Memorandum by the Acting Special Assistant in the Office of German and Austrian Affairs ( Beam ) to the Acting Director ( Murphy )


The views stated by Mr. Kennan this morning1 have a great deal of validity and since we will be dealing with the Foreign Ministers we will have a chance to take a broader approach than has been possible in the discussions between the Military Governors and in other meetings, such as that which is at present being held in London on the occupation statute.2 It must be recognized that the new approach will be a bold step since it will mean a radical revision of agreements we have already tentatively made, but the Secretary will doubtless be able to handle the situation, particularly as he can point out that he has come into the picture with a fresh viewpoint and can suggest a reconsideration of some of the previous positions. The two main issues which should be attacked from a new point of view are the Bonn Constitution and the Occupation Statute.

Bonn Constitution. As drafted by the Germans, the Bonn Constitution represents an exceedingly delicate balance between the opposing views of the CDUCSU and SPD. The Military Governors have transmitted certain suggested amendments and the Bonn Committee of Seven have submitted counter proposals for the amendment of the constitution.3 Since these counter proposals apparently represent the maximum of agreement that can be obtained between the CDUCSU and SPD, it would seem we would make a serious mistake in not approving the constitution with the German amendments. As Mr. Kennan points out, we would thereby assume responsibility for difficulties of operation in the constitution and furthermore we would risk upsetting [Page 139] the balance between the German parties, with the probability that the SPD would refuse cooperation. Accordingly, it is recommended we ask the French to accept the constitution with the new German amendments.

Occupation Statute. As the Department and also the Army Department in joint instructions4 pointed out several months ago, the present occupation statute is an iniquitous document and one which may destroy the possibility of cooperation between the German government and Military Government. It must be recognized that our present position papers are drafted on the assumption that we will accept the occupation statute in its present form but will try to obtain revision within about a year’s time. Since the occupation statute reserves so many direct powers to the Allies, we are pressing for the majority vote principle in all matters except exercise of the US predominant voice and amendments to the constitution (the latter to be approved unanimously). If we decide to proceed on the present basis, we should also try to persuade Mr. Schuman to agree to approval of constitutional amendments by majority vote.

If we have any success in convincing Bevin and Schuman that the present occupation statute should be scrapped, it is suggested that the following course be proposed. The three Ministers should decide that the Germans at the present juncture simply be furnished with a brief list of the fields of powers which the Allies must reserve to themselves. Such a list preferably should be drawn up by the Ministers themselves or the Military Governors should be requested to draft this list on instructions from the three Ministers. Thereafter the list should be transmitted to the Germans so that they may complete their final work on the constitution. It would be desirable that in forwarding the list to the Germans the Military Governors inform them that they will discuss with them the arrangements and procedures for the exercise of these reserve powers. On the other hand, it would be possible, as was done in the case of Military Government approval of the state constitutions in the US zone, to consult now with the Parliamentary Council concerning the powers the Allies agreed to reserve and the procedures for the exercise of these powers; thereafter when giving approval to the constitution, the Military Governors would transmit a formal letter defining the reserve powers and the procedures for their implementation. As to the question of unanimous or majority vote, German legislation in non-reserved fields should go into effect unless unanimously disapproved by the Military Governors; with respect to Military Government action in the reserve fields, the majority rule should apply, except as regards economic matters affecting the amount of the US appropriation, where the US should continue to have a predominant voice.

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Trizonal Fusion Principles. In connection with the above, the US should press for the adoption of the principles of trizonal fusion it has proposed with more emphasis on the reduction of Military Government personnel, and possibly a transfer to civilian authority at the top.

Program for a CFM . Adoption of the more liberal measures envisaged above, vis-à-vis a Western German government, would make it easier for us to propose that our Western German program be applied throughout all of Germany. This is an argument in favor of these more liberal steps. Otherwise, if we were to propose Program A5 in a CFM, such a measure would represent a drastic breaking with the present Western program and it is almost inconceivable that it would be acceptable to the French. If the guarantees in Program A for international supervision of free elections and the police as well as the safeguards of civil liberties could be obtained in a CFM, Program A would be politically practicable, although it would leave unsolved many difficulties in other fields, particularly the economic.

  1. Regarding Kennan’s views, see editorial note, supra.
  2. For documentation relating to the London negotiations on the occupation statute, principles of trizonal fusion, and Kehl, see pp. 1 ff.
  3. Regarding the suggested amendments of the Military Governors, see telegram 183, March 2, from Frankfurt, p. 217. For the texts of the counterproposals of the Committee of Seven on March 10 and 17, see Documents on the German Federal Constitution, pp. 110–113, or Litchfield, Governing Postwar Germany, pp. 569–576.
  4. Ante, p. 1.
  5. The text of “Program A” (A Program for Germany), November 12, 1948, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ii, p. 1325.