740.00119 Control (Germany)/5–1049

The British Embassy to the Department of State, Transmitting an Extract From a Telegram From the British Foreign Office1


Following from Kirkpatrick.

Secretary of State is in Germany where he will be discussing these matters with Robertson.2 But before the Americans reach conclusions it may be helpful to give you our Departmental views, based largely on preliminary conversations with the Secretary of State.

2. Occupation Forces.

We agree.3 We do not fear that Russians will succeed in stampeding German opinion by proposing total withdrawal. Indeed our information [Page 868] is that many thinking Germans would be dismayed at premature withdrawal of Western occupation forces; and the fact that proposal to withdraw emanated from the Russians would increase their apprehensions. We are consulting Chiefs of Staff about possibility of concentrating troops on the borders. But we are pointing out that this proposal would create serious accommodation problem in the Western areas of our zone which are already dangerously overcrowded.

3. Rearmament of Germany.

We agree.

4. Our Western Plans.

We agree that we should clearly reaffirm that we are resolved to pursue our plans for a Western German Government but we feel that we must be ready to put forward some positive proposal and we think therefore that we should be well advised to propose the application of the Bonn constitution and of our occupation statute4 to the whole of Germany. We do not believe that such an initiative would discourage the Western German politicians who are showing no signs of hesitation and who seem convinced that the Russians would never accept this Western Regime for the whole of Germany. On the contrary the Western Germans are likely to be very seriously embarrassed domestically if the Western Powers fail to make any proposals for a unified Germany. From the German internal point of view they would like to see the Russians put on the spot by having to accept or reject the Bonn Regime for the whole of Germany.

5. If contrary to expectation the Soviet Government agreed to apply the Bonn constitution to the whole of Germany and to allow a unified German Government discretion to join the Council of Europe and conclude a bilateral E.R.P. Agreement with the United States, the result would be the incorporation of the whole of Germany in the Western system. This would represent a major defeat for Soviet policy in view of the effort the Soviet Government has made to prevent the incorporation of Western Germany into Western system. In these circumstances it seems for consideration whether if it becomes necessary in order to secure this result we should not be prepared to make some concessions to the Russians in the matter of the Ruhr and the Military Security Board, subject to safeguards such as equal rights in the Eastern zone and on the understanding that the system of majority voting is accepted.

6. Nevertheless for the reasons stated above, it seems unlikely that the Russians will meekly accept the application to the whole of Germany of the Bonn constitution and an occupation statute with a system [Page 869] of majority voting. In that event we feel that we should be ready wih some compromise solution on which we can fall back as a last resort. We have been thinking that we might propose an ad interim Modus Vivendi whereby we should set up our Western German government and the Russians should establish their form of Government in the Eastern zone and that there might be a coordinating joint body in Berlin. This idea finds some favor with the French, but it has obvious objections and requires careful thought. We should be pleased to discuss it further with the Americans.

7. Consultation With the Germans.

We agree. In order to minimise the danger of the Russians using the Council of Foreign Ministers as a propaganda platform we should like to urge that the meeting should be secret and that there should be a self-denying ordinance on press publicity.

8. Reparations.

We agree, but we feel that it would look like weakness and would have a bad effect on the Germans if we allowed ourselves to be pushed into a substantial modification of our reparations programme.5

9. Refugees.

We agree, that this is a serious problem. If we were to get a unified Germany on tolerable terms, the German refugee question could doubtless be tackled. But in the contrary event our main difficulty will be with the German refugees themselves. Even if the Russians agreed to take them back, most of them would refuse to go and considerations of humanity would debar expulsion. The same applies to the displaced persons who decline to return.

10. Russo-German Relations.

We agree that the danger of a Russo-German rapprochement must always be watched. But it seems to us that the Western German politicians are burning their boats and that if we continue to sustain them and deserve their confidence this danger can be averted,

11. British Representation.

The Secretary of State has directed that at the Tripartite official talks this week we should be represented by myself, Dean and some [one?] from Germany, probably Steel. The exact composition of our delegation at the Council of Foreign Ministers is not yet finally decided but the Secretary of State will have myself, Dean and one or two from Germany including General Robertson. Economic or other experts will be available at short notice from London or Germany.

  1. The extract was left with Murphy by Hoyer Millar on May 10.
  2. Regarding Bevin’s trip to Germany, see his personal message to Secretary Acheson, infra.
  3. Apparently Kirkpatrick in this and the following numbered paragraphs was responding to a message from the British Embassy in the United States to the Foreign Office.
  4. Ante, p. 179.
  5. For documentation relating to the questions of reparations and dismantling, see pp. 546 ff.