740.00119 (Potsdam)/5–2446

No. 328
Briefing Book Paper 1
top secret


Subject: Treaty for Demilitarization of Germany with Commitment to Use United States Forces

The conclusion of such a treaty has certain specific advantages at this time. Action taken in the near future by the United States, Great Britain, France and the U. S. S. R. to assure the permanent demilitarization of Germany as a safeguard against any further German aggression would strengthen the relationship between the Allies and eliminate or minimize other conflicts which might arise between them. It would greatly reduce Soviet fears that Germany will one day be permitted to regain its strength and be used by the Western Powers in an anti-Soviet combination. If the demilitarization of Germany is secured by such a commitment no combination of European powers could effectively threaten the Soviet Union and the latter could afford to adopt a more liberal policy, particularly in Eastern Europe, thus making it possible to break the vicious circle in which Soviet [the Soviet Union?] moves to insure its own security and which tends to bring about the very combination of powers against it that it is seeking to avoid. It would also counteract the threat of both British and Soviet Governments to establish spheres of influence on the continent of Europe with their potential dangers by eliminating justification for the maintenance of such spheres of influence.

Furthermore, such a treaty would strengthen the influence of the United States in European affairs as it would go far to remove the fear that within a very few years the United States might again turn its back on Europe and once more resort to a policy of isolation.

The chief arguments against such a treaty seem to be the following:

The conclusion of the treaty might be interpreted as showing lack of faith in the efficacy of the United Nations organization. It would undoubtedly detract from the charter of the United Nations2 if such a treaty were submitted to the Senate at about the same time as the charter. Chapter XII of the Security Charter envisages, however, that the governments may take action in relation to enemy states as a result of the present war. Therefore such a treaty would in fact be part of the framework of the security organization although in practice it would be restricted by the four powers maintaining control of Germany under the terms of the surrender. As to timing, however, such a treaty could not in the ordinary course of events be [Page 451] concluded and ready for signature until after approval by the United States of the charter. Presumably Congress will have reached its conclusions with regard to the charter at about the same time that this subject might be discussed in a preliminary fashion at the Big Three meeting.
There is great risk in proposing a treaty of this kind unless it is virtually certain that the Senate would accept it. A Senate debate on the subject, which might rally isolationist and anti-Soviet forces would probably be bitter and would not strengthen our international position at this critical time. There is, however, likely to be a considerable measure of political support in this country for such a treaty of demilitarization. On January 10, 1945 Senator Vandenberg in substance advocated the proposal3 and in all probability he would support it at the present time if prior consultations were held with him. On the other hand, it would appear premature to submit any formal project to the Senate until the views of the British Prime Minister and Marshal Stalin have at least been obtained in a preliminary fashion. It is not believed that we have yet reached the point of considering any draft but it does appear that the idea is at least worthy of exploration in the forthcoming meeting.
The third argument against the early conclusion of such a treaty relates to the question of timing. It may be argued that Germany is already effectively being demilitarized and will remain so as long as it is occupied by Allied troops, and that if the treaty is to be fully effective, it should contain provisions or be related to other arrangements difficult to determine at the present time. The advocates of delaying consideration of the treaty may further state that it would only be appropriate to conclude the treaty at the time when Allied troops are withdrawn from Germany or Allied Control machinery ceases to function. At that time there would presumably be the further advantage of having a similar treaty with respect to Japan. On the other hand, the United States fully expects to participate in the demilitarization of Germany in any event and to keep Germany demilitarized for an indefinite period in the future. If there is advantage to the United States in agreeing to do this in a formal treaty which would remove any Soviet fears that the Western countries might at some time wish to strengthen Germany against the Soviet Union, the treaty could secure this advantage in return for something we expect to do anyway. Further, if discussions of the treaty are delayed until the conclusion of Allied occupation of Germany, it seems likely that popular interest will have diminished and we shall be faced with greater difficulties in securing Congressional approval. During or immediately after a war people are more prone to understand the necessity for enforcing the peace against the very enemy whom they have been fighting. Nor should it await the conclusion of a similar treaty with Japan since in the discussions it could be made clear that if we are expecting to sign a treaty to demilitarize Germany we would expect a similar treaty to be concluded in regard to Japan at the appropriate time. China might be added as a signatory not only because it adhered to the [Page 452] Moscow Declaration4 but it also would be a useful preliminary to the conclusion of a similar treaty in regard to Japan to which China by force of circumstances would of course be a signatory.

Recommendation: It is recommended that the President might wish to take an appropriate occasion informally to sound out Churchill and Stalin in this respect in order to determine whether in fact conclusion of such a treaty would achieve the advantages foreseen for it. It would seem undesirable to go further at this time than to express an interest in the proposal and to say that the President would be willing to consider it and to discuss it further through diplomatic channels if Churchill and Stalin think it is a good idea. If this procedure is agreed by the heads of government then preliminary conversations with the leading Senators in this country might be held. Although it is agreed that it would be unwise at this time to progress beyond the preliminary stage which would only commit this Government to further exploration through diplomatic channels, it might be borne in mind that this exploration could be along the lines of proposing that the four (five) governments undertake in treaty form what would amount to an advance commitment in the Security Council to utilize all their forces and resouices to suppress any further German aggression against any other power. Such commitment, if in treaty form, would of course require ratification by the Senate but could also be approved by joint resolution of both houses. This differs slightly from Senator Vandenberg’s proposal but harmonizes more closely with the concept developed at San Francisco.

  1. Annex 14 to the attachment to document No. 177.
  2. Treaty Series No. 993; 59 Stat. (2) 1031.
  3. For text of Vandenberg’s speech, see Congressional Record, vol. 91, pt. 1, pp. 164–167.
  4. i. e., the Declaration on General Security of October 30, 1943. Text in Department of State Bulletin, vol. ix, p. 308.