6. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State 0

Secto 21. Pass Defense—OSD for Secretary McElroy, OSD/ISA for Knight and Barringer, JCS for Generals Twining and Picher from Secretary Gates.

Memorandum of conversation Secretaries Gates and Irwin with Defense Minister Strauss, 1100–1300 hours, August 27. Mr. Strauss carried the conversation for the first hour or more outlining his views on Berlin, disengagement, disarmament and general German problems. He opened the discussion with Berlin. He felt the Soviets would claim they had guaranteed status quo for Berlin and would then seek a price from the Western allies. He feels Mr. Khrushchev understands he cannot adhere to his original demand. Believes British will seek a new approach. Mr. Strauss firmly opposed to a Soviet free city plan or to establishing a joint committee with equal vote. He felt the equal vote procedure meant eventual defeat for the West since democratic representatives would not present a uniform position as compared to the disciplined Communist representatives. He was apprehensive that either the free city or joint committee approach would create uncertainty in Germany leading to a soft German line, neutrality, anti-NATO propaganda, et cetera.

He thought the United Kingdom would propose some form of disengagement. Disengagement appears senseless to him, regardless of what form it takes. He believes any effort toward disengagement would lead to German neutrality and the neutrality of Europe and Berlin would be forfeited as a by-product.

Mr. Irwin outlined our firm Geneva position that there could be no treaty with a divided Germany. He questioned Strauss regarding his view on disengagement and its relation to the question of inspection.

Mr. Strauss responded that inspection is not the same as disengagement. He volunteered that Germany would never be an obstacle to a realistic general disarmament proposal. Disarmament must be on the basis of forfeiting “Military Equivalence” on both sides. This does not mean necessarily equal areas but military capability. Regarding inspection he could not accept a Western area of inspection whose boundaries coincided with the frontiers of West Germany. In addition, the Eastern inspection area must include some part of the USSR. Inspection of a satellite [Page 15] area alone as Poland, Czechoslovakia would not suffice. Germany would be destroyed by bombers from the USSR.

Switching to a discussion of nuclear weapons, Mr. Strauss said that Germany had met NATO requirements and had overcome many problems in relation to nuclear storage for the US, UK, Canada, Germany, et cetera. He now requested that the execution of US-German nuclear stockpile and technical agreements1 not be delayed nor discontinued to meet any Soviet demands or negotiating gambits. If delayed this may become a bargaining point in the East-West negotiations. He felt during Presidential discussions either the UK or Mr. Khrushchev might attempt to block the atomic agreements. He feels prompt implementation is the best response. Mr. Strauss said he is most anxious that the West not fall into some disarmament trap. There was plenty of area for negotiations if the USSR were really sincere, but under present circumstances negotiations were dangerous.

Mr. Irwin assured him that we feel the greatest danger is the lack of firmness.

Mr. Gates pointed out that statements by the Vice President reaffirmed there was no change in our determination nor intention.

Mr. Strauss then pointed out improvement on the German military front. The firm platform of the FRG was to meet its military commitments. This program has popular support. He quoted statistics regarding German polls on support of present Government and its policies which show significant improvement. In this year’s current poll, 71 percent in favor. The problem of conscription has disappeared. These gains could only be destroyed if an East-West agreement were developed at German expense.

Mr. Irwin asked if this improved political position would permit the extension of conscription beyond the 12-month period.

Strauss responded that after the elections in 1961 he favored extending the 12-month conscription to 18 months. At the present time a longer period was not alone a political problem but one of billeting additional forces and of attempting to train the large reserve of untapped manpower.

There was then a discussion by General Heusinger outlining German Army plans for 36 brigades of 5–6,000 men organized into 12 divisions. Seven divisions will be ready this year and all 12 divisions at somewhat reduced strength by end 1960. Two major requirements were long service volunteers and the difficulty of training areas which is [Page 16] chronic in Germany. At war strength with reserve formations furnishing necessary support, he visualized the armed forces at 800,000.

Mr. Irwin asked what would be optimum proportion of long-term volunteers to conscripts when the army is at full strength. The general felt a 50–50 division would be proper proportion. This would permit necessary conscript training. The manning problem is somewhat more difficult for the Navy and Air Force because of the technical training requirement.

Mr. Strauss discussing Air Force problems stated he wanted two types of aircraft, a light tactical fighter, perhaps the G–91 for close air support and reconnaissance and a more sophisticated aircraft, the F–104, for a fighter-bomber. He feels manned air defense makes no sense, for Germany. Aircraft reaction time will be too late. For air defense he is interested in the Nike and the Hawk. He will purchase and build some 200 F–104s, may later lift this total to 350.

Strauss stressed strong desire to have US F–104 units stationed in Europe on a rotational basis, if original US plan to permanently station F–104 units in Europe cannot be implemented. These units, rotated to Germany, would be invaluable in speeding training and insuring quality of German units. Strauss referred to the tremendous assistance US F–84 units had proven in training German Air Force.

Mr. Gates stated the Air Force does not intend to base 104s in Europe but he will look into the problem of rotating 104 units.

Mr. Irwin explained that the problem would be difficult for the Air Force due to maintenance, spare parts, etc. Mr. Strauss developed at some length the advantages that would accrue if the 104 could be standardized in Europe with Canada, Germany, perhaps Belgium and the Netherlands operating one aircraft. He is opposed to the N–136, states the Belgian military are also opposed to it.

Strauss requested Tartars for Baltic destroyers (stated useless in Baltic otherwise). Requested equipment for four destroyers during 1960–1961 and four additional destroyers during 1962–1963. Germany would consider possibility of tartar production if this schedule proves impractical from a US standpoint. Gates stated we would review this. Strauss made following additional requests: increase delivery of F–84F spare parts, particularly most commonly required spares. Germans also require more spares for M–47 tanks. Made a point that readiness was impaired.

General Heusinger stated his primary requirements were anti-tank weapons, defense against low flying aircraft and reconnaissance aircraft. He is interested in US Army development of reconnaissance drones and would appreciate information. He mentioned a US Army [Page 17] unit scheduled for Europe which we understood is equipped with drones in a user test stage.

Finally, Strauss requested US assistance in lifting restrictions on German production although he recognizes we are not a member of WEU.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/8–2959. Secret; Priority. Transmitted in two sections.
  2. Presumably Strauss is referring to the agreement for cooperation on the uses of atomic energy for mutual defense, signed at Bonn on May 5, which entered into force on July 27. For text of this agreement, see 10 UST 1322.