98. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Policy Planning Council (Rostow) to the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Tyler)1


  • Germany: March 1965

Lonely and Unfairly Treated. If the object of U.S. policy is to make Germans feel closely bound to the West and fairly treated, events have conspired to produce at this time a rather extreme version of the opposite. In twenty years of following the cycles of German sentiment, I do not recall as acute and generally felt a trough as that I found in a week of intensive contacts in Bonn, Frankfurt, Freiburg, and Rheinhartshausen.2

This mood arises from a convergence of specific frustrations, large and small, from many directions over recent months:

  • —The simultaneous Israeli pressure on three fronts: military equipment, restitution, and the extension of the statute of limitations on war criminals, plus, of course, the confusions and burdens of the hasty German decision to recognize Israel.
  • —The threatened Arab rupture of the Hallstein Doctrine plus the burning of German embassies, which is not taken with the sang-froid which we and the British have developed.
  • —The (recently somewhat corrected) sense that the U.S. got them into trouble in the Middle East and then stood back.
  • —The Danish protest against the appearance in Denmark of German soldiers on joint maneuvers.
  • —The threatened removal of the German Peace Corps from Tanzania (now probably in hand).3
  • —The feeling that, in the face of the Wall and recent economic improvements, a kind of local identity and pride may be developing in the GDR.
  • —What appears outside the government as a U.S. dumping of the MLF in the face of British, French, and Russian pressures—to some extent shared in the government even by those relieved that they don’t have to face a confrontation with de Gaulle before the election.
  • —A more general sense that the domestic interests of the U.S., combined with our Southeast Asia problem, have made us draw back from Europe in general and the German unity problem in particular.
  • —The hardening policy of Moscow on Germany since Khrushchev’s departure from power and a bafflement as to how to mount a national German unity policy in either the short run (a pre-election gesture) or in the long run.
  • —A consciousness that even the most promising recent development—a European agricultural policy—was bought at a high cost to Germany in order to limit one—but only one—element in de Gaulle’s blackmail and veto leverage over Germany; that is, de Gaulle’s threat to break up the EEC.4

All this is compounded by a sense that Erhard’s leadership is infirm.

The upshot is a feeling I can only describe as follows: Here it is a generation after the war; everything we try to do on the world scene fails; and it fails because others exploit systematically our war guilt; and, in the clutch, our only potential real friend, the United States, places the interests of Britain and even a disruptive France ahead of the interests of Germany, and ahead of the collective policies it espouses.


Stabilizing Factors. The mood, its intensity, its generality, and its causes are unmistakable. Its seriousness we will neglect to our peril—a judgment shared by Jean Laloy, Jack Nicholls, Michael Palliser, Jens Boyesen, and others in APAG, as well as by our country team in Bonn. But all is by no means lost. The roots of the German commitment to a policy of European integration and the closest possible ties to the U.S. go deeper than this painful interval. The response to my Frankfurt and Bonn speeches was: please lead us in just those directions. More important, the plea from Schroeder, Erler, Birrenbach, and Carstens, was in the same sense. Men like Barzel and Walther Casper are by no means despairing of European and Atlantic progress over the longer pull. Distinguished journalists like Georg Schroeder and Bruno Dechamps are a bit bloody but unbowed. Men like Eric Blumenfeld and Stefan Thomas are optimistic about a policy of enlarged contacts with the East and the long run implications of trends in Russia and Eastern Europe. The German youth appears more interested in contacts with East Germany than in the Hallstein Doctrine. Germany’s extraordinary continued prosperity is a substantial (but insufficient) cushion to those shocks and strains. Above all, the bilateral military tie remains strong; Von Hassel treasures his tie to Secretary McNamara; and there is only fear at the thought of U.S. troop withdrawals. But there is widespread anxiety that, without [Page 235]U.S. leadership that moves things forward again, even modestly, de Gaulle will gain in power. There is little attraction for leadership by Paris. It is well understood that de Gaulle cannot defend Germany and he opposes German unity and serious European integration. But, if things do not improve, I would predict the outcome will be a stronger and more nationally assertive German government, Gaullist only in the sense that it will imitate de Gaulle in a more forthright use of German national bargaining power vis-à-vis Washington, Paris, and Moscow.

The Germans by and large would prefer a policy of cooperation rather than a squeaky wheel operation; but that’s the way they are likely to go unless things look up a bit.

In this connection, perhaps the most interesting, if faintly ominous, moment of the APAG meeting was Muller-Roschach’s measured warning that if the Alliance cannot mount a concerted, even if modest, policy of movement on the German unity question, Germany will move towards the view that German unity is a domestic rather than an international question.


Six Steps in German Policy Between Now and November. The long-run answer to this problem is clear enough and old enough in our policy: to sink German nationalism and its national vulnerability in collective enterprises of Europe and the Atlantic; to engage Germany widely and, if possible, collectively on the world scene outside Europe; and, against this background, to mount a long term, pacific policy looking toward German unity and a European settlement. I can perceive no alternative to that policy that meets U.S. interests. And a week in Germany in March 1965 is most instructive; because under present strains the shape of the alternatives can be lucidly perceived, even if now far from dominant. They are all, at best, ugly and, at worst, lethal.

But, of course, if our German policy is to move forward starting right now, it can only move forward within two powerful constraints: General de Gaulle’s policy; and the German election period. I believe American leadership can be exercised in this situation. I have come (under the Secretary’s prodding) to this definition of U.S. leadership: the achievement of an objective in the U.S. interest, at U.S. initiative, by a combination of example, persuasion, and pressure when:

U.S. example, persuasion, and pressure make the object achievable at all;
when the advantages of achievement outweigh the costs.

Right now what we can achieve at all is narrowly limited by de Gaulle and the September election; but I do believe a modest policy of movement is possible and inexpensive, if we put our minds to it.

Specifically, we can do the following six things, the first four of which are placed in a wider setting in paras. 4–6, below: [Page 236]

  • —Generate in the Quadripartite Group, round about May, an allied policy statement in support of German unity.
  • —Start some quiet bilateral talk, on an informal basis, on German unity at the Council of Foreign Relations, if the Germans are not ready for deeply buried planning talks, while preparing ourselves for some serious talk after September.
  • —Maintain some quiet forward movement on the ANF/MLF in the Paris Working Group, while continuing to make clear publicly our interest in a collective Atlantic solution to an inescapable Alliance problem, and awaiting the outcome of the September election.
  • —Use the Under Secretary’s forthcoming trip to Paris and the May Ministerial meeting to press for regular regional sessions at the U.S. Assistant Secretary level of interested countries, covering: East Europe; Africa; Middle East; South Asia; Far East; and Latin America. If this doesn’t work at NATO level, offer it bilaterally to the Germans as well as the British.
  • —The President might pick up Barzel’s (really Casper’s) suggestion that we extend the Great Society concept through an Atlantic conference (or conferences) to compare and exchange views on efforts to improve the quality of our respective affluent societies: e.g., air pollution; traffic; education in an automated age; pockets of poverty (U.K., France and Italy have them, Germany extraordinarily little); the social problem of the small, inefficient farmer; wage guidelines problems; mental health and retardation; etc. After an initial kick-off at highest level, these could give the OECD some extra life, give vitality to some unexploited strands of common interest in the Atlantic, and project to the rest of the world our common concerns with the qualitative margins of our life. (Sarge Shriver is probably the man to take this on.)
  • —The greatest of all short-term measures would be, of course, a Presidential trip this summer to Germany. In a microscopic way, I could perceive what it means in Germany to have a live, visible American stand up and say out loud what our policy is. Georgetown and Cleveland speeches are basic; but inevitably distant and abstract. I believe a Presidential trip against the background of the other five measures suggested above, would put Germany in a mood to go forward with confidence after September on the right lines and help get men elected who are faithful to the integrationist cause in Europe and to the Atlantic connection.


A Strategy for German Unity. Beginning with the question of German unity, what now follows merges conclusions drawn from the APAG meeting and my talks with Germans. The APAG meeting, at its formal sessions, centered, in fact, on two matters, extensively discussed also in my bilateral contacts with Germans: an alliance strategy for German unity and the coordination of alliance policy in areas outside NATO. The third major issue of German concern was discussed privately at Reinhartshausen [Page 237]with the British and the Italians; that is, the Paris talks on the ANF/MLF until September and prospects post-September. These three issues are now discussed in turn.

Muller-Roschach pressed the German question strongly in manner but temperately in substance (fortiter in modo, suaviter in re). And he evoked what was certainly the best APAG discussion yet of this matter. I would summarize it as follows, indicating along the way the emphasis of various members (and various Germans) where relevant.

It is not safe for the Alliance, for the stability of Central Europe, or for the peace for us to accept passively the split of Germany and Europe.
The urgency of creating an Alliance strategy is heightened by the possible decay of the Hallstein Doctrine which will force the Germans to move in one way or another. And an Alliance strategy is the preferred course.
The achievement of German unity must be peaceful—via historical process, negotiation, and persuasion. No one can tell when it will be achieved. What is important for Germany and the Alliance is a policy which involves some action in concert. Neither accepting the status quo nor waiting for the anonymous forces of history to restore unity to the German people will suffice.
Aside from the Hallstein Doctrine, the major headings for an Alliance policy looking towards German unity are the following:
  • —declaratory statements
  • —a treaty proposal
  • —policy towards the GDR
  • —policy towards Eastern Europe
  • —policy towards the Soviet Union
  • —arms control
Declaratory statements have a role in Germany, in the Alliance, and vis-à-vis the Russians and the rest of the world. But if not accompanied by forward movement, they wear thin. They should be used, but sparingly. (APAG didn’t discuss this but, as indicated above, I believe between now and September is such a time.)
A treaty proposal to be effective must meet complex criteria:
  • —Given the present Moscow position on Germany, it should not be designed to be acceptable now; but it should contain features (security and boundary) which will hold out some attraction for Eastern Europe and, perhaps, for Russia in the future, although not necessarily final Western positions. As Nicholls said, a treaty proposal must be regarded as part of the historical process itself.
  • —The security issues must be dealt with in a way that, while holding out promise to the East, does not give the Russians an excessive initial bargaining position and does not set in motion neutralist forces in the West (Boyesen, Laloy, Rostow).
  • —Since immediate Soviet acceptance is not expected, the proposal should be put into negotiation in a way that leads, if possible, to protracted Austrian Treaty-type discussions, rather than a dramatic show-down with Moscow.

The advantages of a treaty proposal, if it can be devised, were judged to be these:

  • —It would reassure the Germans of Allied seriousness while forcing serious thought in Germany about what unity entails.
  • —It would dramatize to the East and to the world the pacific features of a German settlement.
  • —It would permit smaller steps to be taken as part of a large mosaic, so that they would appear less ad hoc and insignificant. (As our country team in Bonn emphasized, and I can now attest, this view is held by many thoughtful Germans.)

No one was confident that a proposal of this kind could be devised; although the technical success of the 1959 package led, on balance, to optimism. All agreed it was worth thinking about now and working on after the September election.

As for the GDR , it was agreed that in the matter of intra-German contacts, Bonn should be the judge of the proper balance; all agreed that Allied recognition of the GDR was ruled out; as for Allied contacts with the GDR, the Belgians and Danes explained their problems with the strongly reiterated (Carstens as well as Muller-Roschach) German policy of denying Allied contacts with the GDR and isolating and focusing the Soviet zone on West German relations. Since the TTD (East German travel documents) issue was being discussed elsewhere in NATO, the matter was left. (Both Schroeder and Carstens expressed the need for more West German contacts with East Germany; and Carstens revived tentatively the old proposals for mixed commissions. The pressure for more contacts with East Germany is clearly rising in West Germany.)
As for Eastern Europe, there was general agreement (with some familiar Dutch scepticism) that the forces at work in that region could be turned to Western advantage in general, and to assist the process of movement towards German unity in particular. A higher degree of concert in the Alliance in orchestrating policies towards Eastern Europe was generally approved. (Schroeder spoke in some pain of his difficulties with the credit-limit issue and with French egoism in its Eastern European policy; but agreed that identity of policy was not necessary on issues other than credit.) The central argument in APAG was that the loss of Moscow’s control over and diminution of its ideological stake in Eastern Europe would, along with other factors, hasten the day when responsible men in Moscow might think the advantages of a European security agreement outweighed the costs of surrendering ideological control over East Germany. (With respect to Eastern Europe, Vaes reported Rapacki’s [Page 239]discussion with Spaak on the advantages of first disengagement, then Germany unity. Laloy was wonderfully lucid and vigorous in dealing with both Rapacki and Spaak. Vaes privately agreed and deplored Spaak’s vulnerability on this issue. In the formal meeting he was somewhat inhibited—not by the presence of foreigners but by the presence of Spaak’s son-in-law, Michael Palliser.)
As for policy towards the Soviet Union, (leaving arms control to section x, below), it was accepted that in talking about the peaceful unification of Germany we were talking about a basic shift in the character of the Soviet Union and its view of the world scene—a transition from ambitions to lead a global ideological system to a mature acceptance of its considerable but limited role as a nation state among many. Forces were at work tending to press Russian policy in this direction, but clearly the day had not come. Nor could anyone predict when it would come. It followed, however, that everything we did on the world scene to discourage Soviet hopes that the expansion of its ideological power was possible and everything we did to dramatize the place of dignity awaiting it as a nation state was relevant to the problem of German unity and a European settlement. At the present time, given the case of Communist policy, this bore on what we did and failed to do as an Alliance about Communist policies in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. And it bore also on our capacity to continue to demonstrate the cohesion of the West in defense and other matters.
With respect to arms control and a European security settlement, it was agreed that the relation between these somewhat separate theologies ought to be looked at closely for three reasons. First, it is possible that at a moment when Moscow would be willing to contemplate German unity it might also be prepared to contemplate an effectively inspected arms control system on a world basis: both go to the heart of the transition from a Bolshevik view of the world in Moscow to a more narrowly national view of the world. Second, given the changes in military technology since 1959, it may be more rational for Moscow, as well as the West, to conceive of a European security arrangement in broader terms than has been traditional in German security negotiations; perhaps, for example, embracing nuclear weapons systems and delivery capabilities outside Germany, from Western Russia to the Atlantic. The rational outcome might be a NATO-Warsaw Pact arms control agreement rather than a piece of surgery on Germany alone—indeed, a good piece of the total problem of arms control. Third, in general arms control negotiations the problems of allied policy towards German unity should be kept clearly in mind. They should, if possible, help move towards German unity and a European security settlement, rather than away from it.
Although these were the elements in an Alliance policy for German unity and a European security settlement, and, although all of us [Page 240]bore a responsibility for contributing to policy-making and action to bring it to pass, Germany had a double responsibility: it had to make concrete policy suggestions under these headings, and German political leadership had a responsibility for creating a political and psychological environment in Germany which could accept the German unity problem in these wide-ranging terms.

I have two final comments on this generalization of what transpired on my trip concerning the German question.

  • First, it struck me with great force, in talking with Germans, that there was a gap between the classic Adenauer position (formalistic statements on German unity plus the Hallstein Doctrine) and how Germans thought and talked in private—not merely in talks with me alone, but in pretty large groups. The headings under which we considered the problem in APAG did not greatly differ from how Germans, in and out of the government, considered the matter (except one Herr Theo Loch of the Rheinische Merkur, who said he didn’t want any Prussian provinces in Germany and was content to rely on the force de frappe for protection. But this is the view of a tiny German minority.). In short, it is my impression that after the German election, it may well be possible for a German government to talk honest sense on the unity issue.
  • Second, there emerged in APAG a quite strong sentiment to enlarge the role of NATO on the matter of German unity and a European security settlement. The Italians, Canadians, and others spoke of their dissatisfaction with the monopolistic role of the Quadripartite Group. The dilemma is familiar enough: it is tough enough to get unity in the Quadripartite Group; but, in fact, the most vital interests of the whole Alliance are engaged in these matters and, as Mario Mondello and Arnold Smith pointed out, the cost of the present system is that those outside the Quadripartite Group feel no responsibility for the German unity question.

My impression at the moment is this: If we can get anything like agreement over the next year on an Alliance strategy towards German unity and a European settlement, either in the Quadripartite Group or as among the UK, Germany, and U.S. (and I am confident this is possible), we ought to widen parallel discussions in NATO—notably on the strategy as a whole and the non-treaty aspects of that strategy (e.g., policy towards Eastern Europe).


Consultation. There was much talk of consultation—between Germans and myself and within APAG. I was alerted to the cutting edge of the problem by a widespread German view which is this: OK, we consulted with the Americans on the Middle East; we agreed to carry some of the White Man’s burden with the tanks for Israel; we were assured that our position with the Arabs wouldn’t blow; it blew; for quite a while the Americans were out to lunch; they finally helped with courage and fraternity; but the lesson for Germany is—no consultation, just a nice, [Page 241]straightforward policy of narrow national interest. With Germans I tried to turn this around, arguing that the Middle East was a very tough area where you could easily meet yourself coming through a swinging door; successively, there was Suez, Lebanon-Jordan, the U.S. miseries over Yemen, the current German miseries. On each occasion one or two of us felt extremely lonely, while the others moved in gallantly to pick up the commercial change and to represent Western interests. Moreover, we felt damned lonely in Laos and South Viet Nam; the Belgians and we were lonely in the Congo; the British and Germans pretty lonely in East Africa; etc. The lesson was that the serious interests in the Middle East and elsewhere were common interests; namely, to keep the regions tolerably pacified, to strengthen the hands of the moderates, and to keep Communist influence within bounds. The answer was more sustained, wider, and more responsible consultation, not less.

There was, on the whole, a German willingness to listen to this argument, although they will be shy about weapons and soldiers outside Germany for quite a while, except as part of a completely integrated NATO force. (As Barzel put it to me, better than his reported statements in Washington, what if they turned up one ex-Nazi sergeant in Cyprus or South Viet Nam?) If we move rapidly on consultation, I am convinced the Germans will play either multilaterally or even bilaterally, notably in economic and political matters.

Against this background, conscious of the Under Secretary’s impending mission to Paris, and after some preliminary talks the first night at APAG, I put in a paper entitled (after Jack Nicholls’ suggestion) “The Resolution of Reinhartshausen.” It was designed to dramatize the urgency of regular consultation at the one critical level where consultation does not now systematically exist; namely, that of the U.S. Assistant Secretary with operational (rather than planning) responsibilities. Its critical passage was the following:

They should engage government representatives who bear direct operational responsibility for the conduct of policy in the area concerned.
They should be regularly conducted, whether crises exist or not, with provision for extraordinary meetings.
They should be open to all NATO members interested in the area and prepared to attend.
The Secretary General, or his representative, should preside; and the Council should be informed of the results.
With respect to diplomatic proposals for German unity and European security, the three Western occupying powers bear a special responsibility. But, in respect to other matters, the objective should not be [Page 242]to yield total uniformity of action by NATO members, but rather to produce:
a common understanding of the problems involved and of the common vital interests at stake;
collective or individual policies designed to reflect that understanding and those interests, with the subsequent conduct of each member to be determined by the special character of his limitations and possibilities for action in the area.

I knew Jean Laloy could not sign on and he understood exactly the purpose of the exercise, which we discussed. The substance of the message was broadly agreed, after various statesmanlike reservations, and, of course, not in the form of a resolution. It will be incorporated in some anodyne form in the Secretariat report to the Council; but, more important, it will be taken home to the various capitals.

My recommendation is this:

The Under Secretary should make a strong pitch for systematic consultation along these lines at NAC at the end of the month;
The issue should be pressed at the May Ministerial meetings;
If there is no agreement, we should beef up and make more systematic our bilaterals with Great Britain and Germany, perhaps bringing the three of us together in tune with the Canadians (now hooked in Ceylon and Tanzania), the Italians, and any other interested parties, on an ad hoc basis.

In this matter of homely, practical responsible consultations on dirty, difficult problems, we should not let a French veto frustrate us. I suspect we could get agreement to consult regularly in Washington.


ANF/MLF . This matter was not discussed formally in APAG. I talked with Scheske and Carstens at some length. Also, at their initiative, with Nicholls and Palliser; and then, at his initiative, with Farace.

The upshot is the following.

The Germans will file, I believe, a paper replying to our questions about the UK position.
The German anxieties about the British position are: the scale of the MLF component; the proportionate shares (which they want equal and not distorted by assorted British nationally manned hardware); the assignment to a new commander rather than SACEUR; the Italian pressure for a European clause more explicit than they or we want and the British insistence on no European clause; and their (the German) desire to avoid any further nuclear-denial commitments outside a German settlement.
Carstens, at least, is clear that all these matters are negotiable with the British, given the underlying U.K. position (see below).
What the Germans want right now is: a U.S. initiative to get the Paris talks going; a U.S. position that helps narrow the gap quietly in Paris [Page 243]so that motion is maintained and things are more nearly ready by September; some high level overt statement of the continuity of the U.S. interest on an integrated settlement with a substantial MLF component to supplement the statement at the Ranch.

On the critical question—whether the Germans would be willing to face a confrontation with de Gaulle after September on the MLF—I got various answers which I reported by cable. The Foreign Office view is clearly (from Carstens as well as Scheske) that this is a matter of German national interest; and that de Gaulle cannot and should not have the right both to a force de frappe and a French veto on German participation in a collective effort. So far as German unity is concerned, Germany’s nuclear role must, evidently, be considered in a general settlement. But one should not forego doing what is right in the West in the vague hope of a German settlement, when none is in sight. It is, however, correct to make a change in Germany’s nuclear role explicitly a part of a German settlement, and to signal that fact in an ANF/MLF treaty. Carstens would not predict the position of a German government after September.

Another view is, simply, that Erhard is dominated by a desire to be elected in his own right. If the present political constellation is returned to power, he would cheerfully face down de Gaulle on this and other matters—notably since de Gaulle’s threat of breaking up the EEC is no longer credible.

There is general agreement, right or wrong, that a grand coalition of the CDU/SPD would have no problem with de Gaulle and the MLF; and this is a possible and widely hoped for result.

What I would add to my cabled view is that the posture of the U.S. on the short run issues laid out in para. 3, above, may significantly determine what kind of German government we get in September and what its policy will then be. We should try to behave in such a way as to strengthen the Atlanticists in the German election, while we move quietly in Paris to bring the UK, Germany, and Italy together, so that we can move or not move promptly when we know the constitution and temper of the new German government.

As for Nicholls and Palliser, they report the following. The present UK government wants a settlement. The MLF component, the financial shares, the command issue are all negotiable. The European clause presents political difficulties in Parliament, although a weak European clause is not ruled out. (Strangely, this may prove the toughest issue.) They are primarily concerned with: whether a new German government would face down de Gaulle; whether a new British election and the return of a Conservative government would throw the thing off the track again, for a while; and about the tendency of the Conservatives, having carefully analyzed the strong pro-European content of the Liberal vote, may turn to a loose European deterrent, notably in the face of what they [Page 244]regard as weak U.K. leadership in this matter. In general, they want almost precisely what the Germans want out of Paris: U.S. leadership in getting the Paris meetings started; U.S. leadership in quietly narrowing the UK-German positions so that we are tolerably prepared by September; an interval to assess the temper of the new German government in this matter; then rapid diplomatic movement to button it up.
Although others in the Italian Foreign Office are probably more knowledgeable, Farace drew me aside to ask what we thought should and could be done in the Paris meetings. I told him that Washington was in the process of evaluating the Wilson-Erhard visit when I left. I did not know what would be decided in Washington about the Paris talks; but it was my personal view that the British and German and Italian views were not as far apart as might appear; that we should use Paris quietly to narrow the gap between now and September; and then we would see. And, indeed, that is my recommendation.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 GER W–US. Secret.
  2. Rostow reported on his discussions with German leaders in telegram 3474 from Bonn, March 14. (Ibid.)
  3. All German assistance was withdrawn following Tanzania’s recognition of the German Democratic Republic in February 1964.
  4. Reference is to de Gaulle’s accusations that the Commission presidency was exceeding its powers.