740.00119 Control (Germany)/2–2446: Telegram

The United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy) to the Secretary of State


602. There is a growing conviction here that the time is overdue when a firmer and more aggressive stand should be taken on one of the basic elements of the Potsdam decision, namely, the establishment of German central administrative agencies.

Recent developments which have been reported to the Department leave little room for doubt regarding the current trend in Germany. For example, the speech of Walter Ulbricht, leader of the German Communist Party (12 years residence in Moscow and close affiliation with the Soviet military government in Germany—Mrs. Ulbricht serves as a collaborator of Marshal Zhukov36) seems to be the opening gun in a campaign to rally German public opinion behind the German Communist movement in favor of a united Germany. Ulbricht naturally accepts the amputation of German territory east of the Oder and Neisse but insists that the rest of the Reich remain intact; his slogan is “The Ruhr is and must remain German; Germany cannot live without the Ruhr; we stand for a united Reich.” This in time will carry a powerful appeal for the support of the bulk of developing German opinion. It seems equally clear that such a campaign will receive direct Soviet support.

In contrast the French remain intransigent in their bargaining position against central agencies and for their western settlement proposing security measures which seem to me an outmoded conception which [Page 506] has little relation to the current situation. Members of the French delegation here have admitted privately that present French policy is based not simply on fear of future German aggression but equally, if not more, on fear that the United States will lose interest, eventually withdraw from Germany, and that some fine morning they will wake up and find themselves face to face with the Russians on the Rhine. Yet by their very intransigence regarding the constructive feature of the Potsdam decision on central German administrative agencies the French during the past 8 months, it would seem, have played directly into the hands of the Soviet Union which has taken full advantage of French obstructionism to consolidate the Soviet position in eastern Germany.

When Grumbach, Chairman of the French [Foreign] Affairs Committee of the Assembly, visited Berlin this week, I mentioned to him the recent speech of Maurice Thorez in which the latter declared for the internationalization of the Ruhr and opposed the establishment of German central agencies. Whether Thorez was simply dangling on the end of the Moscow party line or whether he was speaking first of all as a patriotic Frenchman is not known, although it does seem that there might be room for reasonable suspicion that he is following the party line. If this is true then it becomes obvious that present French obstructionism is welcomed by the USSR which may intend to exploit to its own advantage western resistance to a United Germany and emerge later as the champion of a united Reich whose only salvation lies in close affiliation with the Soviet Union.

The operation of German central agencies would have militated against zonal boundaries and served to break down exclusive Soviet control of one of the largest and most important German areas. Within it the Soviet military government has thrown its vigorous support to the German Communist Party. But the UK and US in their zones throughout the interval have applied the Potsdam principles with impartial reference to groups or parties. They have not indicated specifically what solution they stood for in the west except by inference. This inference takes two forms: (1) Potsdam contemplates the 1937 Reich frontier in the west, or (2) the US and UK must sympathize with the French view because if they didn’t they possess ample means to persuade France to agree to Potsdam. It is difficult for either the Russians or the Germans to believe that France is acting independently without the tacit or active approval of the UK and/or the US.

The USSR has thus laid a foundation on which to build a favored position for itself vis-à-vis the German population, to gain eventual [Page 507] German confidence, and to work for a close affiliation between a new German Reich and the USSR.

If we entertain a firm conviction on this issue, which carries with it for the future grave implications, and we are unable by discussion to persuade the French Govt of the validity of our view, the question is asked whether it might not be desirable temporarily to withhold cooperation in other fields from the French until a more favorable attitude might develop.

  1. Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov, Military Governor, Soviet Military Administration in Germany, July 1945–March 1946; Soviet member, Allied Control Council for Germany.