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The U.S. State Department Analyzes the Soviet Note on Berlin (January 7, 1959)

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Even before the Potsdam Protocol was signed the United States had considered the desirability of negotiating with the United Kingdom, France, and the U.S.S.R. a 25-year treaty which would guarantee that there could be no resurgence of German militarism. Secretary of State James F. Byrnes took the initiative in proposing such a treaty to Molotov in September 1945 and later to Stalin. Encouraged by their reaction, the U.S. submitted a draft treaty for comment and possible amendment in February 1946. The three Western powers supported the idea of such a demilitarization treaty at the Paris session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in 1946 and at the Moscow session in 1947, and the U.S. agreed to a 40-year term for the treaty when Molotov objected that the proposed 25-year period was not long enough. The Soviet Union, however, effectively killed the negotiations for such a treaty by trying to tie into it numerous extraneous and controversial issues.

While these negotiations were proceeding, the United States was putting into effect, in its own zone of Germany, the provision of the Potsdam Protocol. In that zone the German armed forces and all related organizations had been disbanded in 1945 and had been prohibited by law from re-forming. By the fall of 1947 all known war material had been collected, inventoried, and either destroyed or, when possible, converted to peacetime uses. By the end of 1948 the United States occupation authorities had destroyed or dismantled and delivered as reparations all industrial plants especially constructed for the production of tanks, general armament, aircraft, war explosives, and poisonous war substances, and all underground plants. The Soviet refusal to treat Germany as an economic unit necessitated a revision upward of postwar plans with respect to the level of industry in the U. S. Zone of Germany, but by the end of 1950 the removal of industrial capital equipment in the U.S. Zone had been substantially completed in line with the revised level-of-industry plan.

The decision to put arms once again in the hands of German forces was made by the Government of the Soviet Union. On May 23, 1950, the United States protested to the U.S.S.R. against the remilitarization of the Soviet Zone, calling attention to the fact that some 40,000 to 50,000 men in so-called “Police Alert Units” were receiving basic infantry, artillery, and armored training and were equipped with Soviet military weapons.

By the end of 1953 the Soviet Zone, with a population of 17 million, had a “police force” (which totaled 100,000 men) supplemented by an additional 140,200 military personnel, including three mechanized divisions and an air force. A strong protest concerning this development was made by Secretary of State Dulles to Foreign Minister Molotov at the Berlin meeting of Foreign Ministers in February 1954. This was more than a year before the establishment of an armed force in the Federal Republic, which had 150,000 regular police and a population of 50 million. The Western powers—the United States, the United Kingdom, and France—recognized that the rearmament of German forces in the Soviet Zone had brought about a situation of basic insecurity in West Germany, a situation aggravated in the extreme by the postwar Communist takeover in Poland and Czechoslovakia and the Communist aggression in Korea which had begun in June 1950.

The final Act of the London Nine-Power Conference, October 3, 1954, provided for the end of the occupation regime in the Federal Republic and for the association of the Federal Republic with the West as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Treaty of Western European Union (Brussels Treaty).

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