862A.501/2–753: Telegram

No. 168
The Acting United States High Commissioner for Germany (Reber) to the Department of State 1

secret priority

3699. At French request special meeting of deputy HICOMers held today to discuss Bundestag resolution of Feb 4 calling for increase of Bundesgrenzschutz from 10,000 to 20,000 men. (See [Page 401] HICOG despatch 2307 dated Feb. 6, 1953 for details of Bundestag discussion.2)

French deputy commissioner made lengthy statement embodying basic points a, b, c, and d of aide-mémoire reported in Deptel sent Bonn 3918 repeated info Paris 4246 London 5213 of 5 Feb.3 He used strongest terms in stating action of Federal Government at this time inadmissible and would be “catastrophic” as regards chances of French ratification of EDC. He alleged Lehr had never been favorable to EDC concept but preferred concept of national German army based on 1914 traditions and proposed doubling of Bundesgrenzschutz constituted an attempt to set up nucleus of a potential national military force which would be outside jurisdiction of EDC.

British deputy commissioner stated they took much less tragic view of situation. He suggested French preoccupations that Germans trying to set up military forces in anticipation of EDC should be taken up in EDC interim committee.4 In any case, he argued that under present circumstances HICOM controlled question of armament of police and should stand firm on existing basic principles that police should be armed with nothing more than light infantry weapons. He pointed out that French objections were not aimed at principle of existence of Bundesgrenzschutz but at question of degree, namely, whether or not size of Grenzschutz should be increased. He stated British were sympathetic to proposed increase in strength of border police since this reduced load on British military with regard to control of illegal border crossings. He emphasized there was not and could not be any question of German border police usurping responsibility of military with regard to reaction against Soviet military operations.

US deputy commissioner agreed with British position and pointed out that article 11 of EDC treaty provided for EDC control of police force in FedRep and that in view of this and intentions of Allies in period up to entry into force of EDC to maintain existing limitations on armament of police, French fears were exaggerated. [Page 402] He emphasized US had no intention of approving any measures re police which would, as alleged by French, constitute an evasion of principles and commitments embodied in EDC treaty. On other hand, tension on border was rising, existing personnel available for control of illegal crossings was spread thin and it would be of assistance to military for increased number of Germans to be made available for this duty. He felt that HICOM should point out to Federal Government necessity for joint consultation on this question and that any increase should be subject to principles of initial agreement concerning establishment of Grenzschutz (GEN/P (51) 9, dated 19 Feb 515) and on understanding that no further increase in Laender police [than?] was authorized by New York decisions of 1950 would be undertaken.

French deputy commissioner stated he was under firmest instructions from Paris not to agree to increase and reiterated fear that Germans were attempting to create military force which would be outside scope of control of EDC. He was of opinion Grenzschutz not covered by terms of article 11 of EDC treaty but having functions prescribed in article 16. In refuting this point, British pointed out forces established in terms of article 16 were subject to direction of SACEUR as provided in article 18.

Both British and US deputy commissioners recognized French had valid point that announcement of doubling of strength at this time would have unfortunate political repercussions in France. It was finally agreed to report discussion to Govts with proposal that US representative, as chairman, should make early démarche to Adenauer pointing out potential effect on French ratification of EDC of increase in border police at this time and suggesting that further action should be withheld pending discussions between German and HICOM representatives. (Both US and UK deputy commissioners made clear that this was without prejudice to their positions that increase in border police desirable.)

Request Dept views soonest.

Our comments on specific points in aide-mémoire, except as already explained in position taken by US deputy commissioner as reported above, are as follows:

Point c. CFM NY decisions concerned internal security and provided for 30,000 police organized at land level which could be controlled by FedRep in emergency.6 Only 10,000 of this force has been organized due to inability and unwillingness of FedRep to implement CFM decisions. As an alternative FedRep established frontier protection service for purposes of border protection after it developed that 30,000 man land organ would not be realized. FedRep’s [Page 403] authority for establishing this organ is provided in letter of Military Governors to Parliamentary Council defining powers of FedRep in police field dated 14 April 19497 and article 87 (1) basic law. In accordance with provisions of above letter and recorded understandings with responsible FedRep officials the number of effectives for this organ is controlled by AHC. We are not aware of any liberal interpretation of text of CFM agreement wherein three govts agreed Federal frontier protection police should be limited to 10,000.

Point d. HICOM of course has right to intervene in this matter, however whether or not such intervention is justified depends upon thorough examination of proposed increase on basis of need in light of current conditions.8

  1. Repeated to Paris and London.
  2. Despatch 2307 reported that at its 249th meeting, Feb. 4 the Bundestag had approved (188 to 144) a resolution calling for an increase in the Federal Border Police (Bundesgrenzschutz) from 10,000 to 20,000 men. (862A.501/2–653)
  3. Telegram 3918 reported that on Feb. 4 the French Embassy had presented an aide-mémoire which raised the following points: (a) increase in border police raised doubts about respect for Article 11 of EDC Treaty, (b) request motivated by desire to create force equivalent to GDR militarized forces and reconstruct national army, (c) Foreign Ministers at New York in Sept. 1950 had authorized 30,000-man Land force and liberal interpretation of this authority would allow only 10,000 for border police, and (d) the Allied High Commission would be justified in vetoing such Bundestag legislation. (862A.501/2–553)
  4. The Interim Committee on the EDC Treaty was established at the time of the signing of the treaty in May 1952.
  5. Not further identified.
  6. The Tripartite Foreign Ministers meeting, held at New York, Sept. 12–19, 1950.
  7. Transmitted in telegram 541 from Berlin, Apr. 15, 1949, printed in Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. iii, p. 242.
  8. On Feb. 10 HICOG was informed that the Department of State fully approved the position taken by the U.S. Deputy High Commissioner, and while stating that it felt the French were “making mountain out of molehill”, hoped that Adenauer would refrain from further action pending ratification of the EDC Treaty. (Telegram 4004 to Bonn, 862A.501/2–753) On Mar. 3 the three High Commissioners discussed the question with Adenauer who, while noncommittal on postponing further action, said that he would like to study the matter further. (Telegram 4059 from Bonn, Mar. 4, 862A.501/3–353)