Memorandum of Conversation, by the Counselor of the Department of State (Bohlen)

top secret


  • The European Army


  • Mr. Jean Daridan, Minister Counselor of the French Embassy, and Mr. Charles E. Bohlen

Mr. Daridan, the French Minister, came to see me today following his return from Paris. He was very critical of his own Government—or more particularly, of French political parties—in regard to the matter of the Saar and very critical of the Germans for having raised publicly the NATO membership question. He gave me, I believe, very frankly his impressions of the deeper reasons which are beginning to affect French policy on the questions of rearmament and Germany.

Mr. Daridan said, as we knew, France was not able to carry both the burden of Indochina and the planned rearmament under NATO and that this fact was affecting the French attitude towards the EDF and German rearmament. It was generally accepted that nothing immediate could be done about Indochina, although the prospect of the endless drain on France (quite apart from any Chinese involvement) was beginning to have its effect on French political parties and to a much lesser degree on French public opinion. Excepting, however, the necessity of continuing the present effort in Indochina, the French Government was very much afraid of its effect on the European Army concept. With the bulk of French professional forces in Indochina and the probable necessity for a cutback in French divisions in Europe, there was real apprehension that the European Army would be completely [Page 611]German-dominated. He said he had argued very strongly against the prevailing thesis that American policy was not adverse to that development, i.e., a German military superiority in the European Army to that of France while the bulk of French forces were held in Indochina. In his opinion, the fear that by the combination of these factors France would find herself faced with a German military superiority in the European Army in the near future was affecting French attitude towards the European Army issue. He felt the problem was very serious as he did not see any French Assembly accepting German rearmament on the basis where there would be more German divisions than French in the European Army and that, quite apart from the Saar question or the German membership in NATO question, if France was forced to cut back her European divisions, the German contribution would have to be reduced if there was to be French acceptance. Mr. Daridan said that while he realized this was unthinking emotion, nevertheless, the feeling did exist that the United States was primarily interested in the question of German rearmament. Mr. Daridan did not attempt to suggest what the United States should or should not do in the circumstances but said he was merely giving me his impressions and the underlying reason for the difficulties with which the EDF was now faced.

Charles E. Bohlen