762A.5/2–1751: Telegram

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

top secret

548. Eyes only for Byroade. Report of the fifth meeting held February 16 between the Deputy High Commissioners and German representatives re German contribution to Western defense.2 Present: same personnel on the German side, omitting Mr. Franken. On the French side the same personnel, omitting General Ganeval; on the British side the same personnel, omitting General Wansbrough-Jones, and adding Mr. Melville (legal adviser). Present on the US side the same personnel as at the fourth meeting.

The Chairman (Hays) opened the meeting with the reminder that these meetings were exploratory and must develop insofar as possible all information on the subjects; that when sufficient information had been obtained, the Allied representatives would submit a report to the High Commissioners, who in turn would submit a report, with their comments, to their governments; that the Allied representatives did not feel they have sufficient information yet to prepare their reports and wish to get further information on some of the subjects already covered, and in addition to discuss financial matters which have not [Page 1017] as yet been discussed. He then read the following prepared statement which had been agreed upon tripartitely prior to the meeting:

“At our last meeting, we drew your attention to the conditions attached by the Brussels decisions to the organization of the German Participation to Western Defense during the transitional period. The proposals for the creation of an European Army, also adopt the combat team as the size of the envisaged national units.

We should like to know how you envisage the proposals you made on January 26 can be adapted so as to make progress during the transitional period.”

Following the above quotation, Ward (UK) stated there were many other matters upon which he would like information, such as the general location of the training areas, the location of the depots, et cetera. Blank (Germany) stated that his task was to deal with the requirements of the Allied forces stationed in West Germany; that he was now busy making arrangements for the US reinforcements which were to arrive, and was also busy making arrangements for the UK reinforcements which were to arrive; that it was plain to him that in the course of this work he must plan from the beginning where German contingents would be accommodated. Because of the shortage of barracks, as they had told us previously, the German contingents would be housed in wartime camps.

The German experts had worked out the general location for the German forces based on certain assumptions re their strength which they would be prepared to discuss now.

General Heusinger then presented the following: the peacetime accommodation for German troops must be based upon the final goal and when the size of the final total German contingency [contingent?] is known the individual units would be fitted into an overall framework. He had made a plan on assumed final strength of a German contribution of 250,000 men, and had broken down this total figure as follows:

Twelve combat units of 10,000 men which total 120,000 men: Service units totaling 30,000 men;

Tactical airforce and coastal force units totaling 65,000 men;

Reinforcing troops such as artillery, armor, engineers, et centera, 20,000 men;

The remainder of 15,000 men would be taken up by staffs, territorial units, and administrative personnel.

Heusinger then discussed the location of the twelve combat units. Their location depended upon three guiding principles. First, their location adapted to the general vicinity from which the personnel was recruited. Second, the location in proximity to appropriate training facilities. And third, the location should take into account operational plans in case of war. Unless the units were located in an area which [Page 1018] facilitated operations, favorable time would be lost in regrouping or redeployment. Therefore, it was essential that the troops be located in areas which would facilitate their prompt employment in the event of a sudden attack without warning. As regards point three, the location to facilitate operations, Heusinger analyzed the terrain of the FedRep and divided it into three main sectors. The southern sector consisted of the territory south of the Main River, which would be the group to cover Italy, Switzerland and the valleys and gateways to Burgundy in France. He stated that this was the decisive southern pillar of the defense of middle Europe, and a group of forces stationed in this area would be in a position to make an attack against the southern flank of any Soviet penetration. The central sector, including the area between the Main River and the mouth of the Weser River was the area in which any Russian advance must be brought to a halt, and this area includes the vital area of the Ruhr. The area north of the mouth of the Weser River and the Lubeck Bight was the northern pillar of central European defense. If this area and Denmark could be held, Russia could be prevented from breaking out of the Baltic—and, like the southern pillar, would provide a base for a flank attack on the northern flank of the Russian penetration.

In conclusion Heusinger stated that in their opinion a Russian advance must be held on the southern and northern flanks so that it would be channelled into the central sector and that this would be a decisive pre-condition for the success of the defense of Western Europe. This operational plan in their opinion plays an important part in the consideration of the location of German units.

General Speidel then stated that with the above explanation, they had planned in each of the three sectors the location of four of the twelve German divisions. He agreed, at our next meeting, to furnish the Allied representatives with maps showing the general locations that they had selected.

The chairman then asked how the 30,000 supply troops would be organized and would function. Heusinger replied that for reasons of mobility and economy they had planned to create service troops for each two combat units, that they found considerable saving in personnel to create a service agency for each two units rather than for each unit, and that in movement the combat units had far more mobility if they did not have supply units to worry about. On this basis they plan a service organization of about 4500 men strength for each two combat units, and stated that this type of organization gave them a higher percentage of fighting men to total strength than the percentage they had had during the war where each division had its own service unit. The German plan was to have the service organizations which supply each two divisions, commanded by an intermediate commander, and [Page 1019] division commander would be relieved of all responsibility and worries about supplies and service. Under the German plan it would be a decisive advantage when combat units were moved by rail, as without service units they could be moved by only 35 trains, whereas with service units they would need approximately 70 trains.

The chairman then stated that there had been considerable discussion among the NATO powers of the establishment during the interim period of combat teams or brigade groups which would be considered a component part of a division, and for combat operations would be combined together with other like units as a division. He asked Herr Blank, under the hypothesis that equality of treatment would be given to any German units organized under this formula, whether the Germans would have any proposals to make.

Blank stated that under the hypothesis that the other participating nations would form their units on the same basis, the Germans would make such proposals. In view of the reaction in the press re such proposals, he would like it understood that the German proposals would be proposals that would apply to all participating units including German units. In other words, his proposals were not proposals for a German contribution under this formula if other participating units were not similarly organized. Blank then stated that in order to make intelligent comments it would be helpful if the Germans knew how, under this formula, the other NATO units would be organized. He stated that in the German view it would be unwise to propose an organization which would not produce effective fighting units compatible with the desires of the Supreme Commander.

Bérard (France) stated that the French proposals in regard to combat teams had been given to the German delegates in Paris and were being discussed there, and therefore the German delegation would have the French ideas on the composition of combat teams for the formation of infantry divisions and combat commands for the formation of armored divisions.

Blank made a point, with which the Allied representatives agreed, that we should not in our conversations enter into a discussion of the same matters which were being discussed in Paris.

Ward stated that in the British Army they do not have combat teams, but they do have a number of brigade groups which do not have fixed tables of organization, but number between 6,000 and 8,000 men—the armored brigade groups being somewhat higher in strength than the infantry brigade groups.

Blank finally agreed that at our next meeting the German delegation would present its ideas on how a division could be formed from two or more national combat units, again under the assumption that these proposals would only be set forth on the basis of equality.

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Ward again pressed the German delegation to come up with plans which would contemplate proceeding with the formation and training of small units while awaiting the final answer to the size, composition and armament of the basic combat unit. Blank replied that even disregarding the political problems involved, his experts felt that for technical reasons it was necessary to know the end product before small units were formed and trained. But, he stated, if the British experts had any proposals to make in regard to how training could commence without knowledge of the final units to be created, they would be very pleased to consider these proposals.

It was agreed that the next meeting would be held Friday, March 2, at which time further German proposals would be made in regard to the composition of combat teams, and discussion would take place regarding the legal aspects of a German contribution under international law.

[ Hays ]
  1. Repeated to Frankfurt eyes only for McCloy and to Heidelberg eyes only for Handy.
  2. A copy of Buttenwieser’s notes on this fifth meeting, sent to Byroade on February 19, is in file 740.5/2–1951.