CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 152; File—SFM Meeting Minutes

United States Delegation Minutes, Second Meeting of the Foreign Ministers, New York, Waldorf Astoria, September 13, 1950, 10:30 a. m.


SFM Min–2


Mr. Acheson (US)

M. Schuman (Fr)

Mr. Bevin (UK)

Also Present

US France UK
Philip C. Jessup Henri Bonnet Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick
John J. McCloy M. François-Poncet Sir Pierson Dixon
Charles S. Spofford Hervé Alphand Sir Oliver Franks
George W. Perkins M. de la Tournelle Sir William Elliott



  • Allied Troops
  • Zonal Boundaries
  • Allied Declaration
  • European Defense
  • Police
  • Military Units

Mr. Acheson opened the meeting by stating that, in response to the requests made of the NAT Deputies and of the High Commissioners in the first meeting, three papers had been prepared for the Ministers. He suggested that the two papers from the NAT Deputies, the draft resolution on the Medium Term Defense Plan (Int. Doc. No. 221) and the draft resolution, on the forces for defense of freedom in Europe (Int. Doc. No. 242), be studied by the respective delegations and comments made directly to the Deputies, unless there were major disagreements which the Ministers wished to discuss at this meeting. On the paper summarizing the views of the High Commissioners (Int. Doc. 233), which had been submitted to the Ministers as a unanimous report, it might be profitable to take up point by point the recommendations made under paragraph 5.

[Page 1203]

(a) Increase of the strength of the Allied troops in the Federal Republic.

Mr. Schuman stated that this was an important problem and one that raised a related problem which he wished to mention. The Western occupation troops were still located in their respective zones. This meant that French troops could not be used along the eastern frontier, where they might be needed most. It seemed desirable, in approaching the present emergency problems, to do away with zonal boundaries and view the occupation of Germany as a common problem.

Mr. Bevin agreed that it was desirable to consider this question of zones in the light of requirements of the common defense effort. He had reached no final conclusions on this question, but his preliminary view was that it might be desirable to retain the present zones in a civil sense, but to work out a method of breaking down zonal barriers in terms of defense questions. The complete elimination of zonal boundaries might well create too much confusion and the necessity for working out an entirely new mechanism. He felt this should be avoided, although he agreed with Mr. Schuman’s point on the use of occupation troops.

Mr. Schuman stated that he had only wished to raise the necessity for re-examining the question of zonal boundaries with reference to military questions. He agreed with Mr. Bevin and had no desire to alter the boundaries from the standpoint of civil administration.

Mr. Acheson said he was in agreement with the desirability of making this examination and the Ministers accepted. Mr. Bevin’s suggestion that the High Commissioners be asked to make a preliminary survey immediately, although any definitive study would have to await their consultation with the military advisers.

(b) Renew the declaration of the Allied intention to protect the Federal Republic and Berlin from aggression from any quarter.

The Ministers agreed to this recommendation and accepted Mr. Schuman’s statement that, when this declaration is renewed, it is understood to include all possible aggression, including possible action by police units of Eastern Germany.

(c) Take visible steps to organize the equipment, financing and command of a unified military force to defend Europe. These measures would be designed to prove to the German people that Europe, including Germany, can and will be effectively defended and so encourage the Germans to join in the effort.

The Ministers accepted this recommendation, taking note of Mr. Bevin’s comment that, while he approved this statement in principle, [Page 1204] it was necessary to coordinate this recommendation with those contained in the two papers submitted to the Council by the NAT Deputies.

(d) Give Germany the means to ensure its internal security against Communist violence and the subversive activities of the Fifth Column.

Mr. Acheson noted that this was a recommendation to do something without any recommendation as to the means to be used. He thought it would be very easy to reach agreement on the necessity for strengthening internal security. The difficult question came in determining the means by which this was to be done. There was disagreement among the Deputies as to the means for accomplishing this objective and he suggested that the High Commissioners might state their views.

Mr. Poncet said that his Government favored the establishment of Laender police forces rather than a federal police. The establishment of a federal police would be contrary to the provisions of the Western German constitution, which specifically placed responsibility over the police in the hands of the Laender. A federal police would give the central government a strong instrument of authority over the local governments, which could lead to tyranny. In the French view the most effective answer to this problem would be to increase the Laender police, create a highly mobile and well organized force responsible to the states but subject to certain federal supervisory powers and to emergency call to federal service.

Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick stated that he was strongly in favor of creating a federal police force as the answer to this problem. The Bonn Government had requested it and their request should receive some attention. A decentralized force was not under any circumstances the optimum arrangement. The present constitution had been drawn up under a concept that it was desirable to make the central government weak; in the present period of crisis it seemed desirable to modify the constitution and to strengthen the central government. The dangers of the strong central authority would be circumscribed by the guarantees which the present government would have to give in order to secure amendment to the constitution. Finally, decentralized forces would be equally stationed in all of the Laender, whereas actually the necessity and the desire on the part of the Germans for police units varied considerably from land to land.

Mr. McCloy said that he thought the argument pro and con had been well stated. In his own view he had been influenced by the fact that the record of the federal police in Germany had been so bad in the past and that creating this strong central police seemed dangerous. He fully realized that the present German Government would [Page 1205] not be entirely satisfied with the solution in terms of Laender police, but he thought that the local authorities, at least in the U.S. Zone, were prepared to go quite far in granting central authority to the federal government.

In response to a question from Mr. Acheson as to exactly what type of threat the High Commissioners sought to meet in this recommendation, Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick replied that it was the threat of communist violence as presently organized in Western Germany and such Fifth Column activity as might in the future be organized. This threat was most serious in the industrial areas and it was not uniform throughout Western Germany.

Mr. Acheson pointed out that this was not a centralized threat but rather one in which the police would be dispersed to meet any crisis. He wondered if it could not be satisfactorily handled on a Laender basis.

Mr. Bevin said he was influenced by the experience with the Weimar Republic, in which scattered local police had been weak and ineffective. Laender police were also subject to too much local political pressure. Finally, in the event of a real crisis, the delay in assembling Laender police under a federal administration would be disastrous. At the same time he wanted to raise a question as to whether the solution had to be all of one or the other.

Mr. Acheson said he had also been considering whether or not a solution could be reached by combining the two concepts. It was important to have federal supervision over training and recruitment and it was essential that the federal authority have the power to mobilize the local police. It seemed to him that it might be possible to draft a formula which would satisfy the British desire for a strong centralized police and at the same time satisfy U.S. and French concern over the dangers inherent in such a force.

Mr. Schuman stated that he still insisted on the French position. It was most important to avoid a change in the constitution. A change in itself was bad, and there was the necessity of moving rapidly in our planning at the present time, while an amendment to the constitution would require at least six months. The French were in agreement concerning federal supervision of recruitment, training, and location of the police, provided those police were still largely a Laender responsibility. In answer to the point made by Kirkpatrick, he pointed out that the dangers did not lie solely in the industrial areas but also along the border regions and to some extent throughout Western Germany. Police must be decentralized if they were to meet effectively the full range of possible danger. As a particular case in point, Berlin was the most vulnerable of all spots, and federalized police [Page 1206] would be useless for meeting a Berlin crisis. France did not want to see any rebuilding of a federal German army, and therefore opposed a federal police under the authority of a single command with power to create the framework of new German armed might. Reform of the present police system was essential, but it had to be met without running the danger of centralized power.

Mr. Acheson said he would like to consider a possible formula under which a certain percentage of the Laender police might be mobilized and available to the federal government at all times. These troops would not necessarily be the same persons, but the same total would always be available to the government. This would give an immediate striking force which could be supplemented by the mobilization of Laender reserves. He suggested that the High Commissioners might try to work out a formula for Laender police, incorporating this suggestion and all other ideas which had been advanced for giving federal direction to the local forces. In response to a question from Mr. Bevin, he agreed that under his suggestion it would be necessary for the federal government to put up certain funds, perhaps in the form of paying all expenses for that percentage of the police under federal control at any one time. In response to another question from Mr. Bevin, he said he thought such a formula might go a long way toward meeting the request which had been made by Chancellor Adenauer.4 The Ministers agreed that the High Commissioners would attempt to draft such a formula.

(e) Prepare German opinion to favor participation in the Western Defense at the earliest possible moment and under conditions entirely honorable to them. Encourage the German press and public to discuss this development and, with the assistance of the Federal Government and the High Commissioners, direct it on the lines laid down by the three Ministers in New York.

Mr. Schuman stated that in addition to the very considerable psychological problem of preparing opinion on this question, there were two other important issues. The first was legal. There was no present provision in the North Atlantic Treaty for national contingents of non-signatory powers. There is a provision for volunteer units recruited directly under the NATO, but national contingents [Page 1207] would create a peculiar legal problem with reference to the present terms of the treaty. The second question was a technical, military one, which concerned the problem of how to organize troops on any basis other than national contingents. The creation of a new military structure might be desirable at a later time, but it did not seem possible to meet this problem at the present moment.

Mr. Acheson replied that he felt the Ministers had to direct themselves to the task of supplying the High Commissioners with general guidance on this broad subject. After that they should consider how best to approach the other NAT countries and how to handle the problems of public opinion. But it was not possible to put off discussion of this entire question just because the Ministers were faced with psychological problems.

With reference to the issues raised by Mr. Schuman, he said that he did not think the legal argument applied. The North Atlantic Treaty said that an attack against one member would be considered an attack on all. It did not stipulate how the members would meet this attack or what forces they might use. On the technical question, it might be desirable at a later date to recruit purely international units of NATO. This raised big questions which were not the immediate issue. What had been proposed was the possibility of German national units being contributed to NATO and not the creation of a German national army. It was envisaged that the German Government should recruit, pay, promote, etc. its units, but that these units would be dependent upon ordnance supplies from sources external to Germany and would not be organized with a German commander not high ranking officers. These German contingents would have no existence apart from the forces for freedom. The administrative problems of creating an international force were too great and the danger of recreating a German national army too serious. What the U.S. sought was a middle course and he considered it essential at this time that the Ministers consider this problem and be prepared to give further guidance to the High Commissioners.

Mr. Schuman said that he feared this proposal would make the task of the Ministers even more difficult. While Mr. Acheson excluded the formation of a genuine German national army, he still called for the formation of some purely German units. This would create difficulties in the NATO since German national units would now come within the framework of the Treaty, and it would cause serious trouble in the French Parliament if there were any suggestion of revision of [Page 1208] the Treaty. He could not now accept this concept for the French Government.

In reply, Mr. Acheson stated that he wanted to separate procedural questions on how to approach the Germans or how to get them to approach us from the substance of the issue. The real issue was that the U.S. was now willing to take a step never before taken in its history in putting troops in Europe and joining in a collective force. This would commit the U.S. from the first; it would share with the Europeans the problems of the defense of Europe. But the U.S. was not prepared to do this unless the other powers were prepared to take sufficient steps to make this defense of Europe a success. In reviewing the problem, the U.S. found no solution to guarantee the success of this venture which excluded German participation. He did not believe that Mr. Schuman wished to foreclose the possibility that the Germans might fight to defend their own country. Time was an important factor, and the U.S. did not envisage that anything concrete could be done in the way of using German troops for many months. Our immediate hope was to increase our own forces by all possible means and to see that French and British forces were likewise increased. But we must also have an answer now on the possible use of German forces in order both to secure the success of this venture and to be able to combat the attitude of defeatism and disintegration in Germany.

Mr. Bevin said that he understood that the U.S. decision was not dependent on but was considerably influenced by the total size of European forces. Mr. Acheson said this was correct. In answer to a question from Mr. Bevin as to just what it was the U.S. hoped to achieve at the meeting, Mr. Acheson said that the U.S. hope in view of the world situation lay in securing forward progress on two related fronts. One was to increase U.S. efforts as hard and as fast as possible. The other was to initiate all possible steps which could augment our present broad objectives. In this regard, we felt that the German people today were confused and that there was a tendency on their part to avoid involvement with the Western countries because they felt the chances of the West were not good. It was the hope of the U.S. to create an effective and adequate force and also to provide the Germans with an opportunity to join in and fight with the Western powers.

The meeting adjourned at 12:40 p. m. with an agreement that the Ministers would reconvene at 3:00 p. m.

  1. Dated September 13, p. 1277.
  2. Dated September 13, p. 1280.
  3. Dated September 13, p. 1278.
  4. Material on Chancellor Adenauer’s request on August 29 for the creation of a Federal police force and the reinforcement of occupation forces in West Germany is scheduled for publication in volume iv.