396.1–ISG/7–1350: Telegram

The United States Member at the Intergovernmental Study Group on Germany (Douglas) to the Secretary of State


Sigto 38. 1. In accordance with the agreement reached with British and French prior to initiation of talks as well as at their outset, first phase discussions are informal and exploratory with no fixed positions taken by any of participants and none contemplated until work enters second phase. All three realize that any ideas which might be put forward now must of necessity be purely tentative pending receipt of HICOM report and view of their respective High Commissioners. In other words all three are fully aware that no commitments can be made at this stage and that any suggestions advanced are intended solely to clarify thinking in respect to problems under consideration.

2. In discussions to date we have gone some distance in probing tentative thinking of British and French without saying much about our own ideas. It is quite apparent from these informal exchanges that the views of both of them are still in a formative stage. As a result, neither is disposed at this time to assume leadership. I consider this situation favorable to the exercise of American influence in a decisive fashion, provided we can put forward now certain general principles for consideration and discussion. These would not be in the nature of proposals for I fully realize that it would be impossible for us to put forward anything even remotely approximating finality until the HICOM report and the views of McCloy have been received and considered by the Department.

3. We have already exercised some influence on British thinking, which is now tending to recognize necessity for related action on the various agenda items, and I believe that we can make considerably more progress in firming up their attitude along lines paralleling our own. The French ideas on the status of the Federal Republic as expressed to date appear overly restrictive, and I feel that a good deal of talking is needed to prepare the way for a more receptive attitude on their part towards according the Federal Republic a status of the character envisaged in Tosig 28.1 We may of course find it impossible to make progress with French at this stage. I feel however that we must at least make the effort.

4. In light of foregoing I consider it highly important that first phase of discussions proceed far more rapidly than the Department envisages in Tosig 33.2 Both British and French are anxious to get to substance of main questions on Occupation Statute. While we can [Page 750] defer discussion on a number of points pending receipt of HICOM report, and I have so recommended, we cannot do so on all of them without putting ourselves in position of stalling the negotiations and thus being responsible for them bogging down. As Department will recall, we were placed in that very position during the Occupation-Statute discussions in London in 1949.3 I sincerely trust that we can avoid a repetition of that unfortunate experience.

5. As I see it, the key to progress in our immediate discussion lies in the foreign relations issue. I agree with Department on the importance of this question and its inter-relationship with the other topics of the agenda. Unless we are in a position to put forward our tentative ideas on this subject, however, I consider that it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find any frame of reference for the other matters which must be dealt with. Termination of state of war, the question of succession to the Reich, and the status of prewar treaties are all intimately connected with the foreign relations issue and therefore must be handled in relation to it as well as to one another. The solution of these questions is also essential to dealing with pre-war debts and certain other aspects of item three of the agenda. I therefore seriously doubt the wisdom of the Department’s view that foreign affairs must be one of the last subjects to be discussed.

6. On the other hand I agree wholeheartedly that nothing approximating binding proposals should be put forward by us at this stage. Instead I suggest that general principles in respect to foreign affairs should be advanced by us on a purely tentative basis for purposes of exploration only. Such principles might involve the delegation of power to the Federal Republic to conduct foreign relations subject to certain continuing controls. In Sigto 264 we indicated the general purpose of these controls, which I would suggest ought to be defined in our discussions here in more specific terms. We might, for example, define the areas of our concern along the following lines. With respect to the Soviet orbit countries we would retain complete control, including control over establishment of diplomatic relations. With respect to other countries, we would allow the Germans freedom to establish relations and to conduct them subject to controls by Allies with respect to certain substantive matters. These might be matters on which reserved powers are retained, among which would clearly be anything relating to military matters. In the case of other substantive matters, we could suspend our controls (including the right to disapprove agreements made by the Federal Republic) perhaps for six months or a year. We would require the Germans to keep us fully [Page 751] informed with respect to their relations with approved countries at all stages of their negotiations. If we found objection to what they were doing in non-reserve field, we would rely on diplomatic, economic and other pressures rather than on controls.

7. In the discussions I had with McCloy on Sunday, he was of the view, in which I concur, that either substantial concessions should be made to the Federal Republic or we had better not move. It seems to me that a miserly extension of freedom will be of no avail. I discussed with him the idea of suspending controls in certain fields, including foreign affairs, and found that the tentative results of his thinking seems to make him at least sympathetic to this approach. He will no doubt comment to the Department on this message. It is worth remembering that our original purpose in drafting the Occupation Statute was to exclude the Germans completely from the field of foreign affairs. However, what has happened is that, whenever Adenauer or other German leaders make speeches, the German position on foreign affairs questions is stated and is so accepted by the world. This has happened in connection with the Council of Europe, the Saar and other matters. Would it not be better for the Germans to have an official status and to conduct their diplomatic relations in a more normal way? If they were to do so, we would probably have at least equal, if not greater, opportunity to exercise influence on them than we have now.

8. As I understand it, the Department’s view as expressed in Tosig 45 and Tosig 28 is substantially that proposed in Sigto 26. The question of when to state a tentative US position is one of tactics. If we are clear, as it would appear to me that we are, on the objective of the US Government, I believe that the time to develop our position in the discussions is now. I strongly urge that I be authorized to do so. Otherwise we may be only twiddling our thumbs.

9. I appreciate the difficulty confronting the Department in dealing with certain other points notably the matters relating to German internal affairs such as the review of German legislation and the question of economic controls. I believe that these and controls to insure respect for basic law and land constitutions are most important subjects and therefore recommend that Department and HICOG should give high priority to formulating positions on them.

10. In addition to foregoing points on Occupation Statute, it will be necessary for us in immediate future to begin to take at least tentative positions in respect to certain other points. These will be covered in separate messages.

Sent Department Sigto 38, priority Frankfort 46, repeated information Paris 76.

  1. June 30, p. 743.
  2. Not printed; it stated inter alia that the Department of State felt that discussion of the Occupation Statute, foreign affairs, and foreign trade should be deferred (396.1–ISG/7–1050).
  3. For documentation on the negotiations for the Occupation Statute in London during early 1949, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. iii, pp. 1 ff
  4. Not printed; it reported the U.S. delegation’s preliminary ideas on how to handle the discussion of the Occupation Statute in the first round of conversations and gave its views on the various points of the statute (396.1–ISG/7–850).
  5. Same as telegram 4182, June 12, p. 738.