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January 30, 1960

Telegram from B.F.H.B. Tyabji to Foreign Secretary Subimal Dutt, 'Visit of Herr von Brentano, German Foreign Minister, to India'

This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)

FROM: B.F.H.B Tyabji

TO: Subimal Dutt, Foreign Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs


DATE: 30 January 1960


Subject: Visit of Herr von Brentano, German Foreign Minister, to India


My dear Foreign Secretary,


I had a long talk this morning at the Foreign Office with Ambassador Duckwitz, who is accompanying von Brentano to India.


Duckwitz showed me the programme of their visit as drawn up by Melchers, the German Ambassador to India.


Apparently, the party is due to arrive in New Delhi on Friday the 19th of February 1960 from Pakistan. That same afternoon, von Brentano is supposed to call on our Prime Minister, and have a talk with him. Then, they have their visit to the new German Embassy building, their regional Diplomas Conference, and a whole day’s trip to Jaipur.


3. The programme however has been so fixed that they have several occasions free for private talks with their opposite numbers in New Delhi. Duckwitz was most anxious to make full use of this opportunity; and I encouraged him in it. He hopes to be able to have you for a private lunch or dinner meeting. He said that he would ask Ambassador Melchers to arrange it.


I hope you will be able to agree to this. A frank and full talk with Duckwitz on Indo-German problems – political and economic – would be of value. If I may make a suggestion, I would suggest that either the Secretary-General or you or both, could ask the German Foreign Minister, Duckwitz and perhaps their ambassador alone for an informal meal. Von Brentano likes informal talks; and would I am sure appreciate this. More people should not be asked, and the opportunity taken for really talking freely.


4. I also suggested to Duckwitz that the other members of their party dealing with economic matters, etc. should establish similar contacts with their counterparts in our Ministries. He welcomes this too, and said that he would ask Melchers to fix it up. I hope you will also pass the word round about this to our people, so that their response to any such desire on the part of the Germans may be forthcoming.


5. As regards their meeting with our Prime Minister, Duckwitz was most anxious that the Prime Minister should talk to von Brentano frankly, so that the latter’s hands would be strengthened in dealing with his own Prime Minister.


Duckwitz assured me that von Brentano’s views on West Germany’s attitude towards the Cold War stalemate, her relations with the East European countries, and even on Berlin, approximated closely to those which we held. He was only inhibited from giving expression to them openly because of his intense loyalty to the Chancellor. If however he could report to the Chancellor that three views had been expressed to him by our Prime Minister, he would be put in a better position to make them prevail.


This sounds a very round about way of doing things, but bearing in mind the personality of the Chancellor and that of von Brentano, it seems to be the only practical line to take in such a situation.


6. Duckwitz expressed the hope that our Prime Minister might find it possible at some stage to say something like this “I should like to talk to you not so much as the Prime Minister of India to the Foreign Minister of Germany, but as man to man.”


Von Brentano, he assured me, would respond to this eagerly. He would like to express his own views to our Prime Minister, but his loyalty to the Chancellor would prevent him from doing it on his own unless he was first given a lead in the matter. Duckwitz fervently hoped that our Prime Minister would think it worthwhile to give him this lead.


Duckwitz also suggested that the Prime Minister should tell von Brentano frankly of the difficulties that we had in keeping up the pretense that the German Democratic Republic did not exist; of our disappointment at West Germany’s completely negative attitude in regard to developing contacts with the East German authorities and people; and her seeming unawareness of her responsibilities towards her Eastern neighbors – Poland and Czechoslovakia.


7. Continuing in this strain, Duckwitz added that one of the great difficulties in bringing about any change in the German attitude in these matters has been the lack of anyone of sufficient stature and independence in Europe or the USA to talk to the Chancellor in these terms. Mr. Dulles never did it, nor had President Eisenhower so far.


The result was that the Chancellor had begun to believe that his views were accepted by this allies, or at least that he had been able to make them accept them. IT would do the greatest good  if the other point of view was made known to him, and he felt that von Brentano’s visit was a good opportunity for bringing it effectively to the attention of the Chancellor.


6. Apropos to the above – negative attitude towards East Germany – I told Duckwitz that I was distressed, for instance, to see the way in which the recent proposal by Herr Ulbricht, suggesting that both East and West Germany should undertake not to arm themselves with nuclear weapons, had been received in the obviously inspired West German Press. They had turned it down with contempt as a mere propaganda stunt. Even if it was just a propaganda stunt, I said, surely the Chancellor, who spoke so much about the importance of disarmament, and the West German Government, should at least think of doing some counter-propaganda on their own behalf in regard to it. Instead of that, they have the impression they were not really interested in disarmament, and all the Chancellor’s talk about it was purely theoretical, that it did not, in any event, concern Germany but only the USSR.


Duckwitz replied that this was also his own feeling; but there was no one here who could tell the Chancellor this with any effect. That was one of the reasons why he hoped that our Prime Minister would speak frankly about it to von Brentano, as he was certain that his views, reported back to the Chancellor by von Brentano, would open his eyes to the reality.


With kind regards,


B.F.H.B Tyabji


Tyabji summaries discussions with Ambassador Duckwitz on von Brentano's upcoming visit to India.


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Subimal Dutt Papers, Subject File #41


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