762.022/4–253: Telegram

No. 635
The United States High Commissioner for Germany (Conant) to the Department of State1


4466. Reference our telegram 4410 to Department repeated Paris 1149.2 Following our view on Saar in connection Adenauer visit German starting position that “Saar is German”, and French insistence Saar is war reparation, make it necessary to find approach which will give parties substance of their legitimate claims and save face on other aspects. “Europeanization”, with economic advantages to France, and accepted by Saar plebiscite, was advanced as possible solution.

From our analysis current situation this solution must on German side be subject to three qualifications. First, while for practical purposes settlement may be definitive, it must in form be provisional so it cannot be used as argument, however illogical, that FedRep has thereby impaired its position on Oder-Neisse Line. Second, concept requires a Europe to which Saar can be subordinated. Only such entity today is CSC, which is far from acceptable political body. It seems an EPC must come into existence before such acceptable political body will exist, and hence settlement [Page 1446]must be related to creation of such EPC. Third, terms of settlement must be consistent with Europeanized status e.g., France may not be politically dominant, and economic advantages to be guaranteed France must not exclude interests of other members.

Situation complicated by approaching German elections. Any Saar settlement will be attacked by SPD and will therefore be campaign issue, and Adenauer must be careful specific terms do not give opposition added appeal to electorate. Furthermore, he lacks enthusiastic support among parts of his own coalition and will continue to lose support as election approaches.

Following is our estimate furthest Adenauer could be asked to go at present, and this will decrease as election approaches.

He could agree that, subject to plebiscite, Saar shall come under an EPC when it is formed, with self-administration (Germans dislike “autonomy”) in local affairs.
On economic side we understand Germans are ready to agree to continued Saar monetary union with France for whatever that may be worth. Believe they will agree balance between France and Germany in CSC shall not be upset by any new agreement regarding Saar status, Adenauer will probably propose that common market provisions of CSC apply to other factors Saar economy. This is negation basic French position (which Germans claim affects only 30–40 percent Saar GNP). But we think German interest in Saar economy is really political, not economic, and since even SPD admits special economic position of France in Saar must be given full consideration, there is considerable room for compromise here.
Political freedom in Saar would have to be conceded before plebiscite, but French fear of pro-German result this action should be met by submitting only two alternatives, approval or disapproval of previously worked out European solution. If vote favorable, this could be followed by “free elections” for new Saar Landtag, which would be bound by results of plebiscite.

Seen from Bonn, French can get economic preference for self and subtract Saar strength from German if that is real French objective and France puts emphasis on realities rather than form. We think enough German leaders sincerely want European integration to win their support for such an agreement as earnest of their good faith and contribution to larger solution. They do not of course accept any French idea that they must pay France for the privilege of rearming to defend France as well as themselves, and if France maintains an intransigeant position, they will necessarily revert to view that “Saar is German” and to waiting game in belief time is on German side.

  1. Repeated to Paris and London.
  2. Document 174.