PPS files, lot 64 D 563, “Germany, 1950–1952”

No. 153
Memorandum by Leon Fuller of the Policy Planning Staff to the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Nitze)1


Subj: Bonn’s tel. 887 to Dept, Aug. 28, 1952 re Germany’s Position in Europe.2

[Page 357]

This telegram reflects a growing concern in HICOG—particularly in the Office of Political Affairs—at certain implication and possible consequences of West Germany’s revived economic potential and political influence. German revival—particularly since 1948—has confronted Germany’s neighbors and the western powers with the implacable, if not necessarily sinister, fact that the Federal Republic is now the strongest power in Europe outside the USSR, and likely to grow stronger year by year with the full implementation of current Allied policies.

I do not believe that any thoughtful member of Mr. Donnelly’s staff questions the wisdom or necessity of present basic policy respecting Germany. What is desired is that the Department be fully aware, in the further evolutionary development of its policy and tactics, of Germany’s resurgence and vitality as a most significant reality in the European scene.

Specifically, this raises the question of the balance of power within the emerging European community. Can a renascent Germany, aware of its power, be contained within the legal and constitutional framework of this community as it materializes in the Schuman Plan, the EDC, and possibly a strengthened Council of Europe? There seems to be the thought in some quarters (reflected, I believe, in some of the NSC 68 series3) that in achieving our paramount objective of redressing the world balance of power through strengthening the West against Russia it may be inevitable to sanction the emergence of Germany as virtual leader of a West European bloc of powers. In the light of German experience and inter-Allied relationships in World War II, the danger of permitting the power of any ally to be unduly augmented for short-term reasons of over-all strategy must be apparent.

There seems to be little evidence today that Germany consciously aspires to the hegemony of Europe through the instrumentality of European union, or aims to utilize European union as a vantage-point from which to embark upon a new course of Machtpolitik. But it should not be overlooked that Germany once again seems to be in a dynamic-evolutionary phase of development in marked contrast to the other major powers of Western Europe and that a main premise of our German policy must be the uncertainty, the incalculability of future German national behavior. With waxing power which accentuates the existing differential between German strength and that of France, for instance, German policy will become more aggressive and demanding. Possible ultimate developments such as German preponderance in the Coal and Steel Community [Page 358] and in the EDC are certain to be reflected in German insistence upon corresponding influence in the European community. Once the power balance is upset it may be impossible to constrain the forces of German expansion through legal bonds and limitations.

The Saar, though not intrinsically of great importance, symbolizes both French and German fears and hopes. The French, since 1945, have feared the restoration of German power, a fear which has never been entirely overshadowed by the Soviet menace. Having lost out in their earlier efforts to place permanent restraints on German power through detachment and control of the Ruhr, extreme political decentralization, etc., they now have fallen back on retention of economic control over the Saar as the sine qua non for the maintenance of a tolerable balance between German and French power in Europe. The Germans see the Saar in terms of their reviving national self-assertiveness and demand political freedoms for the Saar which, they anticipate, will be exercised in a manner favorable to German interests. Both French and Germans do lip-service to a “European” solution of the Saar problem, but have quite different end results in mind. As pointed out in the telegram, the French see concessions on the issue of economic control over the Saar as crucial if a semblance of balance is to be maintained in Europe, but run athwart the German counterdemand that unilateral French controls be sacrificed in the interest of “Europeanization”. The Germans feel that time works for them and that ultimate popular pressure from the Saar for return to Germany will in due course become irresistible. Thus Europeanization might be a half-way house on the road to annexation.

The soundest course for the U.S. would seem to be to continue to urge a genuinely European solution of the Saar question. This should placate the French by assuring (1) that Saar coal and iron resources, being subject to the jurisdiction of the Schuman Plan High Authority, could never come under German national control, and (2) that territorial annexation of the Saar by Germany would be precluded. It should assure the Germans that French influence in the Saar would be confined to the protection of legitimate and vested economic interests there, and that the Saar population would enjoy full political freedom and autonomy with maximum possibilities for normal association with their German kinsmen.

German dynamism begins to cast a shadow over eastern Europe. How soon German aspirations for the return of “irredentas” in the east may force the satellite issue to the front can not be calculated, but it may be assumed as an eventuality. It will be most immediate in the case of Poland. This question ties in with the one previously discussed in that Poland and other orbit countries have been registering [Page 359] alarm at the rearmament of West Germany. They also gear a “deal” on reunification which might force them—Poland, at least—to disgorge annexed German territory and confront the enhanced power of a restored and enlarged Germany. The French also have expressed their fears lest a nationalistic German government might develop aggressive designs on the lost territories to the east. Such a Germany, they fear, would be a dangerous partner for NATO and might lure the West into dangerous courses vis-à-vis the East.

U.S. policy embraces the concepts of (1) German reunification (of the four zones and Berlin), (2) at least partial restoration of the Polish-administered trans-Oder-Neisse area to Germany (implied since Secretary Marshall’s statement at Moscow CFM, 19474), and (3) the roll-back of Soviet power in eastern Europe with ultimate liberation of the satellites. There has as yet been no compelling urgency to spell out these policies in detail. But they all bear immediately upon Germany’s new power position in Europe and the necessity may soon arise to become more explicit in our east European objectives as the restoration of Germany proceeds.

Basically, the telegram poses two difficult questions which must loom ever more largely in the background of current policy decisions respecting Europe. First, must the integrated Europe, which is a cardinal goal of our policy, be one embodying a nicely adjusted balance among the national units composing it, or may it be permitted, de facto if not de jure, to become subject to German predominance? Do we, in fact, have a choice, or is such an evolution inevitable? Second, what do we envisage to be the territorial limits of an integrated Europe—to what extent may it impinge upon the satellite area? This second question, of course, would have a very different significance in the event that western Europe had become or were becoming unified economically, militarily and to some extent politically about Germany as the ascendant power.

It is not likely that the Ambassadors’ Conference at London will come to any definitive conclusions about questions such as these. But they may be raised. And these issues must ultimately be resolved. Clear thinking about them at this stage is essential in order to plot the course of future policy.

Two suggestions may be made. First, U.S. policy should envisage an integrated Europe in which German participation is so hedged by safeguards that it cannot develop into hegemony. Operation of [Page 360] the Schuman Plan should preclude German economic hegemony over Europe while maximizing German production in the common interest. The new German armed forces, whether in a realized EDC or otherwise, must be subject to supra-national organs of control and not be permitted to develop as a national army under national control. Further measures should be advanced which would tend to increase intradependence within the European community and its close association with and dependence upon the broader Atlantic community. This approach should satisfy the French and not be unpalatable to the Germans who are preponderantly amenable at this stage to the appeal of European solutions of their problems. There would develop a danger if the European community did not materialize and become effective in the immediate future while German intransigence was growing.

Regarding the relation of the satellite area to a united Europe inclusive of Germany, there seem to be two problems, one rather specific, the other more general.

The first involves determination of the German-Polish frontier. German national policy, particularly if and when Germany is reunited, would demand recession of at least part of the territory beyond the Oder-Neisse. This accords with established U.S. policy. The U.S. might, while refraining from specific commitments, continue to insist that the question of Germany’s eastern frontier is still open, to be resolved only in a general peace settlement. What might be kept in mind, in this connection, is such a proposal as the U.S. was prepared to advance at the Moscow and London CFM’s in 1947 had the point been taken up in actual negotiations. This was a proposed rectification of the Oder-Neisse line in Germany’s favor so as to meet more adequately and equitably the historic, economic and ethnographic requirements of the situation in that area.

The second, more general problem, involves the possible extension of a united Europe (Schuman Plan, EDC, et al.) to include liberated satellite areas of eastern Europe. No clear U.S. policy has as yet been established as to what areas should ultimately be included in a European union. At present our policy approves inclusion of the six Schuman Plan and EDC countries as a core of union, to which the OEEC, EPU and Council of Europe countries would be more loosely added. We have definitely indicated, as in the tripartite note to the Soviet Government of March 25, 19525 and in subsequent notes, that we would anticipate the inclusion of a united Germany in a “purely defensive European community” and in “associations compatible with the principles and purposes of the United Nations”. But we have never formulated as a U.S. policy [Page 361] the position that European union should extend to other satellite areas. It is true that certain themes of our policy, more specifically of our psychological warfare vis-à-vis the orbit, such as the “rollback” and “return to Europe” concepts seem to imply such an objective. But it is not accepted policy—yet. As suggested, German developments may force this issue into the foreground. Certainly one consideration may be alluded to without prejudice to any decision that may be arrived at on the broad issue. This is that any extension of European union to include ultimately any liberated satellite areas would make sense only if there were iron-clad assurances that a united Germany should not be in a position to dominate the union as thus enlarged.

  1. Copies also sent to Bruce, Laukhuff, Perkins, Bonbright, Riddleberger, and Merchant.
  2. Supra.
  3. For NSC 68, Apr. 14, 1950, “United States Objectives and Programs for National Security,” see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. i, p. 234.
  4. For text of Secretary Marshall’s statement at the 24th session of the CFM in Moscow, Apr. 9, 1947, see Department of State Bulletin, Apr. 20, 1947, pp. 693–694, or Germany 1947–1949, pp. 146–148. For a summary of his statement, see telegram 1274 from Moscow, Apr. 9, in Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. ii, p. 320.
  5. Regarding this note, see telegram 2209, Document 78.