762A.5/2–851: Telegram

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


Unnumbered. Last fortnight or so has produced considerable speculation, both among Allied and German observers, that SPD opposition on issue of German defense contribution has eased somewhat, at least in comparison with essentially negative views evidently held at year’s end and outlined Frankfort’s 5443 to Department January 5.2

[Page 1009]

Main recent SPD pronouncements of importance in this connection would appear to be: Schumacher’s January 26 Heidelberg election speech and statement (Bonn’s Unnumbered telegram to Department January 30, 4 p. m.,3 Stuttgart Consulate’s despatch 420 January 203 and OLC W/B’s repeated 7 January 313); Schumacher’s January 29 Bonn press statement (Bonn’s 2 unnumbered telegrams to Department, January 303); and Carlo Schmid’s January 15 Tuebingen speech (Stuttgart’s despatch 405 January 243). In addition to statements made on these occasions, attention might be drawn to following: apparent willingness of SPD to participate in Paris Conference re European Army (Bonn’s 512 to Department February 63); party’s negative attitude toward Zentrum’s draft bill vs conscription (Bonn’s 501 to Department February 23); SPD’s opposition to both Nauheimer Kreis and Wiesbaden (Niemoeller–Gereke–Noack) Peace Proclamation (Bonn’s Unnumbered telegram to Department January 233); Adenauer’s claim that SPD’s views on defense issue are now practically identical with those of Government and Schumacher’s apparent willingness to at least discuss defense issue with Chancellor with relation to possible development of “common front” for negotiations with HICOM.

With regard to latest SPD pronouncements, observers have commented particularly on Schumacher’s evident attempt to disassociate SPD from “Ohne mich!” (Without me) state of mind. In this connection, KRO Heidelberg reports that Schumacher both mentioned this briefly in his January 26 election speech and again when queried during subsequent press conference.

Those who believe that SPD “line” on rearmament issue has in fact changed in last few weeks suggest as possible reasons: effect of growing opposition within party to “ohne mich” and generally negative defense attitude, particularly as result of election defeat suffered in Berlin; favorable impression made on party and leaders by Eisenhower’s visit and statements,4 including his remarks to Congress upon return re Germany’s defense role; increasing concern by party leaders over possible effect on both public and party opinion of mounting GDRSED–KPD propaganda and tactics re unity, peace and anti-rearmament (encouraging development of psychology characterized by apathy, indecision and neutrality, which SPD leaders increasingly realize is at present both impractical and dangerous for Germany); and concern over growing isolationist sentiment in USA, plus perhaps doubt in minds of SPD leaders over continuing validity of party’s basic thesis that US and Western powers “must” defend western [Page 1010] Germany regardless of FedRep’s participation. Though Schumacher reacted very bitterly to Kirkpatrick’s recent Hamburg speech,5 there is some reason to believe it may have helped jar party’s complacency in this connection.

Study of above developments and statements, particularly against background of well-established SPD views on issues involved, leads Bonn Liaison to believe that though there has been some change in party’s emphasis on defense issue, there is as yet not sufficient evidence to indicate any real change in basic position. Most that can be said at present is that party is now stressing conditional acceptance approach and seems to have eased up somewhat in its “ohne mich” appeal, and has taken pains to disassociate itself from renewed efforts of KPD to form a common anti-rearmament front and from pacifist, neutralization school of Nauheimer Kreis and Niemoeller–Gereke–Noack group. During heat of last autumn’s election campaign, SPD position got fairly close to latter for a time, at least in popular presentation. Ollenhauer’s recent remark to Bonn Liaison re adoption of measures to correct “misinterpretation” of SPD policy in US (Bonn’s unnumbered telegram to Department January 246) may well indicate major reason for this shift away from “ohne mich” and pacificism, i.e. concern over veering US opinon, though other reasons indicated above may also have affected party leadership.

At same time, SPD does not, at least as yet, show sign of having dropped any of its basic demands for Gleichberechtigung (Equality), both military and political, and necessity for prior build-up in Allied military strength in Germany. In fact, several press articles which have appeared in last few days, which are presumably SPD-inspired, have emphasized this viewpoint (see particularly separate telegram6 re February 6 “Franfurter Rundschau” article). Schumacher’s political ambition and hope of undermining present Adenauer coalition have presumably not diminished, and if anything have probably increased as result of obvious differences within Cabinet over co-determination, tax reform and Lastenausgleich issues. Though Adenauer’s problems with his coalition partners (EDP and DP) may have tended to force him to seek rapprochement with SPD on other basic issues, Schumacher may be expected to endeavor to exploit this situation to Chancellor’s disadvantage. Likewise, SPD may be expected to continue to press demands for new elections as long as Schumacher believes his [Page 1011] party is likely to gain therefrom, and rearmament issue still provides him with convenient pretext to do so.

However, in view of slight shift in emphasis which has evidently occurred, question of SPD’s policy on defense will merit careful scrutiny in coming weeks, particularly as Lower Saxony and French Zone elections and Petersberg negotiations re contractual relationship get under way,7 and also in view of Adenauer’s current efforts to develop common front with Schumacher re defense and basic occupation problems.

  1. Repeated to Frankfurt, Berlin, London, Paris, and Moscow unnumbered.
  2. Post, p. 1317.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Not printed.
  7. Not printed.
  8. Not printed.
  9. Not printed.
  10. Not printed.
  11. Regarding General Eisenhower’s visit to Germany, January 20–23, see telegram 6080, January 24, p. 445.
  12. In his speech at Hamburg on January 12 Kirkpatrick had stated that it was time for Germany to drop international intrigue and irresponsible nationalism and stand up and be counted in the fight against international Communism. The Germans must choose, he said, full association with the West without equivocation. For a more extensive account of the speech, see the New York Times, January 13, 1951, p. 3.
  13. Not printed.
  14. Not printed.
  15. For documentation on the negotiations for a new contractual relationship with the Federal Republic, see pp. 1446 ff.