740.5/12–1754: Telegram

The United States High Commissioner for Germany (Conant) to the Department of State 1


1789. Bundestag foreign policy debate on first reading Paris Treaty produced few new arguments or surprises. Debate can perhaps best be characterized by cartoon in “Welt” which showed Chanc and Ollenhauer entering Bundeshaus, each concealing large phonograph records. As is customary in first readings, argumentation remained general. Most observers feel neither coalition nor opposition gained ground as result debate. Good showing by Chanc and Kiesinger on first day of debate against uninspired Ollenhauer cancelled out by Chanc’s poor handling of SPD attacks on Saar and rearmament cost yesterday, when Chanc seemed fatigued and dispirited.

SPD attack deliberately avoided discussion of content of treaties, except Saar (there was very little criticism of other treaties from any side during course of debate). SPD speakers concentrated on Saar, reunification, high rearmament cost, resistance of youth to military service and doubt as to ability of NATO, even if augmented by German divisions to prevent Sovs from overrunning FedRep in event all-out attack. SPD arguments on Four-Power necessity for conf before ratification had no effect on Bundestag. Party’s theories on Sov willingness to permit reunification of united Germany without Western alliances were rejected by all coalition speakers who seemed even less impressed by alleged changes in Sov policy than during October foreign policy debate.

Mende (FDP) and Schneider (DP) asked for release remaining war criminals held by Western powers, but their arguments were familiar [Page 1509] and aroused no real interest in house. Mende recommended large increase in Grenzschutz.

Noteworthy that no coalition speaker defended Saar agreement as such. Merkatz said DP could not support treaty in present form; Dehler and Becker (FDP) and Seibold (BHE) rejected treaty in name of their factions. Even Chanc failed make any effort defend substance of treaty, limited self to explaining necessity of agreement with France on Saar, his displeasure at official French interpretation of treaty was clear in his sharp rejection of it and demand for meeting with US and UK to clarify disputed points. We feel he may have created exaggerated expectations in coalition as to extent of clarifications he will be willing get from France. FDP and BHE speakers followed Chanc’s request to exercize moderation in discussing Saar in light coming French debate. They generally followed main SPD argument that treaty should not be supported because signatories could not agree what they meant. Freedom for political parties to campaign for eventual return to Germany while respecting statute and agreement that second plebiscite shall contain opportunity for Saar population vote for return to Germany and that plebiscite results shall determine final disposition of Saar were main points in criticism. On basis their conduct in debate, it believed majority of both BHE and FDP will vote against treaty unless major changes made. It still appears Chanc would have small majority for treaty.

SPD capitalized on Chanc’s inability give overall estimate of cost of military build-up, claimed rearmament would cost up to 100 billion DM. Rasner (CDU) said FedBep defense costs would be kept within nine billion DM annual limit or military build-up would have to take place over longer period. Chanc also unable answer persistent SPD questions on extent and quality of armaments to be supplied by US.

There was long discussion by Rasner, Mende and Manteuffel of democratic control of army, each of them asked govt take steps establish personnel selection committee for officers.

Chanc, Kiesinger, Merkatz, Jaeger (CSU) Haasler (BHE) gave strong support with strong CDU applause, to necessity for continuation of attempts to unify Europe (CDU speakers said govt would be willing integrate FedRep army EDC-style at any time.) Dehler and Becker (FDP) on other and expressed strong doubts about possibility or value of supranational integration, commended national self-interest as most lasting and natural element in international politics.

Chanc omitted most refs to settlement with Sovs contained in first draft his speech.

  1. Repeated to London and Paris.