762.00/1–2154: Telegram

No. 342
The United States High Commissioner for Germany (Conant) to the Department of State1

2342. Text of UK telegram reporting today’s conversation of US High Commissioner with Chancellor follows:

Begin verbatim text:

When US High Commissioner saw Chancellor yesterday evening and discussed Chancellor’s proposal for elections to an east zone parliament at the same time as all-German elections, a new idea emerged from their discussion. This was that, as an alternative to the above proposal, the Laender in the east zone, which are still in existence de jure, should be restored in practice, and Landtag elections should be held in them under supervision simultaneously with the all-German elections.

Dr. Adenauer told me this morning that, having reflected on this idea, he thought it had certain advantages. In the first place it would ensure that the federal structure was extended to the east zone. This would be in accordance with the wishes of the Western allies and with the basic law as well as with the Chancellor’s own ideas. It would not, however, appeal to the centralist school of thought represented by the Social Democrats (SPD) and part of the Free Democrats (FD). Secondly, for purposes of presentation to the Russians the proposal would have a less one-sided appearance than the previous idea of new elections for an east zone parliament. As the Laender of the east zone no longer existed in practice, it would be natural that, on their reconstitution, Landtag elections should be required there.

Chancellor did not say in so many words that he would see no objection, if necessary, to simultaneous Landtag elections in the Laender of Federal Republic, but he did say that in five of those Laender new elections are due in any case during 1954.

There would naturally be a transitional period between all-German plus Landtag elections and formation of a definitive all-German Government based on a constitution. During this period it would be essential to keep the federal government in being in [Page 780] order preserve its links with West. This would mean keeping Volkskammer and east zone government in being too, but present proposal would have effect of cutting off their legs. Great part of powers of east zone government, including control of police, would go to new land governments. When pressed to say how powers of land governments would be defined, Chancellor said existing east zone constitution was, as he understood it, not unreasonable about powers of Laender. Anyway, in practice new Land governments would know they were supported by National Assembly and provisional all-German government.
In reply to questions, Chancellor said he saw no difficulty about providing suitable candidates for Land elections. He also thought an idea on these lines would be supported by great majority of opinion in Federal Republic.
Chancellor said that while he still preferred his idea for new east zone parliament, for purposes of presentation to Russians he considered present proposal had undeniable advantages, and he would be prepared to accept it on this basis. He would let us have new memorandum as soon as possible.
Chancellor emphasized no scheme of this nature would work unless his proposals for reduction and disarmament of Volkspolizei were accepted. I stressed difficulties attendant on this proposal, and made further point that, once we started bringing in Volkspolizei in this way, Russians might be tempted to go one better and say that free elections would also be difficult in presence of foreign troops. In spite of these arguments, I was not able persuade Chancellor to modify his ideas.

Grewe was present at meeting, and promised afterwards he would still let us have clarification for which we asked him yesterday in addition to Chancellor’s observations to me today.

End verbatim text.

I am preparing memorandum of my own conversation with Chancellor yesterday which I shall hand to Secretary in Berlin. Copy will be telegraphed to Department.2

  1. Repeated to Berlin, London, and Paris.
  2. Not found in Department of State files.