Military cogitators, masterminds, contrarians for the establishment of West-German armed forces (part 2)

Wulf-W. Lapins


On 26th October 1950 Federal Chancellor Adenauer offered Theodor Blank to accept the position of a “Commissary of the Federal Chancellor for issues concerning the aggrandisement of allied troops”. This allocation did not represent the continuity of the agency in Schwerin which had worked under the label “Head Office of Home Service” since 1st August under a different management - it was eliminated by the end of October. Only the secretary of the Himmerod Expert Committee, out of commission Colonel Johann Adolf Graf Kielmansegg, as well as the managers of the departments intelligence services, out of commission Major Achim Oster, and planning and inner structure, out of commission Major Axel von dem Bussche, were taken over in the new Blank Agency. With the nomination of the CDU-Member of the Bundestag Theodor Blank as the “Commissary of the Federal Chancellor for issues concerning the aggrandisement of allied troops”, Chancellor Adenauer displayed foreign political perspicaciousness and home political deftness. In the war he had been an officer, albeit no professional soldier, and so he had had collected practical experiences in the military. He was a successful delegate with a constituency of his own, at least in public considered to be an Adenauer figure. The new agency was tasked to engineer the Himmerod planning suggestions in terms of personnel, material and organisation - namely to establish the German contingent of twelve armoured divisions with a total for the future German armed forces of 250.000 troops. The German armed forces were to be integrated in the future European Defence Community (EVG), with a supra-national command structure. Out of commission Lieutenant Colonel Ulrich de Maizière, who was to become Inspector General of the Bundeswehr in 1966, became military expert for theParis negotiations. Whereas the Blank Agency consisted only of 20 personnel in December 1950, it expanded in the course of progress in planning to 140 members by the end of 1951, and to about 700 in 1953. After the EVG-Treaty had failed because of the poll defeat in the French National Assembly, the Blank Agency focussed on integrating the German defence contribution in the WEU and NATO concepts. For the young Federal republic, at the same time the new German military was a great opportunity to rate the old problem of “state art and war trade” in a new manner. Thus, in the course of the Himmerod Congress the topic “inner structure” worked out more voluminously than the “military fundamentals”. With the handicap of having made war on behalf of a criminal regime, many former officers wanted to signal with straightforward reform endeavours in the military. Some well-known former commanders-in-chief and chiefs of general staff, like Hasso von Manteuffel, Siegfried Westphal, Günther Blumentritt, Georg von Sodenstern and Kurt von Tippelskirch, made considerable military strategic and organisational suggestions.