396.1 LO/5–650

Memorandum by the Director of the Bureau of German Affairs ( Byroade ) to the Secretary of State
top secret

The conference on Germany started rather late in the preparatory talks and there were only two days of general policy discussion. Nevertheless, certain fundamental positions of the British and French seem obvious. These conclusions are formed mainly by outside discussions with the British and French representatives.

On the British side, on the level of the Under Secretary of State for Germany (Kirkpatrick, who is shortly to become UK High Commissioner in Germany), the approach towards the German problem is fundamentally quite different from our approach, although their approach seems superficially to embody a great number of the steps which we desire. They are quite willing to move forward rapidly in the field of giving back controls to Germany. In this they place primary emphasis on restoring to Germany the control of foreign affairs, but hesitate on releasing controls in the field of foreign trade and exchange. They seem to have no concept that a question of organization [Page 934] of Europe or the West has any bearing on the German problem. They visualize Germany within two years as a full member of NAT with substantial, but unbalanced, military forces. They are not concerned with the fate of the so-called reorientation or democratization programming which has been a major part of our policy. They would give Germany centralized police now with full intention that this is a future start of German armed forces. They speak of a step by step approach but seem to ask from the Germans nothing but entry into the Council of Europe.

We believe the above course is going to be sponsored by the British in an effort to regain their lost prestige in Germany and that their will make every effort to be in the lead from here on in, taking measures which will be looked upon by the Germans with favor. They are already doing so. They seem to have little interest in securing any commitments or obligations by Germany as they go down this process of relinquishment of control. They are quite opposed to the principle of any German contribution in an economic sort of way to the military strength of the West, on the ground that the Germans will not agree to this unless they are allowed arms.

In a conversation with me Kirkpatrick indicated that France was “no damn good” and that Germany would make a better partner.

Representatives from Frankfort indicate increasing evidence of the British desire to relax controls and tie Germany financially and economically to Britain. As you know, there was extreme irritation at our interference in the recent German-UK trade talks,1 and it was apparent that they believed this to be a European problem in which we should not interfere. It was an effort, as we saw it, to tie Germany to the sterling bloc.

If we are led down the path of relaxation of controls with no greater commitment of Germany in the over-all framework except in a Council of Europe and the OEEC, which, under present prospects, seem quite ineffectual, we are debarking on a course which will reduce the influence of the United States in Germany and to a great extent in Europe. This would allow the British to be a major shaper of policy towards Germany which they would hope to increase by tight financial arrangements with Germany.

There seems to be no effective way to combatting such an arrangement until the United States makes up its mind whether it desires, in its own interest, to retain a position of influence in Europe and the extent of its willingness to participate for this reason in European: affairs.

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The French position, while somewhat sticky along the lines of their traditional concern at a regrowth of German influence, has at this conference been fairly reasonable. They seem to accept as inevitable that Germany will regain a position of great influence in Europe. Having accepted that fact, and seeing as yet no framework which reduces the risk inherent in such a condition to France, they are agreeing in principle reluctantly to move forward with the hope of holding back on specific issues as long as possible.

The interest of the United States must be to find the means which will cause the French to move forward on a progressive policy with confidence. If British policy is accurately portrayed by the views of Kirkpatrick, it seems we must also disabuse the British of their idea that they can maintain special relationships with the United States and continental powers of their own choosing. With such an attitude there can be no effective organization of Europe or of the North Atlantic Community. In the absence of realization of either one of these objectives, there seems to be no really acceptable way of accomplishing our objectives as regards Germany.

  1. Documentation on the German-U.K. trade talks is scheduled for publication in volume iv.