740.00119 European War 1939/2499

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle)55

The attached secret telegram, relating to a German military group which has made overtures to OSS informants, has two points of interest, the latter disquieting.

First, the group intimates the possibility of a putsch, followed by a “surrender to the West” and asks for “political ammunition”, which, of course, would mean assurances or the like of use to them. OSS, of course, is not following this up in any way and has no desire to, which is in line with the consistent policy of the Department.

Second, this group indicates that certain of their associates in Spain and/or Lisbon have been in touch with Beaulac56 and with Campbell,57 the British Minister [Ambassador] in Lisbon. True or not, [Page 497]this means that a German military group, composed in part of former German intelligence people and perhaps in touch with present German intelligence, is saying that it has established contact with a Britisher and an American, and that they have received encouragement from Campbell.

So far as I am aware, nothing of the kind has been heard in respect to Beaulac.

My fear is that attempts will be made by German intelligence groups to create some situation which they can later represent to the Soviets as preliminary steps to a separate peace. This would be in line with their present known strategy of endeavoring to find ways and means of dividing the three powers.

I wonder if it would not be well to cable Beaulac to be on his guard, and take up with the British a similar warning to Campbell.

You may also wish to consider informing the Soviet representatives. Here is a matter which is already being discussed in Switzerland, where everything eventually becomes known, relating to matters which appear to have occurred in Lisbon and, perhaps, Spain, where most things are discovered pretty promptly.

OSS officials have told me that the cable has been suppressed and that they have no further interest other than to lay it before the Department for its information.

A[dolf] A. B[erle], Jr.
[Annex]

Breakers

The German oppositional group, called Breakers, is composed of various intellectuals from certain military and Government circles. They have a loose organization among themselves. I57a have been given to understand that the member of the group whose surname is John58 is one of Canaris’59 men for Spain and Portugal, intended especially for Anglo-Saxon contacts. You may be interested to know that for the most part, Breakers maintain their foreign contacts and communications through Canaris organization and both X and Y act as intermediaries here in Bern.

For a number of reasons, I have not talked with the British about the Breakers’ situation at this particular time, and pending further developments I recommend that you also refrain from doing so on the basis of information in my messages.

[Page 498]

These groups are made up of well-educated and liberal individuals, but nevertheless, they do not have rightist tendencies and are confident that in the future the Government will have to be really leftist.

We have at the present time, by means of Y, secured a line to Breakers which we think can be used now for staying in close touch with events. Since any slight break would be disastrous, no constructive purpose would be served by cabling particulars. The Breakers contain three tendencies, on the whole, i.e. evolutionary, revolutionary, and military. The first of these factions takes the stand that, in the face of history and the people, complete responsibility should be shouldered to the grim conclusion by the leader and his cohorts. In general, the other two groups think that drastic action should be taken to get rid of the leader, and that a new government should be organized before the fighting stops so that it could thereupon join in the negotiations. In spite of these contrary opinions, these groups keep in touch and are very eager to obtain political ammunition from our side. They consider this to be sadly wanting, and they wish it to reenforce their movement at the present time and following the collapse, as well. Western orientation is preferred by the Breakers over Eastern orientation, but they fear that their nation is being directed by events toward the influence of the East. They are in favor of extensive social changes.

Are you able to check, in an extremely judicious manner, the word which we have received that an associate of Y, whose name is John, has been in contact with Campbell and Beaulac? It is very likely that this is exceedingly secret. I am informed by Y that he and his friends are inclined to doubt the encouragement which John has received from Campbell regarding the idea that negotiations would be facilitated by putting the Military in power and changing the government.

I would appreciate hearing of any indication with which you could supply me regarding what you would be interesting [interested] in achieving via the Breakers, and could be pursued effectively at this time. I do not understand what our policy is and what offers, if any, we could give to any resistance movement.

  1. Addressed to the Secretary of State and to the Director of the Office of European Affairs (Dunn).
  2. Willard L. Beaulac, Counselor of the American Embassy in Spain.
  3. Sir Ronald H. Campbell, British Ambassador in Portugal.
  4. Presumably Allen W. Dulles; see the account of this episode in his Germany’s Underground (New York, Macmillan, 1947), pp. 134 ff.
  5. Otto John, head of the Legal Department of Lufthansa.
  6. Adm. Wilhelm Canaris, Chief of German Military Intelligence.