PSB files, lot 62 D 333, PSB D–18 Series

No. 68
The Under Secretary of State (Bruce) to the Secretary of Defense (Lovett)1

top secret

Dear Mr. Secretary: The Department of State has given careful study to the military plan for implementation of the Kersten Amendment forwarded with your letter of October 25, 1952.2

As was made clear by Department of State representatives in March, when a similar plan was under study in the Psychological Strategy Board, this Department is prepared to do its utmost to solve the political problems involved in implementing a plan of this [Page 179] kind. These problems would be of major proportions so far as our NATO Allies and Germany and Austria are concerned. To assess the political problems adequately and to proceed realistically with development of the plan, it will be necessary to consult certain of our NATOEDC partners. The Department of State believes, however, that it will be unwise to raise the matter with foreign governments until a firm decision has been reached that the plan is feasible and desirable from the military point of view. It is not clear from your letter that this is the case.

In discussions which have been held since receipt of your letter, Defense representatives have advised us informally that the Department of Defense is now giving consideration to implementation of the Kersten Amendment through modification and expansion of the existing Labor Service Organization attached to United States forces in Europe. From the foreign political point of view, this method of implementation is considered far superior to the plan forwarded with your letter of October 25. The composition of the Labor Service Organization must in any event be modified following ratification of the Contractual Agreements;3 we would anticipate no major political impediment to substitution of Iron Curtain refugees for German nationals discharged at that time. Moreover, if the program is carried out with care and with due regard for timing, it should be possible to modify the functions of the Organization, or selected elements, for example by establishing cadres for combat units.

It is, therefore, suggested that the Department of Defense continue the development of its plans for the Labor Service Organization. The Department of State stands ready to provide such assistance and advice as may be required.

Sincerely yours,

David Bruce
  1. Drafted by Trueheart.
  2. Neither the military plan nor the letter is printed.
  3. For documentation concerning the signing of the Contractual Agreements on Germany, May 26, 1952, see vol. vii, Part 1, pp. 111 ff.