740.00119 Control (Germany)/4–249: Telegram

The Acting United States Political Adviser for Germany (Riddleberger) to the Secretary of State


479. Increasing storm signals during past few months and especially recent weeks warn of potential dangers facing Western allies unless positive solution is speedily found to present stalemate in Western Germany. On one hand, situation in West Germany itself is in many respects unsatisfactory politically as evidenced by:

Impasse at Bonn with at least SPD leaders at Bonn having expressed determination to go no further toward meeting terms of Military Governors’ memorandum than acceptance of Committee of Seven’s proposals, and CDU’s position still unclear.
Increased nationalism.
Spread of “neutralization” idea as advanced by Nauheimer Kreis plan.1
General dissatisfaction caused by such Western allied measures as Ruhr agreement, military security board, western boundary changes (latter have evoked unanimous and bitter resentment),2 and apprehensively awaited occupation statute.
Breaking of Western counter-blockade by West German officials and businessmen which has reportedly increased in last three weeks.

Primary factor in political deterioration is allied disunity. Soviets and satellite German leaders are exerting every effort to exploit situation to full as evidenced by:

Nuschke’s visit to West.3
Nadolny’s Godesberg meeting (although not proved that Nadolny was acting for SMA, his efforts fit neatly into pattern of Soviet plans).4
Volksrat proposal for Braunschweig meeting with representatives of Bizonal Economic Council and Bonn Parliamentary Council.
Intensified propaganda regarding peace treaty, German unity, with special emphasis on Rapallo concept of East-West trade (including trade with East and Southwest Europe) as vitally necessary to German economy.

Western Germany’s reaction to such overtures is more responsive than could have been imagined a few months ago and there appears to be growing tendency to revive relations with Communist controlled East Germany or at least not repulse latter’s overtures outright. Although Nuschke seemed at first to have had only limited success, subsequent developments indicate he may have sowed seeds in miracle soil. Nadolny’s and Hermes’ gathering at Godesberg included number key men in West Germany, particularly from economic circles (see Frankfurt’s telegram 269, March 15 repeated Berlin 395). This was immediately followed by Volksrat invitation to Bizonal Economic Council and Bonn. Although Koehler apparently rejected invitation for former (no official reply has yet been published, however). Adenauer hedged by saying he had referred invitation to appropriate committee and would revert to subject later. This seems to indicate at least Adenauer and perhaps others did not wish to close door completely. (Attitude of Adenauer as evidenced by this and Bern speech,6 for example, leaves much to be desired, especially in view his influence at Bonn and in Party.)

There are furthermore other indications that although meeting with Volksrat delegation as such may not be acceptable, idea of rapprochement between East and West Germany would be welcome to various elements in West Germany who (a) genuinely believe in necessary or [necessity of?] East-West trade, (b) consider German unity of primary [Page 235] importance and/or (c) are ready to gamble on compromise with Russians in belief that in long run Germans could outsmart them or (d) who would like to use it as lever against disunited Western allies. Trade argument is strong factor. For example, we have just seen report (believed genuine) of Berlin businessman who recently completed trip to West to explore for SMA possibility of increasing blockade-running trade, and who claims to have concluded satisfactory arrangements with several West German firms which, with help of German officials, will act as large-scale purchasing agents for export to East.

We believe that the cumulative impact of these various factors and events is sufficiently serious to warrant a careful re-evaluation of our present course in Germany in the light of the atmosphere and circumstances with which we are faced today. Uncertainty as to the intent of Western allied policy in Germany is widespread among Germans and definitely colors the thinking of the major political parties, particularly the SPD. Coupled with this uncertainty is a growing disillusionment and dissatisfaction with the progress of the West German state and the nature of allied strictures regarding it.

While we do not wish to imply that there is at present substantial Western German opinion which actively favors rapprochement with the East under existing conditions, we do feel that the potential of the present situation is a real and serious consideration for all three governments and should not be discounted. Confusion, doubt and dissatisfaction are mounting in Western Germany and are fed by the obvious lack of agreement between the Western allies on major German issues. If the present differences over the Bonn constitution, the occupation statute, trizonal fusion and the other stumbling blocks to creation of a viable West German State are not speedily resolved, we may be faced with a very different political and psychological situation in Western Germany. German hopes that the political vacuum will be filled would be destroyed and in circumstances present Soviet “Unity and Rapallo” line might assume force and meaning in dangerous proportions.

  1. A declaration issued at Bad Nauheim on December 4, 1948, containing an appeal to save peace through the neutralization of Germany between East and West.
  2. For documentation on the changes in the western boundary of Germany, see p. 436 ff.
  3. Regarding Nuschke’s visit to Bonn, see telegram 331, March 5, p. 220.
  4. Regarding Nadolny’s meeting at Bad Godesberg with leading Germans from the Western zones, see telegram 56, March 15, p. 224.
  5. Not printed.
  6. For extracts from Adenauer’s Bern speech, March 23, 1949, see Adenauer, Memoirs, pp. 145–151.