Januar 1955: Germany, the New Partner

By Konrad Adenauer

Before my recent trip to the United States, a number of agreements were signed in Paris which are of importance to the entire free world. They establish a new community of the Western European peoples; they provide for Germany's admission into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; they create the basis for lasting German-French cooperation; and, finally, they introduce Germany as a free partner into the community of free nations. The new agreements will decisively influence the political and economic future of Europe. Also, since they constitute part of the organizational structure established by the Atlantic Community in furtherance of its aims, they will have a strong influence on the non-European members of the Atlantic Pact, including the United States.

Three problems had to be solved. First, Germany was supposed to become an equal partner in the community of free nations. This called for ending the occupation of Germany and granting the Federal Republic of Germany full power over its domestic and foreign affairs. These aims had already been embodied in the Contractual Agreements-or the Treaty on Germany, to use our name-which were signed in Bonn on May 26,1952, by representatives of the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, France and the Federal Republic. However, the agreements were linked indissolubly with the European Defense Community Treaty and were to enter into force simultaneously with it. Some of the provisions actually referred to agreements contained in the E.D.C. Treaty, for instance with regard to the stationing of troops. Therefore, new agreements had to be formally concluded, and all those provisions which had become obsolete because of the failure of the E.D.C. Treaty and subsequent political developments had to be revised. All participants desired to renegotiate as few of the matters covered by the Bonn treaties as possible; they sought instead to take note of the parts that were still valid and usable and to extend these if they could and to eliminate the parts that were obsolete. This, in fact, is what was done. On the whole, therefore, the new treaty follows the pattern of the old Bonn agreements. It returns sovereignty to Germany. The only restrictions are those resulting from the position of the Allies in Berlin and the relationship between the Three Powers and the Soviet Union within Germany.

The treaty, further, contains provisions regarding legal and factual questions in a transitional period after the end of the occupation, as well as contractual provisions for the stationing of Allied troops in Germany. When it comes into effect Germany will be a completely free and equal partner of the Western Community-joining it and fulfilling her duties within it of her own volition. This freedom of decision and action is the guarantee of the strength of our alliance.

The second problem that had to be solved was to fill the vacuum which was created when the French National Assembly rejected the European Defense Community on August 30. This event had indeed caused an acute crisis. Disappointment and confusion spread in Europe and in the United States. Developments seemed to be proving that the free peoples of Europe were incapable of organizing themselves to defend their freedom and provide for their security. Above all, the failure of E.D.C. was bound to convince world Communism that it had won the cold war in Europe. This dangerous situation had to be overcome as quickly as possible. The self-confidence of the free peoples had to be restored.

I would like to stress here, as I did in speaking before the German Bundestag, that it was British Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles who took the initiative for reaching a new solution. In a remarkably short time they succeeded in mobilizing the forces striving for the unification of Europe-forces which had remained alive in all European countries-and in bringing forward realistic suggestions which were able to win prompt and unanimous approval of the people of free Europe.

The basic idea of the new arrangements was that the anti-German character of the Brussels Treaty should be abandoned and that the Treaty should be extended by the admission of Germany and Italy. Since Britain was already a member of the Brussels Pact she was thus a full partner of the new European organization from the beginning. The negotiations brought to life the possibilities of European integration latent in the Brussels Pact. The authority of the Council of Ministers, provided for from the beginning, was vastly extended; the tasks of the community were increased; and, finally, a parliamentary body was formed, composed of representatives of the signatory states and exercising some parliamentary control (though as yet restricted) over the activities of the new community.

The Brussels Pact also provides for the control of measures for defense. The size of the defense contribution to be made by each signatory can be increased beyond the amount originally provided for in the E.D.C. Treaty only by unanimous vote. To put it differently: whereas the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, up to now and probably in the future, fixes a minimum for the defense contributions of the various states, Brussels also fixes a maximum. Personally, I believe that the NATO minimum and the Brussels Pact maximum will, in most cases, be the same. Also, the experience gained through the work of NATO has shown that it is much more difficult to reach the required minimum even approximately than to surpass it. The Brussels Pact is a purely defensive alliance, just as is NATO. It has all the characteristics of a system of collective security. It is designed to protect the signatory states against attack from the outside. It does not grant protection or support to any of the signatory Powers in the event that they themselves become aggressors. It limits the effective strength both of troops and of armaments.

I would like to stress that the Western European Union, in the view of all its member states, is not by any means a primarily military alliance. It is an instrument of European integration in all fields.

The third question which had to be answered at the London and Paris Conferences was how the new Brussels Pact could be brought into a contractual relationship with NATO. They had to be combined for two reasons. First, the new alliance had to be incorporated in the framework of the Atlantic community in the way in which E.D.C., which had been intended to serve as the European cornerstone of NATO, was supposed to be incorporated. In addition, since NATO was already functioning and its provisions had proved workable, everyone wanted to avoid building up another complicated military organization in Europe. The solution was found by arranging for Germany, so far the only member of the Brussels Pact not a member of NATO, to enter NATO. In addition, the Supreme Commander of NATO in Europe will be in command of the troops of the Brussels Pact states on the Continent and will have far-reaching authority of inspection and direction with regard to their military integration.

In looking at the new agreements and trying to evaluate them as a whole one sees that in comparison to what was originally planned they are loose in structure but larger in scope. It should be frankly admitted, I believe, that the degree of integration is less in the new forms than would have been the case in E.D.C. and in the political community as originally projected. My political friends and I do not hesitate to say that we regret this. I believe, however, that the West European Union as it has now been newly conceived provides sufficient starting points from which European unity may be pursued step by step and completed finally in every field. European unity still remains an unalterable aim of German policy.

One invaluable advantage of the new solution, however, is the fact that Great Britain has committed herself, in a truly revolutionary act, to full participation in the new organization and that she will not withdraw her troops from the Continent against a majority vote of the Brussels Pact signatories. Great Britain has sacrificed a most important sovereign right in favor of international cooperation. In my opinion we owe sincere gratitude to the British Government and to Prime Minister Churchill and Foreign Secretary Eden for this courageous deed.

To my mind, the decisive importance of the new agreements lies in the fact that the passionate struggle over methods for unifying Europe has not been able to prevent the eventual unification of Europe, as threatened for a time after August 30. The unity of the Western World, which seemed to have been shattered by this conflict, has been reestablished. I am convinced that the foundation of our existence as free nations was in fact seriously endangered. It is my hope that the leaders of world Communism have now grasped the fact that the democracies are able to overcome the difficulties that arise from the free exchange of different opinions and to do what is necessary.

Another encouraging development offers proof of the growing strength of European solidarity, namely the conclusion of the German-French agreements on the Saar, the strengthening of German-French economic relations and the German-French cultural agreement. One of the principal political aims of the free world is to reconcile France and Germany and bring them together in a common effort for the welfare of their people. The successful outcome of the German-French discussions fills me with special satisfaction. The cooperation of Germany and France is an absolutely essential element for the maintenance of peace in Europe. It is also a guarantee that Europe can affirm her intellectual position in the world and that her creative powers are not exhausted.

The individual treaties have a special meaning collectively for the Federal Republic of Germany because they signified agreement on its international status and brought the end of the occupation. It seems to me, however, that the most important effect of the new agreements on the great majority of people in Germany lies in the fact that the policy of solidarity and cooperation with the West, planned and pursued for so long, has now finally found concrete expression.

We in the Federal Republic have achieved a high degree of political stability, as I think was proved by the elections of September 6, 1953. Then, and also in the recent landtag elections, voters in the Federal Republic decisively rejected radical political ideologies. Everywhere they have cast their ballots in favor of freedom, democracy and cooperation with the free world. Even in the Soviet Zone, where the people live under the yoke of Communism, they have given the world vivid proof at the cost of their lives that they desire nothing more than freedom. I refer to the June uprisings of 1953, a unique demonstration previously unheard of in the Communist-controlled world.

This cry for freedom, this desire for a life devoted to peaceful work in the community of free peoples, demanded an answer. I am grateful that this answer was so quickly given by the American people and their government. It was given in many forms and by people in every walk of life. Support of this sort not only encouraged us in our struggle for freedom but also helped us to survive the first frightful years following the catastrophe into which National Socialist tyranny had plunged our country. But when Germans saw that the ratification of the treaties of Bonn and Paris was continually postponed, uncertainty developed as to whether Germany was welcome in the community of free nations. People wondered whether Germany, alone and dependent upon herself, and in a focal position in the cold war, would be forced to try to maintain herself-in a way predestined to failure-as a free nation in an unsafe world.

Germany is divided by the conflict between East and West. The demarcation line which betokens this great strain runs across our country. The fate which has befallen Korea and Indo-China is evidenced even more clearly in Germany, and is better understood there than anywhere else. All too understandably, our people were seized by a great unrest following the collapse of E.D.C. I am happy to be able to state that this unrest has passed. The goal and the path lie clearly before us. I cannot better express our feelings than to cite our basic law: The German people are filled with the resolve to serve world peace in a united Europe.

We profoundly regret that the portion of the German people living in the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany is still excluded from taking part in this service to peace. We are devoting all our efforts to removing this unnatural and dangerous division by peaceful means, so that Germany may be reunited. In common with the three Western Powers, the Government of the Federal Republic has pointed out a practical method-reunification by free and internationally supervised elections. We now know that reunification in peace will be possible only within the framework of normalized relations between the free and the Communist worlds. Thus to work with other countries toward a relaxation of tension means for Germans not only work for the maintenance of world peace but also for the fulfillment of their most important national goal-reunification.

We are especially well acquainted with Soviet aims and with the methods by which they are attained. This knowledge has been dearly paid for with the suffering of millions of human beings. For that reason the Germans have become immune to the Communist idea. For that reason they condemn any political adventure as a means of settling their relations with the Soviet-led power bloc. For that reason they are convinced that an attempt by Germany alone and apart from the other free nations to solve the problem of German reunification would end with the complete loss of freedom for all Germany. I believe that the only concrete possibility of bringing about a relaxation of the conflict in Europe, and thus of achieving German reunification, lies in an attempt by the Western European Union and the Atlantic Community, acting jointly, to seek a solution of the pending problems with the Soviet Union sooner or later.

On the day of the signing of the Paris Agreements the Soviet Union handed a note to the three Western Powers proposing new negotiations on the establishment of a European security system, the reunification of Germany and the conclusion of the Austrian State Treaty. In my view, this note shows that the Soviet Union has not changed its main objectives. The Soviet aim continues to be to lessen the interest of the United States in European questions and to eliminate Atlantic influence from European affairs. Soviet Russia would like to establish a system of collective security in Europe in which she herself would play the dominant role.

The dangerous twilight in which Soviet policy operates is indicated by the Soviet assertion that there was no substance at all in the reference in the note of the Western Powers of September 10, 1954, to the existence of a heavily armed Soviet grouping in Eastern Europe because-to quote verbatim-"in reality no grouping of this kind exists." As for what the Soviets have in mind when they again speak in their new note of free elections, that was amply demonstrated, I think, by the latest so-called elections in the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany.

Unity, patience and strength are the primary virtues which the free world requires if it wishes to secure and keep peace and freedom. As the new partner of the Western Community, Germany will show patience and moderation and will devote her energies to the strengthening of the free world.

The faith which the American people and their government have shown in the German people will inspire us to fulfill conscientiously the obligations which fall on us as a result of this partnership. After the sufferings of two wars, after the horrors of dictatorship, the German people long to live their lives in peace and freedom. They long for fraternal cooperation with people to whom they feel bound by common interests and ideals. It is my conviction that the German people, and especially German youth, fully realize that we can attain a better future only if we help to unite Europe, and if our actions are determined by a spirit of solidarity and cooperation. This realization has profoundly and lastingly changed our national life. It is my heartfelt desire that the community of free nations will provide the firm basis for the future development of our civilization and that within this community Germany will find an honorable place and a better future.

Quelle: Foreign Affairs. Jg. 33. 1955, Nr. 2 (Januar), S. 177-183.