762A.00/8–450: Telegram

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


971. Present West German temper against background latest Korean developments marked by profound concern and realistic appraisal German situation but no general panic or collapse of morale.

On debit side, there has been acute realization threat to Germany implied in Kremlin decision resort “hot war” Korea, eliminating German hope that Soviet fear US potential would suffice deter overt military action by Soviet or orbit governments. Generally realized now that Germany defenseless except for strength western powers. Korea causes doubt, such strength adequate defense Germany and Europe, and consciousness Germany a “soft spot” and stake of highest importance to Soviets.

Available evidence indicates deep prevailing unrest and uncertainty though morale of “man in street” holding reasonably well. Many persons of property or prominence, also business firms, showing regrettable tendency attempt “insure” selves against possible Communist take over by contributions KPD (some even secretly matching normal overt payments to their bourgeois parties), ads in KPD papers, devious trade deals in violation western restrictions, and general avoidance open espousal or support west-orientation policies.

Certain influential German political leaders have expressed to US officials grave misgivings course events. One able and influential CDU leader spoke of “almost hopeless” international situation in following terms: believes Soviet forces can overrun all Europe at will; western comeback might require many years once Soviets dig in and use modern techniques control and convert younger population; holding at least non-Communist west European bridgehead of prime importance to west in such event; west Germans could perhaps accept fact Germany cannot be defended but must be offered some hope for future; morale being weakened by increasing arrogance Communist agents; and youth inclined to alarmist and despairing view current situation if no positive, hopeful course of action can be presented.

Total picture German reaction, however, presents certain more favorable aspects. Belief is general west has acted with decision and determination. Full awareness meaning Korea for Germany and Europe and fact Germany not isolated problem. “Third force” concept weakened and now has slight appeal. Despite personal fears, German opinion overwhelmingly pro-west and sees US–UN action as fight for common cause. Press commonly designates North Koreans as “enemy”. Evidence gradual shift of attitude on German security and possible rearmament in progress. Decreased emphasis on need for formal [Page 705] security guarantee for Germany and readiness expressed Germany contribute common security effort. Belief commonly held that revision German disarmament policy imperative but uncertainty as to form German contribution or extent German military effort possible or desirable.

Germans appreciate US military effort and sacrifice even if somewhat disillusioned results to date. Frank admission military setbacks taken as sign of strength (note contrast Nazi attempt conceal military failures in late phases World War II). General, emphatic approval of recent decisions occupation authorities to “crack down” on Communist if necessary. Strong favorable reaction Cardinal Frings’1 “no peace at any price” statement.

One effect Korean crisis has been to develop agitation in some quarters for drastic revision occupation statute in direction equality status and restoration sovereign powers. Certain representatives of major parties and public leaders urge more sweeping changes than seem likely be recommended by London study group or than we have in mind at present. For example, Euler (FDP), Brentano (CDU), Wehner (SPD)2 have recently declared to US liaison officers at Bonn that radical modification occupation statute most effective means strengthen West German position vis-à-vis east. Argued wide expansion German powers necessary if FedRep to earn respect West Germans essential these critical times. Stressed psychological effect such action, holding FedRep must not be considered puppet of HICOM. They claimed greater freedom of action requisite in both foreign and internal affairs, maintaining such independence alone could enable Germans resist blandishments of Soviet Zone Government. Realized desired changes in occupation statute unlikely but warned result insufficient action would be German demoralization and disillusionment.

Same position underlined by Vice Chancellor Bluecher at press conference Bonn August 1. Asserted revision occupation statute with restoration sovereignty best means make FedRep “politically crisis proof” and strong vis-à-vis the east. Germany should be admitted full partnership in west, including role in security system.

Evidence of rather wide conviction in West Germany that Korea enhances significance role semi-independent Germany and hence revision occupation statute should at this juncture be along road lines with substantial grants of freedom of action to federal and land governments, and much talk to effect that failure such action may be interpreted as lack of confidence in Germany and unwillingness trust [Page 706] Germany as reliable partner in western community. At same time some of these statements should be discounted as inborn instinct of Germans to capitalize on any situation, which Korean is too good to be missed, in order to extract maximum concessions from occupation powers.

Sent Department 971; repeated info London 86 for ISG, Paris 88, Rome 16, Moscow unnumbered.

  1. Dr. Joseph Frings, Archbishop of Cologne.
  2. August Martin Euler, Bundestag member from Hesse; Heinrich von Brentano, Bundestag member from Hesse and Chairman of the CDU parliamentary group; Herbert Wehner, Bundestag member from Hamburg.