762A 00/12–1652 Telegram

No. 163
The Acting United States High Commissioner for Germany (Reber) to the Department of State1

secret priority

2792. Reber saw Chancellor last night and was impressed with remarkable confidence and self-assurance displayed by Adenauer throughout interview. Chancellor gave impression of man fully in control of situation and assured of success. There was no hint of uncertainty in his behavior. In response to Reber’s question whether he had any special messages for Sec, Adenauer said, it wld be of great assistance to him politically if fol points cld be considered for possible action by NATO council2 or by US unilaterally:

1.
War criminals: It wld be of great importance if some announcement cld be made by allies during current Paris mtg indicating their intentions immediately to make far-reaching gesture toward solution of war-criminals prob. Though Chancellor acknowledged with satisfaction HICOG’s intention to release number of prisoners in near future, he implied that this action cld hardly satisfy Ger wishes in this respect. He emphasized repeatedly that far-reaching gesture was needed to pacify and favorably impress public opinion. Joint announcement wld be most effective since all [Page 393]powers, especially Fr, were concerned, Xmas wld be excellent opportunity for this, he added.
2.
Ger membership in NATO and UN: Since Ollenhauer stated in recent Bundestag debate that SPD stood for direct FedRep membership in internatl sec organ, it wld be useful if US cld reiterate at an early date, its already announced policy to support FedRep membership in NATO and UN.
3.
Defense burden: Chancellor urged issuance of allied or US statement reassuring Gers that coming def contribution wld be commensurate with Ger econ capabilities and wld take cognizance of spec burden placed upon FedRep by refugees. Assurance that def contribution wld in no way reduce present social standards in FedRep wld favorably impress public in gen and particularly refugees.
4.
Display of Allied military power: Chancellor urged frequent display of new allied tanks and other mechanized equipment to public in order to increase Ger sense of sec.
5.
NATO–Def plans: Chancellor referred to recent article in Baseler Nachrichten quoting high NATO spokesman as saying that Eur def line wld have to be withdrawn west of Rhine if Ger armed contingents not forthcoming soon. He said he wld like to write ltr to NATO inquiring whether this statement was true provided he cld receive affirmative reply and that Fed Govt cld consult on formulation of text of ltr. Publication in Ger of such communication from NATO wld serve useful purpose.
6.
Public info facilities: Chancellor reviewed historical developments in radio and press fields and reiterated previous charges that Br Labor Govt had, after 1945, placed 90 percent of control over radio and press in hands of SPD in mistaken belief that SPD was a counterpart of Br Labor Party. He alleged similar developments took place in US zone with result that govt now lacks propaganda facilities of its own. He remarked that members of CDU natl comite, who were then meeting in chancellery, had assured him that broadcasting of Bundestag treaty debate had produced excellent public reaction but concluded with resignation that this was temporary advantage only which cld not be fully exploited for lack of propaganda facilities. He said situation was further aggravated by fact that Br had established unitary trade union movement which was now an effective and willing tool of SPD. To correct distortion arising from this situation Chancellor urged that HICOG grant request for special radio facilities for Fed Govt which has already been made. Without committing himself Reber promised to look into matter.
7.
Opposition’s demand for renegotiation of treaties: In view of recent SPD statements that party wld not accept treaties even [Page 394]after new Bundestag elections and in light of opposition’s “hopelessly Utopian approach” to prob of renegotiations, Chancellor urgently requested allied or US statement making it unequivocably clear that allies wld not renegotiate treaties. Statement shld further point out that, shld Gers refuse to accept present draft, power and ability of any Ger Govt to neogtiate with west powers wld be irreparably damaged for years to come. Such a statement shld (1) make it most clear to SPD that it cld not get better deal and (2) shld, if possible, contain a hint that allies were willing to give broad interpretation to contentious provisions of present treaties.
8.
Lack of US initiative in Europe: Chancellor deplored that “US had not displayed adequate initiative and leadership in Eur affs during recent months.” He stated that he realized that this was owing to US Govt’s inability to act because of elections and change of administration. Adenauer nevertheless urged that “period of inactivity” be shortened as much as possible to prevent serious damage to Eur integration. He predicted that unless US Govt assumes leadership soon, Eur nations wld go off in different directions and integration wld in fact become impossible.
9.
Ger ratification of treaties: Chancellor showed extraordinary optimism, by claiming that treaties wld be ratified early next year. He said his latest info from Karlsruhe indicated that court wld refer coalition case to second Senate by middle of Jan. Since judges of court were already fully conversant with case, second Senate shld render decision shortly thereafter so that Bundestag cld hold third reading before end of Jan. He asserted that Bundesrat action wld follow quickly, thus completing legislative action by middle of Feb. Chancellor seemed to have no doubt that second Senate wld rule favorably, that this decision wld finally resolve constitutional dispute over treaties, and discourage SPD from resubmitting its own case. (Justice State Secy Strauss yesterday gave less optimistic timetable: if court decides to accept coalition case, announcement of this will probably occur late in Jan; hearing and formulation of judgment wld take whole of Feb; Bundestag third reading in first two weeks Mar; and Bundesrat action by middle of April.)
10.
Rumors about new elections: When I asked for his reaction on current rumors to effect that govt is considering new elections to solve present crisis, Chancellor reacted vigorously and called rumors utterly preposterous. He pointed out that opposition cld carry motion of censure in Bundestag only with the support of a large part of the coalition. Chancellor assured me that he had no intention of dissolving Bundestag prior to expiration of legislative period in Sept.

Reber
  1. Repeated to London and Paris.
  2. Reference to the North Atlantic Council meeting at Paris, Dec. 15–18, 1952.