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

Memorandum by the President to the Secretary of State

[top secret]

I just received copy of a Top Secret telegram from Commissioner McCloy on the rearming of Germany.1 This is a most difficult subject about which to talk.

It seems to me that the British are doing everything possible to break up western European unity and, of course, one of their approaches would be to advocate the rearmament of Germany. France would immediately get a severe case of jitters if the subject is ever seriously considered.

We certainly don’t want to make the same mistake that was made after World War I when Germany was authorized to train one hundred thousand soldiers, principally for maintaining order locally in Germany. As you know, that hundred thousand was used for the basis of training the greatest war machine that ever came forth in European history. While it wasn’t successful in its objective, it certainly caused the unnecessary death of millions and millions of young men of all the other European countries and the United States.

[Page 689]

This is a subject on which I think you should call McCloy home and you, the Secretary of Defense, McCloy and I ought to sit down and discuss the proper approach to a police force for Germany that will maintain order locally and yet not be allowed to develop into a training ground for a military machine that can combine with Russia and ruin the rest of the world.2

H[arry] S. T[ruman]
  1. Under reference here is telegram 5052, June 13, from Frankfort, not printed, in which McCloy reported on a trip of former General Gerhard Graf von Schwerin to England which was apparently arranged to discuss the remilitarization of Germany with certain British officials. Von Schwerin claimed that he was told that the United States could “be brought into line quickly”, and McCloy concluded that it was “becoming increasingly evident that the UK is utilizing pressure for creation of a German police force as a first step toward the remilitarization of Germany.” (762A.5/6–1350)
  2. Attached to the source text was a handwritten note from Byroade to Acheson which indicated that the President’s thinking was along the lines of the Department of State’s. Byroade, however, saw no need to recall McCloy for discussions, a view seconded by Jessup in another handwritten notation.