762A.00/8–1850: Telegram

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

top secret

1479. Eyes only for Byroade. Following is report of my talk with Adenauer on 17 August:1

Adenauer’s first visit with Commission since his return from vacation dealt only with matter of security. He said that time had come for [Page 707] comprehensive statement of international situation from German point of view. He found state of great demoralization in Germany on his return from Switzerland and felt that Allied Governments should face facts as he saw them.

He read from comprehensive intelligence report, based on information from many different German sources, and promised to give us copy of report shortly. In substance it was as follows:

There are from 175 to 200 Soviet divisions at peace strength. Soviets have 40,000 tanks. He does not have as yet reliable estimate on number of planes, but will be able to do so shortly. Soviet forces in Eastern Zone have been increased during summer south of Frankfort-on-Oder. Two new divisions were brought in and substantial quantities of equipment have been brought up. Long runways are being built and long-range jet bombers are included in planes now in East Germany. There is full militarization of Volkspolizei (Bereitschaften) and they no longer have anything in common with ordinary police. The Volkspolizei are now composed of five groups: first in Potsdam; second in Schwerin; third in Dresden; fourth in Weimar and fifth in Halle. Under present plans each of these groups will have attached to it one tank division and one motorized division. Groups will be divided up into divisions in accordance with plan which the Chancellor will shortly furnish us. Present strength is 50 to 60 thousand men, sufficiently trained to play definite role. Development of force has been impeded by desertions and lack of officers and NCO’s. They have had real difficulty recruiting old soldiers. To compensate for this they are concentrating on young men and have established 15 training establishments for NCO’s and officers. More are planned. Special training units already exist, and such special services as medical, engineer, staff and propaganda units. 12,000 Volkspolizei have recently been issued new field uniforms and they will be distributed to divisions in October. By 1951 there will be sufficient officers and NCO’s to take care of at least 150,000 men. They are being indoctrinated with a sense of mission to liberate workers of Western Germany from Anglo-American and capitalistic oppression. Though not immediately capable of being put to use, their development is in straight line toward an East German army. Only retarding factor is scarcity of officers and NCO’s. This gives us some time for counter measures.

As for Soviet forces, according to Chancellor’s information, they are composed of 9 motorized divisions and 13 armored divisions. The south west army and the central army with headquarters respectively at Weimar and Magdeburg have now been merged, but possibly only for training purposes.

Chancellor’s estimates German population’s reaction to Volkspolizei attack under present circumstances would not be one of resistance. [Page 708] They would be quite neutral. Confidence of average German in US military strength has been greatly shaken by Korean developments. Morale generally is low. Inner will to resist has been substantially reduced. They have not become Communists, but they have lost their belief in resistance, belief they once had largely because of assured strength of US. Chancellor referred to some demonstrations in Esslingen and Munich which he felt showed Communist strength in contradistinction to police weakness, and again repeated his lack of confidence in police as they are now formed.

Although Soviet forces are definitely marshalled in East Germany in offensive form, as could be shown by a location map he gave us, he felt Soviets themselves would not attack although their divisions in East Germany are at war strength with full supplies ammunition and fuel. He was confident that Stalin’s chief purpose was to get Germany with as little damage as possible and consolidate it with Russian strength to oppose US, and a destroyed Germany would be of less use to his purpose. It has been reported to him that Stalin has stated on several recent occasions that Soviets must gain Germany and gain it promptly. He feels that Stalin’s objective is to hold back any Soviet attack until they have a good supply of atom bombs in hope that with this supply situation in atomic warfare will be neutralized in same manner gas warfare was in World War II, leaving them decisive preponderance in ground forces.

He feels that immediate danger is an attack by Volkspolizei and doubts whether the US would drop bomb on Moscow if all that were involved was situation similar to that in Korea. He made strong appeal for Allied Governments to display greater strength in Germany, to increase number of divisions immediately and to show their strength throughout Germany more than is now being done. More troops, more planes flying, and more troops and equipment should be in evidence to be observed by population. In addition immediate permission for Federal Government to build up a force adequate to meet the Volkspolizei. He has in mind 150,000 men, volunteers adequately armed. Call them police or what you will, but they must be a counter to Volkspolizei, He desires either formation this force or immediate and substantial increase in Western Allied forces. Perhaps combination of both would be best because of unfortunate aspects of Allies shooting Germans. Under present circumstances, he feels entirely helpless and incompetent to cope with situation and intensification of propaganda. Our last respite, according to Chancellor, is time necessary to train officers and NCO’s for Volkspolizei. He concluded by saying he hated thought of re-arming Germany in any form, but that temptation must be removed promptly from the Soviets to get Germany without risking World War. Today, Volkspolizei strength [Page 709] together with lack of strength in West made this possibility very strong.

As for European army, he said that he felt it was only eventual hope and that he would strongly support German participation in any such force, but as he put it “when will we get it?” He kept reiterating that any propaganda effort to be of any account depends upon a manifestation of strength.

Chancellor was obviously suffering from real anxiety, but was also engaging in his usual pressure tactics in my judgment.

His figures of Soviet and Volkspolizei strength do not differ widely from ours, but I doubt the accuracy of his judgment that the Soviets feel they could by use of Volkspolizei in Korean type attack avoid an all-out war. There is no question that country has lost some inner strength that in my judgment must be restored by new manifestation of Allied strength.2

In evening I saw Schumacher, and I will send you more detailed account of this conversation shortly. He played very “hard-to-get” in any form of cooperation, but stressed same point that Adenauer did about the collapse of faith in American military strength which World War II and airlift had generated in somewhat exaggerated form. He also felt this could be corrected by displays of added strength, but seemed to think that only evidence that amounted to anything was US manifestations.3

As for Soviet intentions, on which he usually is pretty good, he said to expect some real fireworks in Berlin during fall and winter. Soviet efforts will be more intensified, more determined, than Deutschlandtreffen episode of May.4

I am sending these doleful accounts only to give you immediate report of my conversations. Apart from the doubts I have heretofore expressed, my offhand estimates of Adenauer’s appraisal of Volkspolizei strength and capacity is that he is rather building up their potentials, both as to objectives and timing. As usual, he is taking the whole thing purely from German point of view, without any consideration of other Soviet objectives or timing.

On the matter of the need for a greater display of Allied, and particularly US strength in Europe, I feel that he is right, and you will note this coincides with the views throughout AHC.

  1. Telegram 80, August 17, from Bonn, not printed, reported on other matters discussed between the High Commissioners and the Chancellor before this two-hour private meeting (762A.0221/8–1750).
  2. For another report on this meeting, see Konrad Adenauer, Memoirs, 1945–1953 (Chicago, Henry Regnery Company, 1966), pp. 274 ff.
  3. McCloy transmitted a lengthier and more detailed account of his conversation with Schumacher in telegram 1554, August 22, from Frankfort, not printed (762.5/8–2250).
  4. For documentation on the Deutschlandtreffen, see pp. 818 ff.