The Ambassador in Spain (Hayes) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 16.]
Sir: I have the honor to refer to my Secret despatches Nos. 1320 of September 13 and 1728 of December 13, 1943 and 1965 of January 31, 1944,64 in which mention was made, particularly in despatch No. 1728, of the proposal that a Dr. Keller, a German liaison officer with the chief of the Military Administration at Paris, was interested in conversing with some officer of the Embassy.
Dr. Hermann Keller unexpectedly came to Madrid and saw two members of the Embassy staff. While he gave certain general information on German activities in France, memoranda herewith enclosed,64 he stated he was unwilling to impart any military information. He was, however, extremely interested in informing us of a group of Catholic Centrists comprised of industrialists, nobility, scientists, individual military figures and bishops, with some 250 members located principally in the Rhineland, Southern Germany, Austria and [Page 500]along the Danube. This group have comprehensive plans for taking control of the economic administration of Germany upon termination of the war. The Vatican has been fully informed of the plans. The plans specifically cover post-war organization of economic, labor and political life in Germany.
The contact mentioned the Stenz Transportation Company as one of the supporters of the group, probably Monsignor Kass65 (phonetic) and a General Von Bachmann. Contact states that he does not know personally more than twelve members, but in any future discussions he may develop sufficient confidence in us to give further names.
The group believes that German military authorities have no real political sense and that accordingly political responsibility should be entrusted to a group not antagonistic to the military but able to influence them. Immediate steps to prevent anarchy must be taken upon the fall of the present Government, and I gather that the group will be in a position to designate leaders for this purpose, at least in all large communities.
He is interested in the provision of food and employment upon German collapse and believes propaganda regarding our plans would have great effect in bringing about a collapse.
The Catholic Centrists, he said, persuaded many youths to enter the SS in the endeavor to prevent many of its worse steps, and he believes these individuals still remain decent.
Contact has made arrangements to continue to keep in touch with us, and it is proposed to supply him, if no objection is seen, with general Allied propaganda material and such specific material on organization of possible occupation as may be available here.
It is requested that the Department supply, in any language, suitable material on government and restoration of occupied countries and the programs of the relief, food, and control agencies already set up.
The Department’s guidance on the policy to be adopted in further contacts with Dr. Keller would be appreciated.66
See, in this connection, my Secret despatch No. 1337, dated September 17, 1943.67 I do not know whether or not the group referred to in that despatch is the same group referred to above.
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- Presumably Msgr. Ludwig Kaas, former chairman of the German Centre Party.↩
- Telegram 555, February 28, 9 p.m., to Madrid, made the following reply: “The Department believes the contact with Keller should be broken and should not be resumed by any member of your staff.” (862.01/562)↩
- Not printed.↩