CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 121: File—Occupation Statute
Minutes of a Meeting Between the Military Governors of the Western Zones of Occupation of Germany and a Parliamentary Council Delegation, Headquarters Building, Frankfurt, December 17, 1948, 5:30 p. m.1
- Gen. Koenig, Chairman
- Gen. Clay
- Gen. Robertson
|France||United Kingdom||United States|
|Gen. Noiret||Maj. Gen. Brownjohn||Maj. Gen. Hays|
|Amb. Tarbé de St. Hardouin||Mr. Steel||Amb. Murphy|
|Mr. Chaput de Saintonge||Dr. Litchfield|
|M. Sabatier||Dr. Simons|
|M. Seydoux||Maj. Mather|
|M. Lefebvre de Laboulaye|
Parliamentary Council Members
- Dr. Adenauer
- Dr. Schmid
- Dr. Menzel
- Dr. Hopker–Aschoff
- Dr. Pfeiffer
- Dr. Suesterhenn
- Dr. Seebohm
- M. Varreux
- Mr. Forest
- Mr. McCuteheon
In opening the meeting, the Chairman, General Koenig, asked the Delegation from the Parliamentary Council whether they wished to make any statements before receiving answers of the Military Governors to questions submitted at the previous meeting on 16 December 1948.
Dr. Adenauer, the leader of the Delegation, made reference to a news agency (DENA) report from which the conclusion was drawn in the press that the Delegation requested the Military Governors to decide on several points which had caused differences within the Parliamentary Council. Dr. Adenauer termed these conclusions as incorrect and stated that, in his opinion, the Military Governors have not been asked to make any decisions, nor have they given any indication that they wished to do so. The impression should be avoided that the Parliamentary Council was acting according to direction received from the Military Governors. Dr. Adenauer proceeded to state that several provisions contained in the Aide-Mémoire of the Military Governors were capable of various interpretations. He requested the Military Governors to comment on these points.
General Koenig replied that, while taking note of Dr. Adenauer’s statement, it was the opinion of the Military Governors that the press interpretations were purely a German internal affair. It was also General Koenig’s impression that the press information was incorrect.
Professor Carlo Schmid, Social Democratic member of the Delegation, then stated that the substance of Dr. Adenauer’s statement, made at the preceding meeting (16 December), as well as the manner in which this statement was presented might have created the impression that the whole Delegation subscribed to it. Speaking in the name of Dr. Menzel, another SPD member of the Delegation, and himself, Professor Schmid said he thought that the meeting with the Military Governors would provide an opportunity of receiving information as to the content of the proposed Occupation Statute. In addition to that, Dr. Menzel and Professor Schmid were prepared to offer whatever additional information might be desired by the Military Governors [Page 648] regarding decisions taken by the main committee of the Parliamentary Council in Bonn.
The Chairman thanked Professor Schmid for his statement. General Koenig then reminded the meeting of Dr. Adenauer’s request, made at the preceding meeting on 16 December, for information regarding the Occupation Statute which was desired by the Parliamentary Council. Dr. Adenauer understood that the Military Governors were not in a position to divulge the contents of the Occupation Statute, since the document was still under discussion. Dr. Adenauer’s request was based on the promise contained in the letter addressed to the Ministers-President, dated 19 July 1948.2 Since the Statute has not yet been examined by the Governments and was subject to modifications after such a scrutiny, the Military Governors could not at this time comply with the request of the Delegation. To reply in detail to any question on the subject would be difficult without having the text of the Statute available. Should, however, questions on the Statute be formulated and submitted in the form of a list, the Military Governors would consider the questions and reply to them in the shortest possible time. The Military Governors hoped that they would be able to give the required information within the time period necessary for the completion of the work on the Basic Law (Provisional Constitution).
Referring to the questions asked at the preceding meeting by the German Delegation, General Koenig made the following reports:
a. Ratification of the Basic Law (Provisional Constitution)
Article 148 (e) of the Basic Law (Provisional Constitution) as passed at its first reading in the Constituent Assembly3 specified that the Basic Law (Provisional Constitution) should be adopted by popular referendum in the participating Laender. This solution was in accordance with the London Agreements, and made known to the Ministers-President in the form of Document I.4 Should the provisions of Article 148 (e) be modified, the Military Governors would be prepared to consider such modification.
b. Financial Powers
The Articles pertaining to the financial powers of the Federal government as they appeared in the draft of the Basic Law (Provisional Constitution) mentioned in a above were reviewed by the Military Governors with considerable concern. According to this draft, the Federal government retained exclusive legislation on customs, fiscal monopolies, and priority legislation on nearly all important taxes like [Page 649] the excise, turnover, income, property, and inheritance taxes. Minor taxes only were reserved for the exclusive competence of the Laender, as for example: taxes on motor vehicles, alcoholic beverages, etc. Thus, the Laender were left without adequate independent sources of revenue for the conduct of their affairs. This distribution of power of taxation as between Federal and Laender governments was in contradiction with the provisions of the Aide-Mémoire which specified that the Federal government could raise and dispose of monies only for specific functions for which it was responsible. While the Federal government could legislate on the general principles of assessment with regard to other taxes for which uniformity was essential, the collection and utilization of such taxes should be left to the individual Laender. The Parliamentary Council should be conscious of the fact that distribution of finance powers was one of the most critical aspects of sound Federal organization.
c. Upper Chamber
The problem of composition and powers of the Upper Chamber should be one for discussion by the Parliamentary Council. The Military Governors could state only that one of the chambers should represent the several Laender and possess such powers as were necessary to protect the interests of those Laender. The Council had made a good start in this direction and it was hoped that it would continue along the same lines.
d. Ratification of the Basic Law (Provisional Constitution)
The Basic Law (Provisional Constitution) could be ratified either by popular referendum in each Land, or by the Landtage in the several Laender. Article 148 (e) of the present draft of the Basic Law (Provisional Constitution) called for a popular referendum as method of ratifying the Basic Law (Provisional Constitution). This solution was in accordance with the London Agreement and was contained in Document No. I, handed to the Ministers-President on 1 July 1948. The Military Governors would be available to consider a modification on the present plans on this subject.
General Koenig then stated that there were other questions that were worthy to be commented upon. He mentioned as examples the question of police and the election of officials. In his opinion, certain provisions of the Basic Law (Provisional Constitution) were in formal contradiction of the Aide-Mémoire transmitted to the Constitutional Assembly through the Liaison Officers. The latter, whose function it was to convey instructions of the Military Governors were at the disposal of the Constituent Assembly. General Koenig concluded by stating that the Military Governors learned with great satisfaction of the desire of the Assembly to complete its work as rapidly as possible.[Page 650]
The Delegation was then allowed by the Chairman a short recess in order to formulate any further questions.
After a short consultation among themselves, the Delegation stated, through its speaker, that no questions were to be asked and also expressed its thanks to the Military Governors for the information received.
At General Koenig’s suggestion, a joint communiqué of the following contents was drafted to be released at 1000 on 18 December 1948:
“In the course of conversations which took place on the 16th and 17th of December in Frankfurt between the three Military Governors and a Delegation from the Parliamentary Council, and which gave occasion for a valuable exchange of views, the Military Governors have indicated that the draft Occupation Statute has not yet been submitted to their Governments for examination, and for that reason, it was difficult at this time to provide information on this subject. It was, however, the intention of the Military Governors to furnish as soon as possible the text of the Statute to the Parliamentary Council. Besides the Military Governors had given the Delegation of the Parliamentary Council information which may assist in interpretation of certain points which were previously communicated through the Liaison Officers.”
The meeting recessed at 1900 hours.
- A note on the source text indicates that these minutes were prepared by the United States Delegation Secretariat.↩
- See footnote 3 to the Minutes of the Meeting of December 16, supra.↩
- The Main Committee of the Parliamentary Council concluded its first reading of the Draft Basic Law on December 10; for the text of the Draft Basic Law as passed in the third reading on February 10, 1949, see Documents on the Creation of the German Federal Constitution, p. 88.↩
- Regarding the document under reference here, see the editorial note, p. 380.↩