740.00119 Council/3–148: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Douglas ) to the Secretary of State


803. Delsec 1594. Sixth meeting German problems March 1 continued discussion Item F political and economic organization.

Douglas gave further details US views stating central government would be based on constitution to be drafted by democratically elected Constituent Assembly and subject to approval by occupying powers and direct ratification by electorate of each Land (not by electorate as whole). Only general restrictions would be placed on framers of constitution. Douglas stressed method selection delegates Constituent Assembly should be one best suited to produce really federal state. He reiterated that central government would be assigned specific powers; [Page 108] all other powers reserved to states. States should be delegated maximum amount of administrative responsibility but not to extent of withholding from central government powers necessary to enforce own decrees in accordance with powers delegated to it by constitution. Central government must have adequate authority to deal successfully with political and economic problems of world today and to enable Western Germany play appropriate role in ERP.

Douglas suggested federal nature of system could be carried out by having two legislative houses: one representing governments or legislatures of respective states; another with representatives elected by electorate of each state.

Constitution should provide for complete independence of judiciary, both state and federal.

Constitution should also protect civil rights, personal liberties, possibly under a bill of rights.

Boundaries of Laender should be readjusted if necessary to achieve administrative efficiency under principle that no single Land be strong enough to dominate whole.

Laender should be free of central government domination in financial field. Central government should have authority to raise revenue necessary for conduct of responsibilities reposed in it under constitution but Laender should have exclusive control of vital sources of revenue.

Central control of police and security forces should be avoided and Laender should have full control over cultural, educational and religious matters.

Massigli agreed central authority should only have powers delegated to it. System favored by French was outlined in February 1947 memo1 which contemplated head of government elected by House representing Laender and working with Ministers appointed by him and responsible representative house. While memo called for unicameral system, French willing consider bicameral system if representatives one house chosen by Land Governments (executive) and second house by Laender Assemblies (legislative). (In reply to question Massigli later indicated representatives of second house could represent all parties of each Landtag, as in Bizone Economic Council, not majority party only.) Massigli believed US proposal for elections to second house was equivalent to election by people as whole, would be another Beisehstag, would dominate Laender Governments, give rise to another Hitler. (Douglas pointed out system in USA was similar to his proposal for Germany and provided ample safeguard for federal principle: Congressmen most skillful in upholding interests of states [Page 109] and Senate additional safeguard. Massigli argued German tradition was different, Reichstag deputies considered themselves representatives of Germany not states. Hence must find system to make deputy represent only his state. Douglas indicated US experience with Bizone Economic Council did not show that German representatives regarded themselves as primarily representatives of Germany or of party.)

Massigli stated system he proposed should be supplemented by Federal Supreme Court dealing with judiciary on federal level. He considered finance question very important. States must have tax power. Federal government could control customs but for rest would depend on allotments from states. To meet extraordinary expenses like occupation costs, federal government could impose demands on state but would not have right to collect taxes. (Douglas later cited experience US history to show that mere authority to assess taxes is inadequate.)

Massigli agreed with Douglas regarding police, justice and education; he added there should be no federal bureaucratic apparatus except for Foreign Affairs, Customs, perhaps railroads; in general civil service of states would assign personnel to federal agencies.

Regarding constitution he referred to US, British and French agreed position at Moscow CFM, including idea of German Advisory Council,2 as still useful. (Douglas reminded Massigli that Moscow position was based on agencies to be set up prior to establishing provisional or other central government.)

Strang felt that basic principles for deciding character German Government under present situation called for system politically sound enough to withstand Communism so that Western Germany could take its place with other Democracies and system economically sound enough to enable Western Germany play part in Western Europe and to furnish security safeguards required by present situation. In general Strang indicated British views were very near these outlined by Douglas.

In discussing matter of ratification constitution Massigli agreed constitution should be accepted by people of Laender. Douglas outlined various possible procedures for Laender ratification. Strang saw possibility difficulties if constitution made effective after approval by majority of Laender unless there was additional safeguard that majority of all people must also approve. (Douglas had suggested this as one possible method.)

De Gruben then offered Benelux comments. In order to meet realities of present situation he agreed it was necessary to secure agreement of German people and of allied states. He therefore agreed must reserve to central authority all necessary power to assure economic [Page 110] unity and foreign representation. He favored French proposal regarding legislative and executive organization. In his opinion federal law becomes law of state and is enacted by executive of state. He felt this would take care of enforcement. Regarding frontiers of states he pointed out necessity drawing them so as not to arouse protestation in future.

Van Verduynen suggested appointing group to analyze various views expressed.

Strang suggested there seemed to be agreement on several broad points; that (1) Western Germany should be welded into economy Western Europe and (2) provisional government must exercise adequate power to fulfill that objective. He suggested examination various views put forward to determine how they fulfilled above needs and consideration what should be done in view of situation in Europe to set up political institutions in Germany now.

It was agreed to consider Strang’s proposal at next meeting.

Sent Department 803, repeated Berlin 40, Paris 79, Moscow 38, The Hague 20, Brussels 29; pass to Luxembourg as 5, Oslo 12, Copenhagen 17, Stockholm 22, Rome 38.

  1. Regarding the memorandum under reference, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. ii, pp. 154 and 156.
  2. See document CFM (47) (M) 121, April 11, 1947, ibid., p. 436.