740.00119 Control (Germany)/11–1349
Memorandum of Conversation Prepared in the Office of the United States High Commissioner for Germany
A reception was given by the German Chancellor in honor of the U.S. Secretary of State, Mr. Acheson, on Sunday, November 13, 1949 at Bonn. The British High Commissioner, the French High Commissioner, the President of the German Republic, members of the German Cabinet and Parliament, members of the Laender governments, members of the clergy and leaders in industry and finance were present. After the reception the Secretary met in an adjoining room with the leaders of the SPD (Sozial Demokratische Partei Deutschland).
- Mr. Acheson
- Mr. McCloy
- Mr. Perkins
- Mr. Whitman
- Dr. Schumacher, Chairman of the SPD
- Dr. Carlo Schmidt, First Vice Chairman of the SPD
- Mr. Ollenhauer, Second Vice Chairman of the SPD
- Mr. von Herwarth, Chef de Protocol
Dr. Schumacher’s first question to the Secretary was, “What about Paris? We admire the communiqué of the three foreign ministers,1 but we don’t know what to make of it.”
The Secretary replied that the Paris meeting had been very successful and gratifying and that the results of it would become better known after the discussions which are to be held between the High Commissioners and the Government of the Federal Republic.
Dr. Schumacher then asked, “What about dismantling?”
The Secretary replied that it was discussed and would be the subject of further discussion between the High Commissioners and the Chancellor.2
Dr. Schumacher’s third question was: To what extent did the Secretary believe that the present German government actually represented the German people.
The Secretary stated he could not very well reply to this question; that the U.S. could only deal with the established German Government which happened to be Dr. Adenauer’s government, and that Dr. [Page 313] Schumacher just as well might ask whether President Truman and he, the Secretary of State, represented the American people—that a great many people had not thought so last year, but that the elections had proved them wrong.
The Secretary continued that he was extremely pleased to make the personal acquaintance of the SPD leaders about whom he had already learned a great deal “on paper,” and that Dr. Schumacher had a great reputation in the U.S. Dr. Schumacher replied, “But not always a good one.” The Secretary answered not all of it was good because many people thought Dr. Schumacher too nationalistic. That he, the Secretary, however was willing to bet—and he did not want Dr. Schumacher to cause him any loss of money—that Dr. Schumacher would prove himself a good West European and not a nationalist.
The Secretary emphasized that the SPD should not take advantage of its position as the opposition party to oppose the occupation powers, but that they should rather create an atmosphere of cooperation. Such cooperation might be along the lines of bipartisan foreign policy in the U.S.A. where even on some domestic issues bipartisan policy existed from time to time.
He continued further that there were two great assets in the present situation which were not present in the situation after World War I, (1) the great change in French sentiment and the willingness of France to cooperate with Germany, and (2) the new attitude of the U.S.A. to help Europe politically and financially. These two great assets must not be lost and the optimism and enthusiasm of America for a West European agreement must not be disappointed. If the Germans were to antagonize France, they would also change public opinion in the U.S.A. If no cooperation would develop in Europe, the idea would die in the U.S. and sentiment would revert to the lack of interest existing after World War I. It would become impossible to ask Congress for further political and financial aid.
Dr. Schumacher replied that the SPD did not oppose the Western occupation powers, but only the Russians, not in their role as an occupation power, but because they stood for a totalitarian, dictatorial regime. As to the Secretary’s suggestions for a bipartisan foreign policy, Dr. Schumacher complained that Chancellor Adenauer conducted the foreign policy in an autocratic manner by keeping the opposition and the Parliament as a whole completely uninformed. This was not a question of the personalities involved, but Dr. Schumacher simply felt that Dr. Adenauer was not respecting the dignity of Parliament.
The Secretary replied that this was a domestic German problem, but reemphasized the need for cooperation and not to lose the two valuable assets now existing mentioned before. He reiterated his [Page 314] pleasure in meeting the gentlemen of the SPD and Dr. Schumacher thanked the Secretary for taking the time to give them the opportunity to meet him and to know his thoughts.
Before leaving Bonn and returning to Frankfurt, we were informed by Carlo Schmidt that the Secretary’s remarks to the leaders of the SPD would not fail to have an effect on the debate on German foreign policy which is to start on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 15, in the German Parliament (Bundestag).