The United States High Commissioner for Germany (McCloy) to the Secretary of State 1
6261. Eyes only for Byroade. Regret delay in commenting your letter January 6 with, enclosures.2 We have been giving much thought to basic problem which must be answered in any discussions with Soviets at this time as they will undoubtedly attempt force us choose between an unarmed, unified Germany, which stands between East and West, or West Germany in West camp. If this unity could be obtained on reasonable conditions and at same time united Germany be permitted to align itself with West, there would be no problem, but this is undoubtedly impossible of realization, and certainly hot negotiable at present time. We are inclined to feel that consolidation of Europe which must include at least West Germany and creation of strong Western defense are today conditions which must precede unification of Germany which can now probably be only achieved on basis of neutralization. We recognize, however, that there will be considerable pressure to bring about unification and only through its achievement can continuing source of friction and problem of Berlin be liquidated. We must also recognize Soviet tactics are intended to capture that opinion in Germany which is more concerned with unification than with providing defense contingents for West and that there is in Europe a body of opinion which regards neutralization of Germany as a means of reducing Soviet pressure. We are continuing to give study to this aspect of problem and hope further to discuss this question with you soonest.
In meantime, however, I have following comments with regard to approach outlined in your letter and enclosures. We are fully in agreement that German problem can no longer be considered in isolation with Soviets and that we must open any conference with them on broader lines. For this purpose we need a concrete plan of wider scope and of nature which every reasonable individual can recognize as constituting a program for relaxation of principal points of tension at least in Europe. These are as you have in general outlined in your letter. Into such a plan, specific proposals re Germany can be fitted thus reducing danger of dealing with Germany as an isolated issue. The question posed therefore is what wider scheme can be put forward.[Page 1069]
We have reached conclusion that time has come to present proposal looking toward stabilization of armed forces of East and West which could create a balance of forces facing each other so that neither constitutes a threat to other. In this way it might be possible to set a ceiling for creation of Western defense forces which need not, however, necessarily be reached if Soviet Union is prepared sincerely to talk disarmament and to effect reductions in its own forces. In my opinion it is unwise merely to consider limiting proposals to creation of parity of forces in Germany as such would merely create illusion that progress had been made and probably slow rate of European rearmament.
I recognize that at time when we are making every effort to increase defense possibilities of Western world, which would necessarily involve atomic question, careful consideration must be given to full implications of such proposal and that its danger and disadvantages are obvious. On the other hand, it would represent positive step toward restoring peace and in addition would enable us to take necessary initiative and alter our approach to forthcoming meeting. It would also give opportunity to rehabilitate position of US leadership which has been wavering in Europe in face of current uncertainties re US intentions. It will likewise give us possibility of placing Soviet demands for demilitarization of Germany in their proper perspective. Such proposal would further give us opportunity of insisting upon reduction of satellite forces as prior condition to any limits on German strength. If Soviets should refuse even to consider such proposal or argue that it cannot be handled through meeting of ministers, it will then be possible for us to reply that in that case the obligations and undertakings of Potsdam must be re-examined in broader context and in light of existing conditions today. We shall, of course, make it clear that we have no intention whatsoever to create a German national army, but in present state of international anarchy and world rearmament, it can be demonstrated that it is unreasonable to deny Germany any right to provide for its own defense through adherence to collective security system dedicated to support of UN.
If an initiative of this sort is taken at outset, it will provide better frame for our own proposals re Germany which are preferable to series of counter-proposals brought forth only as rejoinder to Soviets. I think, therefore, an adoption of program you outline should be presented on our own initiative without waiting to find out nature of Soviet proposals. It may be that taking initiative on our own is dangerous in that it would inevitably run into questions of unification and neutralization of Germany. This issue must, however, be faced and any counter-proposals which would have to be made in answer to Soviets would run same risk without compensating advantage.
Further, I do not believe we can afford merely to assume Soviet proposals will be limited to reiteration of Prague Declaration which have [Page 1070]already been rejected, both by Allies and Federal Republic, as an acceptable solution, but they may wish to embarrass US, particularly in Germany, by moving toward acceptance of some of our proposals on German unification, coupling this with insistence upon demilitarization. Even if they are not sincere in such an offer and have no intention of implementing it, they could still make an offer hoping to create embarrassment or prolong discussions, as they have done in case Austria, thereby further delaying decision on German defense contribution.
I am sending my comments on specific points of program outlined your letter in separate telegram.
- Repeated to London and Paris, eyes only for Gifford and Bruce.↩
- Not found in Department of State files; according to a memorandum by Gerhardt dated January 22, not printed, however, Byroade had asked that HICOG consider a paper called “Exploratory Talks with the Soviets.” A copy of the paper, not printed, is attached to Gerhardt’s memorandum (Bonn Mission files, lot 311, TS(51)13). On January 27 Gerhardt had sent Byroade his own draft reply to the letter of January 16, the substance of which was the same as that presented in this telegram. A copy of the draft is in file 396.1/1–2751.↩