60. Memorandum of Discussion at the 288th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, June 15, 19561

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and items 1–2. Vice President Nixon presided at the meeting.]

3. U.S. Policy Toward the Federal Republic of Germany, US. Policy Toward Berlin, and US Policy Toward East Germany (NSC 160/1; NSC 5404/ 1; NSC 174; Progress Report, dated January 7, 1955, by OCB on NSC 5404/1; NSC Actions Nos. 1303 and 1503–b; Memos for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated May 29 and June 12 and 14, 1956)2

At this point there was some discussion as to whether sufficient time was left for Council consideration of the next item, which consisted of three Progress Reports on German problems. It was finally agreed that in any case there was sufficient time to deal with any policy recommendations which might arise in the course of consideration [Page 127] of these reports. Accordingly, Mr. Anderson commenced to brief the National Security Council with respect to progress in carrying out NSC 160/1, dealing with U.S. policy toward the Federal Republic of Germany. He pointed out that the chief policy issue relating to policy toward the Federal Republic was the action for the National Security Council proposed by the NSC Planning Board—namely, that the Council adopt the following draft action:

“Reaffirmed the great interest of the U.S. in obtaining an adequate German defense contribution, but agreed that, in the light of the developing political situation in Germany, the U.S. should not press for a German defense build-up in such a manner as would jeopardize the continuation of a moderate pro-Western West German Government.”

After referring to the above-mentioned Planning Board recommendation, Mr. Anderson said that he believed that the Director ot Central Intelligence would like an opportunity to re-state the views on this point which had earlier been brought to the attention of the Planning Board by the CIA representative on that Board. Mr. Dulles undertook to re-state Mr. Amory’s views, pointing out that Chancellor Adenauer had a very tough situation on his hands in the 1957 German elections, perhaps a tougher situation than the Chancellor himself realized. On the other hand, it was possible that in their recent conversations the Secretary of State had obtained differing views from the Chancellor.

Mr. Anderson then pointed out the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which were opposed to the action proposed by the NSC Planning Board. He asked Admiral Radford if he wished to elaborate on the written views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Admiral Radford stated that this was simply another facet of the larger problem of where the United States was going, that the Council had been discussing in connection with its consideration of the continental defense policy. The Joint Chiefs of Staff were disturbed at the prospect of a delaying action which could result from Council agreement to the Planning Board proposal. We have got to come to a real understanding of what we are going to face in Europe and make the appropriate decisions. One of the most important of these would be the German participation in the European defense effort. Accordingly, Admiral Radford did not think this the appropriate time to delay our pressures on the Germans to make up their mind as to their participation. It was our duty to find out as soon as possible where the Germans stood on their contribution to NATO. Admiral Radford went on to say that the situation will be less satisfactory in Germany a year from now if we do not continue to push them on the nature of their participation. There was no reason to delay just because decisions are tough.

[Page 128]

Mr. Anderson then invited the comments of the Secretary of State.

Secretary Dulles said he was not clear as to where, in NSC 160/ 1, the Planning Board was proposing to insert the language read by Mr. Anderson. Mr. Anderson explained that the Planning Board did not propose to insert this language at all, but that the language would simply constitute a Council action in connection with the Council’s noting of the Progress Report on NSC 160/1. He also pointed out, in response to a question from Secretary Dulles, that achieving promptly a German contribution to the defense of Europe was both a basic objective and a significant course of action in the policy paper on Germany.

Secretary Robertson inquired whether the amount and timing of the pressure to be applied by this Government on the Germans with respect to their participation in Western defense, was not properly a matter for the judgment of the Secretary of State.

At any rate, said Secretary Dulles, he did not think that the language proposed by the NSC Planning Board should be inserted in the policy paper on West Germany. He added that in the just-concluding conversations with Adenauer, he had pressed the Chancellor just about as far as he could on the necessity for a German military contribution. He had done the same thing earlier with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshida. He had even gone so far as to tell the German and Japanese leaders that unless their countries developed adequate military forces of their own, they would have the status of protectorates rather than of truly sovereign states. Secretary Dulles submitted that it was difficult to push much further than this. Certainly we did not wish to emphasize our views so hard that the result would be the overthrow of the Adenauer regime.

Admiral Radford stated that every single NATO nation was watching how the Germans handled the issue of their military participation in Western defense, and specifically their decision as to the length of service for conscripts in the new German army. Every nation will be affected by the failure of the Federal Republic to come through with an adequate military contribution. Moreover, if they do not do so, the United States will not know where it stands. Admiral Radford believed that the 18-month conscription period for the German soldier was less likely to be attained a year from now than to be attained now. While he admitted that we must not push Adenauer too hard, we must also not let the Germans off the hook.

Secretary Dulles replied that it seemed to him obvious that we do not wish to press the Adenauer government on this military issue to the point where that government might fall. This was particularly true in view of the fact that we ourselves may have reached the point of determining on quite a different concept of NATO. Moreover, [Page 129] if the Administration did not choose to revise the NATO concept, Congress itself might force the Administration to do so.

After further discussion between Admiral Radford and Secretary Dulles, Secretary Humphrey said that he was personally unable to see much substantial difference in the points of view of Secretary Dulles and Admiral Radford with respect to the German participation in the defense of the West. He also added that it looked to him as though NATO might itself soon disappear.

Secretary Dulles, in conclusion, pointed out that he had not himself asked for the new language suggested by the NSC Planning Board, and that he regarded the manner and timing of the effort to ensure a German defense contribution as essentially a current operating matter rather than a policy issue.

The National Security Council:

Noted and discussed the reference Progress Report on NSC 160/1 transmitted by the reference memorandum of May 29, the views of the NSC Planning Board circulated by the reference memorandum of June 12, and the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thereon transmitted by the reference memorandum of June 14; but agreed that it was not necessary or desirable to record the Action recommended by the NSC Planning Board in the reference memorandum of June 12.
Noted the reference Progress Report on NSC 5404/1, transmitted by the reference memorandum of May 29.
Noted the reference Progress Report on that part of NSC 174 relating to East Germany, transmitted by the reference memorandum of May 29; and directed the NSC Planning Board to prepare for Council consideration a supplement to NSC 160/1 on U.S. policy toward East Germany, in accordance with NSC Action No. 1530–b.

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Gleason on June 18.
  2. For text of NSC 174, “U.S. Policy Toward the Soviet Satellites in Eastern Europe,” December 11, 1953, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. VIII, pp. 110128. The January 7 Progress Report is in Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 62 D 430, Germany. NSC Actions No. 1303 and 1503–b are ibid., S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council. The memoranda of May 29, June 12, and June 14 have not been found in Department of State files.