Conference files, lot 59 D 95, CF 137

Informal Memorandum of Conversation 1

secret

Participants:

  • Luxembourg Prime Minister Dupong
  • Foreign Minister Bech
  • United States Secretary Dulles
  • Mrs. Mesta, US Minister
  • Mr. MacArthur
  • Mr. O’Connor

After the usual amenities Secretary Dulles opened the conversation by saying that he was particularly glad to have the opportunity to visit Luxembourg so that he could talk with Mr. Dupong and Mr. Bech about common problems and also because Luxembourg was the seat of the Coal Steel Community which was the first European supranational organization which had come into existence.

With respect to common problems he wished particularly to talk about the European Defense Community.2 He outlined the US position with respect to the EDC, emphasizing that European unity is essential if US assistance is to achieve its purpose in assisting in the creation of European security. He pointed out the necessity for a German military contribution if Europe is to be successfully defended and the fact that [Page 1576]it is essential that this German contribution be within a framework which will bring France and Germany together and at the same time prevent such German participation from resulting in a German national army of some sort which some years hence might be used in ways inimical to the free democratic West. He pointed out that Franco–German relations are at the heart of the problem of whether Europe will become strong or remain weak and divided, and that without a Franco–German understanding there can be no unity or strength in Europe.

Foreign Minister then launched into a long exposition, the main points of which were as follows: Luxembourg has no cause to love Germany. It is a small country and historically has been the victim of the conflict between France and Germany. Nonetheless, Luxembourg realizes that a German contribution is essential if Europe is to be defended as far to the East as is necessary. Although Luxembourg still has apprehensions about Germany, particularly that a non[neo]-Nazi or similar movement may replace the present leadership of Adenauer, it is willing to go ahead with EDC since it sees no real alternative. However, there have been disquieting signs in Germany in the past year that important sectors of the German people are becoming “arrogant and are once again beginning to behave like Prussians.” As a close neighbor to Germany and also speaking their language, both he and Prime Minister Dupong have been in a position to notice this changing attitude on the part of many Germans.

With respect to ratification of the EDC, Luxembourg will most certainly ratify the treaty but can only do so after the other countries have acted. He explained that although the Luxembourg Socialists are in the opposition, they had voted for and supported Luxembourg’s entry into NATO. With respect to EDC, however, they are strongly influenced by the French Socialist Party and the President of the Luxembourg Assembly, a good Socialist, has indicated to Bech and Dupong that until France and other countries act he could not persuade his party to vote for EDC ratification. Mr. Bech also mentioned in passing that while the Luxembourg Socialists were primarily influenced by the French Socialists they were also influenced by the German Socialists who were steadfastly opposing the EDC.

Another reason why Luxembourg could not move first in EDC ratification was the fact that it was contributing only a brigade to the EDC forces. The people and Parliament would, he said, feel that it was ridiculous for Luxembourg, the smallest participant in the EDC, to move first in a matter of such importance when the other larger members of the proposed EDC community had taken no action with respect to ratification. Mr. Dupong echoed the above views of Mr. Bech and said that many Luxembourgers probably preferred German [Page 1577]entry into NATO. This seemed to be the only alternative if EDC failed.

The Secretary said that he fully understood that only Luxembourg could be the judge of when it took action with respect to the EDC. In so far as NATO being an alternative, Rene Mayer and other French leaders with whom he had talked in Paris had assured him that no French Government could last twenty-four hours that voted for German entry into NATO. It seemed certain that now and in the foreseeable future the French would veto any such action. Furthermore, German entry into NATO would not seem to meet the European fears regarding a resurgent national Germany with an independent German army. In other words, if Germany entered into NATO it would be free like all the other NATO partners to withdraw its forces whenever it wished. Any such action along these lines would, the Secretary believed, place Germany’s Western European neighbors in a position of very considerable peril. The Secretary then said the trouble with the present situation is that there is no responsibility focused on anyone for failure to ratify the EDC treaty. None of the six countries has ratified and each says that it is waiting for the others to act first. Nine months have passed since the treaty has been signed and if each country insists on waiting it seems obvious that the whole project will remain indefinitely bogged down. This will be most serious in terms of continuing US support in the general order of magnitude as has been given to Europe in the past several years. In other words, if the European countries do not give some visible indications that EDC is not dead and if there are not concrete evidences of the fact that progress is being made, it will be extremely difficult to convince American governmental, Congressional and public opinion that it should continue to pour its treasures and resources into Europe when the Europeans themselves cannot even move forward with a treaty which they not only proposed but which they signed many months ago. The Secretary said that only the Europeans could decide whether or not they were going to move forward but if they did not the whole concept of the North Atlantic Treaty, in so far as creating security for Europe was concerned, would seem to be jeopardized.

Mr. Bech said that he understood the gravity of the situation. If the Benelux countries could agree to act together and all three of them move toward ratification, Luxembourg, he felt, would be willing to move with them. He could see the great advantage in focusing responsibility on non-signatories and he agreed that if it were possible for other countries to begin the process of ratification it would have a very considerable influence in France. Not only would the French Parliament be faced with possible responsibility for the failure of European security but if other countries ratified he felt that a number of French parliamentarians who were now opposing EDC would find a pretext [Page 1578]to give it reluctant support or at least not oppose it. With this in mind, he suggested that at the Rome meeting of the EDC ministerial committee on February 24 he might endeavor to get the other Benelux countries to agree to press forward rapidly with EDC ratification. He also said that from the Luxembourg point of view it would be helpful if the French government or one or two of the French leaders, officially or unofficially, could suggest to Luxembourg that ratification by Luxembourg prior to that of France would be helpful. He said he would be seeing Robert Schuman within the next week or so and he would talk to him privately about this. He also said that a number of the continental EDC countries were criticizing the UK for not associating itself more closely with the EDC. He had been informed of the measures of association which the UK envisaged and he felt that they went very far toward meeting the desire of the continental EDC countries. It was perfectly obvious that the UK could not join the EDC and he did not see how the British could go much further than they had already agreed to go in association with EDC.

Mr. Bech said he had been informed several days ago of the substance of the protocols which the French would propose. He felt that they were satisfactory and he had already sent word to Bidault that he would support the protocols and urge the other EDC countries to accept them. He said that he would keep this promise to Bidault.

  1. This memorandum, presumably prepared by O’Connor, was unsigned with no indication of the drafter; a notation on the source text explained that this record was based on the recollection of several of the participants and should not be considered an official record.
  2. For documentation concerning the attitude of the United States toward the establishment of a European Defense Community, see pp. 571 ff.