The United States High Commissioner
for Germany (McCloy) to the Department of
2631. Opposition to contractual agreements has sharply increased (see ourtel 2515 Dept, 791 Paris, 676 London, pouched Rome, Moscow, Berlin, April 252) as coalition leaders were more fully informed about details of treaties. First major public outburst came with publication of article in FDP press service to effect that the party despaired “of the possibility of answering for present version of contracts” before the German people. In a press interview, DP joined FDP in criticizing contracts and there was increasing private CDU pressure against initialling contracts in present form.
In private conversation April 30, DP faction chief Muehlenfeld stated categorically that his party wld never approve contractual agreements in present form. While admitting that detailed study of already available portion of text had not yet been completed, Muehlenfeld nevertheless said it was clear by now that contracts contained so many obviously discriminatory provisions as to make acceptance by his faction impossible.
He warned against noticeably increasing optimism in Allied circles re early signature of contracts and predicted that “even Chancellor’s well-known persuasive ability together with facilitating time factor, US Senate ratification wld not suffice to overcome strong opposition part all coalition parties.”
Muehlenfeld explained that parliamentary experts were enumerating about twenty objectionable or unacceptable provisions allegedly contained in contracts. This list may be ready by May 6 and only then cld coalition leaders assess final position of their respective parties in order to determine specifically what portions of contracts shld be renegotiated or reformulated. To establish even semblance of equality, he hinted that “major changes” were necessary with respect to emergency and re-examination clauses, troop treaty and war criminals.
Muehlenfeld considered that opposition to contracts on part of DP were not owing to narrow-mindedness but “serious concern [Page 46] over future German democracy and European integration”. He maintained that no responsible German politician cld support contracts which “resembled Versailles Treaty.” This he added wld surely revive German nationalism in worst form and destroy growing democracy as well as European idea. Muehlenfeld thought that his party, while fully cognizant overall importance speedy west integration, was convinced that acceptance present contracts wld retard rather than promote this development. He concluded his remarks somewhat dramatically by insisting that he wld “rather see Russians march in than assist voluntarily in reducing Fed Rep to status of puppet.” Undoubtedly he did not really mean this but it does reflect atmosphere now existing in entire coalition.
Fol FDP Vorstand meeting May 1, which was mainly called for purpose of examining contractual agreements, Maier and Achenbach, both highly influential FDP leaders, expressed views to us which were practically identical with those of Muehlenfeld. Both Maier and Achenbach set forth, among others, the fol objections on those specific parts of the contractuals which they insisted wld never be accepted by coalition parties because of their humiliating and discriminatory nature:
- Emergency clause was found unacceptable because discriminatory, since other signatory powers not obliged to recognize same limitations.
- Fed Rep’s responsibility to aid Berlin is willingly accepted by all Germans, but express imposition of this obligation in contracts humiliating and must be deleted.
- It shld not even be implied in contracts that the three Ambassadors can act collectively as has been case with HICOM. In an emergency this possibility wld be self-evident.
- All mention of stationing of troops shld be eliminated from general contract since troop convention fully provides for this.
- Additional financial burdens shld not be added to those already agreed upon in Paris; for example, payment for damages caused by occupation troops.
- German authorities shld not be obliged to carry out unconstitutional act of administering war crimes sentences imposed by foreign tribunals.
- It wld be “huge political blunder” to insist that rights as well as responsibilities established in contracts for Fed Rep applied in principle to a united Germany since Soviets cld make similar treaties with east zone govt and thus perpetuate division of Germany.
- “Petrification of occupation law” in forms of continuing in force individual Allied occupation laws until replaced by German legislative action violates Hague convention and amounts to encroachment upon freedom of Bundestag to legislate.
- Many provisions now contained in contracts shld be deleted and reserved for settlement in peace treaty. This applies especially to the settlement concerning German foreign assets.
- Term “West Europe” in contracts shld be changed to read merely “Europe” so as to avoid any misleading geographical limitations, especially as regards Soviet zone.
Maier and Achenbach gave as further reason for FDP objection to contracts in present form their party’s belief that present version of contracts is not consistent with principles of Sept 1951 Washington declaration three Foreign Ministers.3 Both leaders made it abundantly clear that FDP’s answer if confronted with take it or leave it on present version of contractuals wld have to be, “no”. Maier informed us that Finance Minister Schaeffer had threatened the Cabinet with his resignation if additional financial burdens were imposed by contractuals.
We believe vehement opposition to contracts caused mainly by a complex of the fol motives, relative importance of which cannot as yet be properly evaluated:
- Genuine concern over actual effect of contracts on future of Germany as an independent state.
- Anxiety as to the severe strain to which the coalition will be subjected arising from popular reaction to present form of treaties.
- Irritation of parties over Chancellor’s failure to consult them during negotiations.
- Normal desire of parties to demonstrate their German patriotism.
- Desire to pressure Western powers into last minute concessions.
In evaluation foregoing, it shld be borne in mind that though leaders interviewed stated categorically that present version contracts completely unacceptable to their parties, they did not by any means despair of an eventual solution, and appeared confident that agreement cld be reached and ratification achieved.
We will be better able to evaluate seriousness of opposition next Tuesday when parties will have drawn up detailed list of objections.4
- Repeated to Paris, Rome, London, Moscow, and Berlin.↩
- Telegram 2515 reported that the first sign of possible coalition opposition to the contractuals had appeared in an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a leading conservative paper, on Apr. 24 which stated that many members of the FDP Bundestag faction were strongly opposed to parts of the conventions. (662A.00/4–2552)↩
- Documentation on the tripartite Foreign Ministers meeting at Washington, Sept. 10–14, 1951, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. iii, Part 1, pp. 1163 ff.↩
- For a report on the meeting on May 8 to consider this list, see telegram 2749, Document 29.↩