S/PNSC Files: Lot 62 D 1: NSC 71 Series1

Report to the National Security Council by the Secretary of Defense (Johnson)2

top secret
NSC 71

Extracts of Views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff With Respect to Western Policy Toward Germany

On 28 April 1950, the Joint Chiefs of Staff made the following comment with respect to Western policy toward Germany:

“The Western policy toward Germany is still keyed to the theme of preventing Germany from regaining a position which would enable her again ‘to threaten the peace of the world.’ Allied controls such as the Ruhr Statute, the Level of Industry Agreement, and our disarmament policy contribute to preventing effective Germany contribution to the strength of the North Atlantic community and constitute reasons why important segments of the German public may doubt that Germany’s long-range interests lie in association with the West. While Western Germany’s economic strength is an important consideration from the point of view of denial to the USSR, should Germany eventually [Page 687] be brought into the Soviet camp, it would appear of greater positive importance to the West, at this time, to exploit the contribution which her great industrial potential could make toward a stronger economic development of Western Europe. Before further progress can be made towards developing Germany or Western Germany into a valuable industrial asset to the Western European and North Atlantic communities, agreement must first be reached with France to modify presently over-restrictive controls upon German industry.”

On 2 May 1950, the Joint Chiefs of Staff made the following comment with respect to U.S. policy toward Germany:

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff are firmly of the opinion that, from the military point of view, the appropriate and early rearming of Western Germany is of fundamental importance to the defense of Western Europe against the USSR. In order to insure that the energy and resources of the German people become a source of constructive strength to the free world rather than again becoming a menace, either independently or with the USSR primarily, the present disarmament and demilitarization policy with respect to Western Germany should be changed. The Western Germans should, as soon as feasible, be given real and substantial opportunity to participate in Western European and North Atlantic regional arrangements.

In view of the foregoing considerations, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend …2 that the United States should adopt the following policy:

‘Bring about recognition by the Western European nations, particularly France, of the necessity of changing the present disarmament and demilitarization policy with respect to Western Germany so that Western Germany can contribute effectively to the security of Western Europe.’

It is recognized that political and psychological obstacles in Western Europe will have to be overcome if the present Allied policy is to be changed. Pressure should be brought on France to insure that unilateral action by France, such as that recently taken with respect to the Saar Basin,3 is not repeated but that France be persuaded to recognize that the USSR is a greater menace to the independence of France than is Germany.”

On 17 May 1950, the Joint Chiefs of Staff made the following comment with respect to Federal Police in West Germany:

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff have been informed by their representative in London that the three High Commissioners to West Germany have agreed to recommend to the Council of Foreign Ministers that West Germany be authorized to have 5,000 Federal police to be termed “Republican Guard.” The Joint Chiefs of Staff strongly urge that the Foreign Ministers approve this recommendation, since such a force could well be the initial step in the eventual rearming of West Germany.”

  1. Lot 62 D 1 is a serial and subject master file of National Security Council documents and correspondence for the years 1948–1961, as maintained by the Policy Planning Staff of the Department of State.
  2. Attached to the source text were a cover sheet and a note from the Executive Secretary, James S. Lay, Jr., which indicated that the views of the JCS would be placed on the agenda for the next regular meeting of the Council on June 15 and that “the Secretary of Defense stated that he considers them to be of particular significance.” The June 15 meeting was subsequently postponed and NSC 71 was not discussed until July 6.
  3. Omission in the source text.
  4. Regarding the Franco-Saar conventions of March 3, see the editorial note, p. 938.