

Secretary of State Dean Acheson today pledged continued United States aid to Berlin as long as the German people are determined to struggle for peace and freedom.

The American foreign secretary arrived in this divided city this forenoon and was given a military welcome by the Berlin military post. Several hundred Berliners stood through a drizzling rain to see the official party drive through Airlift square at Tempelhof airdrome.

At a news conference held shortly afterward at High Commissioner John McCloy's headquarters, Acheson gave a general outline of United States foreign policy, at the same time taking a slap at the Chinese Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek.

The world's problems fall into two categories, the secretary of state declared. First, there is a problem of a group of nations thrusting in every direction in an attempt to infiltrate democracy. These must be stopped.

Then, he said, there are other problems—which would exist even without the presence of Soviet Russia—such as postwar economic recovery, reconstruction, and such.

Acheson said the United States stood ready to aid all peace-loving countries in attempting to meet these problems—but only if they attempted also to help themselves.

"I am tired of hearing the statement in America that our foreign policy in the Far East has failed," Acheson declared. "It was not our failure but the failure of Chinese policy."

He said that Berlin had become the symbol of courage and spirit during the days of the Russian blockade. "But today Berlin is becoming another kind of symbol...a symbol of the continuing struggle which must go on between East and West and which will call for effort and resolve on the part of all Germans."

Acheson said that he knew of no plans for further Four Power foreign ministers' meetings on the German problem, but said that he would be glad to see his old friend, General Chuikov, Russian high commissioner, while in Berlin.

The secretary will see Oberb├╝rgermeister Ernst Reuter and other West Berlin city officials this afternoon. This evening he will attend a reception given by High Commissioner McCloy to which all heads of missions, including the Russians, have been invited.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to CBS in New York.

Bill Downs

CBS Berlin

November 15, 1949

The American, British, and French high commissioners this morning had three hours of secret negotiations with Chancellor Konrad Adenauer; negotiations ordered by the conference of foreign ministers in Paris which eventually will reveal West Germany's new place in the European community of nations.

One report has it that the high commissioners proposed an end to dismantling of German industries in exchange for the government's guarantee that German economic power would not again be turned to war production.

The secret nature of these talks between victors and vanquished are without precedent in diplomatic history. Although we are still technically at war with Germany, and although there has been no final settlement of reparations and war costs, the West now is negotiating with Germany as an ally.

It is the first step in the new American foreign policy to bring German production and the German market into Western European recovery plans, and eventually, I am informed, to bring Western Germany into European defense plans.

Secretary of State Dean Acheson is now on his way back to Washington, winding down his visit to Berlin at a reception last night given by High Commissioner John McCloy.

The reception was marked by the attendance of the Soviet high commissioner, General Vasily Chuikov; the Russian Berlin commandant, General Kotikov; and other Russian officials.

General Chuikov, who I first met in Stalingrad, was most affable, although he carefully refrained from discussing current affairs with reporters present.

The Soviet military leaders talked with Secretary Acheson at length, and for once an American diplomat turned the tables of hospitality and gave the Russian representatives some of their own strenuous treatment.

When Chuikov was bidding goodbye to Acheson, the secretary of state insisted that they have a final drink of brandy. Chuikov at first refused, but accepted a large glass when it was handed him. The two men toasted each other and started to drink. Both men watched each other, but Acheson proved himself up to Russian standards and emptied his glass in one gulp. Chuikov followed suit. It was clearly an American victory—at least that's what the diplomats call it.

This is Bill Downs in Berlin. Now back to CBS in New York.