The Ambassador in Germany ( Houghton ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 7:57 p.m.]
82. Dresel’s 63 of March 23 . On my way to Berlin I met the English, French and Belgian High Commissioners at Coblenz. Had long individual talks with each. All of them expressed the hope for retention in the Rhineland of General Allen and a proper guard of American troops. Their reasons apparently based on tacit assumption (1) that France is determined ultimately to control left bank of Rhine, (2) that our departure will leave the French in physical possession of practically all of this region and (3) that this action inevitably will have a tendency to produce intense and constantly growing friction between the Germans and the French which in two or three years may easily lead to any eventuality.
The French are greatly disturbed. They believe that the presence at Coblenz of American troops minimizes any immediate danger while obviously leaving unaffected their ultimate plans. Even if we should leave only General Allen and 50 soldiers, they are eager for us to remain. The British fear that our withdrawal may necessitate their withdrawal possibly within six months because without continuation of our participation obviously Rhineland Commission will be ill control of the French whose program the British may find it impossible either to approve or be responsible for. Therefore, the danger of increasing friction between Germans and French may be expected and also indefinite postponement of the restoration of normal economic conditions in Germany. Belgians are perturbed principally because our departure would remove only power which can exert steadying influence on both Rhineland Commission and public opinion in the Allied countries.[Page 217]
The Government here is most anxious that we should remain. This is clearly indicated in Embassy’s telegram no. 6343 conveying to Department the German views of the subject.
Under the circumstances I venture to direct Department’s attention to fact that Coblenz being capital city of Rhineland and seat of Commission, is key to situation. If, therefore, General Allen is retained there he should be given a number of troops sufficient to keep the city completely within his control.