762A.5/1–2751: Telegram

The United States Deputy High Commissioner for Germany (Hays) to the Secretary of State 1

top secret

484. Personal and eyes only for Byroade from Hays. The third meeting was held by the deputies and German representatives today January 26 re German military contribution to the defense of Europe.2

The same German delegates were present as announced for the meeting held on January 16. US, French and British delegations were the same except for the addition of Colonel Gerhardt on the US side.

Meeting opened with an exposition by Minister Franken (Ger) on the legal aspects of the German contribution as it is affected under international law.

[Page 997]

The first point that Franken made was that, under international law, a country that does not have sufficient sovereignty to negotiate with other countries is not recognized under international law as a power which can wage war. He developed this theme on the basis that FedRep was operating under an Occupation Statute rather than on a treaty. While the FedRep was controlled by the Occupation Statute, it was not a country that was subject to international law. He stated that, under the Occupation Statute, the FedRep was not directly or indirectly under international law able to conduct its own affairs, and that the right to wage war either directly or indirectly depended upon the independence of the country concerned.

Franken then turned to that part of The Hague Convention that provided for levies in mass in the face of approaching enemy, and quoted certain provisions which must be fulfilled to permit Germany to legally wage war under this formula, which were:

FedRep could only wage war if its units control part of the territory occupied by the enemy;
That military units of that country must be under the organized command of a government such as a government in exile;
Military units must adhere to the rules of war.

He stressed that, if these conditions were not fulfilled, the troops of the FedRep would be considered to be guerillas. He summed up his analysis by stating that in his mind 3 conditions must be fulfilled in order that the FedRep would be entitled to wage war, which were:

The cessation of the Occupation regime;
Far-reaching return to the FedRep of sovereignty over their foreign affairs;
The establishment of armed forces after the laws in regard to the demilitarization of Germany had been taken care of.

As regards the latter point, Franken quoted the Allied Control Council proclamation Number 2 dated September 20, 1945, and Laws Numbers 8, 2, 23, 25, 34 and 43 passed by the Control Council in regard to demilitarization of Germany, which provide penalties including the penalty of death for violation of these laws by any German.3

Franken stated that the 3 Western powers can deprive of effect these laws in the territory of Germany which they control, but that the 3 Western powers cannot abrogate these quadripartite laws without seeking the agreement of the Soviets.

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He pointed out that in this situation the German soldiers in a military contingent which might be captured by the Russians could be legally tried and given punishment up to death for violating the provisions of the quadripartitely-agreed Control Council laws regarding demilitarization.

Upon the conclusion of Franken’s statement, Blank said that the Germans wished to point out that in their view under the present situation any member of a German contingent who fell into the hands of the Russians could be tried legally for violating Allied Control Council legislation and that this also applied to all civilians who fell into the hands of the Russians who had likewise participated in rearmament. Blank wished to point out this problem and asked it be studied as he was concerned not so much from its application during war but from the psychological effect it may have on recruitment if the opponents of rearmament for propaganda purposes announce that any member of a German contingent can be legally hanged if they fall into the hands of the enemy.

The deputies agreed to have legal advice in regard to the above matters and discuss this subject further with the Germans at a later meeting.

The next subject was with regard to accommodations for the German contingent. Blank stated that it was their plan to construct new camps of inexpensive temporary construction to last for a period of 20 years. These camps would be designed to accommodate the men, equipment and transportation for each of the combat units which might be decided upon. Camps were not to be located in or near cities but be located where they could have access to suitable training areas. The construction of the camps would take from 4 to 6 months. The reason they must resort to new construction is because the present military barracks are all occupied either by the Allied forces or by DP’s or German civilians and, in the event that they evacuated the DP’s or Germans, they would have to build accommodations for them anyway. Blank stated that an inner-ministerial building committee had been appointed to take care of construction needs and he would like to be able to inform this committee of the construction material which would be needed at an early date.

The next subject aired German proposals on the size, organization and composition of the German units under the combat team or brigade group formula. Blank stated that the German proposals were based on 5 years of warfare in all types of country but were especially based on the experience the German armies had gained in combat against [Page 999] Russia and the country and climate they had encountered during the Russian campaigns. Therefore their proposals took into account both the experience the Germans had during the last war and also the situation which confronts Germany and Europe at the present time. He then called on General Speidel, who gave the following views:

In German opinion, based on their experience, the decisive arm in land warfare is the tank accompanied by appropriate infantry, artillery and engineer, and supported by tactical air force. He stated that the Soviets, who initially had a different concept, had now also adopted the armored and mechanized divisions, each of which has 250 to 300 tanks as its decisive weapon. He stated that of the Soviet 26 divisions present in Eastern Germany, at least 18 of them are of this type. Speidel said it was obvious that Soviet armored units can best be met by Allied armored units. He stated that there might, be difference of opinion in regard to the proportion of armor, but that on broad terms there should be no difference of opinions in regard to the fact that the most effective unit now is not an infantry division to which is attached a certain number of tanks but that it is a division with a competent allotment of armor which is given appropriate infantry and artillery support. He stated that NATO forces in Europe will be fighting with a numerical disadvantage of numbers over relatively open country and that the best way to counter the numerical disadvantage of numbers would be by mobility and equality, and stated that the above consideration would determine the size, organization and composition of the units which Germany would wish to create.

Speidel then quoted at some length the US Field Manual on the passages which describe an infantry and armored division and a combat team and developed that in the US army the only unit that was organized to act independently was a division. Speidel also quoted General Eisenhower’s statement that he could not function as Commander-in-Chief of units if units are forced into an organization and are discontented. His comments were very general but in the aggregate indicated that the German delegation considered that any organization of a unit smaller than that able to act independently should not be practical value to organize.

General Heusinger then stated that since the northern swing of the NATO forces would be based on the Baltic, some coastal protection would be necessary, particularly against amphibious landings or to carry out such landings themselves, and some provision must be made to counter the Soviet submarines stationed in the Baltic.

Heusinger then stated that in such an important issue as the defense of freedom against Soviet aggression only the best organization is good [Page 1000] enough, and then described the type of combat unit which the German delegation recommends as the smallest force capable of independent action, to be a unit whose decisive weapon rested on armor with balance supporting units therefor. Such an organization would consist of the following:

A commander and staff with appropriate communications.

One armored regiment consisting of 3 battalions of 80 tanks each.

Two battalions to be equipped with medium tanks, and one battalion with heavy tanks.

Two motorized infantry regiments, each consisting of two battalions.

Half of the infantry would travel on the armored vehicles, the other half in their own transportation. The infantry would be armed with all light and heavy infantry arms and antitank and anti-aircraft armament.

One motorized artillery regiment of 3 battalions, one of which would be heavy (exectly what calibre was meant by heavy was not disclosed).

One reconnaissance battalion.

One engineer battalion.

The above force would consist of 12 units of battalion strength with a staff and signal unit and would approximate a strength of 10,000 fighting troops.

Heusinger then compared the above German proposal with the Soviet armored or motorized divisions now present in the Soviet Zone and stated that the Soviet division consists of 4 armored regiments each of which approximated the size of the German armored battalion, but that each Soviet armored regiment has attached to it a machine pistol battalion, one infantry regiment with 3 motorized battalions; one artillery regiment with 3 battalions, one heavy mortars regiment of 2 battalions, one anti-aircraft battalion, one rocket battalion, one engineer battalion. He concluded that the Russian division contained 20 units at battalion strength as compared with the German proposals of 12 units at battalion strength, and that the Russian division strength was approximately 11,500 fighting men. From this proposal Heusinger stated that he thought the German division was the minimum-sized unit which should be expected to oppose a Russian division.

Heusinger then discussed tactical air support for the German units and stated that in their opinion it would be necessary to have a superior command to be created for each 2 German divisions in order to have sufficient territory in width and depth to appropriately utilize tactical air force. He made a point of the necessity for the 4 elements of the tactical air force, which he listed as reconnaissance, fighter, ground attack and liaison, to work not only closely with one another but also with the ground troops, and stated that it was essential for air and ground troops cooperating together to speak the same language.

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The gist of Heusinger’s comments with regard to the tactical air support seemed to be that it would be impractical to give independent divisions tactical air support and that higher headquarters such as corps or army would be necessary for this purpose.

Heusinger then commented on the chain of command and stated that the NATO troops must be so organized and controlled as to be able to comply with the intentions of the commander and, in view of the Russian numerical superiority, it would be essential for NATO troops to be mobile and trained in mobile warfare. This condition would only exist if the Allied troops are organized to meet rapidly any threat which might develop. Therefore, the chain of command must be perfectly clear and easily understood, and that the problems of leading Allied forces could only be overcome in the framework of the proper organization.

Upon conclusion of the above remarks the deputies decided to withhold any question or comments until the next meeting, which will take place Friday February 2.

Blank asked the deputies to announced at the next meeting the comments on the Allied side in regard to the German proposals that have been made at the first 3 meetings. It was pointed out by the deputies that, as they were only agents of the High Commission in regard to these matters, the deputies could not give any definite statements but would be prepared to announce at the next meeting those points in the proposals which have been made by the Germans so far which may or may not give difficulty within the Brussels formula.4 In addition to the above comments, at the next meeting Allied deputies may ask certain questions in regard to the German proposals on the size and organization of the combat units and will hear the German proposals in regard to the equipment and armament of the German contingents.

In the light of the German proposals, advice would be appreciated as to the position to be taken by the US deputy. If it is proposed that we tell the Germans that their proposal on the size and composition of their combat units is not acceptable under the Brussels formula, it is anticipated the Germans will then say: “Well, these are our proposals. What alternate type of organization do the Allies propose within the Brussels formula?”

[ Hays ]
  1. Repeated to Frankfurt personal and eyes only for McCloy and to Heidelberg personal and eyes only for Handy.
  2. On January 29 Buttenwieser sent Byroade two copies of his notes on this third meeting as a supplement to telegram 484; one of these two copies is in file 740.5/1–2951.
  3. For the texts of the first five documents enumerated here, see Occupation of Germany, 1945–1946, pp. 89–90, 120–122, 94–96, 96–98, and 98–101, respectively; the proclamation and Laws Nos. 8, 2, 25, and 34 are printed in Ruhm von Oppen, Documents on Germany, pp. 68–81, 90–92, 131–135, and 151–152; copies of all the documents referred to are also printed in the Control Council Official Gazette and in the Military Government Gazette Germany, British Zone of Occupation in various issues.
  4. For documentation concerning the NATO Council and Defense Committee meetings at Brussels, December 18, 1950, and the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States on December 19, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iii, pp. 585 ff., and volume iv .