Memorandum by the Director of the Bureau of German Affairs ( Byroade ) to the Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Staff ( Butler )

top secret

Subject: Problems, Commitments, and Plans of the United States with Respect to Germany.

This paper contains the material requested in Mr. Rusk’s1 memorandum of January 182 for inclusion in a report of the National Security Council on the objectives, commitments, and risks of the United States under present conditions or in the event of war.

I. Problems and Conditions in Germany Affecting United States Security

a. unfavorable

The problems and conditions in the German area which may have an unfavorable effect upon the national security of the United States are those which originate either with the Russians or the Germans. There is no other problem or condition in that part of Europe which by itself would affect American security.


Soviet pressure for domination of Germany. This is part of a world problem, manifested in its most acute local form by the blockade of Berlin.
Division of Germany. As long as the division continues, the entire German situation will be provisional and shifting, and the conflicting pressures from east and west may be used for bargaining purposes by the Germans themselves.
Proximity of Soviet troops and the isolation of Berlin. These are factors which increase the risk that military force will be used either by the Russians or the Allies.
Increasing Sovietization of eastern Germany. To the extent that the eastern Germans are obliged to acquiesce in Soviet ideas, Soviet power is increased, and the chances are correspondingly diminished of bringing about the unification of Germany on terms satisfactory to the west.


Resentment of the occupation. The Germans’ dislike of foreign control reduces the scope of possible satisfactory cooperation between them and the occupation authorities.
Traditionally undemocratic German mentality. Although there are democratic elements in Germany, the Germans are not, in general, accustomed to democratic ideas or responsive to them, either in official or private matters, but are susceptible to authoritarian forms of government.
Unemployment and unsatisfactory economic conditions. These conditions increase the hostility of the Germans to the western powers, and offer favorable opportunities for the development of Communist and nationalist thinking and the exploitation of both by the Soviets.
Refugees. The presence of great numbers of unassimilated refugees from the Soviet zone and eastern Europe is threatening both the political and economic recovery of western Germany.

b. favorable

The following may be regarded as conditions in the German area favorable to American national security:

Soviet desire to trade with the west. The willingness of the Russians to maintain some trade between east and west furnished the only point of agreement at the Paris Conference in 1949. It has also contributed to keeping the division of Germany from being complete, and it affords a method of applying pressure against the Soviets in the form of a counter-blockade.
Federal Republic of Germany. The establishment of the Federal Republic, which has a greater degree of political independence and economic recovery than the Soviet zone, is a stabilizing and strengthening influence in western Germany and should at the same time be an attraction to the eastern Germans that will work against the consolidation of Soviet power.
German desire for relations with western Europe. The policy of the Bonn Government is to increase the political and economic ties between Germany and western Europe, which is helpful to the American policy of “integration.”
Fear of the USSR. The German hatred of the Soviets and Communism and fear of their power provide a basis for cooperation with the west, particularly since the Germans have no armed defense of their own.
Presence of Allied occupation troops in Germany. As long as Allied occupation forces are in Germany, an attack on the country would almost surely be an attack on those forces and would therefore call into operation the North Atlantic Treaty. This is undoubtedly an inhibiting factor in Soviet policy.
Allied unity. The position of the western occupation powers is greatly strengthened by the fact that there is substantial agreement among them on objectives and policies with respect to Germany.
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II. Commitments of the United States With Respect to Germany

The principal commitments of the American Government regarding Germany are expressed in the Potsdam Protocol of August 1, 1945; the report of the London Conference of June 1, 1948; the Washington Agreements of April 8, 1949 (including the agreements on reparations, prohibited and limited industries, and the International Authority for the Ruhr); the Charter of the Allied High Commission of June 20, 1949; the United States Government’s memorandum of October 7, 1949, concerning the Report of the Inter-Governmental Group for the Safeguarding of Foreign Interests in Germany; the Petersberg Protocol of November 22, 1949; and the Economic Cooperation Agreement signed on December 15, 1949.

Without attempting to summarize these agreements, it should be noted that they commit the United States to the complete disarmament and demilitarization of Germany, even after the withdrawal of the occupation forces; to the “eventual reconstruction of German political life on a democratic basis” and the “eventual peaceful cooperation in international life by Germany” (Potsdam); to the occupation of Germany “for a long period of time” and to the presence of American occupation forces in Germany “until the peace is secured in Europe” (London). The United States Government also feels itself committed to remain in Berlin until its responsibilities to the people of the city are fully discharged.

III. Plans and Programs of the United States With Respect to Germany

The general plan to counter the Soviet drive for power and to eliminate the German threat to peace is essentially the same. It calls for the establishment of an independent, self-supporting, peaceful Germany which will be integrated into western Europe and will contribute to its political and economic well-being. This will require the continued presence in Germany of an Allied High Commission with sufficient powers to carry out its policies and sufficient troops to enforce its powers. All other plans for Germany should be made on the assumption that an arrangement of this sort will be maintained for the foreseeable future.

More specific plans are outlined in the policy directive to Mr. McCloy3 noted by the National Security Council on December 8, 1949. There is also a plan to renew the airlift if the blockade of Berlin should be reimposed (NSC 24/3 and 24/44), and consideration is being given to constructive measures which might end the present division of the country. Substantial efforts are being made through education and reorientation to influence the Germans to adopt fundamental democratic [Page 681] concepts in their institutions and habits of thought, and it is hoped that these projects will in time have an important effect upon political attitudes in Germany. The various economic problems are being met by ECA, by GARIOA appropriations, and by the development of foreign trade. The Allied High Commission is trying steadily to increase cooperation with the Germans and will progressively turn over greater power to them as they can be trusted to use it in accordance with Allied objectives.

  1. Dean Rusk, Deputy Under Secretary of State.
  2. For text, see vol. i, p. 138.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. iii, p. 319.
  4. Regarding NSC 24/3 and 24/4, see ibid., p. 839.