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Documents on Germany, 1944-1959 : background documents on Germany, 1944-1959, and a chronology of political developments affecting Berlin, 1945-1956

Memorandum from the Federal Republic of Germany to the Soviet Union, on German reunification and European security, September 2, 1956,   pp. 191-200 PDF (4.6 MB)

Page 194

We know in Germany, too, that the scientific and technical progress achieved
since the last war in the field of nuclear fission -and other related fields
put possibilities of destruction into the hand of man, thee mere thought
which causes one to shudder. After' all, everybody in Germany knows that
the geographical position of our country would jeopardize us to the highest
degree in the case of an armed conflict. You will therefore find nobody in
Germany-not only among responsible political leaders but also in the entire
population-who even remotely toys with the thought that any one of the
major political problems awaiting solution could be solved by war. The
longing which has gripped humanity that war may have outlived itself by its
own dreadfulness-that longing is deeply and strongly rooted in the heart
every German.
That remains valid in undiminished measure today.
It would also be a misunderstanding to assume that the Federal
Government is opposed to general disarmament because it links it with
the simultaneous settlement of the question of German reunification
and because it continues to set up its own' forces. '
The interrelation between the problem of disarmament and that
of reunification is ineluctable. It would be rendering a sorry service
to the cause of disarmament indeed if one detached it, after the
manner of many a well-meaning world-reformer,' from all political
aspects and argued, so to speak, in a vacuum. In the hard reality of
this world, general disarmament can be brought about only if the
political prerequisites exist. For the states simply will not-as expe-
rience has shown often enough-be prepared to carry out disarma-
ment honestly as long as there are smouldering conflicts which may
burst into violent flame any day. That is why what matters is to
remove the causes of the, tension existing today, which have led to
the present high level of world armament. The Federal Govern-
ment, however, has repeatedly stressed the fact that it considers it
quite possible to solve the problem of disarmament hand in hand with
that of reunification. It is therefore by no means of the opinion
that a disarmament agreement must be 'deferred until reunification
has been achieved.
It is perfectly evident that the setting up of its own forces is not
in contradiction to the wishes of the Federal Government in regard
to disarmament. A disarmament agreement cannot 'be concluded on
the basis that one state with no soldiers at all remains at that level,
while another with' over a hundred divisions reduces that number
by twenty, forty, or sixty. Rather must one base oneself on a com-
parable level of armaments-a principle which, moreover, was recog-
nized in the protracted, but unfortunately fruitless, disarmament
efforts made at the beginning of the thirties. Thus the setting up of
its own forces does not in any way preclude untiring and active efforts
on the part of the Federal Government to bring about a general dis-
armament agreement.
7) Even the fact that the forces are being raised in connection
-with the Federal Republic's membership in NATO and the Western
European Union does not change anything in this evaluation. If this
is what is causing the Soviet Union apprehension, then it must be
stated first of all that all the fears expressed by the Soviet side in
regard to the membership of the Federal Republic in these organiza-

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