862.044/3–949: Telegram

The United States Political Adviser for Germany ( Murphy ) to the Embassy in the United Kingdom 1


153. Following is General Clay’s comment on London’s 140 to Berlin March 8:2

“Have just seen March 8 message from London to State, repeated Berlin as 140. In this Holmes states British seeking agreement of US [Page 223] and France to ratification of basic law by action of Land legislatures rather than by popular referendum. I do not understand this question being raised by British Government since it is not a disagreed question between military governors. In early stage of proceedings, Ministers President favored ratification by Land legislatures and all three military governors agreed to consider their views based on conditions existing at time basic law was approved. Main argument of Ministers President was that economic conditions might be favorable to a large Communist vote. This has not proved to be case as economic conditions are far more favorable than they anticipated. Nevertheless, I was authorized to agree to such a proposal if it appeared advisable at time. Actually I do not believe that there is any justification now for ratification by Land legislatures rather than by popular referendum as agreed in London. I am quite sure that Parliamentary Council will favor popular referendum.

I had never heard before of General Robertson’s estimate of a small favorable vote and I doubt this to be the case unless there is a party split. If there is a party split, it would seem probable that difficulty would be experienced in obtaining approval by a sufficient number of states to obtain ratification. To my mind, this is a greater danger than any possible repudiation of the constitution by the people.

In any event, in view of what we have told the Germans, I feel certain that in this matter we should make no move until we have received German recommendations and particularly that we should not approve ratification by Land legislatures unless there is a predominant opinion in both Parliamentary Council and among Ministers President that this action is the desirable course to follow. I would urge that governments make no agreement on this question at the moment and that it be left to judgment of military governors based upon conditions existing at time of approval and on recommendations of German officials. If in fact the Catholic hierarchy can develop opposition of substantial nature then it is more likely that they could defeat the measure in Land legislatures of the essential Catholic states than in a popular referendum. It seems to me that British action is based on a unilateral report by British military governor which has not been discussed with his colleagues. I submit that we have had much more experience in elections in American Zone than have British, and we rather doubt that their political judgments are completely unbiased in view of their close relationships with Social Democrat Party. It is particularly difficult to understand, in view of General Robertson’s insistence that we not dictate to Germans on constitutional changes, that he now proposes that we dictate to them on question ratification.”

I likewise am somewhat surprised that this question is now being raised in London. It was touched upon lightly in course of military governors’ recent discussions on constitution at which time Robertson seemed content to defer the matter for subsequent decision. It would certainly be desirable to await recommendations of German political [Page 224] leaders, many of whom will no doubt give an accurate reflection of best methods of procedure in their respective Laender. 3 Sent London 153, repeated Department 348.

  1. The source text is the copy in the Department of State files.
  2. Same as telegram 857, supra.
  3. In telegram 795 (repeated to Berlin as 283), March 10, to London, not printed, the Department of State supported Clay’s position that:

    “(a) western authorities should make no move re ratification Bonn constitution until Mil Govs have recd Ger recommendations; (b) ratification by state legislatures should not be approved unless there is strong supporting opinion in Parliamentary Council and among Ministers President; (c) agreement among Western Govts unnecessary at this time and that the Govts in any event would be guided by the judgment Mil Govs based on conditions existing at time of approval constitution and on recommendations Ger officials.” (862.011/3–1049)