740.5/9–154: Telegram

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


636. Dowling had dinner in Baden-Baden with Blankenhorn and Hallstein last night at latter’s request to discuss situation created by French rejection of EDC. He found them troubled re advice which they shld give Chancellor at this juncture.

They said they had no doubt that coalition leaders wld continue— for this stage at least—to endorse whatever policy Chancellor shld put forward at meeting today. Problem was what position Chancellor shld take, as they felt it imperative for the future of Germany that his program this time be assured of success. If he shld again fail to achieve his aims, the inevitable result wld be to throw German leadership into other hands, and as a minimum a weakening of German tics with the West. It soon became evident that they were particularly concerned re danger of Chancellor coming out publicly at this time with demand for full German membership in NATO, which he seemed inclined to do as simplest way out of his dilemma, and were looking for arguments to dissuade him from this course.

[Page 1123]

Hallstein voiced particular doubts re British policy, saying he feared Churchill and Eden must have given Mendes-France commitment not to move on German question without French consent,2 and said problem was to find formula which wld avoid French veto of equitable solution. As he saw it, French wld never agree to full and equal German membership in NATO, and he wondered what other arrangement French cld be brought to accept. Moreover, he doubted whether British opinion wld support German membership in NATO if France were adamantly opposed. It was therefore, he said, superfluous to point out that Germany and the Chancellor were wholly dependent upon U.S. policy in this problem. Chancellor, he added quickly, was not unhappy at this, as he had long ago recognized realities of world situation and was content to throw in his lot with U.S. His hope was that we cld bring Britain to join with U.S. in persuading French to accept necessity of early and reasonable solution of German question.

As to solution, he said Chancellor rightfully felt he shld not abandon goal of European integration in economic and political fields, at least, but he wondered what effect wld be if Adenauer now threw his might behind German national army in NATO. There were elements in Germany (he mentioned Oberlander and Dehler in particular) who wld cheer such a decision, but they wld be first to exploit situation when it became clear that French wld veto full NATO membership or at best wld insist upon discriminatory restrictions unacceptable to Germans. On other hand, he observed, majority of Germans were not keen about national military organization as opposed to European army—but he then himself dismissed this argument by saying that any way Germans wld make good soldiers in national army, perhaps even too good. He went on to say that there might well be limitations on German participation in NATO which Germans cld accept, such as, for example, the size of German contingents, since the 12 divisions envisaged under EDC was the maximum defense contribution which Germany cld afford at this time. Such limitations wld however, have to be freely accepted by Germany, and not imposed.

Dowling then reminded Hallstein of report given Chancellor re London Study Group’s work3 following Washington talks4 (Bonn’s 125 to Dept5), whereupon Hallstein pointed out that German Govt [Page 1124] had always maintained connection between Bonn conventions6 and EDC, and he felt sure Chancellor wld have to take position that 2 were interdependent. If EDC were not to come into being, then new arrangements wld have to be found to take place of Bonn conventions. He argued further that agrmts along lines of Bonn conventions wld be difficult for Germans to accept without simultaneous agrmt on nature of German defense contribution, and that here again problem of French veto arose.

Dowling then inquired whether they thought that Chancellor had to take a position in favor of a specific formula at this time. Blankenhorn referred to conference of EDC powers plus U.S. and U.K. which had been proposed at earlier period, and said that if such a meeting cld be held soon, he was of opinion it wld be preferable for Chancellor not to propose a specific solution now, but rather to confine himself to general proposition that German Govt maintained its support for European integration and maintained its readiness to make its contribution to Western defense on basis of equality and in measure envisaged in EDC. Hallstein readily agreed, saying this wld provide opportunity for other powers to make such proposals as might be found mutually advisable, and might even persuade French that EDC was after all better solution from their point of view than NATO. He added that in any event negots were bound to be difficult, and while Germans were prepared to take on their share of this tough assignment, perhaps it wld be preferable for Germans not to take too much of the initiative.

Discussion between Hallstein and Blankenhorn then turned to consideration of what action, if any, cld be taken to impress upon French vital necessity of concluding agrmt at such a conference. They urged that there must be steps which U.S. and U.K. cld take towards organization of German defense contingent which while of provisional nature, and in anticipation of EDC (or even NATO or some intermediary solution), wld nevertheless convince French that German rearmament was fact which they must face now rather than later. They said openly that once this process began it cld not be halted short of completion, but felt that so long as these preliminary measures were under U.S. and U.K. control French cld not object too strenuously and other European powers might well approve.

Conversation was cut short at this point to permit Dowling to catch train for return to Bonn, but he was left with impression they wld recommend some such course as above to Adenauer, although they were by no means sure he wld accept their recommendations.

[Page 1125]

We telephoned Hallstein this morning to give him gist of Deptel 592.7 He said he was seeing Chancellor prior to coalition mtg today, and wld pass on Dept’s views.

  1. Transmitted to the Department of State in two sections and repeated to London and to Paris for Bruce.
  2. For reports concerning Mendès-France’s visit to London on Aug. 23, see the letters from Churchill and Eden to Dulles, both written on Aug. 24, pp. 1077 and 1078.
  3. A Study Group of officials of the United States and the United Kingdom met in London July 5–12, 1954, to discuss their policies toward Germany; for the text of their report, see p. 997.
  4. This is a reference to the EisenhowerChurchill discussions in Washington in June 1954; regarding these talks, see the editorial note, p. 981.
  5. Not printed; it informed the Department of State on July 13 that Chancellor Adenauer appeared satisfied with the United States-British initiative evident in the Report of the London Study Group. (662A.00/7–1354)
  6. Documentation concerning the Conventions signed at Bonn on May 26, 1952, is presented in volume vii .
  7. Not printed; it instructed Conant to give Chancellor Adenauer “a broad account” of what the United States and the United Kingdom intended to do for Germany now that the French rejected the EDC in order to encourage him to refrain from publicly announcing a rigid formula that would later deny him flexibility of action. Conant was instructed to do this without specifically mentioning the London Working Group protocols (see footnote 3, infra) which the British felt had to be shown to the French first. (740.5/8–3154)