CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 180: Sub-Committee for Germany, National Security Council

Paper Prepared by the Chairman of the Steering Group of the National Security Council Sub-Committee on the German Question (Kennan)1


Principles of Basic Policy Concerning Germany

Assuming the cooperation of the British and the French, the United States proposes to be guided, in its policy toward Germany, by the following principles:

The U.S. Government recognizes that no approach to the German problem can be adequate which deals only with Germany itself and ignores the question of its relationship to other European nations. In the long run it will not be satisfactory merely to restore Germany [Page 91] as a sovereign entity among similar sovereign entities in Europe, even though Germany may be saddled with special obligations concerning demilitarization. Some new relationship must be found between Germany and her European neighbors other than that which prevailed before the recent war. The U.S. Government therefore considers that any promising approach to the problem of Germany’s future status must address itself not only to the arrangements which are to be made within Germany but also in the conditions which are to govern Germany’s relationship to the remainder of the European community.
Plainly, Germany cannot be fitted into the European community in a satisfactory manner until there is an adequate framework of general European union into which Germany can be absorbed. The other countries of Europe cannot be expected to cope with the problem of Germany until there is a closer relationship among them than the existing one. If this closer association of the other European countries were not called for by other requirements, it would be called for by their common interest in the handling of the German problem, alone.
The United States favors a closer association of the nations of Europe on a basis consistent with the Charter of the United Nations, both for general reasons and for its potential usefulness in facilitating a solution of the German problem. As a matter of principle, it will not oppose the movement toward European union, on the contrary, it will support and encourage it where it can. But it considers that form and pace of the movement in this direction are predominantly matters for the Europeans themselves. And while it may have views on various phases of these questions and may wish to state them from time to time, it does not propose to take the lead in their settlement or to bring any strong pressure to bear on European governments in this connection.
The United States Government considers that the development of a closer association among the European nations must begin with those nations which are free of foreign domination and at liberty to determine their relationships with their neighbors in the process of free expression of their own national will. It can of course include only such governments as are willing to accept in good faith the purposes and obligations of such association, and to admit to a basic community, rather than conflict, of aims with the other European governments involved. There can be no question of the inclusion of any government which excludes in principle the validity of any political philosophy but its own and accordingly attempts to impose its own on other nations. Within these limits, however, the United States Government hopes that the area of closer integration within the European community may be as wide as possible.
With regard to the eventual inclusion of Germany into a system of European states, the United States Government considers that the terms of such inclusion should not, in the final analysis, be unequal ones which would impose unilateral handicaps and restrictions upon Germany. This could easily be reconciled with the security interests of other European powers if the general terms of European union are such as would automatically make it impossible or extremely difficult for any member, not only Germany, to embark on a path of unilateral aggression. However, the U.S. Government recognizes that progress toward this end must be gradual and must be governed by the degree to which the German people themselves take a constructive and cooperative view of their responsibilities as a member of the family of European nations.
The U.S. Government considers that the most important single factor governing the integration of Germany into Europe, in addition to the subjective attitude of the German people just mentioned, will probably be the framework and conditions of association offered by the other European governments. It does not believe that the degree of centralization or decentralization achieved in the organization of German political life at the present juncture will necessarily be of major importance in this respect.
The United States holds no brief for German centralization as such. It is prepared to permit the Germans to decentralize so far as they wish to do so and so far as it is safe for them to do so, from the standpoint of European stability, at any given time. In principle, it considers that the guiding factors in these decisions should be the extent to which institutional arrangements have real foundation in the psychology and traditions of the German population and can function effectively from the standpoint of the stability of Germany and Western Europe in general.
The United States Government is not inclined to bring pressure upon the Germans in the direction of greater decentralization where it is clear that movement in that direction would weaken the capacity of the German people to resist pressures from totalitarian minority elements.
The United States Government regards the problem of economic recovery in Germany as part and parcel of the problem of general Western European recovery. It will continue to judge problems of aid to Germany and to other European countries solely from the standpoint of that overall objective. It has no intention of favoring any one country over another or of trying to make recovery more rapid in one country than in another through the allocation of aid. On the other hand, it notes that foreign aid is only a marginal factor in the recovery process, and that the main factor is the will and energy with which the [Page 93] peoples apply themselves to the task of recovery. The rate of recovery in Germany must therefore rest primarily on the efforts of the Germans themselves. To the extent that they bring about recovery through their own efforts, the United States has no intention of attempting to deny to them the fruits of their effort by attempting to slow down the pace of their recovery. Europe needs production everywhere, and the United States cannot use its influence to delay or hamper the process of recovery.
On the other hand, the United States Government is prepared to accept and face the consequences of this attitude from the security of Germany’s neighbors. It wishes to see Germany take a worthy and rightful part in the cultural and economic life of the continent. It has no intention of permitting Germany to become again a threat to peace-loving neighbors. Accordingly, it does not propose to accept any arrangement, provisional or permanent, which would permit Germany to re-emerge as a military power in its own right. It therefore does not propose to withdraw its troops from Germany until adequate safeguards have been established against a resurgence of German militarism and until the present tense and insecure situation in Europe has been substantially alleviated.

  1. Attached to the source text was a cover sheet from Bradley Patterson, the secretary of the Steering Group, which stated that Kennan’s draft was still under discussion. In the series of papers prepared by the German Sub-Committee of the National Security Council, this paper bears the number GNSC D–3.