The Ambassador in France (Bruce) to the Secretary of State 1
212. In plenary European Army Conf July 10, Theodore Blank, new head of Ger Del explained Ger views on conf’s interim report and Chairman Alphand offered preliminary Fr comments on Blank’s statement. At this mtg there were officially transmitted to dels of observing states Fr draft of interim report and Ger substitute draft.2 Former had been in hands participating states since June 29 but latter distributed to participants in Steering Comite mtg July 9. At that mtg Itals presented in writing some observations on Fr draft not yet available to Emb.
Steering Comite which includes only participating countries, began close examination two drafts of the report afternoon July 10. Press communiqué on plenary held to absolute minimum.
Fr and Ger reps at July 10 plenary tended emphasize differences in approach two dels but these differences appear by no means insurmountable. US observer expressed his personal opinion to effect that area of agreement appeared outweigh area of disagreement in course of urging, toward close of mtg, utility of agreeing as quickly as possible on conference’s interim report and of exploring means whereby a contribution from Ger to western defense can begin quickly.
While repeating usual Ger emphasis on priority for military efficiency and Ger equality in creation of European Army, Blank went beyond mere question of drafting report to propose—as Ger del had not previously done in Paris Conference—that Petersberg report be basis for action for a Ger contribution while conf pursues its “long and arduous” work of estab supra-national army.
Alphand declared it was impossible for Petersberg report to be a basis for action because it had not been agreed to by Ger and the occupation powers and because Ger proposals at Petersberg went beyond safeguards laid down at Brussels. He stressed that Fr wished a contribution to defense from Ger but could only agree to this contribution in the framework of a European defense community thereby avoiding the creation of a Ger national army and general staff.
Blank very emphatic in repeated statements that Ger did not want a national army or a national general staff. He recalled his own origins [Page 825] in Ger labor unions and stated necessary support from Ger people, a Bundestag and present Ger Govt for Ger defense contribution could only be obtained if it were clearly an integral part of western European forces. In arguing for starting raising Ger troops under Petersberg proposals Blank emphasized that Ger units wld be under SHAPE command as soon as formed. He considered that SHAPE command and prohibition of Ger arms production shld be sufficient safeguard against Ger militarism pending constitution of European Army. Blank stated no national staff was desired by Gers but Ger wanted participation in all international staffs including Atlantic Command proportionate to contribution in Ger forces.
Alphand expressed conviction that practical steps could be taken in military, finance, and production fields before ratification of European Army treaty in order to show determination to create integrated European defense force. He also declared Fr readiness have certain Ger preparations for defense contribution, specifically in parliamentary and admin fields, go ahead while conf still elaborating treaty. Although he did not think it wld be possible to have Ger units created as such under SHAPE command he declared his personal belief that it wld be possible to start them early by creating European contingents. Alphand asserted non-discrimination principle wld apply to transitional as well as final period under European Army treaty.
Blank explained that Ger substitute draft of interim report was designed give accurate picture of conf, be realistic not pessimistic. It was for this reason, Blank continued, that Gers had thought it necessary to underline disagreement on certain important points:
- Size of national units and level of integration;
- Tasks and composition of supra-national bodies, especially defense commissioner;
- Transitional arrangements.
On third of these points Blank pointed out that control to be exercised by Ger Parliament over Ger formations not elaborated. Bundestag, of which he was member, would insist on same degree of control over new Ger formations as was exercised by parliaments of other countries over their national contingents. Blank also emphasized basic principle for Gers that all proposals for agreements on Ger contribution, including proposals under Petersberg report were subject to revision of Ger’s present international status. Unless Ger had equality outside as well as inside Eur Army, psychological conditions wld not have been created that wld permit majority of Ger people and parliament to support Ger defense contribution.
In reply to Blank’s point on Ger parliamentary control over Ger formations, Alphand replied that this must be studied in light of principle of no discrimination inside Eur Army but also in light of situation [Page 826] of fact and law outside Eur Army that put Ger in a special position. He repeatedly stressed that Ger’s external obligations were beyond competence of European defense community conf. As to size of units and level of integration, Alphand declared that he had no instructions from his govt authorizing him to alter previous Fr position. By adding that this question shld be referred to govts, Alphand was clearly leaving way open for later Fr concession.3
This telegram was repeated to London as 54 and to Frankfurt as 20; was sent by air to Copenhagen, Brussels, Rome, Oslo, The Hague, Lisbon, Ottawa, and Luxembourg; and was made available to the Department of Defense.
A copy of the official French-language minutes of this conference plenary meeting was transmitted to the Department of State as an enclosure to despatch 133, July 17, from Paris, neither printed. (740.5/7–1751)↩
- The drafts under reference here have not been further identified. For the approved version of the Interim Report of July 24, see p. 843.↩
- Telegram 228, July 11, from Paris, not printed, reported that Sauvagnargues, who was not a member of the French Delegation to the European Army Conference but attended the plenary meeting of July 10, referred to Blank’s proposals as “La Bombe Blank” and offered the interpretation that the German Federal Republic was extremely disturbed by the current slight relaxation of East-West tension and was fearful that the quadripartite discussion of Germany might be raised before the European Army was firmly underway. Sauvagnargues speculated that the Germans greatly feared an East-West agreement on Germany at West Germany’s expense and hoped that such an agreement would be rendered less likely by the de facto integration of West German troops into Western defense. (740.5/7–1151)↩