The Liaison and Political Reporting Division of HICOG to the Office of the United States High Commissioner for Germany, at Frankfurt 1
760. From Liaison Bonn. During course of off-the-record discussion with Joseph Alsop in presence of Liaison Bonn, Adenauer today bluntly blamed British as well as French for postponement of German defense contribution. Only by strongest and continued pressure could US hope to force through integration of Germany into Western defense.
Discussing forthcoming FonMin conference, Adenauer stated all too few Europeans seem to understand that dictators can only be handled from a position of strength. Many Frenchmen and even British, some of them influential in their govts, seem to think a Russian attack on their countries could be bought off at the cost of Germany. The chief Soviet objective today is to delay the rebuilding of Western defense and to split the Western Powers. Both France and England were susceptible to Russian blandishments. At forthcoming conference Russians wld probably “play on every available flute” to appeal to every soft element in the West in an effort to block Western defense.
In fact Soviets had already won partial victory by British reluctance to join in a joint declaration on intentions to grant Germany limited sovereignty which was a prerequisite of a German defense contribution. He explained such declaration had been drafted, agreed and was ready for issuance when Kirkpatrick sent word through his subordinate that the UK was not ready at this time to join in such a declaration. Thereupon, all real progress on both pol and mil matters ceased and discussions undertaken on a series of minor points of no individual importance. Thus Russians had achieved a considerable measure of success. Concerning the mil conscription and the size of units, Adenauer stated that these matters shld be left for decision by commander-in-chief and his mil experts. Pol considerations shld not be allowed to influence purely technical mil matters. He ascribed French fear of German divisions partly to fact they were concerned that German and American generals might conspire to place the line of Western Defense too far to the east for French tastes.
Adenauer stated his mil experts believed the danger of a Russian invasion this year could be largely avoided if the British and Americans concentrated ten divisions each in Schleswig-Holstein and Bavaria respectively. Basing themselves on the traditional German concept of the pincers maneuver, such forces, the German generals [Page 1027]said that light forces between these two bastions would be sufficient to complete the defense and intimated this task cld be-left to the French. Pointing out that the US was already committed to six and one-half divisions, an additional three and one-half wld be necessary to mount American share of this defense force. However, he added the British had already indicated through requisitioning of barracks etc. that they intended to station their forces on an east-west line between Lower Saxony and the Dutch coast. This he said, gave rise to disturbing suspicions in the minds of himself and his mil experts.
Asked why British policy had swung away from the advanced American position until it was scarcely discernible from the French position on Germany, Adenauer took exception to the question stating that Bevin’s policy, though not Robertson’s, had always been weak in Germany. After reminiscing on his bitter experiences with the British during the early period of occupation, he expressed the view that the only good thing the British had done was to fire him from his post of lord mayor of Cologne for incompetence.
While expressing both respect for and confidence in US policy, Adenauer pleaded for the strongest possible American support to hasten Europe’s defense. Throughout the conversation, Adenauer candidly expressed distrust and disappointment at the British and contempt for France and her fighting spirit. Illustrative of his attitude, when the new Allied occupation cost budget was handed to him during the course of the conversation he examined it briefly and commented only “as usual the French soldiers seem to be the most expensive.”
As has been explained also, German officials are sometimes not above sowing a little dissension between Allies. It might therefore be wise to take Chancellor’s praise of US with a pinch of salt.
- Repeated to Washington, Paris, and London. The source text is the copy in the Department of State files.↩