The Impossible Peace: Britain, the Division of Germany and the Origins of the Cold War

By Anne Deighton | Go to book overview

4
THE PARIS COUNCIL April-July 1946

The Opening Rounds

ON 25 April 1946 The Timesreported that the Paris Council was 'the last chance which the allies will have of working together to set up a new world order. If they do not agree, they will inevitably be inclined to divide the world into spheres of influences and eventually into hostile blocs'.1 However, Germany, the litmus test of great-power relations, was not the central question on the agenda. Bevin was reluctant to commit himself to formal talks while international policy towards Germany was so unsettled and while he was still trying to probe American and Soviet thinking. But before the Council opened he was forced to concede that German questions should be raised after the proposed satellite treaties had been discussed.2

The Council discussions on Germany were on 29 April and 15-16 May in the first session, and then on 9-12 July after the Council had recessed for a month. These meetings were described by Bidaultas a number of soliloquies instead of concrete discussions, but they were to culminate in a decision by Britain and the United States to begin to frame policy within the 'Western' option, while still publicly proclaiming a desire for quadripartite agreement over Germany.3

Britain's principal task in Paris was to apprise the Americans of Soviet intentions, and then to evolve a practical policy that would continue to involve the United States in Europe and keep the smaller Western powers and the French amenable. The Defence Committee assessment was that

there are two realities in Europe, the 'Eastern Bloc' created and dominated by Russia and the 'Mediterranean Zone'controlled by Great Britain. . . . We are entitled to construct a 'Western Zone' if we can. . . .

____________________
1
The Times, 25 Apr. 1946.
2
Paris to FO, 26 Apr. 1946, FO 371/57266.
3
FRUS 1946 ii, 909 ff. For CFM see FO 371/57265-83.

-81-

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