862.00/3–2748: Telegram

The Deputy Director of the Office of European Affairs ( Reber ) to the Director of the Office of European Affairs ( Hickerson )1

top secret

1628. When I saw Paris at Quai d’Orsay this morning in connection with Austrian treaty, he agreed that we should renew efforts to review other aspects of treaty and failing agreement on these clauses, seek early suspension of present negotiations.

It became immediately clear however, that he was not nearly as interested in discussing Austria as in taking this opportunity to express the deepest concern over the memorandum recently handed the other members of the Berlin working party by Litchfield on the subject of the organization of a future German government.2 This memorandum calls for the creation of a provisional German government by September 15, an announcement to this effect by May 18 and a constituent assembly in October of this year.

Whereas the French are quite prepared to agree to a constituent assembly this year, they are apparently greatly worried by the rapidity at which we appear to be anxious to set up a provisional government.

They believe it would promptly be followed by the creation in Berlin [Page 152] of a strong centralized German authority for the Eastern Zones which would exercise attraction for Western Germany, inevitably resulting in an agreement among Germans on lines dictated in the first instance by the Soviets. Paris explained that our proposal had come as a great surprise since the French had not understood or intended to utilize the working parties in Berlin to deal with questions of this magnitude which, in their opinion, would be handled by the Ambassadors in London upon the resumption of the tripartite discussions. In this connection, he urged they be reconvened as soon as possible.

According to Paris, the French are as desirous as we are of bringing about the integration of Germany with Western Europe and are prepared to strengthen the local authority of the German Länder arid the economic council, which could lead to the establishment of a provisional government, probably early next year. As a preliminary, however, they consider the constituent assembly an important first step, since they believe any provisional government set up now would set the pattern for the future government, and that it must of necessity, in present circumstances, be granted greater centralization of powers than they would like to see for the future.

Above all, however, they argued that the question of timing was important, and that opinion in France, which is evolving should not be forced at too rapid a pace.

Paris said he realized our proposal was probably based upon necessities of propaganda among the Germans, but asked whether the same results could not be achieved by an announcement of elections for a constituent assembly in October, leaving the Allied governments more time to consider the implications of the creation of a German government now. Koenig will be instructed to set forth similar views to Clay and Robertson on March 30.

I explained that I could not, of course, comment on these observations, but as Paris had so requested, I would transmit them to you.

[ Reber ]
  1. This telegram was transmitted via the facilities of the Embassy in Paris. Reber was serving as the United States Deputy for Austria in the meetings of the Deputies of the Council of Foreign Ministers regarding an Austrian peace treaty. For documentation on the meetings of the Deputies for Austria see pp. 1466 ff.
  2. The reference here is to an informal American proposal regarding the future political organization for Germany, not printed, presented to a Berlin Military Governors’ Conference working group on March 22 by Edward Litchfield, the American representative thereon.