740.00119 Control (Germany)/11–1349

Memorandum of Conversation Prepared in the Office of the United States High Commissioner for Germany 1


At the luncheon which the Chancellor gave in honor of Mr. Acheson the following gentlemen were present:

American Side

  • Mr. Acheson
  • Mr. Riddleberger
  • Mr. McCloy
  • Mr. Nicholson
  • General Hays
  • Mr. Battle
  • Mr. Perkins
  • Captain Ates
  • Colonel Byroade
  • Mr. Whitman

[Page 309]

German Side

  • Dr. Adenauer, Chancellor
  • Mr. Bluecher, Vice Chancellor
  • Mr. Koehler, President of the Bundestag (Parliament)
  • Dr. Erhardt, Minister of Economics
  • Mr. Schaeffer, Minister of Finance
  • Mr. Weitz, Finance Minister of Land North Rhine–Westphalia
  • Mr. Pferdmenges, Banker from Cologne
  • Dr. Blankenhorn, Assistant to the Chancellor
  • Mr. von Herwarth, Assistant to the President of the Republic and Chef de Protocol

During luncheon the Secretary and the Chancellor had pleasant informal conversation. Whenever Minister Erhardt tried to bring political questions into the discussion, the Chancellor requested him to refrain from such subjects and to give the Secretary a change to relax. Nothing of political importance was said which was not brought up in more detail in the following more formal discussions. One rather amusing incident occurred in that the Chancellor at lunch told the Secretary that “Americans were the best Europeans.” Practically the same words were later repeated to the Secretary by Dr. Schumacher, the head of the SPD.

After luncheon the following gentlemen went to the Chancellor’s office for a conference:

American Side German Side
Mr. Acheson Dr. Adenauer
Mr. McCloy Dr. Blankenhorn
Mr. Perkins Mr. von Herwarth
Mr. Whitman

The discussion went along the following lines:

The Chancellor thanked the Secretary for his visit and expressed his great pleasure in making his personal acquaintance. He stated that he understood that the outcome of the Paris Conference and such special issues as dismantling were not to be discussed, but that he would confer on these questions with the High Commissioners in his talks commencing Tuesday, November 15. He would, therefore, start by reviewing for the Secretary the German position:

From a psychological point of view it was important to realize that the German nation was in a state of mental instability, easily explained by the events of the last 35 years, such as World War I, inflation of the currency in the early ’20’s, the Hitler regime, World War II, and now the Occupation. Dr. Adenauer then continued to give some of the German historical background, accounting for the difference between East and West Germans. The influence of Roman and Christian culture throughout the centuries has tied the West German closer to Western Europe, while Eastern Germany has always looked towards Russia.

[Page 310]

He (Adenauer) desired whole-heartedly cooperation with France and he is determined to pursue this goal to the utmost of his ability. This he stated was not an opportunistic policy of the moment but was proven by his record of the last 25 years. He believes that the German nation is behind him in this and does not back the SPD’s (Sozial Demokratische Partei Deutschlands) nationalistic policy—if there were a plebescite on this question, the SPD would be badly defeated. In Dr. Schumacher the Secretary would meet a typical East German.

In this connection the Chancellor stated that he would have to touch upon a delicate theme, namely that many Germans, in particular some leaders of the SPD, believe Russia may one day extend her influence into Western Germany, if and when American troops should leave. This, though hardly ever spoken of, influences their thinking a great deal and partly explains their attitude. The Chancellor went on to say that he had great powers under the law; that he would use these powers notwithstanding the opposition he may encounter to bring Germany into the circle of the West European nations. He felt sure that the Secretary’s visit to Frankfurt, Bonn and Berlin meant a great deal to the Germans.

The Secretary replied he was happy to make this visit; he had wanted to come earlier to make the personal acquaintance of the chiefs of the German Federal Republic. The Paris discussions had been extremely successful. All the pertinent German problems were discussed and a full understanding had been reached. The High Commissioners would have wide scope and full authority in their dealings with the Federal Government. He was tremendously impressed with the change of sentiment in France. Although Bidault may have been somewhat difficult in the past, the Secretary feels that Schuman now has the full backing of his cabinet in his policy towards Germany.

The Secretary went on to point out that this is a very important moment. French public opinion is ready for cooperation. American public opinion is optimistic and enthusiastic about a Western European agreement—sometimes too much so. They practically expect miracles within a few days. However, if Americans could be shown that at least some progress were being made in European understanding, their optimistic attitude would continue. However, if these principles should fail, Americans would be deeply disappointed and feel nothing had changed since the post World War I period. It would then be exceedingly difficult to convince Congress to continue political and financial aid to Europe.

The first need in developing such understanding in Europe, the Secretary emphasized, is harmonious cooperation between the High Commissioners and the Government of the Federal Republic.

The Chancellor replied that though some friction could not always be completely avoided, he would make every endeavor for harmonious cooperation with the High Commissioners. At this point he asked Mr. McCloy to close his ears and told the Secretary he felt strongly that Mr. McCloy had a real warm-hearted understanding of the German problems and that cooperation with him would never be difficult. He remarked, however, that based on his experience, he was a little doubtful whether the same possibilities for cooperation existed with the British. (Apparently he had in mind the period after the war when [Page 311] he was reinstated by the U.S. as mayor of Cologne, but later on discharged from this position by the British.)

The Secretary remarked that a great deal of thought had been given to what could be done about ending a State of War with Germany. This, however, involved complicated judicial questions. Under the War Power Act the President of the U.S.A. has many powers which made the Occupation, the Office of the High Commissioner, etc., possible. If the State of War were ended, it would mean that some of these powers of the President would terminate and that complete new legislation would have to be submitted to Congress for maintaining the Occupation forces in Germany.

The Chancellor replied he understood this perfectly and that he would submit to the High Commissioner in the near future some points concerning the State of War which the German Government would like to have changed and that this might be done without affecting the domestic judicial problems which the Secretary had just mentioned.

The Chancellor went on to say that the German Government had no interest in the rearmament of the German nation for two reasons: (1) too much blood had been shed in the last war, and (2) that it was just too dangerous to provide Germany with arms at this stage. He felt, however, that he should point out to the Secretary that the recent appointment of Marshal Rokossovski2 was causing him some concern. He believes this appointment may pave the way for the eventual evacuation of Russian troops from the German Eastern Zone. However, one should not be led to believe that such evacuation would change anything politically. The East German State would still be closely tied to Russia by the German Communistic government and the Peoples’ Police in the Eastern Zone. Although some of the Peoples’ Police are deserting to Western Germany, no importance should be attached thereto, as West German checking and screening had proved that 90 percent of these deserters were Russian-trained agents and were deserting with full knowledge of the Russian authorities.

The Secretary reasserted his pleasure at having met the Chancellor and that even after such short acquaintance he felt sure that they would succeed in establishing the same relationship of mutual trust and confidence which he already had with his French and British colleagues, Mr. Bevin and Mr. Schuman.

The Chancellor replied along the same lines and stated that he hoped it would be possible someday for the Secretary to speak before a larger audience, possibly at a University. In suggesting this he was remembering the speech of Secretary of State Byrnes in Stuttgart some years ago3 and its effect on the German people, which might be called a turning point in German history.

The Secretary replied he would be glad to take this under consideration and would confer with President Truman on this subject.

The conference closed on a friendly and harmonious note.

  1. For two other accounts of the conference, see Acheson, Present at the Creation, pp. 340–342 and Adenauer, Memoirs, pp. 206–208.
  2. Documentation relating to the appointment of Soviet General Rokossovski as Marshal of Poland on November 7 is in volume v .
  3. For the text of Secretary Byrnes’ speech at Stuttgart on September 6, 1946, see Department of State Bulletin, September 15, 1946, p. 496.