Memorandum by the Counselor of the Department of State (Kennan) to the Acting Deputy Director of the Bureau of German Affairs (Lewis)


Thank you for sending me the paper on German defense.1 Although I think you know my views, I will recapitulate them here, for the record.

I disagree with the position on German police as described in the paper. I consider that it is unrealistic to expect a demilitarized West German state to have stability unless there is an efficient federal constabulary to act as the sanction of the political power, and to balance off the East German police forces. I believe that we should endeavor to match approximately man for man and weapon for weapon the para-military units being developed in Eastern Germany. I cannot accept the proposition that it makes no difference whether western Germany is defended by our own forces or German police units. There is nothing the Russians want more than to see our forces become engaged in fighting Germans, while they sit on the sidelines and make political capital out of it. It is my belief that the future of Europe may well be settled by a showdown of police force within Germany rather than by an international war. We are already lagging seriously behind in this respect, and we have no time to lose.
I see no reason why the Germans should require from us, or be given, any assurance of defense as long as they are occupied by the western allied powers. Obviously, an attack on Western Germany [Page 682] would be an attack on the western forces of occupation and would mean war. No paper assurance or agreement could alter or improve this situation from the standpoint of the Germans. Our position should be that the Germans are adequately covered in this way for the moment and that we will consult with them in good time about their future security when the termination of the occupation becomes imminent.
I am strongly opposed to Germany’s being invited to enter the North Atlantic Pact. I feel that there was something unsound from the beginning about asking demilitarized, or substantially demilitarized, countries such as Iceland, Italy and Denmark to enter into arrangements with us which implied mutuality of military obligation. I do not think we would improve things by compounding this sort of confusion, which we would do if we admitted another militarily important country such as Germany, on similar terms.
George F. Kennan
  1. Not printed; FM D E–8, dated April 15, under reference here offered three alternative methods of providing for German defense: 1) to rearm the Germans, 2) a guarantee by the occupying powers, 3) to bring the Federal Republic into NATO as a full member. (CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 149: CFM May 1950 E, F, G, H Series) The CFM Files are a consolidated master collection of the records of conferences of Heads of State, Council of Foreign Ministers and ancillary bodies. North Atlantic Council, other meetings of the Secretary of State with the Foreign Ministers of European powers, and materials on the Austrian and German peace settlements for the years 1943–1955 prepared by the Department of State Records Service Center.