European Defense Community

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The European Defense Community ( EDC ) of 1952 was supposed to create a European army and thus also promote further Western European unification. France , the Benelux countries, Italy and the Federal Republic of Germany would have been involved; the latter was also interested in it because in this way rearmament and the end of the occupation statute would have taken place simultaneously. The project failed in 1954 when it failed to win a majority in the French parliament . In the following year, West German rearmament was made possible by the Federal Republic's accession to NATO instead of an EVG .

Question of German rearmament

Already in the final phase of the Second World War there had been tensions between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union over future political and military influence in Central and Eastern Europe. In view of this development, during the last months of the war and during the occupation, the Western Allies considered using the military potential of the occupied areas in Germany. Soon the idea of ​​a “European army” under the common control of the European states crystallized.

The Cold War began to develop in 1946/47 . After the fear of an attack by the USSR on Western Europe had become acute as a result of the Korean War in 1950, Winston Churchill demanded a European army with German participation on August 9, 1950 , which should work together with the USA. Churchill had already spoken out in favor of a German defense contribution in March of the same year, so that the advisory assembly of the Council of Europe on August 11, 1950 in Strasbourg supported the formation of a European army with German contingents. In the USA, the idea of ​​building a European defense force under the leadership of NATO began to gain acceptance. For the first time on September 11, 1950, the US Secretary of State Dean Acheson spoke out in favor of a common European army with German participation.

Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer also systematically organized a German rearmament in the context of increased integration into the West and the regaining of German sovereignty (end of the occupation statute and state of war) . In an initially secret memorandum to the High Commissioners dated August 30, 1950, he single-handedly declared himself ready to provide a German contingent as part of an international Western European army. Domestically, this advance was massively controversial right up to the Adenauer government. However, the preparations soon began during the meeting of the German military expert commission of former high-ranking Wehrmacht officers in the Eifel monastery in Himmerod from October 3 to 6, 1950. The memorandum developed on the formation of a German contingent within the framework of an international armed force to defend Western Europe ( Himmeroder memorandum ) aimed not only aimed at the formation of troops, but also designed concepts for internal leadership and the citizen in uniform .

Pleven Plan and European Defense Community

On October 24, 1950, the French Prime Minister René Pleven (1901-1993), based on the Schuman Plan and in order not to lose the political initiative, presented the so-called Pleven Plan to the French National Assembly. After that, a European army was to emerge with the participation of the Federal Republic of Germany. In contrast to the other countries of the defense community, France, Italy and the three Benelux countries, the German troops should have been completely absorbed into the international armed forces. This would have prevented the establishment of its own army in the Federal Republic of Germany. France, however, would retain sovereignty over its own armed forces. The US supported the Pleven Plan, which envisaged close cooperation between the European armed forces and the US military.

In the negotiations for a European Defense Community (EDC), which were intensively pursued in 1951, the government of the Federal Republic of Germany demanded the replacement of the occupation statute and the establishment of a defense ministry in return for the deployment of German troops under European leadership , which resulted in extensive domestic and foreign policy sovereignty (first German treaty or general treaty ; extensive end of the Allied rights of reservation ). France only wanted to agree to this when the military integration and thus the “denationalization” of the German troops had been contractually adopted; According to this view, the Germany Treaty could only come into force once the EDC Treaty had been ratified by the national parliaments. Several contentious issues led to long deliberations. In particular, it was difficult to reach agreement on the size of the national units, the weapons systems and production facilities granted to Germany and the structure of the TOE leadership, especially the nationality of the commanders. Under pressure from the USA, these problems were initially resolved either in compromises or through postponement. The EVG contract was finally signed on May 26 and 27, 1952. As a long-term perspective, the project of a European Defense Community envisaged the merging of Europe into a political union.

Failure of the EVG and German accession to NATO

With the signing of the contract, however, the concerns in Germany and France were not overcome. The SPD , in particular, did not agree with rearming in the form of the EVG. In France, the Gaullists were bothered by the possible loss of control over their own army, as the EVG contract was inevitably associated with a weakening or even abolition of the occupation status. There was also massive protest from the USSR. In order to obtain approval for the EVG in its own country, the French government tried in 1953 to enforce additional treaties in order to maintain control over its own army within the EVG as far as possible. Again under pressure from the USA and the other EVG members, these demands were partially softened and finally accepted. In May 1953 the EVG treaties were ratified by the Federal Republic.

In France, a Gaullist government that was skeptical of the EVG had taken power. Prime Minister Pierre Mendès France tried again to stop the EDC process.

Soviet Union

The aim of the Soviet Union was to prevent the military integration of West Germany into a western bloc. In the spring of 1952 she proposed that negotiations on the restoration of German unity be entered into on the basis of free elections. Whether this Stalin Note from 1952 was actually an offer in which the GDR was up for discussion was discussed for many years. Today it is viewed more as a tactical maneuver. In 1954, world politics dealt with the French Indochina War at the Indochina Conference , and on July 20, 1954, the Soviet Union brokered a solution to end it, which France would have no problem with.

This was followed by the rejection of the EDC by the French government and on August 30, 1954, the French National Assembly refused to ratify the EDC Treaty, which, according to contemporary historiography, was a diplomatic barter. In addition to the German, the parliaments of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands had already approved at this point. Italy was close to ratification.

WEU and NATO accession

In the German Bundestag and Bundesrat , too , the discussion was fierce for months, right up to the appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court , as there were fears that German militarism would start again , the East-West conflict would escalate and the division of Germany would become more permanent. For Germany, the failure of the EVG meant that the right of occupation was retained.

As a replacement, however, the members of the Brussels Pact, together with the Federal Republic and Italy, founded the Western European Union (WEU) through the so-called London Act in 1954 in order to be able to incorporate Germany into military policy. After the Paris Treaties were passed in 1954 and the second treaty on Germany contained therein , it was finally decided that the Federal Republic of Germany would join NATO . At the Berlin Foreign Ministers Conference in 1954, the four powers negotiated the possibility of reunification. Shortly before the final decision on joining NATO, in January 1955, the Soviet Union repeated its offer from 1952, which was also a tactical maneuver. The accession of the Federal Republic was completed on May 9, 1955. The French doubts that still existed had previously been allayed by the US guarantee to permanently station armed forces in Europe and by a declaration of renunciation by the Federal Republic of the manufacture of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.


In January 1956, the People's Chamber of the GDR passed the law on the creation of the National People's Army and the Ministry of National Defense , which reorganized the existing barracked police units, the Barracked People's Police , and formally established the National People's Army .


See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Peter Graf von Kielmansegg : After the catastrophe. A history of divided Germany , Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-88680-329-5 , p. 152
  2. ^ Peter Rassow : German history at a glance. A manual , third revised edition 1973, Stuttgart, ISBN 3 476 00258 6
  3. ^ Peter Graf von Kielmansegg : After the catastrophe. A history of divided Germany , Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-88680-329-5 , pp. 152f