CFM files, lot M–88, Pleven visit

Paper Prepared in the Department of State1

Pleven D–2/1a

Integrated Forces and European Army


Whether the German contribution to North Atlantic defense should be in the form of German divisions integrated into the NATO force as desired by the overwhelming majority of the NAT countries, or in the form of smaller German units no larger than Regimental Combat Teams blended with other European units of the same size into an international European Army resting on a framework of European political institutions adequate to support and direct this non-national European Army. Pending solution, it was agreed at Brussels in December 1950 that German units no larger than RCT’s be created as soon as possible.

U.S. Position:

We have informed the French that we would accept an invitation to send an observer to the Paris Conference soon to be called by the French Government in order to study practical ways and means to form a European Army and create the necessary supporting institutions. We have stated that we would assist towards the successful outcome of the proceedings. (The text of a letter from Secretary Acheson [Page 756] to Mr. Schuman to be made public at an appropriate time appears as Appendix A.2) However, we have made it clear that we wish other European nations to reach their decision to participate or not of their own free will and that we will not exert pressure. We have also informed the French that we will only accept a formula resulting from the French initiative if it is entirely sound and practical both from the military and political points of view, if it does not delay an effective German contribution to the common defense and if acceptable to the NATO. As agreed at Brussels, we strongly support the creation of German units up to the agreed RCT level as soon as possible after the agreement of the German Government. Conversations between the three High Commissioners and the German Government are now in progress to this end.3 When German RCT’s are trained and formed, we intend to review the situation to determine whether they should be made into German divisions for the NATO integrated force or merged into the French-proposed European Army, depending on results of the Paris Conference, German performance, the general situation and on military requirements, due weight being given to the views of the Supreme Commander.

For documention on the January 29–30 meetings between President Truman and Prime Minister Pleven, see volume iv.

French Position:

The French insist that RCT’s are militarily satisfactory. They remain opposed to the formation of German divisions which they view as conducive to the recreation of a German national army and of a German general staff. The French Government still holds to the position that the German contribution be in the form of units no larger than RCT’s merged into an international European Army which, in turn, would constitute one of the major elements of General Eisenhower’s command.


That the President express our best wishes for the success of the Paris Conference and our willingness to assist in arriving at a successful conclusion.

That the President add, that in order to be acceptable to the United States, the recommendations of the Paris Conference will have to be sound and practical from the military and political points of view and not delay the build-up of effective strength.

That the President reiterate that irrespective of ultimate developments regarding the European Army, the U.S. continues strongly to support the creation of German units up to the agreed RCT or [Page 757] brigade group level as soon as possible after agreement is reached with the Federal German Government.4


The Council adopted in September 1950 a resolution calling for the establishment at the earliest possible date of an integrated NATO force under centralized command, and considered German participation in North Atlantic defense.5 The Defense Committee was requested to make specific recommendations regarding the method by which Germany could make the most useful contributions, bearing in mind the unanimous conclusion of the Council that it would not serve the best interests of Europe or of Germany to bring into being a German national army or a German general staff.

At the Defense Committee meeting in Washington in October a sharp split on this issue was revealed between France, weakly supported by Belgium and Luxembourg, and the other NAT nations, which delayed the establishment of the integrated force.6

France took the position that she would consider German participation only in the context of an international European army owing allegiance to the European community. German units no larger than battalions were to be blended in this army with same size units of other nationalities. This European army would be responsible to a European Defense Minister reporting to a council consisting of the several European Defense Ministers, in turn responsible to some kind of European parliamentary assembly.

The majority, including the United States which, however, took little part in the sometimes acrimonious debate, was of the opinion that the French plan was not practical and at best would result in lengthy delay because of the constitutional processes necessary to implement the political aspects of the French scheme which would require an appreciable surrender of national sovereign rights. Instead, these countries advocated the formation of German divisions, which would be integrated into the NATO force. There was, however, unanimous [Page 758] agreement that no such German military unit should be larger than a division and that safeguards should be adopted against the rebirth both of a national German army and a German general staff.

After a deadlock had lasted for several sessions, the Defense Committee decided to refer the problem of the form of a German participation in the NATO defensive system to the Deputies and to the Military Committee, to study respectively and separately its political and military aspects and subsequently to prepare a joint report, for the Defense Committee.

On December 18 the Deputies and Military Committee submitted their joint report to the Defense Committee and to the Council, which approved it.7

The essential points were:

The German contribution should be in the form of complete German formations with their necessary supporting arms and services for incorporation either directly or in the form of European units into the integrated NATO defense force.
Safeguards were specified for the general purpose of preventing both the development of an autonomous national Germany army, and the recreation of a German war industry capable of supporting by itself a purely German, as contrasted to NATO, war effort. It was also decided that the German contribution should be no larger than 20 per cent of the Allied forces allocated or earmarked for the integrated force.
The division was found to meet the requirements, but the regimental combat team or brigade group was declared acceptable “if this smaller unit is judged desirable for political or other reasons.”
A European defense force operating as an element of an integrated NATO defense force was found to be militarily acceptable if its achievement under no circumstances would delay the contribution of Germany to the defense of Western Europe.
Took note of the French Government’s intention to call a conference concerning ways and means to establish a European army.
The occupying powers were invited to discuss with the German Federal Government the question of German participation along the lines of the Military Committee’s report.

Thereupon the Council approved the integrated defense force, the creation of a Supreme Headquarters and appointed a Supreme Commander, requesting the President to designate General Eisenhower to this post.

At the present time, the occupying powers are negotiating with the German Federal Government to obtain Germany’s participation within the limits set forth by NATO and the formation as soon as possible thereafter of German regimental combat teams. Should these negotiations succeed, the eventual definitive employment of these RCT’s [Page 759] will depend on a decision to be reached within NATO and which will depend on the results of the Paris Conference concerning a European army, the German Government’s cooperation in the collective defense effort, the attitude of the German people, military requirements, and on world conditions when such German RCT’s will be in existence due regard being given to the views of the Supreme Commander.

  1. This paper was one of a series of negotiating papers prepared for American officials in connection with the forthcoming meetings in Washington between President Truman and French Prime Minister Pleven and their advisers on January 29 and 30. The original draft of this paper, document Pleven D–2/1, January 23, not printed, was prepared in the Office of European Regional Affairs by Ridgway B. Knight. The paper printed here represents the revision of Pleven D–2/1 carried out in the light of comments made at the Secretary of State’s Daily Meeting on January 25.
  2. Appendix A is not printed here. For the text of the letter to Foreign Minister Schuman dated January 27 and delivered on February 5, see infra.
  3. The reference here is to the meetings at Bonn between representatives of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Allied Deputy High Commissioners to discuss certain aspects of a German contribution to Western defense, January 9–June 4; for documentation on the meetings, see pp. 990 ff.
  4. At his meeting with Prime Minister Pleven on the morning of January 30, the second of three American-French conversations on January 29 and 30, President Truman appeared to confine his remarks on the matter under consideration there to expressing thanks to the French Government for its invitation of January 26 to participate in the European Army Conference (see the editorial note, p. 765) and expressing the best wishes of the United States for the success of the conference. For the minutes of the TrumanPleven meeting of January 30, see volume iv.
  5. The reference here is to NATO Council document C5–D/11 (Final), “Resolution on the Defense of Western Europe,” September 26, 1950. For text, see telegram Secto 55, September 26, 1950, from New York, Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iii, p. 350.
  6. For reports on the meetings in Washington in late October 1950 of the North Atlantic Defense Committee (the Defense Ministers of the NATO countries) see ibid., pp. 406 ff.
  7. The joint report (resolution) summarized here is NATO document C6–D/1, December 13, 1950, “The Contribution of Germany to the Defense of Western Europe.” See Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iii, pp. 538 ff.