740.00119 Council/4–1949

Memorandum by the United States Ambassador at Large (Jessup) to the Secretary of State

top secret

Subject: Formulation of Policy for a Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers

Two different points of view emerged in the discussion in your office yesterday afternoon.1 I think these two views can be roughly summarized as follows:

It would be to our advantage to maintain the split in Germany [Page 860] for a rather long period of time. This would be true because Western Germany is a more manageable unit which might be integrated in Western Europe. It would not be a viable entity in itself and the attraction from the West would therefore be more potent.
It would be to our advantage to end the division of Germany provided that the division of Europe could be ended at the same time. This would be true because it would involve the withdrawal of the Red Army to the East.

It seems to me that in the formulation and evaluation of the United States policy on these questions it is necessary to differentiate between the Soviet threat and the potential future German threat. For a period of several years the Soviet threat in terms of possible military aggression is the more serious. In terms of French thinking, the ultimate German threat is always in the forefront of their minds.

In formulating United States policy I believe it would be a mistake to overemphasize anticipated French, British, German or Russian objections. Obviously a policy must be formulated in terms of our best estimate of the realities of the political situation but an optimum policy from the United States point of view should not be discarded at the outset merely in anticipation of objections of other countries. Particularly in the case of the French and British, we can ascertain through advance conversations the extent to which they would be prepared to go along on what seemed to us the optimum policy. So far as German opinion is concerned, we would have the job of trying to sell our policy to the leaders. Insofar as the Soviet Union is concerned, we are not in a position to estimate with precision their possible attitude. It seems to me that it would be a mistake to base our policy on the assumption that the Soviet position will never change. It may change when, for any one of a variety of reasons, they decide that some new approach would best serve their interests. A United States policy should of course be so formulated as to still represent the promotion of our general interests in case a change in Soviet policy should lead them to agree to it. We cannot exclude from our thinking the possibility that the Soviet Union will reach the conclusion that its past policy in Europe has not been successful and that a general adjustment in Europe may be to their advantage in terms of the contraction of an overextended position. If this should prove to be the case, we might approach a settlement of the European situation although we would still probably be confronted with either a new Soviet thrust in some other quarter or a long-range Soviet policy of improvement and consolidation in their own area with a view to some later expansion under more favorable circumstances.

In considering the European question as a whole, I believe we should accept as a basic proposition the statement made by Mr. Kennan in a [Page 861] conference with you on March 30th2 that, “We will not favor a united Germany in a divided Europe.” I believe we also accept as a primary consideration the necessity of orienting a future Germany toward the West with a view to its forming a useful and safe element in the development of European union.

At the present time real Western European union does not exist although considerable progress is being made in that direction. It may be true that the maintenance of a split Germany would tend toward the readier absorption of Western Germany in Western Europe. The situation leading to this conclusion is that the three Western zones of Germany by themselves would not constitute a viable unit and there would therefore be a natural gravitation to Western Europe. On the other hand, the addition of the Soviet Zone to the three Western zones would probably still not create a viable unit. The viability of this larger Germany would depend to some extent upon the ultimate decision regarding Germany’s eastern frontier. In any case the main industrial strength of a future Germany is inseparably linked with the Ruhr. The control of that strength is similarly linked with the International Control of the Ruhr.

Taking as a hypothesis a possible shift in Soviet policy which might lead to a general solution of the European problem for the time being (whether such a change of policy should come about now or in the course of a few years) we would still be confronted with the likelihood that a united Western Europe would still not be in existence as a strong political and military force. I do not believe that, if the opportunity offers, we could reject a possibility of a European settlement including the withdrawal of the Red Army to the East by adopting the principle that such a settlement should be deferred until a real Western European Union is finally developed.

Accordingly, if there is an opportunity for a European settlement, the problem would be one of exercising continuous efforts to orient Germany to the West. Presumably demilitarization controls would continue for a considerable time.


The formulation of United States policy in anticipation of a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers should seek to provide an optimum program. “Program A” was formulated with this objective in mind and in anticipation of the detailed arrangements which would implement the London decisions,3 Subject to any necessary [Page 862] revision in the light of the agreements reached with the British and French in Washington,4 it can still serve as a basis.
Aspects of the policy which seem to us advantageous should not be discarded at this stage in anticipation of possible British or French objections but should be negotiated with those two Governments.
The reaction in Germany to any proposals for a united Germany constitutes an important consideration. This problem should be approached, however, in terms of preparing the necessary effort to swing German opinion to the support of any policy finally adopted.
Aspects of the policy which seem to us advantageous should not be discarded at this stage in anticipation of possible Soviet objection nor should they be discarded for fear that they might be accepted by the Soviet Union and thus be translated into reality.

Philip C. Jessup
  1. No record of his meeting has been found in Department of State files. However, another copy of this memorandum in the Council of Foreign Ministers files; indicates that it was sent to Webb, Bohlen, Kennan, Murphy, Rusk, and Thompson, who presumably had attended the meeting with Jessup and Acheson. Further evidence of the attendance of Webb, Rusk, and Bohlen is a memorandum by Acheson, dated April 18, not printed, which asked them to consider a background statement for their meeting at 2:30 p. m. (CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box. 140:: Jessup-Malik Conversations)
  2. The conference under reference here has not been further identified.
  3. For documentation relating to the implementation of the London decisions, see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ii, chapter ii .
  4. Under reference here are the agreements reached by the three Western Powers April 8, 1949, in Washington on the status of the three Western zones of Germany. For the texts of these agreements, see pp. 177 ff.