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

By Anne Deighton | Go to book overview

8
THE LONDON COUNCIL NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 1947

The Dismal Council

THE fifth Council of Foreign Ministers, and the last that was to be held for eighteen months, has generally been recognized as a failure. Both traditionalists and revisionists have described it as a futile meeting and a mere reworking of old arguments that could lead nowhere.1

The changed international climate that Marshall's offer brought about meant that by the summer of 1947 there was no serious expectation in any official quarter that the Council could now bring profitable four-power discussions on Germany.2 The Moscow Council had exposed the ideological gap between East and West, and to bridge that gap would require either much goodwill and a readiness to compromise on all sides, or a dramatic reversal of policy by one of the Allied powers. There was no evidence that either of these options was realistic. Soviet reaction to the CEEC had been vehement, and strikes in France and Italy were seen as a communist-backed attempt -- with an eye on the forthcoming Council -- to destabilize these countries so that perhaps the United States would not think them worth saving.3 Whitehall thought the Soviet Union would now act quickly to extend its political and economic systems into the Western zones with the object of winning Germany over to communism, and thus undermine one of the principal pillars of the Marshall Plan. The Russians might make superficially attractive proposals and compromises which would bind 'the other three powers to a joint policy in Germany as a whole, which would in practice have allowed them a free hand to operate directly and through German

____________________
1
Gladwyn, Memoirs, 206; Murphy, Diplomat Among Warriors, 382; Bullock, Ernest Bevin: Foreign Secretary, 493.
2
Tel. 1240, 23 Aug. 1947, FO 1030/169.
3
FRUS 1947 i, 813; Moscow to FO, 26 Nov. 1947, FO 371 / 67683.

-207-

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