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Containing Germany: Britain and the Arming of the Federal by Spencer Mawby (auth.)

By Spencer Mawby (auth.)

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Extra resources for Containing Germany: Britain and the Arming of the Federal Republic

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At the start of 1950 the majority view among Labour ministers and Foreign Office officials was that early West German rearmament would have disastrous consequences for European stability. Influential figures such as the Permanent Under-Secretary in the Foreign Office, William Strang, and the ex-Chancellor, Hugh Dalton, opposed the implementation of any proposal for West German rearmament even after the government had officially The Gendarmerie Schemes 25 accepted its inevitability. Strang’s passionate opposition to any scheme for the creation of German armed forces was all the more surprising because, in contrast to his flamboyant predecessors, he was generally regarded as colourless, bureaucratic and quiescent.

Diverting the German military instinct into a channel which would make for peace instead of war’. ’34 Despite an unscripted Parliamentary attack on the extremist character of the German people on 28 March,35 Bevin was forced to consider the Chiefs’ case that Western Europe could not be defended without a West German contribution. Their paper on Defence Policy and Global Strategy acknowledged French concerns about West German rearmament and noted the possibility that a strong Germany might play off West against East, but declared that, ‘in the long run the defence of western Germany against a Russian invasion can only be secured with the assistance of German armed forces’.

The Truman administration gained a nominal success in September by persuading Bevin to accept the arming of the Federal Republic but they were to be frustrated by a combination of French intransigence and British insistence that agreeing to the principle did not imply agreement to the immediate execution of the policy. The Labour government’s scrupulous adherence to this principle was facilitated by the American decision of December 1950 to end the linkage between West German rearmament and American reinforcements to Europe.

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