242. Memorandum of Discussion at the 354th Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants of the meeting and discussion of unrelated matters.]

General Cutler1 discussed at length the controversy in the Planning Board with respect to paragraph 44,2 and also pointed out the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff against inclusion of this paragraph. He then called on Secretary Dulles.

Secretary Dulles began by stating his opinion that with respect to Germany the policies of the United States and the Soviet Union have something in common—namely, that it was not safe to have a unified Germany in the heart of Europe unless there were some measure of external control which could prevent the Germans from doing a third time what they had done in 1914 and in 1939. Secretary Dulles insisted that the Soviet Union would never accept an independent, neutralized Germany in the heart of Europe. He added that he was convinced of this fact from many private conversations with Soviet leaders, who had made it quite clear that they would never agree to the creation of a unified Germany unless it were controlled by the USSR. Nor, on the other hand, should the United States accept a unified Germany except as part of an integrated Western European community. We simply could not contemplate re-unifying Germany and then turning it loose to exercise its tremendous potentialities in Central Europe. Accordingly, we should get rid, once and for all, of the idea that the re-unification of Germany is in and by itself an objective of U.S. policy. Everything depended on the context in which Germany was re-unified, because you could not neutralize a great power like Germany permanently.

After paying tribute to the formidable capabilities and energies of the Germans and their extraordinary comeback from the devastation at the end of the war, Secretary Dulles again warned that we could not close our eyes to the fact that this great power must be brought under some kind of external control. The world could not risk another repetition of unlimited power loosed on the world.

Summing up, Secretary Dulles stated that we should not accept reunification of Germany as a goal under any and all conditions. It would [Page 629] be obviously disastrous to accept re-unification on the Soviet terms. But it would also be bad to accept it without any external limitation. We must therefore be flexible as to the terms on which we would find reunification acceptable, and to do our best to keep the Germans happy until we have achieved a suitable reunification of Germany.

General Cutler pointed out that the policy paper as written carries out exactly what Secretary Dulles had been arguing for. Paragraph 44, with its suggestion that the United States should study alternatives toward achieving German re-unification, was a long-term matter. It was looking ahead to a situation in which, as a result either of German internal policy or some move by the Russians, U.S. forces were kicked out of Germany.

Secretary Dulles replied by stating his strong objections to the idea that the United States would accept neutralization if it could thereby achieve a unified Germany. The point of the matter was that the Germans would never stay neutral. They will either go with the West or go with the East or play off the one against the other, which could put us in a very serious situation. Secretary Dulles added that the possibility of a neutralized and unified Germany had been explored in the State Department over a very long time, and the verdict was that the State Department was opposed to it. It would not help much to explore the matter all over again, as suggested in paragraph 44.

When asked for his views by General Cutler, General White (for the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff) expressed support for the views of Secretary Dulles, and reiterated the position of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in opposition to the inclusion of paragraph 44.

General Cutler argued with Secretary Dulles, pointing out that the United Kingdom and France seemed quite capable of playing a unilateral game with the Germans, and he could not understand why the United States did not seem capable of looking ahead in order to try to determine what we were going to do when Adenauer disappeared and we might find our forces asked to leave Germany.

The President pointed out that if the Socialists did come into power in Germany, we might have to put even more U.S. forces in that country. He added with emphasis that he agreed with all that the Secretary of State had said on the problem of German unification and neutralization. In point of fact, the President added, neutralizing Germany would amount to nothing more than communizing Germany.

Mr. George Allen said he wanted to remind the Council that the most significant single motivation in German public opinion was for the unification of that country. If the Soviets play up to this sentiment and agree to a neutralized Germany, Mr. Allen felt that the Germans would quickly buy such a proposal and give all the credit to the Soviet Union [Page 630] for re-uniting their divided country. We would be faced with a terrible force if Soviet Russia and Germany joined together.

The President replied to Mr. Allen by expressing firmly the opinion that if Germany were neutralized it would be a Germany taken over completely by the Soviets. Mr. Allen expressed agreement with the President’s view, and said that he was not arguing for the neutralization of Germany, but rather for a re-armed Germany favorably disposed to the United States and to the West.

The President went on to say that in his view the way to handle the German problem was to build up NATO and Germany within it. Germany would be attracted to remain in a strong NATO. Furthermore, the building up of NATO would perhaps encourage the satellites to throw off the Russian yoke. In short, the building up of the Western European community was, in the President’s view, the best possible guarantee of world peace.

After General Cutler had called the Council’s attention to certain salient features of the Financial Appendix, the President turned to Secretary Dulles and asked if he could give a clear reason as to why the Germans had dragged their feet so in the field of re-armament. Secretary Dulles replied that he supposed it stemmed from the reluctance of many Germans, in view of what had happened to them in the last war, to risk seeing Germany remilitarized. Also, there had been a very high degree of industrial activity in recent years, and full employment in Germany. Neither employers nor employees wanted to sacrifice this prosperity by going into the military service. Secretary Anderson added that the Germans also feared inflation if their re-armament programs proceeded too rapidly.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated matters.]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Gleason.
  2. Robert Cutler, Chairman of the NSC Planning Board.
  3. See paragraph 44 of NSC 5803, Document 243.