862.60/9–1449: Telegram

The Acting United States Political Adviser for Germany ( Riddleberger ) to the Secretary of State


2287. (OMGUS CCF 1192) From McCloy. My views on dismantling as follows:

It is too early to tell where this government is headed in the way of cooperation with the Allied Powers. I do not have enough evidence to convince me that there is a sinister rise of nationalism in West Germany. Here and there expression has been given to nationalistic sentiments of an irritating character which are quoted abroad and commented on here while a number of contrary expressions have been uttered which have caused no comment, but whatever this condition may be I am convinced that the present agitation against dismantling is not inspired by former Nazi influences.

It is significant that the extreme right remain relatively silent on this issue while it is the left and the center which press it most. I believe it arises from four sources: (a) Communist agitation among the workers whose only motive is to stir up trouble; (b) A real fear of the growth of unemployment and distress among the working people of the Ruhr which is reflected in the SPD attitudes; (c) Minority groups in the Ruhr and church groups throughout Germany whose influence is effective in the CDU; and (d) The desire on the part of both CDU and SPD to record their defense to the charge of collaborationism.

As far as I can see the dismantling process has little value to us, if any, and its abrasive character is so great that it affects us as well as the British. Moreover, I believe we are risking some of our main objectives by continuing with it so long after the hostilities have ceased. I feel that we might give solid support to the entire framework of the new government by a modification of this policy and at the same time attain advantages that might move us ahead considerably. I have no illusions that once this issue is out of the way no other issues will be put forward, but on the other hand, I do not believe we should hold on to policies that are not profitable merely because we are being simultaneously pressed by Germans to give them up. Wherever possible we should be forehanded in this field so that we avoid the mistakes that we made after Weimar where we were rather hasty to give up to the wrong government things we had long begrudged to a better one.

Many aspects of the present dismantling are economically incongruous and the unnatural effect of tearing down plants which are [Page 598] clearly useful for peacetime purposes in the midst of so many ruins and unemployment is very great. I am conscious that the attitude expressed by Adeneuer and Schumacher also covers any objection against dismantling plants or parts of plants falling under the prohibited and restricted industries agreement. I feel that we must go ahead with the dismantlement of all war plants and with the destruction or removal of all machinery which can be used for war-making purposes. However, certain of synthetic processes now prohibited by the PRI agreement1 could be reviewed with a view to retention. As to those plants, and I am thinking particularly of steel, which would exceed present limits on capacity, they could be held idle pending a later review by the Allies as to Germany’s general position, record and attitude in Europe.

Consequently, I feel that we should immediately announce the cessation of dismantling, except for war plants and war-producing equipment, pending consultation with the German leaders on a plan whereby security assurances could be given us (perhaps in terms of internationalizing to some degree some of the properties, or by other means) and whereby we might receive some assurances as to cooperation on the part of the Germans with certain of our other definite objectives.

I am also thinking of the possibility of securing a prior German agreement to a quick accession to the Ruhr agreement2 as an evidence of their desire to cooperate. If they should refuse to respond, I would take this as an indication of their lack of cooperation and go ahead with the program. The technicalities of the proposal could be further refined but this might be our general proposal leaving it to the Germans to make counterproposals which might satisfy all three governments on security. I feel that some step such as this would give us at least a breathing spell of cooperation which would be highly beneficial to the new government and would tend to consolidate its position as well as to bring us closer to our over-all objective which is to bring Germany more firmly into the western family of nations. It might anticipate Russian proposals which we can be certain will be made in connection with their fanfare over the creation of an eastern government whenever it comes about. Some such step as this would, in my judgment, be much more helpful than any form of amnesty or other [Page 599] gesture that we could make at this time and there is even a possibility that it might accomplish something of lasting value.

  1. Not printed; for the text of the Prohibited and Limited Industries Agreement as promulgated by the Military Governors April 13, 1949, see Germany 1947–1949, pp. 366–371.
  2. For the text of the agreement for the establishment of an International Authority for the Ruhr, December 28, 1948, and signed by representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, April 28, 1949, see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ii, chapter ii, part b .