740.00119 Council/10–2249

Summary Record of a Meeting of United States Ambassadors at Paris 1

[Extracts]
top secret

Friday—October 21, 1949

afternoon session

The meeting reconvened at 2:55 p. m. with Mr. Perkins in the Chair.

. . . . . . . .

Mr. Perkins then turned to Mr. McCloy.

Mr. McCloy said that in view of the importance of Germany in the problem of European integration, he thought it would be well to consider item three of the agenda at this point, but that first it might be well to raise the question as to whether too much emphasis had not been given to the increase of Russian power in the world and too little thought to the enormously important factor that is the collapse of the British Empire. This collapse may be more important than the problem of Russia. For on the continent the lines are now drawn: they are no longer on the Elbe, they are on the frontier between the Eastern and Western Zones of Germany. We in Germany must now expect a powerful offensive from the East. The creation of West Germany is a great event but is one aspect of the “struggle for the soul of Faust.” This offensive may be more affirmative and threatening than the institution [Page 288] of the blockade. For the propaganda advantages of East Germany are great. First there is Berlin, the old “Haupstadt” which strikes an emotional chord in Germans, no matter how much they may hate the Russians. Then there is the vision of the enormous hinterland of unknown markets and trade outlets to the East. There is the old dream of unity which is very deep in the German soul. There is the absence of an occupation statute and of a High Commission in charge of Foreign Affairs. The emphasis by the Russians on these themes leads to the supposition that they may be planning to make East Germany the major satellite. There are further disadvantages in the building up of a strong West Germany. The specter of political instability worries the Germans there, and the control of the Government by the High Commission is a factor capable of exploitation. Western Germany is plagued by economic ills, unemployment, the influx of refugees, a low level of economic activity and the loss of its natural granary by an area far from self-sufficient before the war. The return of former Nazis to the community is a further problem. The resistance people are still the leaders in political life but the reintegration of the Nazis into the community has just begun and they are still an unknown factor. Youth has no ties of any kind and has not yet taken a position. The conservatives are still quiet and are yet to be heard from. A disturbing trend is the growth of a spirit of pessimism, a third force feeling contrary both to East and West based on a vague idea of neutrality and marked by a strong cynicism concerning the West and its divided Councils. The idea of partnership in a European federations has a strong basic pull throughout West Germany but it is latent and requires development. Such integration seems most remote but the urge towards it exists and if properly developed may overcome and absorb the cynical third force feeling whose growth has been referred to.

Among the major problems we face in Germany is that of Berlin. The morale of the Western Sectors has fallen abruptly since the creation of the Bonn Government and the end of the airlift. The latter was a terrific morale factor and since its disappearance the real truth of the position of Berlin is becoming increasingly clear to its inhabitants. In this period this is intensified by the double currency system and the fact that the Eastern Sector appears more prosperous than the Western Sectors. This raises the question of the 12th Land. Establishment of Berlin as the 12th Land will not solve Berlin’s problems any more than the airlift did. There is the potential danger of Russian retaliation which looms large in the minds of certain Berliners. Furthermore, the French are firmly opposed. Adenauer himself is opposed on practical political grounds because of the additional votes that would go to the Socialist Democratic Party and also because he does not believe [Page 289] in pushing the French too far and too fast on this problem. Under the circumstances can we be more royalist than the King? But in the meantime there are things that can and must be done to bolster Berlin morally and financially. They will be expensive. A device for using ECA funds must be found. Adenauer is about to announce a plan by which the Bonn Government will assume a part of the city’s deficit and certain ministries will have branches in Berlin. These things are merely palliatives. The best hope for encouraging a vigorous position on the part of the West German Government is to nurture the concept of German partnership in a Western European federation. Mr. McCloy then touched on some of the problems, internal “and international, involved in the “horrible problem of dismantling,” in which he was joined by others of those present, and a discussion ensued which resulted in no definite conclusions or recommendations.

Mr. McCloy then raised the question of a united Germany versus a truncated Germany. France had always firmly opposed a united Germany and it looked as if Russian action in this matter would for the foreseeable future be decisive. A truncated Germany, however, could hardly be considered, even by the French, a menace to Western Europe whether or not the United Kingdom was included in that Western Europe. Adenauer was strongly and favorably disposed for the federation of Germany into Western Europe. He would insist, however, on equal partnership in the economic field and would not permit himself to be squeezed in measures such as equalization of coal prices if another member of the federation such as the UK was to avoid applying those measures. Adenauer furthermore was favorable to a closer relationship with France but was bitter, now against the UK partly because he suspected that British attitudes towards Germany were inspired by the competitive spirit and partly because of Labor Party support of his political rivals, the Social Democrats. He is on good terms, however, with Robertson and his feeling about the British could be patched up. However, large numbers of British Laborites come to Germany and press toward nationalization to which the French are opposed and to which “we raise our eyebrows but don’t really do anything about.” As for US policy, it must be directed towards pressing for the acceptance of Germany into the European Councils. We must put pressure on the French to let the Germans come in on a dignified basis. Soon they will be in the OEEC, next they should be induced to come into the Ruhr authority and they should have a voice in the solution of dismantling. They should participate in informal economic meetings and should gradually be drawn into inter-European conferences of a non-military nature. There must be restored to the Germans a sense of self-respect, or respectability, if their confidence in themselves [Page 290] is to return and they are to tackle effectively the heavy domestic problems of Western Germany.

Mr. McCloy then touched on the rise of nationalism in Germany which he said had been much exaggerated in the press and which neither worried nor impressed him. The return of the Nazi to the community is taking place in a normal way. These men should be watched for their present rather than for their past attitudes and it is better not to have them underground. The Germans are now thinking more democratically than ever before and it is more and more important to reinforce their faith in democracy. The threat from the East, the emotional responses to Willie Pieck’s recent goose-stepping parade in Berlin are very real and we must be prepared to compete with this. On the other hand, German nationalism should not and need not be allowed to get out of hand. We have the power and we should have the determination to crack down immediately on the Germans if they get out of line. An important factor in this is the functioning of the High Commission which must act with harmony, resolution and calm. One drawback has been the unwillingness of the French to give François-Poncet more authority. It is hoped that this can be worked out. There are many dangers and pitfalls and obstacles to overcome. It can, however, be done if the Western Powers play the game boldly and in harmony with each other, for it is a game that can be lost, and conventional attitudes and niggardliness at this time can cause us to lose it.

. . . . . . .

Mr. Perkins then turned to Admiral Kirk.

Admiral Kirk said that the Soviet insistence on German unity largely stemmed from the, desire of the Soviet Union to participate in some way in control over the Ruhr. Their present lack of insistence on this aspect is largely due to the pressure of other problems and particularly because of recent Soviet successes in the Far East and the necessity for organizing the new Eastern German state. We may expect them, however, to return to the charge with respect to our policy in Western Germany. Because of the imminent threat from the East, we must be affirmative and strong and do what has to be done without delay.

  1. The record was prepared by Woodruff Wallner, First Secretary at the Embassy in Paris. Also attending the meeting were Bohlen, Bonesteel, Bruce, Douglas, Dunn, Harriman, Joyce, Kirk, MacArthur, McCloy, and Perkins. Further documentation on the Ambassadors’ meeting is presented in volume iv .