160. Telegram From the Embassy in Germany to the Department of State 1

3507. Subj: NATO, France and Germany. Ref: Paris’ 1133.2 For the Secretary and the Under Secretary.

I welcome the expression of views in reftel on the effects of the France-NATO crisis on Germany. The possible consequences outlined in the reftel would clearly represent the most desirable outcome. It is to be hoped that events will follow such a course. No doubt Germany’s role will be enhanced by De Gaulle’s recent actions, and it will be a challenge for US policy in the period ahead to encourage Germany to play a responsible role in the Atlantic Alliance and in Europe. At the same time, there remains in Europe a deep distrust of Germany. Nor must we close [Page 376]our eyes to the possibility that other, less desirable consequences could derive from a NATO-wide confrontation with France—in which the FedRep is called upon to play a key role.
Two points in this respect will bear particularly close watching. One is the effect on the FedRep’s European policy—if an estrangement with France should occur. If the present confrontation results in a withdrawal of French forces from the FedRep, German public opinion will not react with exhilaration. Many will see in it a defeat for the carefully nurtured German-French friendship—and for Europe. Many will ask themselves with whom Germany could now seek to build Europe. After dinner last evening Min Westrick, State Sec Von Hase, and Baden-Wurttemberg Min Pres Kiesinger all expressed dismay at the possible withdrawal of French troops. They greatly fear the political consequences of a French withdrawal, which they seem to feel is now quite possible.
If as a result of a French-German rift, European unity seems increasingly less attainable, there will inevitably be a tendency here, as we have pointed out, to turn more actively toward the other elusive goal of German policy—reunification. The problem which would then confront us—as well as Germany’s other partners—is the extent to which we can in fact help Germany to attain this goal. In this game, key cards are held by the other side.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 4 NATO. Confidential. Repeated to London and Paris.
  2. Telegram 1133, April 26, suggested that West Germany would be tempted to take advantage of the present crisis in NATO, but the fact remained that De Gaulle was forcing it to take positions that it would not have asserted on its own initiative. (Ibid.)