862A.511/5–450: Telegram

The United States High Commissioner for Germany (McCloy) to the Secretary of State


205. For Secretary eyes only. Verbatim text. Text of Adenauer letter re: Federal police force discussed at executive HICOM Council session Bonn/Petersberg 4 May 1950. Neither Robertson nor I expressed firm positions and no decision was made. Poncet stated firm objection to numbers proposed by Adenauer and to concept of federal wide establishments. Poncet indicated willingness however to consider small protective police force restricted to Bonn enclave under direct federal control. Apprehensions regarding timing and propaganda effects also briefly discussed.

Following is verbatim text:

“I have honour to bring following to your notice:

In short period that has passed since the establishment of Federal Republic of Germany it has proved a noticeable disadvantage that the republic does not command its own police force. The Federal Government is not able to take any executive police measures on its own authority.

This disability has an even more disadvantageous effect because land police forces are very much decentralized and are neither mechanised nor equipped successfully to carry out major operations in case of an emergency. Apart from exceptional case of national emergency under Article 91 of basic law, federation has no authority to issue orders to land police forces in any of three Western zones of occupation. This situation gives rise to grave anxiety especially at present when centres of unrest may at any time appear as result of very lively subversive activities from Eastern zone.

In long run federal state can only maintain itself if it commands an instrument for execution of its will. Other federal states have armies, main purpose of which, it is true, is to resist foreign aggression, but which can also be deployed to ensure maintenance of internal security. At present Germany has no army and does not wish for one. [Page 685] Allied occupation forces provide the necessary means of defence against an attack. It is, however, not compatible with prestige of Federal Government to be dependent upon Allied forces for execution of its will; moreover, circumstances might arise in which intervention might cause embarrassment to Allied forces. Federal Government, therefore, considers establishment of federal police force to be an absolute necessity.

It would be task of federal police to protect constitutional structure on federation and to act in case of major threat to public order beyond control of land police forces. Unrest in central Germany which spread rapidly from an insignificant beginning in 1921 shows speed with which such disturbances can spread over considerable area. At that time police were suddenly faced by well-organized and armed insurgents. Although police were at that time better equipped with arms than is case today, they were not successful in their struggle against an even better equipped opponent and they could not re-establish public order; this was possible only with support of Reichswehr.

Beyond this federal police would also have to undertake protection of federal institutions and constitutional federal agencies in Bonn. At present no more than 110 policemen are on duty at any time in federal capital. They are not subject to instructions from Federal Government and they are not able successfully to oppose any major public disturbance.

In order to be equal to these tasks federal police would have to be so organized that police reserves in form of units in barracks are set up for purpose of carrying out other than local operations which they would have to be sufficiently strong in number and adequately equipped. With regard to numerical strength, one unit may be calculated per 200,000 inhabitants. On basis of population on figure of 45,000,000, this would mean approximately 220 units. If strength of each unit is reckoned at 120, federal police force would amount to total of approximately 25,000. Federal Minister of Interior would be supreme administrative head of federal police.

I am particularly anxious to stress that establishment of federal police force is not intended in any way to affect authority of either state or communal police forces in Laender. Delimitation of special powers of federal police vis-à-vis current functions of land police forces would have to be clearly set out. Problem whether and in what circumstances federal police should have power of arrest would, for instance, have to be examined.

I should be grateful to you if you could inform me soon whether there are any objections on part of Allied High Commission to intended establishment of federal police force within framework outlined above. If this is not case, detailed arrangements should be reserved to further talks in accordance with number 3 of letter of military governors of 12 May 1949 and number 5 of this [their?] letter of 14 [8?] April 1949.1 Adenauer.”

[Page 686]

Sent Department 205, repeated London 61 for Douglas eyes only and USDel Colonel N. A. Gerhardt eyes only, Paris 62 for Bruce eyes only, Frankfort 229 OES eyes only.

  1. For the texts of the letter to the Parliamentary Council defining the powers of the Federal Government in the police field and the Military Governors letter approving the Basic Law, May 12, 1949, see Documents on the Creation of the German Federal Constitution (Berlin, Office of the Military Government for Germany (U.S.), 1949), pp. 137–138, or Beate Ruhm von Oppen, ed., Documents on Germany Under Occupation (London, Oxford University Press, 1955), pp. 385–386 and 390–392.