George F. Kennan Papers: lf: pp. 31–32

Notes by the Director of the Policy Planning Staff ( Kennan ) on a Trip to Germany

[Extract]1

“… He was obviously speaking under instructions, and afraid he might not get it all off his chest.

[Page 114]

He had been sent to Germany (where he had spent many years before the war) to have a look around and see whether better solutions could not be found than the ones we had been pursuing. It was time, he had concluded, that the military approach gave way to the process of diplomacy and accommodation.

He would not go into personalities—it was not a question of personalities—but the time had passed when generals could solve these matters. This business of Military Government had exhausted its usefulness. It was a terrible thing: irritating and discouraging for the vanquished, corrupting and demoralizing for the victors. For those who participated on the Allied side, it was a schooling in totalitarian practices and administration. It was all right for the immediate tasks of the post-hostilities period: but it was incapable of leading the way to the liquidation of the war and to the tasks of psychological adjustments and reconstruction. The occupation statute one was laboriously grinding out in London was over-complicated, impractical and politically deadening. Mr. Schuman, who knew Germany from the old days, had no enthusiasm for continuing on this line. He felt that the time had come for a sweeping and forward-looking solution to these problems which would give not only hope and inspiration to German political life, but also respite to the Allies from their own wearisome internal differences. He would propose that Military Government be abolished altogether, and that in its place there be the following: each of the three governments would have a civilian commissioner, each with a small staff of advisers, whose task it would be to control the actions of the German authority. Parallel civilian establishments would exist in each of the Laender. The total personnel would be only a tiny fraction of the present Military Government establishment in Germany. It would make no effort to govern, itself. It would merely exercise the control function. The troops would remain and would act as a sanction for the ultimate power of the Allies to intervene if things seriously went wrong.

The differences which had arisen among the Allies over the handling of the German problem were absurd and tragic and unnecessary. They would endure, however, so long as we continued with this attempt to govern the western sections of the country by coalition. Our aims were basically the same. Mr. Schuman was a moderate man and a man of good will. We should seize the occasion, therefore, to place the whole German question on a new and higher plane where our difficulties and misunderstandings over little things could be removed.”

  1. This is from a conversation with François-Poncet.