762A.0221/12–150: Telegram

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


348. AGSec from Slater. Verbatim text. Following is brief summary report on meeting between HICOM Council and Chancellor held at [Page 790] Bonn Petersberg on 1 December 1950, McCloy (US) chairman, Poncet (France) and Kirkpatrick (UK).

1. Major part of discussion was devoted to Chancellor’s formal and solemn request that relations of FedRep to occupation powers be put on new basis and that Occupation Statute be superseded by system of contractual agreement and security pact to be progressively negotiated between occupation powers and FedRep, as set forth in Chancellor’s memo of 29 August and aide-mémoire of 16 November.1 High Commissioners agreed to forward this request to governments for consideration. Chancellor based plea for declaration by allied government putting allied-FedRep relations on new basis on fact that such declaration was immediately needed to counteract German people’s defeatism, which he ascribed to three causes: (a) paralyzing fear of possible Soviet action, which he said had been enhanced by Chinese Communist intervention in Korea;2 (b) delay of west allies and NATO nations in reaching agreement on western defense and German contribution; (c) success of SPD propaganda that “peace could be maintained by doing nothing”. As to first, he said there was public feeling that Soviet danger was even more threatening and impending than at start of Korean conflict. As to second, he said that during NATO negotiations which had been going on for past several months, there had not been a single official consultation with Federal Government, which had to rely on newspapers for its information. FedRep prestige had accordingly suffered because, in eyes of German public and even of coalition parties, Federal Government was responsible for what happened to Germany and German people.

In passing he called Poncet’s attention to what he considered serious effect on German circles favoring French-German rapprochement of French distrust of Germany manifested by its attitude toward German participation in western defense. As to third point, he said that although other factors had contributed to Laender elections results, there was no doubt they had been influenced decisively by SPD agitation and Niemoeller’s3 statements. He was certain SPD would demand new election after Berlin vote.4 Coalition parties were helpless against SPD propaganda because they could not take position on defense until request for FedRep participation had been made. Although he would not have said so two weeks ago, he now thought that if defense resolution were introduced in Parliament it might be defeated, either because of absences or abstentions by coalition deputies in Bundestag or, if a majority were obtained in the Bundestag, by a possible SPD majority [Page 791] in Bundesrat resulting from recent elections. He said that “A catalogue of controls” withdrawn by allies was inadequate to enable him to resist the trend of parliamentary and public opinion. He advanced following further arguments for new declaration by allied governments:

World conditions have so developed in past year that there is community of interest between other western nations and FedRep which could not have been foreseen a year ago;
Additional allied troops now to be stationed in Germany come as defense, rather than occupation, forces and it is therefore unsuitable that their presence in Germany should be based upon an occupation statute;
Declaration putting allied-German relations on new footing will have to be made one day in any case, and it is psychologically better and will be to greater credit of allied governments to do it now rather than after continuous urging by Federal Authority. In this connection he said that concessions made at New York would have produced greater effects on German opinion if they had come as gift without conditions in form of undertaking.

Chancellor concluded first statement by saying he realized immediate change in present relations was impracticable, but that in any event governments could make declaration and establish committees to begin negotiation with FedRep committees on contractual agreements governing new phase of relations. He then asked High Commissioners to support with their governments his request for contractual status.

In reply I pointed out that allied officials in public statements had already emphasized change of character of allied forces in Germany from occupying to defense forces, but said that since important legal rights flowed from fact of occupation, very careful consideration would have to be given to any change, particularly as regards status of Berlin.5 There had been a tendency on Chancellor’s part to overlook boldness of steps taken in New York in his anxiety to appear no less exacting before German public than opposition leaders and urged federal ministers to take more positive attitude.

To Chancellor’s point that conditions had been attached to New York decisions, I pointed out that security guarantee, interim decision on steel and ships, and reinforcement of allied troops had been taken with no conditions laid down and that first of these, at least from point of view of US public, represented a phenomenal departure. Specifically, on matter of debt undertaking, I said that point had been missed in not explaining to German people that this was looked upon: in New York not so much as condition but as progressive step by which FedRep could now assume responsibility for debts and obtain credit status with rest of world without waiting for peace treaty. I further pointed out exceptional character of provision that settlement [Page 792] plan should take into account FedRep ability to pay. As to recent FedRep proposals on draft undertaking, I said that if reasonable attitude were adopted on both sides I believed agreement could be reached, but that in any event we could not accept alteration of time period for undertaking on post-war debts arising from economic assistance. As to undertaking on allocation of scarce materials, I said this followed from security guarantee and was simply a statement of commonalty of interest in security between FedRep and other western nations.

In second part his remarks, Chancellor replied to question by Poncet as to whether he thought declaration by governments would in fact secure parliamentary majority and public support for FedRep contribution to defense by outlining a propaganda campaign which coalition parties were planning as soon as request for FedRep defense contribution were received. After receipt request, Bundestag would not be convened for two weeks to enable coalition deputies to take case to people. In this campaign, he said that declaration would have decisive effect and that, without it, coalition deputies might either absent themselves or abstain from voting.

Kirkpatrick welcomed proposed campaign and urged Chancellor, following technique employed by Churchill with success during war, to make an appeal to sense of duty of individual German “in emergency confronting western civilization”.

[Here follow numbered paragraphs 2–7 which reported on other subjects discussed by the High Commissioners with Chancellor Adenauer.]

Sent Department 348; repeated info Frankfort 389, Berlin 142, Paris 79, London 83.

  1. Transmitted in telegram 319, November 17, p. 780.
  2. For documentation on the Chinese Communist intervention in Korea, see vol. vii, pp. 731 ff.
  3. Martin Niemöller, President of the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau, who opposed a German contribution to a European army.
  4. For documentation on the election in the Western sectors of Berlin on December 3, see pp. 818 ff.
  5. For documentation on the status of Berlin, see pp. 818 ff.