762.022/2–652: Telegram

No. 611
The Ambassador in France (Bruce) to the Department of State1


4778. Eyes only for the Secretary. I went to see Schuman this morning and Bonsal saw Parodi. We expressed concern felt by US Government over proposed French statement to Germans regarding Saar question.

Schuman said he thought there was some misunderstanding on our part regarding this matter. Blankenhorn by direction of the Chancellor had yesterday unofficially discussed with a functionary in Francois-Poncet’s office how the French might be helpful to the Chancellor in furnishing the latter with ammunition for the forthcoming debate in Bundestag.

It was in this spirit that the French had considered Blankenhorn conversation and reply which is to be made today will remain unofficial and will not involve in any respect the other occupying authorities.

Schuman felt that at this time in view of tension in Germany and France any public declaration would do more good than harm.

Accordingly Francois-Poncet has been instructed to reply unofficially through his subordinate if he so desires to take this German initiative generally as follows; and in oral not written form: [Page 1410]

Confirmation of previous French attitude that definitive political states of Saar should be settled by treaty without awaiting the negotiation of an overall peace treaty. This would assume that the assent to this method of procedure on the part of Western Powers who would sign the peace treaty would be obtained, and also that population of Saar would likewise assent.
French Government would accept a proposal for an immediate exchange of views on the possibility of such a treaty.
French Government in theory accepts the idea of finding a European solution to this problem, the terms of which remain to be defined.
French insist upon maintenance of present Franco-Saarois economic union (Schuman was very emphatic in connection with this point in saying that he had deleted all language which might have indicated any reference to the position of the other occupying powers in this regard. That this was a unilateral condition posed by France and would not mention the US and UK).

In further conversation Schuman reiterated that he did not consider that the approach by Blankenhorn or the French reply thereto represented anything more than a “sondage” (probing), which leaves US and UK completely free to move as they wish in this affair. It is not even an official statement by French Government and is designed to assist Adenauer in the form that Schuman believes Adenauer wants such assistance to take.

Since the initiative came from the Germans, a failure to reply by the French would have been incorrect and uncooperative. If such a reply had been made by the Three Occupying Powers, it would have required a negotiation between the Three Governments and could not have been effective in strengthening Adenauer’s position for his debate tomorrow, if for no other reason because of the time element involved. It would also have given an official character to this reply which would not have been helpful either in France or Germany. Psychologically this unofficial response is better from the standpoint of both German and French public opinion than would have been a declaration from the Three Allies.

Schuman added that he hoped to have ready a reply to the Secretary’s letter tonight.2 He had expected to have done this yesterday but due to parliamentary debates, appearance before Assembly and Senate comites, Cabinet meetings, discussion of posing vote of confidence and other involvements, he has not been to bed for 36 hours and has been unable to address himself to formulating a response.

  1. Repeated to London eyes only for Gifford, and to Bonn eyes only for McCloy.
  2. For Schuman’s reply, which dealt with the German question and European security, see vol. v, Part 1, p. 26.