740.00119 EW/9–1349: Telegram

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


2261. For the Secretary. Adenauer and Schumacher called separately upon me at their request when I was in Bonn today for the reception of the newly-elected President.1 Both discussed dismantling at length and both requested me to urge you to review this painful subject with Bevin and Schuman during the current Washington discussions.2 Both emphasized the current meeting is probably last clear chance to revise present policy and start the new government off in a good atmosphere. They emphasized that the dismantling was now proceeding primarily on a demolition basis with little or no economic benefit to anyone. Adenauer stressed primarily the psychological and political aspects of dismantling and Schumacher stressed the economic and social consequences. Latter stressed particularly that this move for a reconsideration of dismantling came from workers and their families; that he could not be accused of representing nationalistic interests. Adenauer feared that dismantling would provide extreme Right elements with the same effective issue and slogan that Versailles gave the Nazis and they would not fail to exploit it with large segments of the German people who saw their means of livelihood disappear over 4 years after hostilities had ceased. Eight or wrong, the workers were convinced that competition more than security animated certain of the Allies and they pointed to certain methods of dismantling [Page 595] which encouraged this thought. Adenauer was personally disposed to go very far in meeting the Allies on security, but if Western Europe was to be restored economically, Germany must be permitted to contribute and must be encouraged to feel that it is contributing. Adenauer had exchanged views with Schuman who, he felt, would be inclined to agree to a review of dismantling but would not want to open the subject in Washington or to find France alone in advocating such a measure. He hoped our Government would support any moves Schuman made or indicate their receptivity to such a move. As a compromise, Germany might agree to some form of internationalization if such works as Thyssen could be preserved.

Schumacher, who was accompanied by several experts, stressed the severe economic consequences and stated categorically that some dismantling, such as Thyssen Combine, was nothing other than demolition as it was being removed in such manner as to make it valueless to anyone. He suggested a review of the program, a temporary halt, and an expert investigation of the methods employed. He deplored the dismantling of the Fischer–Tropsch Plant which was to have been retained until Germany could import and pay for gasoline, which was patently impossible as yet.3 He cited numerous examples of unemployment and severe distress which already existed and would be multiplied. He promised [praised?] the Humphrey Report as a sensible solution of the problem but the results of the negotiations whereby 8 plants were doomed to dismantling meant that as many men were to become unemployed as were maintained in employment in the entire 159 which were to be saved. In conclusion, he said the German workmen wanted to be internationally minded but this program was again making them cynical. In reply to both I attempted to review the background of the dismantling issue in its psychological, political and economic aspects. I reminded these German leaders that Germany likewise had to comprehend the mentality of other countries who had been the victims of Germany. 4 years was a relatively short time to assuage the sufferings and bitterness of the last war. It was my observation that the Germans had underestimated the security fears of other countries and it was a mistake to assume that the Allies were animated by fear of competition rather than security. In US, fear of competition was inconsequential, but there was a very important body of opinion which was disturbed by the war potential of the Ruhr and who [Page 596] Strongly supported the reparation removals. Concessions resulting from Humphrey Report seem to have met with little appreciation in Germany and indeed the speeches of both Adenauer and Schumacher themselves during the political campaign had clearly aroused fears of the rival of German nationalism in minds of many peoples. I told them that I did not desire in any way to suggest or request any limitation of debate in the Bundestag, yet the fact that Schumacher and the Communists saw fit to place dismantling first on the agenda when there were so many other problems of greater importance to debate did not augur well for sympathetic consideration in Washington. I felt that anything suggesting a test of strength particularly at the outset of the new government could only have one result as far as the Allies were concerned. I reminded both that dismantling could not be settled separately in a manner satisfactory to them but had to be considered in the light of all the important problems which affect the relations of Germany with the Western Allies. It seemed to me that Germans must be prepared to make some proposals which would take account of such problems as security, the Ruhr, etc. before they could expect a change in present dismantling program. Otherwise, we might merely move from one German complaint to another without any comprehensive settlement of other important issues. In response to Schumacher’s observation that in dismantling, the Allies placed too heavy a mortgage upon the new German Government, I replied that the US was most anxious that the new government should get off to a good start, but the new government should also realize its responsibilities. I said I was fearful that having removed one cause of complaint, another would quickly arise and the popular game of criticizing the occupier would not fail for want of a slogan or an issue. If there were a real indication of genuine cooperation in the erection of a new democratic and peaceful state, the cessation of dismantling might be a very easy concession to make but unfortunately we could not wipe out in a breath the general distrust of future aggression which still pervades so much of the world. Schumacher responded particularly to my criticism of his campaign speeches. He said the newspapers did not do him justice. I agreed to convey the substance of these interviews to you but made no promises.4 Will give my views tomorrow.5

  1. In telegram 2178, September 8, from Frankfurt, McCloy had reported inter alia on a previous approach by Adenauer. For the text of this telegram, see p. 375.
  2. Regarding the discussions on the dismantling question in Washington, September 15, see pp. 599 ff.
  3. Next to this sentence in the source text was written “Germans have been claiming F–T plants produce practically no gasoline.”
  4. In telegram 1644, September 20, to Frankfurt, not printed, the Department of State informed McCloy that his reply to Adenauer and Schumacher seemed appropriate in this case and that it did not contemplate any statement with regard to dismantling. (740.00119 EW/9–2049)
  5. For McCloy’s views on dismantling, see telegram 2287, infra.