The United States High Commissioner for
to the Department of State2
Unnumbered. For the Secretary. At Chancellor’s request, Hallstein, Blankenhorn and Lenz flew to Munich to see me today and to tell me of the very serious nature of political crisis in Germany created by French announcement on Saar.3 New designation of Grandval wld not of itself had great importance, except for fact that in German eyes it represented another step in long series of French unilateral acts tending further to emphasize separation of Saar from Germany and thus constituted violation of pledge given by France in exchange of letters at time of signature of Schuman Plan.4 As such it has been real blow to those elements in Germany who sought understanding with France; it has undermined Chancellor’s position, it has given opposition a popular plank and new life to Schumacher, and has created real doubts as to French intentions. Many people in Germany at loss to explain other motivation and considering worst possible timing suggest this act represents a deliberate effort, on part of French to sabotage or delay creation of EDC.5
Hallstein charged administration of Saar with violations of rights of inhabitants to express political opinions and claimed law which prohibits formulation of political parties unless approved by Hoffman (that is to say Grandval) was as anti-democratic as any practices in Soviet zone. He said only recourse from arbitrary decision [Page 1404] of Saar Govt was appeal to an administrative court which, however, does not act. Two applications have been pending before this court for months. Hallstein suggests if Germans could receive assurances that free elections wld be permitted in Saar and objectionable features of this law eliminated this wld to some extent compensate for Grandval appointment and give German people some guarantee that status quo has not been changed. Mere statements to this effect are not enough.
Most serious aspect of situation, however, is that Bundestag debate which Chancellor has now decided cannot be postponed from February 7 because of pressure all factions will take place in embittered atmosphere. Unless Chancellor can point to some definite action on part of France confirming its declaration that nothing in present status of Saar has been modified, it is most unlikely government can secure majority for EDC in the debate. In this case it wld be forced either to abandon defense contribution and contractual relations or to resign and be replaced by SPD-controlled govt.
According to Hallstein, this view is shared by all leaders of coalition and it has been confirmed to us by other conversations, notably one I had with Ehard [Erhard] last night.6 He is usually collected and objective but was greatly disturbed over this development. Do not wish to be alarmist but seriousness of present crisis shld not be minimized even though in part it has undoubtedly been created by local political considerations. I am for first time really worried over outcome.
Hallstein said Cabinet had yesterday discussed possible ways out and had come unanimously to conclusion situation cld only be saved if prior to Bundestag debate French wld either agree to bring about amendment of law limiting political freedom of parties in Saar or take some similar concrete action recognizing legitimate rights of German population. Such action wld not prejudice ultimate Saar settlement and could be accompanied by formal French and German declaration reiterating that final status of Saar territory can only be established in peace treaty or by earlier agreement mutually acceptable. Hallstein said purpose of this visit was to bespeak on behalf of Chancellor our urgent intervention to save EDC and our good offices in obtaining some such agreement from French.
I told Hallstein I sincerely believed that as long as Saar question remained unsettled it wld rise to trouble us every time we sought agreements on far more important issues. I said I was now prepared to recommend to you that we take initiative in obtaining a [Page 1405] joint declaration which could be signed by US, UK, France, Germany and possibly Benelux and which wld indicate general European interest in Saar and determination of the signatories to bring about satisfactory settlement of issue without delay.
Hallstein said Chancellor had considered this possibility but had come to conclusion it was not enough. On previous occasions he had told Bundestag that he received assurances from the allies in regard Saar but now he must be able to present something more which wld enable him to demonstrate that action was being taken to remedy crisis.
I agreed to put Cabinet’s proposal up to you but said I had serious doubts that it was a practical one in the circumstances, given present state of Parliamentary opinion in France and awkwardness for France of appearing to admit validity of charges of anti-democratic practices in Saar. If, however, as Hallstein alleged, Schuman would be willing to examine repeal of objectionable law I said this might be done in response to unofficial suggestion but it was doubtful whether anything cld be accomplished before Bundestag debate or in response to formal representations.
I also told Hallstein that if it were necessary inject new element in discussion the suggestion I have made might be modified to take form of an official declaration that US cannot permit this problem to block European unity and is prepared to participate in any effort to bring about early solution of Saar question in a manner which wld reflect new situation created by Franco-German association in coal and steel community and EDC. Hallstein felt this wld be preferable to mere declaration of Allied willingness to consider settlement before peace treaty but still believed it wld be insufficient unless accompanied by further French guarantees. He will discuss matter with Chancellor further tomorrow.
I recognize none of these suggestions seems entirely satisfactory but believe definite assurance from US that it is willing to take part in promptly working out a satisfactory solution may be of some help. I realize it wld have to be carefully worded in order not to give French any impression we are going back on assurances given them re Saar either at Moscow in 19477 or later.
- Repeated to Bonn, Paris, and London.↩
- On Jan. 25 the French announced that High Commissioner Grandval was being made the head of the French diplomatic mission to the Saar with the rank of Ambassador.↩
- For text of these letters, dated Apr. 18 and 21, 1951, see Documents on the Saar, vol. i, p. 303.↩
- For documentation on the negotiations for and ratification of the EDC Treaty, see vol. v, Part 1, pp. 571 ff.↩
- No record of this conversation has been found in Department of State files.↩
- Regarding the U.S. assurance, given at the fourth session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Moscow, Apr. 10, 1947, see CFM(47) (M) 116, Germany 1947–1949, p. 148, or Department of State Bulletin, Apr. 20, 1947, pp. 695–696.↩