CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 152: SFM Documents 1–40

Paper Prepared by the High Commissioners for Germany of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France 1

top secret

Document 23 [D–4/8]2

Summary of the High Commissioners’ Views

1.
Public opinion in Germany is in general at present opposed to the remilitarization of that country. This is particularly true of the recreation of a German National Army.
2.
The grounds for this opinion are briefly:
(a)
After two lost wars the Germans are disillusioned and reluctant to fight again.
(b)
The military profession is generally discredited.
(c)
To many elements with a liberal outlook, the return to power of the old military caste and general staff is repugnant and considered dangerous.
(d)
German opinion does not believe that the Allies are resolved and able to resist a Russian attack. In fighting on the Allied side the Germans would not determine the course of the battle, and consequently would only be participating in a catastrophe. They are therefore tempted to be neutral and act in accordance with the advice of Soviet agents.
3.
Nevertheless, those Germans who are prepared to contemplate the recreation of a German military force are only prepared to do so if this force forms part of a European defense force. The idea of European solidarity in the defense of a Western European community is widely popular in Germany and makes a particular appeal to some of the best elements in the youth.
4.
The conception of integration in a common Western European Force is popular in part because it is assumed that it involves a progressive and substantial return to equality of right and German sovereignty. If experience showed that this was not the case any enthusiasm for the project would be largely dissipated.
5.
It follows from the considerations set forth above that German opinion has to be carefully prepared if the participation of Germany in Western Defense is to receive the necessary degree of popular support. Accordingly, the High Commissioners believe the following measures would have the desired effect:
(a)
Increase of the strength of the Allied troops in the Federal Republic.
(b)
Renew the declaration of the Allied intention to protect the Federal Republic and Berlin from aggression from any quarter.
(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.
(d)
Give Germany the means to ensure its internal security against Communist violence and the subversive activities of the Fifth Column.
(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.

  1. The preparation of this paper was proposed by Bevin at the Foreign Ministers private meeting September 12. Apparently the High Commissioners drafted it that evening after the first meeting, and it was introduced at the beginning of the second meeting on September 13. For the minutes of these meetings, see pp. 1191 and 1202, respectively.
  2. Brackets in the source text, the origin and meaning of which are unclear.