396.1/9–754: Telegram

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

secret
priority

698. Reference Bonn telegram 690 to Department, repeated London 104, Paris 111.2

Chancellor in conversation this afternoon outlined his present position and plans for immediate future. He intends continue discussing with British through British High Commissioner or special representative from London British proposal for German entry NATO with voluntary self-imposed limitations. He has in mind declaration by himself as Chancellor, possibly confirmed by vote confidence Bundestag. Limitation would be on number divisions. He is not thinking of any supra-national feature connection with entry NATO. He, however, assured me and asked me repeat Washington his intention if NATO solution is acceptable French to proceed try once again while [Page 1153] German army in process forming to create something equivalent EDC concept. He emphasized same time his intention continue work for general policy European integration, and in discussion of Saar agreed that European solution this problem would be a test for success development of plans for future. He proposes to press for this and other European features his program at same time as attempting find solution rearmament in NATO framework.

I questioned him about sovereignty status. He believes this can be accomplished by declaration three governments that they will not exercise occupational powers insofar as Bundesrepublik is concerned. He believes this would not present legal problem, Berlin would still remain under occupation, but he agreed that legal problems would have to be carefully investigated before this solution could be made final. Convention covering stationing of our forces he would propose cover through something similar to present treaties with other NATO powers. It is quite clear that his present thinking is such that advantages we have in Bonn conventions would largely if not entirely disappear.

He believes all this can be accomplished without action French Chamber if Mendes-France so desires and without action Bundestag except for treaty on stationing of forces.

As indicated reference telegram 690, he dislikes idea nine or ten-power conference and hopes this can be avoided. His objections stem from his fear that German public opinion will feel limitations on German rearmament were imposed on him by conference rather than freely declared by himself. NATO Council meeting would determine nature German contribution and before this occurred he would be ready to state what his self-imposed limitations on this contribution would be. It would then be for French and other NATO countires to accept or reject.

As to date NATO meeting, he would prefer before September 21 but when I pointed out difficulties Secretary’s presence he felt even October 1 might not be too late.

He clearly is not entirely optimistic as to possibilities Mendes-France will accept formula which would be worked out with British but feels this test must be made. Further indicated he has hopes Mendes-France Government will not long remain in power. We did not discuss steps which would follow refusal Mendes-France NATO solution acceptable to himself and British. He assumed US would be kept informed his negotiations with British at all points and would be, he hopes, in agreement.

In summary, seems clear that Chancellor is aiming at full and complete sovereignty with equal membership NATO, but he is prepared on behalf his government to give certain assurances as to rearmament and privately intends continue to work for something similar EDC [Page 1154] and above all to go forward solution French-German problems on European basis. These reservations in my opinion, place proposal have national army in NATO in quite different framework than if they came from a government with strong nationalistic bias.

Conant
  1. Repeated to London and Paris.
  2. Supra.