The Secretary of State to the President
Memorandum for the President
Subject: Proposals Regarding French Participation in Certain Tripartite Plans for the Occupation of Germany.
The Embassy at London reports that the French representative on the European Advisory Commission has circulated a memorandum giving the views of his Government concerning the instrument of surrender for Germany, the protocol and amendment on the zones of occupation in Germany, and the agreement on control machinery.1 The memorandum expresses approval of these agreements but specifically advances the following five proposals:
- French participation in the Supreme authority of Germany.
- French participation in signing the instrument of surrender.
- Allocation to the French Army of a zone of occupation in Germany and a part of greater Berlin.
- Substitution of quadripartite for tripartite agencies in the agreement on control machinery.
- Preparation of a French text of the instrument of surrender to be equally authentic with the Russian and English texts.
Subject to the approval of the military authorities, it is recommended that this Government approve the French requests. The following reasons suggest this course.
It is in the interests of the United States to assist France to regain her former position in world affairs in order that she may increase her contribution in the war effort and play an appropriate part in [Page 294]the maintenance of peace. The Dumbarton Oaks proposal that France should in due course become one of the five permanent members of the Security Council was a natural corollary of this policy. Furthermore, France’s vital interest in the solution of the German problem and the realization of the part she will inevitably play in maintaining the future peace of Europe were acknowledged in the statement made on November 11, 1944 by the Acting Secretary of State when France was invited to become a full member of the European Advisory Commission.2 In the circumstances it was obviously only a question of time when France would put forward the requests now under consideration.
There is every likelihood that the British and Soviet Governments will support the French. Consequently, disapproval by this Government would probably result in our being placed in the position of being the only Government to stand in the way of French aspirations. It would seem the part of wisdom to accept the proposals now, when credit can be obtained for that action, rather than to wait until it is made to appear that the concessions are won from us grudgingly.
Acceptance of full French participation will probably prove popular with the other small countries of Europe which profess to fear the results of a peace imposed by non-European powers.
Acceptance of the proposals now may help to create a cooperative spirit among the French who may as a consequence be less inclined to raise objections to many of the arrangements which have already been agreed to.
This Government may well wish, after the early period of occupation, to withdraw a considerable proportion of its troops from Germany. It would be logical to assume that they would be replaced by French forces and this replacement is likely to be facilitated if the French are fully associated with plans for the occupation from the outset.
It can be justifiably argued that the French requests are out of all proportion to France’s power today and that the acceptance of a fourth country on an equal basis may only serve to make more complicated an already complex problem. It is not believed, however, that these considerations can outweigh the arguments in favor of the move. In the long run this Government will undoubtedly gain more by making concessions to French prestige and by treating France on the basis of her potential power and influence, than we will by treating her on the basis of her actual strength at this time.