GHDI logo

U.S. Delegation Minutes of the Meeting between the Western Military Governors and the German Minister Presidents regarding the German Reply to the London Documents (July 26, 1948)

page 3 of 7    print version    return to list previous document      next document

Bürgermeister [Mayor] BRAUER (Hamburg) wished to complete the statement of his two colleagues. To begin with he stressed that the attitude of the Minister Presidents as a whole to the London decisions was fundamentally positive. In their opinion, it was in the interests of Germany to reach as quickly as possible a solution to all the problems within the framework of these decisions.

Herr BRAUER wished to go even further. He considered indeed that if a quick solution was not found there was a risk that the application of the Marshall Plan, and the economic recovery made by Germany since the currency reform, would be jeopardized. For this reason it was of the greatest interest to Germany to reach a solution in the shortest possible time. The remaining divergences concerned only the methods to be adopted and not the objects in view. The Minister Presidents were prepared not to insist on these points of method and procedure if there was a risk of jeopardizing the whole. Therefore, the Minister Presidents wished to reach agreement today within the framework of the instructions of the Military Governors.

Regarding the Constituent Assembly or rather the Parliamentary Council, it could be said that ever since Koblenz the Minister Presidents had accepted the London proposals. They had recommended that the delegates who were to draw up the ‘Basic Law’ should be designated by the different Landtage before 1st September.

The Ministers President, when translating the word ‘Grundgesetz’ into English, had chosen the term ‘Basic Law’. They felt, however, that a more adequate translation would be ‘Basic Constitutional Law’. The term ‘Grundgesetz’ had only been chosen in order to avoid aggravating the condition of the Eastern struggle and of the struggle which the Minister Presidents were obliged to carry on against the propaganda of the SED and the parties of the Eastern Zone. This struggle would be made easier if the terms chosen by the Minister Presidents could be accepted by the Military Governors.

Concerning the crucial point of the referendum, the point of view of the Minister Presidents was as follows:

If it was a question of principle, the direct vote based on universal suffrage should have been applied already for the election of the members of the Constituent Assembly.

Herr BRAUER recalled, in this connection, the campaign for the ‘Volksbegehren’ in Germany. The states of the west had defended themselves against the introduction in their territory of this ‘Volksbegehren’ which was of SED inspiration. By accepting the referendum as a means of ratification they would be giving to the Communists just that popular vote which up to the present they had not obtained. This was for the Minister Presidents of the West a question of political and psychological tactics.

In support of his statement Herr BRAUER quoted a press commentary from the San Francisco Chronicle.

“There lies a deep and devilish irony in the fact that the Germans are defending their undemocratic actions by using such democratic methods as the referendum in order to make their attitude palatable to the United States. This is a powerful weapon which is being utilized with great skill.”

first page < previous   |   next > last page