The Political Adviser to the
Representative on the European Advisory Commission
) to the Assistant
Secretaries of State (
Memorandum for Mr. Dunn and Mr. Clayton
Subject: Creation of a Rhineland–Ruhr State.
A. The Proposal.
While there are several proposals under consideration for separating the Rhineland–Ruhr area from the remainder of Germany, most of [Page 994] the proposals provide for this area to be set up as a permanently separate unit, economically and politically independent of the rest of Germany. One of the proposals2 provides that it shall be controlled by France, Belgium and the Netherlands under the supervision of the Security Council. Obviously, a merely temporary separation would, by the very assumption that the area would at some foreseeable time be returned to Germany, have political and psychological effects different from those of a separation designed to be lasting. Similarly, the economic effects of separation would be very different if this area were to be left in customs union with the rest of Germany.
B. Advantages of Separation.
- The advantage of separation most often cited would be that even when political self-rule was returned to the Germans in the rest of Germany the basic resources of the Rhineland–Ruhr area would not return to the control of the German state or the German economy, thus eliminating Germany’s ability to use these resources to rearm. This argument assumes that when direct Allied occupation of Germany comes to an end, the four Powers might be unable or unwilling to prevent the rest of Germany from rearming and that the separation of the Rhineland–Ruhr is therefore a necessary safeguard against the revival of Germany as a military power.
- A second advantage is that the separation of this area would make the rest of Germany much weaker as a power factor and hence much less attractive to any outside power which might be tempted to court it as an ally, and that Germany would thus be more likely to remain a political vacuum. If political forces could be shaped or confined by drawing lines on a map, this argument would carry decisive weight. There are other political factors, such as numbers, technical and organizing skills and political drives of a people, which can be deflected but not destroyed by lines drawn on a map.
- It is also argued that existence in partite states could be made so attractive to Germans over the long run that it would be accepted by them and would thus form a lasting contribution to a more peaceful Europe. In the history of Europe in the last 200 years nothing suggests that the bulk of Germans either in the Rhineland–Ruhr or in the rest of Germany will eventually accept such a solution sincerely and work to maintain it. Failing such acceptance, this solution, to endure, would require permanent unity of will among the four great powers. An imposed partition of Germany is, over any considerable period, more likely to divide the four major powers than it is to contribute to their continued unity of purpose and action.
1. Would the economic potential of Germany be reduced by drawing a boundary line around the Rhineland–Ruhr? As a by-product of separation, the exploitation of the Rhineland–Ruhr would probably have to be maintained on a fairly high level in order, through developing its capacity to export in highly competitive markets, to support its present population. Numerous industries now carried on in the rest of Germany would, as a normal consequence of separation, be developed in the Rhineland–Ruhr area, and thus, if at some later date the boundary between the Rhineland–Ruhr and the rest of Germany were removed, Germany’s total economic potential might well be no smaller than it had been before partition.
2. The separation of the Rhineland–Ruhr would contribute to the stability of Europe if it were accepted sincerely by the bulk of Germans in both parts of Germany and if the four major powers were equally determined to maintain partition. However, the issue of partition could easily become the focus for all the discontents among Germans in both areas. The grievance of partition would unify all Germans in a way difficult to combat and dangerous to the longer-range aims of the Allies. Any great power which wished to disturb the peace of Europe would have at hand an issue which would win the support of the entire German people and would trouble the conscience and divide the political will of the Allied nations. The inability of the great powers to unite between 1918 and 1938 in maintaining the independence of Austria, which had never been politically a part of the modern German state, gives some inkling of the political risk involved in basing a long-range policy on the assumption that all major powers will share an equal interest in maintaining the partition of Germany.
3. While control of the Rhineland–Ruhr by France, Belgium and Holland would give a western-European bloc the power to cut off the flow of coal, iron and steel from the Rhineland–Ruhr to the rest of Germany, other potential power-factors would not be under their control. It is doubtful that they could eradicate the will of the Germans to reunite. This factor, even though Germany by itself were incapable of an active political role, would have its influence on all calculations and decisions as long as the separation lasted, since the German people, even disarmed, could be counted on to throw the weight of their manpower and economic potential to the side of any power which seemed likely to support their efforts at reunion.
4. Any decision as to what powers will dominate a separate Rhineland–Ruhr state or protectorate will give rise to both immediate and continuing rivalries. Neither Great Britain nor Russia can afford [Page 996] to have an area of sixteen million Germans, possessing a great industrial potential, drawn into a combination which would be outside its own control. If the four major powers agree to separate the Rhineland–Ruhr, that will be on a basis of equal participation in its control. As long as the four powers are willing to maintain their joint control over all of Germany, it is hard to see what advantages would be gained by setting up a separate four-power regime for the Rhineland–Ruhr apart from the four-power control over Germany as a whole, and it is easy to foresee the great administrative, economic and political complications to which it would give rise.
5. If the Rhineland–Ruhr is placed under the control of France, Belgium and Holland, these three countries will have to combine to form a cohesive Western European bloc, in order to control effectively a West German state of sixteen millions. The formation of such a bloc would be regarded with suspicion by Russia and has not previously been encouraged by the United States, which has so far opposed the division of Europe into water-tight regional power-blocs. Weak in itself, a West European bloc would need generous and sustained support by both Britain and the United States.
6. For Britain and the United States to underwrite permanently a spearhead bloc in Western Europe implies a major decision on their part. It assumes that they cannot work out satisfactory joint solutions with Russia and that they must now form a strong and cohesive bloc of their own. If that assumption is the only one on which Britain and the United States can safely act, they should not limit their power-bloc to Western Europe but should strive to make the area of their leadership as broad, inclusive and cohesive as possible. They cannot feel adequately reinforced by having on their side a disparate bloc consisting of France, Belgium, Holland and a reluctant Rhineland.
7. A principal argument for creating a separate Rhineland–Ruhr state is that this will furnish a reliable safeguard against Germany’s rearming after American and British forces have withdrawn from the Continent. However, a separate Rhineland–Ruhr state could be maintained only by military forces, available in substantial numbers on the ground and always available in unstinted numbers on immediate call at a distance. It is conceivable that the forces needed to maintain a separate Rhineland against the will of the German people and the potential opposition of other major powers would be as great or greater than those needed to garrison all of Germany after Germany has been disarmed and reorganized internally.
Even if American and British forces are withdrawn from Germany at an early date, Germany could still be garrisoned indefinitely by contingents furnished by the Continental European allies. These [Page 997] allies, which have obligatory military service and are in close proximity to Germany, could easily provide, on a rotating basis, a garrison of 200,000.
The creation of a separate Rhineland state would not obviate the necessity for maintaining a long-term system of inspection as a safeguard against German efforts to rearm. Through licensing industrial establishments, through direct and frequent inspection by a corps of Allied personnel, through licensing and regulating the use of critical alloys, through eliminating the production of aircraft and synthetic oil and rubber, and through preventing all forms of military training and warlike indoctrination, the victorious powers can, if they so will, prevent Germany from restoring her military strength or potential. Continuity in enforcing such controls under the authority of the Security Council will be attained more easily than continuity of joint and unremitting action to enforce the separation of the Rhineland–Ruhr from the rest of Germany.
8. It should be the aim of the victorious powers to keep Germany weak and disunited politically. An imposed partition will lead nearly all Germans to subordinate their natural internal differences to the one burning desire, namely, to overcome a division of their country and people which runs counter to their deep national feeling, and to their economic interests. Finally, it will be easier to maintain unity of policy between the four major powers if they agree to keep Germany politically weak and economically open to the influence of all the major powers instead of breaking Germany up into exclusive spheres of influence.