740.00119 Council/3–248: Telegram

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

top secret

807. Delsec 1595. Your 691, February 28.1 We understand the connotation of recent events in Czechoslovakia and elsewhere. We believe also that French representatives are conscious of the danger of the present trend. The stumbling block, however, lies in the deeply embedded French traditional fear of the German. Whenever we come to grips with practical aspects of the German problem that apprehension overshadows the discussion whether the subject matter be political, economic or financial. Security in its limited sense as related specifically to Germany, it seems to us, still governs French public opinion. It is apparent that the instructions of the French delegation at the present London talks are based on specific conditions attaching to Germany. The French at times find it difficult to look over their next door neighbor and at the larger problem. The question, therefore, is to absorb the French demand for security by some specific provision relieving this pressure which is exercised on every other political and economic question. If the French can be satisfied with some general [Page 111] guarantee of their security, they would be free of their present determination to inject security into all other items and demand comprehensive restrictions in industry, in political organization, in finance, etc., which throttle recovery.

With the foregoing in mind, it is our opinion (paragraph 3, Deptel 691, February 28) that it might be well to try out the suggestion for the establishment of a military security board as an adjunct of eventful tripartite military government administration. I am requesting the informal view of General Clay, the latter having returned to Berlin on Sunday. There is little doubt that if the French were assured of long-term United States defensive cooperation against German aggression, in other words, that we would fight on the Rhine in such an eventuality, the French would relax in their attitude regarding German industry and reconstruction. Commercial rivalry would remain a consideration, but one of a secondary nature.

At a lunch yesterday with Strang, Massigli, Hirschfeld and Clasen, I expressed, in accordance with Deptel 691, February 28, personal view that we might retain troops in Germany until Communist threat had come to an end. This was seized upon with alacrity and enthusiasm by all present. If, therefore, as an alternative to US defensive cooperation, we could give some assurances of this character, I believe French and Benelux will be at least partially satisfied.

We have discussed this question further with members of French delegation. They asked whether some formula could be devised, agreed and possibly made public to the effect that the US could agree to consult with France, UK, and possibly other allied governments as to steps which might be taken in the event of a threat of aggression by Germany, or in the event that the provisional German Government failed to conform to the restrictions placed upon it in the field of disarmament and demilitarization. In other words, they suggested a simple form of consultation on a tripartite basis, or even to include the Benelux countries, such as that contained in the Byrnes treaty.

Any one of the foregoing, or combination of the foregoing alternatives, of course, would contemplate a concurrent or prior satisfactory agreement with the French regarding the Ruhr, the political structure of western Germany and Trizonia.

Sent Dept 807; repeated Berlin personal for Clay 41.

  1. Ante, p. 101.