German Problem

April 26, 1950

Report Outline
Policy Conflicts Over Western Germany
West Germany Five Years After the War
Soviet Pressure on the West in Berlin

Policy Conflicts Over Western Germany

Renewed Consideration of the Problem of Germany

Settlement of outstanding policy differences and agreement on a more dynamic approach to the problem of Germany will be major objectives of the foreign ministers of the United States, Great Britain, and France when they meet at London in the second week of May. Today, five years after the unconditional surrender of the Nazis, Germany is a partitioned nation, divided east and west by the cold war that has developed between the victors of 1945. Both the Western Allies and the Soviet Union want to see Germany reunified, but their total inability to work together in that country has made it a bitter battleground between them. Under the circumstances, it has become the task of the Allies to maintain and strengthen their position in Western Germany against the Soviet threat; to seek to make Western Germany a self-supporting entity; and at the same time to guard against the revival of a Germany which might again menace the peace of Europe and the world.

Concern over threatening aspects of the German situation was reflected in the Senate, Apr. 17, when Sen. Gillette (D., la.) and seven of his colleagues introduced a resolution calling on President Truman to appoint a bipartisan commission to investigate all phases of United States policy in Germany. Gillette said in an accompanying statement that there was need to separate fact from rumor, in connection with recent ominous reports about Soviet activities and the resurgence of extreme nationalism in Germany, in order that Congress might learn how grave was the threat and “reach sound conclusions as to our country's future course” instead of waiting “until the crisis explodes.” Sen. Bridges (R., N. H.) already had requested, Apr. 7, that the Senate-House “watchdog” committee on foreign aid inquire into Allied economic policies in Western Germany with particular attention to the program of dismantling industrial plants.

Divergent Attitudes of Allies on German Question

Although the Allies have been in general agreement on the objectives of Germany policy, they have not always been at one on application of that policy. For the United States, which is bearing the bulk of the financial burden of the occupation, German economic recovery is a prime consideration. Great Britain and France, although recognizing that American taxpayers cannot be expected indefinitely to make up the economic deficits of Western Germany, tend to fear strong industrial recovery in Germany as a threat respectively to the British export trade and to French security. Integration of Western Germany in some form of European union is advocated as the way out of this dilemma. France concedes the validity of the proposal but only on condition that Great Britain play a full part in the organization as a counterweight to Germany. And Britain, always hesitant about a Continental orientation, is, under Labor leadership, particularly reluctant to make the commitment lest it interfere with the economic planning and controls which are an essential part of the Socialist experiment in that country.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Dec. 22, 1989  A Primer on German Reunification
Apr. 19, 1985  German Reconciliation
Feb. 25, 1983  West Germany's ‘Missile’ Election
Jan. 14, 1970  German Reconciliation
Jan. 29, 1969  West German Prosperity
Mar. 30, 1966  German Border Question and Reunification
Aug. 18, 1965  West German Election, 1965
Feb. 24, 1965  War Guilt Expiation
Jul. 01, 1964  German Question
Sep. 01, 1961  Captive East Germany
Aug. 23, 1961  West German Election, 1961
May 04, 1960  Berlin Question
Dec. 24, 1958  Berlin Crisis and German Reunification
Aug. 21, 1957  German Election, 1957
Oct. 19, 1955  European Security
Jun. 15, 1955  Germany and the Balance of Power
Oct. 19, 1954  German Rearmament
Jan. 19, 1954  West German Recovery
Mar. 12, 1953  Harassed Berlin
Apr. 26, 1950  German Problem
Feb. 18, 1948  Rehabilitation of the Ruhr
Oct. 23, 1946  Future of Germany
Nov. 25, 1944  Transfers of Populations
Nov. 01, 1940  Economic Controls in Nazi Germany
Mar. 09, 1939  Foreign Trade in German Economy
Apr. 02, 1936  Germany's Post-War European Relations
Nov. 02, 1934  The Coming Saab Plebiscite
Apr. 23, 1931  The Austro-German Customs Union Project
Feb. 05, 1929  The Rhineland Problem
Nov. 07, 1924  German National Elections December, 1924
Apr. 30, 1924  The German National Elections
Regional Political Affairs: Europe
U.S. at War: Cold War