Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Perkins)1


Participants: EUR—Assistant Secretary Perkins
Mr. Daridan, Minister of French Embassy
WE—Mr. O’Shaughnessy

[Page 318]

Mr. Daridan called today at his request. He said that he felt concerned regarding some remarks allegedly made by General Bradley at an Overseas Writers’ luncheon today which indicated that we might be looking to the rearmament of Western Germany. Upon checking the story he had found that General Bradley had apparently said that amphibious operations to dislodge an enemy entrenched on the continent of Europe were no longer feasible if the latter possessed the atomic bomb and we, therefore, needed a strong ally on the continent. Reston of the New York Times at this point asked General Bradley whether this implied that we might be considering the rearming of Western Germany. The General was quoted as saying that (1) there could be no question of rearming Germany before a Peace Treaty had been negotiated and (2) so long as the Russians had put Germans in uniform in the East Section as a “police force” it might possibly be that the Western Germans might eventually need “some uniforms” if only to maintain internal security.

Mr. Daridan said that in view of the possibilities that these remarks of General Bradley might lead [leak?] out and be misinterpreted he wanted to be able to telegraph Paris and tell them what our thinking was and whether German rearmament had in any way been discussed during the Paris meeting.

I said that no mention whatsoever of rearmament had been made at the Paris meeting and that both the Secretary and Mr. Schuman had so stated to correspondents after the meeting when queried on this point. I added that it certainly did not fit in with our thinking at this time.

In answer to a further question of Daridan’s I said the possibility of using Western Germany’s excess steel capacity, after dismantling had ceased, to help arm Western Europe had been discussed at lower levels in the Department but I personally had taken the stand that the front line was hardly a suitable or safe place to have facilities for producing arms. I added that the matter had not been pursued further in the Department.

I also referred to the fact that when we withdrew our occupation forces we might, as will be the case in Austria, have to help the Germans to arm a police force or constabulary to maintain order internally. These, however, were minor matters and could not be in any way construed as a step toward rearmament. General Bradley’s alleged remarks could hardly be construed as a desire on the part of the United States Government to rearm the Germans.

Mr. Daridan also alluded to the excerpt in the current issue of U.S. News and World Report which stated that Mr. Kennan had written off France as a bulwark against Russia in Europe and was looking to [Page 319] Germany instead. I took occasion to tell Mr. Daridan that this was, of course, pure fabrication.

G[eorge] W. P[erkins]
  1. The memorandum was prepared by O’Shaughnessy.