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By Spencer Mawby (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0312219148

ISBN-13: 9780312219147

ISBN-10: 0333984226

ISBN-13: 9780333984222

ISBN-10: 1349408433

ISBN-13: 9781349408436

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14 The primary concern of the Attlee administration during this period was to maintain the cohesion of the Atlantic Alliance, which appeared under serious threat, while seeking to avoid unduly provoking the Soviets. Acceptance of the principle of West German rearmament, while leaving its detailed application as a matter for future discussion, was seen as the only way forward and the French were bitterly criticised for obstructing this path. On 20 October Attlee told a meeting at 10 Downing Street: ‘It was not acceptable that the present situation should continue.

B) to the ability of the German economy to support such a load . . ’70 Bevin was particularly concerned about the first point, the possibility that overt German rearmament would provoke the Soviet Union. He told Shinwell on 28 August that any attempt to raise a German defence contribution ‘might provoke an attack by Russia’. 71 The reversal of policy was not motivated merely by a fear of Soviet retaliation or the Americans’ refusal to countenance the gendarmerie scheme, but was also the product of a new assessment of the German situation following developments in Korea.

8 Once agreement was reached, however, the contrast between Foreign Office caution and military urgency soon became evident. 9 In contrast, Bevin’s deputy, Kenneth Younger, complained: ‘The Americans are rushing things too fast for the French and the Germans and possibly, even, too fast for British opinion. 13 The problem was that the French would not accept the American plan, and without French acceptance of the principle of West German rearmament the Americans would not proceed with the remainder of their package.

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


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