The Allied High Commissioners for Germany to the Governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France 1

top secret

On 20th December 1950, at the Brussels Conference, the Occupying Powers were invited by the Powers signatory to the North Atlantic Treaty to discuss with the German Federal Government the question of German participation in the defense of Western Europe, on the basis set forth in the reports of the Military Committee and of the Council of Deputies.

On 21st December, the Allied High Commissioners and the Federal Chancellor agreed to instruct the Deputy High Commissioners and, on the German side, Herr Blank, to make a first study, both sides being assisted by military experts. This report is the result of that study.

The Study was essentially of an exploratory nature.

It is, indeed, important to note that, although the substance of the NATO paper was fairly indicated to the Chancellor on 21st December by a statement of the duty Chairman of the High Commission and subsequently to the German delegation, neither the complete text of the document nor every detail of all its stipulations were communicated to the German delegation. It was desired moreover that the German delegation should be able to express their point of view freely. They have thus not considered themselves bound by the requirements of the NATO paper.

It appears that the main concern of the German delegation was to make known the form which, in their opinion, the German contribution should take in order to achieve for the common cause the greatest effectiveness in the face of the Soviet menace. They worked from an essentially technical military standpoint and presented their proposals clearly and firmly.

In doing this, the German Delegation stressed the fact that a German contribution to Western defense could only be envisaged after the realization of a certain number of political conditions. It was understood that the discussion of these conditions was reserved for meetings between the High Commissioners and the Chancellor.

The following tables show the principles incorporated in the NATO proposals which (a) the German Delegation accept, (b) those which they did not accept in these discussions, and (c) those which they may accept with certain qualifications. It will be seen that while the German [Page 1045] proposals in certain important particulars are within the framework laid down by NATO, in a number of others they depart considerably from the conditions set forth in the document approved by the Brussels conference.

A. The following safeguards (of those set forth in the Brussels Agreement) are acceptable to the German Delegation:

Any system of German participation must be within the NATO structure.
A European rather than a nationalistic spirit will be instilled in German military personnel.
Although the German Delegation rejected a control which would apply only to the German contingent (see lists B and C), it agreed that any system of control that is applicable to all participating NATO forces would be accepted by the Germans.
Appropriate German air units for the defense of Western Germany in support of German ground units will be a part of the integrated air forces under the Supreme Commander.
Military personnel would be secured initially through voluntary enlistment followed by conscription (selective service) and it appeared that a satisfactory formula could be worked out with the German authorities.
An armament industry will not be established in Germany except to the extent specifically requested by France.
Although the German Delegation insisted on the creation of a Defense Ministry (see list B), it agreed that the German administration of defense would be of civilian character and under the control of the Bundestag.
The Germans will create such naval forces and accept such naval tasks as may be determined by NATO.
The number of German land formations should not at any time exceed one-fifth of the total of like allied land formations allocated to and ear-marked for SHAPE.

B. The following safeguards (of those set forth in the Brussels Agreement) were not acceptable to the German Delegation:

The Germans do not consider in principle that the brigade groups or regimental combat teams fulfill the requirement that any units formed must be militarily acceptable and effective.
The Germans do not accept a transitional period during which they form and train units before the decision is made with regard to the division.
The Germans insist that the size of the German ground formations to be constituted should be a division of 10,000 fighting men, and preferably in the form of an armored division.
The Germans insist that the administration of defense should be in a defense ministry and do not accept an administrative office or offices in one or more other ministries.
The Germans do not accept the provision that German units should not be permitted to contribute complete heavy [Page 1046] armored formations, as they consider the armored division the most efficient and insist on being equipped on a basis of equality.

C. The German Delegation declared that the following safeguards (of those set forth in the Brussels Agreement) were not acceptable unless some procedure can be worked out on the basis of equality; that is, they would be acceptable only if they apply to the forces of the other powers participating in the defense of Europe, or if an agreed procedure is worked out that will satisfy German public opinion.

Defense administration must be subject to some system of allied control.
The functions appropriate to the plans, operations and intelligence sections of military staffs, above the level of authorized tactical units, should be only discharged by international staffs under the Supreme Commander and should not be permitted in any German Agency.
The German land contribution to any NATO defense force should, from the point of view of safeguards alone, under no circumstances, be organized into solely German formations which exceed the ceiling of division strength.
The occupying powers should retain general supervision over officer recruitment and should rely as far as practicable upon recruiting and training of new officers. Similarly, supervision should be exercised over the training of non-commissioned officers.

N.B. The following safeguard provided in the NATO agreement was not discussed with the German delegation, as it seemed premature to discuss this point before an agreement is reached on the German contribution.

The rotation of individuals from the regular forces to any reserve should be controlled so as to insure that no unforeseen or undesired expansion of German forces is possible at any time.

It will be seen from the above tables that, except on a certain number of points which they regard as fundamental, it does not appear that the German Delegation will be hostile to some compromise. It should be noted that these first negotiations took place in a particularly confident atmosphere and, on the German side, showed a definite desire to achieve something.

Although the German Delegation did, on the other hand, point out on several occasions the importance in Germany of the movement in favor of abstention from military matters and the necessity of fulfilling certain conditions to overcome this, they did not hide their belief that, in due course, if satisfactory political conditions were created, a majority which, moreover, they hoped would be large could be found in the Bundestag to pass the Laws which would be presented by the Federal Government.

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It will be for the Governments concerned to determine what relative importance they attach to the points on which the German proposals respectively fall in with or diverge from the Brussels proposals. The three Governments will doubtless exchange views to the end that instructions be sent to the High Commission to enable further discussions to be held with the Germans.2

A. François-Poncet

French High Commissioner for Germany for Germany
Ivone Kirkpatrick

U.K. High Commissioner for Germany
John J. McCloy

U.S. High Commissioner for Germany
  1. The source text was attached to a memorandum by John F. Hickman, Secretary of the International Security Affairs Committee, not printed, and was circulated to members of the committee as ISAC D–16, dated June 22.
  2. Attached to the source text was the Report of the Technical Discussions Conducted at the Petersberg concerning the Question of a German Defense Contribution (9 January–4 June 1951), dated June 6, not printed. This report summarized in 16 numbered sections the discussions between the Deputy High Commissioners and the West German Representatives and indicated the positions taken by both sides on the various questions considered during the 12 meetings at Petersberg.