The Cabinet Secretaries' Notebooks (CAB 195/8)

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Germany: Re-armament

Germany:  Re-armament


Commd to principle: not to timing.
Discns at Bonn  a) mil. condns & requiremts.
                        b) pol. condns required.
No commitmt until Govt. have considered again.
T. of r. (para. 12) suggest agreemt. on a) shd. be secured as soon as poss. Not their fault if Cab. now think they're going too fast.
But no risk:  for i) Germans pressg. for (b) as condn ii) U.S. are relaxing some of their pressure. Acheson at Brussels: Eisenhower's statement: attitude of Germans also.
Weekly rept. from I.K. E.'s statement (no hurry for G. contribn) eagerly endorsed by many shades of G. opinion. Any sense of urgency re re-armamt. has largely disappeared.
In accord with Cab. decn of 14/12.
Reasons for caution  i) didn't want put G. into strong bargaining posn. Now clear they will pitch their demands v. high.
                              ii) fear of quick R. re-action. They refer to this in latest note as 'intolerable'.
Timing:  para. 6.
Para. 4. If C.F.M. broke down, that might be decisive moment in R. eyes.
W'out reversg. decisions taken since Sept. & commd to Allies: only ques. now is wtr. we shd. suggest to U.S. or French positive action to slow down these negotns.
Pleven accepted (W'ton) principle & made no condns re timing.
Parodi deprecated early crystallisation: U.S. thght. this differed fr. Pleven & didn't like it.
Para. 9. After gettg. Acheson's view, we might talk to French.


I have always wanted this played slow.
E.B. always wanted w. Eur. forces stronger first.
U.S. pressed for more:  but they seem now less keen.
Also bargaining counter in C.F.M. I want honest attempt to seek a settlement. If it's true R. are really afraid of G. re-armament, we might get somethg. out of it.
Don't therefore emphasise G. re-armt as the essential. It's only one feature of bldg. Eur. defences.


U.S. view still linkg. G. re-armt tightly with strengthening of Eur. defence.
In Pleven talks U.S. thght. R. concession wd. have to justify slowing of Eur. def. as a whole - not takg. anything in return for delaying G. re-arm. alone.


Endorse P.M.'s view.


This developmt. has incensed a good deal of sound opinion v. us.
Eisenhower's statemt. reflects views I have put.
Proof tht. we shdn't yield so quickly to U.S. pressure. Keep friends with them, but don't do their bidding f'with.
Why frighten our people by going on with these talks with G.?  If, as E. now says, it will be so long before we are ready to absorb G. units.
Don't go back on principle: but suspend the talks.


Endorse P.M.


Remember tht. when E.B. was in N. Yk., he referred it back to Cab. who accepted G. contn in principle. That was starting-point.
Not true tht. U.S. then expected (even if Fr. agreemt. were secured) G. re-armamt. wd. take place under 2 yrs. I used that in argument v. France. Can't build Brigade Group fr. scratch in less than 2 yrs. Thus, E. is not saying now anything diff. fr. what U.S. meant at outset in N. Yk. Marshall's 10 points: not one item re G. contn:  Moch accepted them. They were confined to labour units etc.
Later, at W'ton, U.S. had decided to go fwd. with G. contn. They said either accept this principle & seek to apply it in due course, or you won't get any help fr. U.S.
Decision to fight e. of Rhine was essential because attitude of Denmark & Holland. And decision in principle to re-arm G. followed from that.
Endorse P.M.'s view. Delay conversations: don't break them off.
And approach U.S. (para. 9) with v. gt. care & tact.
In the end we can't defend Eur. w'out the Germans.
Talks will be long:  for safeguards & condns necessary. 


There is militarism in E. Germany. Is it to be matched by somethg. in W. Germany?  If not & if we can't reduce it in E., what will happen?  Are we to fight it.  Or the Germans?
It is not possible to root out G. militarism.  Be realistic.


Welcome P.M. & E.Sh.
Cab. never favoured G. re-armament before E.B. went to N. York.
E.B. said on arrival he was against it.  We agreed to the principle v. reluctantly (after 3 mtgs) in deference to v. strong U.S. pressure.
I wd. prefer to say we are against it. Agree we can't because U.S. views. Say therefore we continue to accept principle, but delay it. I hope principle will never be applied.
Can't hope to prevent worse Germans joining such a Force - or emergence of Genl. Staff.
Uneconomic for us now to give arms to Germans. Give them to our friends first.
Grim risk to push this fwd. in face of R. declaration. In point of time nonsense to say can't defend Eur. w'out G. contn:  for we may provoke attack before G. contn can be ready.
Proceed as in para. 9.


We were not pushed into this by U.S. I favoured it much earlier.
Accept P.M.'s view. But be careful to stick to one line.
Don't be pushed around on this, as result of impudent Comm. campaign.
R. says you mustn't arm G. - but all the time they are arming G.
What shall we say in mtgs. Can't say accept principle but shan't apply it.
G. must have arms some day. Bound to be slow, anyhow.
Don't give way to argument:  you mustn't provoke R. That was N.C.'s attitude to Hitler.
Do a deal with R. if they are ready for it.
But let's hold opinion steady.  Say we favour it in principle:  don't be afraid to say why.


One of our diffies: 'twixt public & private diplomacy. Pity anything had to be discussed in public.
Equally, unable to tell whole story to public. Prs. we cd. now say more.
Endorse Para. 9.
Card at C.F.M.  What do we want to get out of Russians?
Nothg. concrete in pp. save prs. Australian Treaty.
My worry was lest we shd. get a bogus "settlement" thro' C.F.M.


Trouble is juxtaposition of events.
How justify to our supporters U.S. release of Krupp? Our people can't understand we aren't responsible with U.S. Govt. jointly. And we have suffered fr. Germany (twice) as U.S. haven't.


Agree with J.G. These things are bound up together in people's minds.
Can we be assured tht. no G. war criminals will be released in Br. Zone w'out concurrence of Cabinet.


Will you say something re Krupp in Monday's debate.


We were not consulted on merits of this case.
Only consultn was: if I revoke confiscn order, will it affect our joint operation of Law 27 re deconcentn of industry. Answer given was: no, neither one way nor another.
Ques. of control over his industrial property is not affected by this.


Get all available information and I will make statement on Monday.


Wd be v. helpful if P.M. cd., in consultn with U.S., say tht. in view of G.'s statemt. we are re-considg. whole sitn.


Don't throw away in advance our card for C.F.M.


Para. 9. prob. O.K. Trouble will prob. be tht. U.S. won't agree to play that card for de-militarisation of E. Germany only but only in return for a wider concession by R.

Taken from C.M. 12(51) - Meeting held on 8 February 1951.