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Mr. Adzhubei: You just answered the question I was going to ask. But I cannot
agree with you. I am not a specialist in the field of disarmament, but as
I understand it, the McCloy-Zorin agreement was a very important step forward,
and we hope that the efforts by specialists who will be authorized by our
governments will lead to better results. And now a few words about Germany.
If I understood correctly the translation, I have heard a very unrealistic
term. I have in mind the term "East German authorities." It would be more
pleasant to hear "government of the German Democratic Republic." You don't
like the German Democratic Republic. We don't like the Federal Republic of
Germany, but we have diplomatic relations with the FRG, we have very good
trade relations with it. Thus, we are realists. If the government of the United
States were not saying "East German authorities" but were to say "government
of the GDR," that would be very good and realistic.
And now a second point. We would like to sign a peace treaty together with
our World War II allies, and we hope that it will be so. It would be a great
happiness not only for our government but also for our people. Nobody intends
to turn West Berlin over to East Germany. That does not make sense. There
is the GDR and there is the FRG with its capitalist system. Let's sign a peace
treaty and let us guarantee freedom for West Berlin by every means--by troops
of the four powers, by United Nations troops--and let's thus guarantee its
rights. But this is a problem for future negotiation. Now a few words about
access to West Berlin. Why complicate such a simple problem? Communication
to West Berlin runs over 100 miles through the territory of the German Democratic
Republic. If one needs to visit West Berlin, if it is necessary to send
people, food or other goods there, then it is very elementary to ask permission
for that of the government of the GDR. Sometimes I feel--and I am saying this
to you very frankly--that some evil people are attempting to complicate simple
things and thus are deliberately creating tension. Yesterday, when I was talking
with your closest advisers, I gave this example: if a man has his nervous
system extremely strained, he is irritated by every noise, every sound and
everything is taken by him very suspiciously. Such a man can create much trouble.
We hope that the negotiations which will take place in the near future will
be objective, realistic, and will be conducted in an atmosphere of complete
The President. May I just make one brief response? All Berlin was put under
four-power authority by the agreements at Potsdam. East Berlin, which was
under the immediate authority of the Soviet Union, has now been turned over
to East Germany in violation of those agreements. It is no longer effectively
under four-power control. And now the Soviet Union seeks to place Soviet troops
in West Berlin. It does not suggest that the troops of the other three powers
be placed in East Berlin. In other words, the Soviet Union now seeks to share
in the control of West Berlin. That is the first point that is in question.
The second is this question of the rights of access in crossing East Germany.
As I gather it, you would give the East German authorities--you say East German
government--the power to interfere with that traffic. It is stated that they
would not do so, but we have no assurances in Mr. Ulbricht's statements which
vary from week to week. In my opinion, if such an agreement is signed, if
our rights on the communication lines between the West and West Berlin--which
are now governed by the Soviet Union--are turned over the East German authorities,
and if the East Germans should interfere with that right of access, for one
reason or another, then this would provide for heightened tension, the Soviet
Union might come to the support of East Germany and we would find ourselves,
instead of having settled this now, once more face to face.
The reason why we have been reluctant to recognize East Germany as a sovereign
power is that we do not recognize the division of Germany. In our opinion
the German people wish to have one united country. If the Soviet Union had
lost the war, the Soviet people themselves would object to a line being drawn
through Moscow and the entire country. If we had been defeated in war, we
wouldn't like to have a line drawn down the Mississippi River. The Germans
want to be united. I think it should be possible to provide for that under
conditions which will protect the interests of all concerned. But the Soviet
Union believes that it is more in their interest to keep Germany divided.
Now the question is--given that decision--can we provide for the protection
of our rights in West Berlin, which were agreed to in 1945 by the Soviet Union,
so that this is not a continuing crisis? In attempting to work out a solution
of the problems which came about as a result of World War II, we don't want
to increase the chances of World War III. All we wish to do is maintain
a very limited--and they are a very limited number of troops of the three
powers in West Berlin and to have, for example, an international administration
on the Autobahn so that goods and people can move freely in and out. Then
we can have peace in this area for years. But if East Germany is going to
exercise the right of authority over that access, we are going to have continued
tension there--and I simply do not see, given the strong interests of both
of us in having peace in this part of Europe, why that is a wise decision.
I am hopeful instead that the negotiations which we are anxious to see take
place will bring about an agreement on this area which will recognize fairly
the interests of all.
Mr. Adzhubei: Mr. President, since I'm talking to you in a very frank and
friendly manner, I would like to ask you to imagine, at least for a moment,
the following impossible thing. Imagine that you were an officer, a veteran
of the Soviet Navy, who fought in World War II. You won the war, and then
the very events occurred which are now taking place. One of the parts of Germany--the
Federal Republic of Germany--does not recognize the borders which have been
established after the war. It is again building up its armed forces. The Chancellor
of that country goes to the United States to talk to the President of the
United States and they have secret talks. The spirit of revanchism is very
high in that part of Germany. What would your attitude be toward this, if
you were a veteran of the Soviet Navy?
The President. If I were a Soviet veteran, I would see that West Germany
now has only nine divisions, which is a fraction of the Soviet forces. Nine
divisions. It has no nuclear weapons of its own. It has a very small Air Force--almost
no Navy, I think perhaps two or three submarines. So it is not a military
threat. Its nine divisions are under the international control of NATO,
and subject to the command of the NATO organization, which is made up of 15
countries of Europe which altogether have, in West Germany now, about 22 or
23 divisions--about the same number as the Soviet divisions in East Germany.
So that I do not see that this country represents a military threat now to
the Soviet Union, even though I recognize how bitter was the struggle in World
War II--in the same way that Japan today represents no threat to the United
States, even though 20 years ago there were 4 years of war in the Pacific
against the Japanese. The power of countries changes--weapons change--science
changes--without missiles, without nuclear capability, with very few divisions
today, I don't believe West Germany is a military threat.
Then I would look at the power of the United States, and I would look at
the power of the Soviet Union, and I would say that the important thing is
for the Soviet Union and the United States not to get into a war, which
would destroy both of our systems. So as a Soviet veteran, I would want the
Soviet Union to reach an agreement with the United States which recognizes
the interests and the commitments of the United States, as well as our own,
and not attempt to enforce single-handedly a new situation upon the United
States which would be against previous commitments we had made. The Soviet
Union made a commitment in regard to Berlin in 1945. Germany today is divided.
Germany today is not a threat to the Soviet Union militarily.
The important thing is to attempt to reach an accord which recognizes the
interests of all; and I believe that can be done with respect to Germany.
I recognize that there are going to be two Germanies as long as the Soviet
Union believes that that is in her interest. The problem now is to make sure
that, in any treaty which the Soviet Union reaches with East Germany, the
rights of the other powers are recognized in Berlin. That's all we're talking
about. We are not talking about encouraging revanchism, building a great German
military machine, or anything else you mention. In any peace treaty which
is signed with East Germany, there must be a recognition of the rights of
the United States and the other powers.
Now that does not seem to me to be a threat in any way to the security of the Soviet Union. That does not provide for any increase in the Western military forces, which are rather limited there. I think we could have peace in this century in Central Europe if we can reach an accord over West Berlin. To pursue another course in the name of ending World War II--a course which threatens to increase the chance of World War III--represents a wholly unwise policy, for you and for us.
So, if I were a Soviet officer and wanted peace, I would think peace can
be won and my country's security can be assured. The Soviet Union is a strong
military power. It has great nuclear capacity. It has missiles, planes--it
has a great number of divisions--it has countries associated with it. No one
is ever going to invade the Soviet Union again. There is no military power
that can do that. The problem is to make an agreement which will permit us
to have our interests recognized, as well as yours. That should not be beyond
the capacity of us both.
Chairman Khrushchev did not, nor did I, make the arrangements in 1945 in
regard to Berlin. Our responsibility, given the situation which is a difficult
one, is to bring about peace, and I believe it can be done.
In short, if I were a Soviet naval officer, I would feel that the security of the Soviet Union was well protected, and that the important thing now is to reach an accord with the United States, our ally during that second war.
Mr. Adzhubei: Mr. President, I am about to finish. Of course, you answered this question not as a veteran of the Soviet armed forces but as President of the United States, and that is quite natural. However, as I understand you, Mr. President, you are against West Germany's having nuclear weapons at her disposal, or in any degree of control over such weapons?
The President. The United States, as a matter of national policy, as I said
at the United Nations, will not give nuclear weapons to any country, and
I would be extremely reluctant to see West Germany acquire a nuclear capacity
of its own. Chancellor Adenauer stated that they would not, in 1954./9/
That is still the policy of that government, and I think that is the wise
/9/For text of Protocol III to the Brussels Treaty, October 22, 1954, in which Adenauer made this undertaking, see Foreign Relations, 1952-1954, vol. V, Part 2, pp. 1446-1451.
Mr. Adzhubei: But you know perfectly well that many top posts in NATO are
occupied by German generals, and you know that Europe is very far from the
United States. Don't you think that at some point it might happen that German
generals might become too influential in NATO?
The President. That is why I believe it to be so important to stress the
West German army is integrated in NATO. NATO is now commanded by an American;
and, in my judgment, as long as German forces are integrated in NATO--and
NATO is under the control of the 15 NATO countries, none of which wants another
war--there is security for all. And I think that will continue.
Now if this situation changed, if Germany developed an atomic capability
of its own, if it developed many missiles, or a strong national army that
threatened war, then I would understand your concern, and I would share it.
After all, we have had two wars in Europe, as well as you. But the situation
today, and the situation for the future, is as I have described it. If it
changed, then it would seem to me appropriate for the United States and the
Soviet Union and others to consider the situation at that time. But it is
not that way now, so why take the risk of having the United States, which
is a powerful country, and the Soviet Union, which is also powerful, getting
into difficulty with each other, when there is no real threat in Europe to
you or to us. I think that we should look at things as they are in 1961.
You have stated that you are realists. This is not 1939, 1940, or 1941. Look
what has happened. As I said, in the Far East, Japan's strength was entirely
different in those years. China's power was also entirely different. Countries
change. Situations change. And we have to be realistic enough to see where
the real danger lies. The real danger today is the fact that both of us possess
in our nuclear stockpiles the means to impose great devastation upon each
other--and we are the ones that have the most to lose from war.
Therefore I think, if we look at it realistically, we should be able to reach
an accord which protects the interests of our two great countries, and permits
us both to go ahead with increasing our standard of living and meeting other
problems. In the United States in the last 14 years our living standard has
increased 40 percent. In the Soviet Union it has gone up sharply. Nobody can
benefit more from peace than the Soviet Union and the United States.
I would hope that rather than attempting to talk about conditions in Germany
as they were 20 years ago, we would look at them as they are today. We have
had peace, really, in Europe for 15 years. The problem now is to see if we
can reach a negotiation which can settle this matter for another 15 years.
Nobody knows what is going to happen in the world over the long run, but at
least we ought to be able to settle this matter of Berlin and Germany.
Mr. Adzhubei: I thank you for your attention and this time that I took from your weekend rest.
The President. I appreciate very much your giving me, as President, this opportunity to talk to the people of the Soviet Union, and your courtesy in coming here. I want to emphasize that to the people of this country there is nothing that would satisfy them more than to see the two countries live at peace, and the people of the two countries enjoying a steadily increasing standard of living. I was in the Soviet Union as a student in 1939, and I understand that there have been many changes, and that the standard of living of the people is rising. The standards of the people of the United States have also risen. I am hopeful that this interview will contribute in some degree to better understanding and to peace. For, I repeat again, our two peoples have the most to gain from peace.
Mr. Adzhubei: Thank you Mr. President.
FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P72