862.20/11–2149: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the United States High Commissioner for Germany (McCloy)


Unnumbered, for McCloy from Byroade. Regarding your phone call this morning on UP item by Clay. Clay statement repeated below has no publicity here as yet, however general question of German rearmament still being speculated upon by U.S. press, despite statements of Secretary and President, also repeated below. We obtained Clay statement from UP since not carried domestic wires.

Begin statement.

Statement by General Lucius D. Clay in Boston, Massachusetts, Sunday, November 20, 1949, to a press conference held in connection with a nationwide fund raising rally for The Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation.

General Clay recommended the formation of a “composite military force of Western European Nations at [to] which Germany could contribute with limited forces of a special type.” Clay said that such a composite army “should be the responsibility of the democratic minded Western European Countries and should not be forced upon them by the United States. I had hoped that such a combined force might be created if the nations of Western Europe ever become united and integrated. However, it is a problem that must be worked out by the nations themselves.”

Clay indicated that. Germany’s role in such a combined force should be limited to one military arm such as infantry troops. Elaborating this point he stated that “without an air force or other supporting arms, Germany could not itself wage war. The United States should remain on the scene until Western Europe is stable and equipped to defend itself. In terms of manpower, Western Europe could provide armed forces numbering not less than those of any possible opponent. The balance of power is a stronger guarantor of peace than other factor,” he concluded. End statement.

The question of the establishment of a small German Army arose at the Secretary’s Press Conference on Wednesday Nov 16 and at the President’s Press Conference of Thursday, Nov 17.

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The Secretary on Wednesday was asked if Chancellor Adenauer had raised with the Secretary the establishment of a small German Army in Germany of 5 divisions which according to the “New York Times” of Nov 16 reported that many Western European military leaders had been discussing such a project. Mr. Acheson replied that he had been asked that question many times. He remarked that there were all sorts of rumors among them the one the correspondent mentioned and many others. He added that they all had in common one thing which was true, that this matter had not been discussed. The Secretary added that it had not been discussed in Paris or anywhere by him and that, so far as he knew, it had not been discussed by anyone else. The Secretary was then asked if he had made any public statement in Europe on this subject beyond stating that he had not discussed it. The correspondent inquired if the Secretary had stated publicly what his own attitude was on this matter. The Secretary answered in the negative, adding that he had been asked several times whether he had discussed it and he had said that he had not. He added that the question was then put in several ways, as to whether if he had not discussed it in those words, if he had discussed those ideas. The Secretary said that he had said no words, expressed no ideas, had no thoughts or mental reservations on this subject. Further asked if the matter were under consideration in the Department, Mr. Acheson replied that it was not. The correspondent then remarked that the reason there were so many rumors about this German Army matter was that there was so much talk in this country that the halt of dismantling might be followed by the rearmament and creation of a German Army. The correspondent asked if the Secretary had made any comments aside from the talks with the Foreign Ministers in Paris and aside from his talks to the Germans as to how he felt about it. Mr. Acheson replied that he did not wish to go into the matter further, adding that he thought he had made his position clear.

At his Press Conference on Thursday the President was asked if he could comment on the persistent reports of American Policy for Western Germany; namely, that we are contemplating the creation of a small German Army. The President replied emphatically that that was a statement made out of the whole cloth by a newspaperman in Paris and that there was not a word of truth in it. He was asked whether he had stated that there was not a word of truth in it and the President again replied that it was a rumor started in Paris, that the Secretary had fully covered the point at his Press Conference on Wednesday. The correspondent stated that the reason he had repeated the question on Thursday was that he had doubts about the question following Mr. Acheson’s Press Conference. The President replied [Page 342] that he could not see why anyone should have any doubts. He added that he had read the transcript of Mr. Acheson’s Press Conference and that it seems pretty clear to him. The President was then asked if it is correct to infer that American Policy is against a small German Army. The President replied that he was not making American Policy in regard to Germany from this desk. Adding that this is a matter that has to be worked out between the parties that are interested. Again asked if he found out that some of our officers in Germany had been discussing the formation of a proposed army with representatives of the German Government in Bonn, would those officers be disciplined, the President replied that he was not in close contact with the situation in Germany, that that was what he had Mr. McCloy over there for.

If questioned about Clay’s statement at Boston or any other rumors concerning the establishment of a small German Army, we propose to reply along the following lines:

I have no comment on General Clay’s statement in Boston which was obviously the expression of a personal opinion. However, as the Secretary pointed out last Wednesday and as the President reiterated last Thursday, no plan for the creation of a small German Army is under consideration in the Department or anywhere in this Government.