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Joachim von Ribbentrop:
European confederation

March 21, 1943

The document here reproduced represents the culmination of the Foreign Ministry’s efforts in regard to the ‘new Europe’. It reflects the considerations set out in doc. 18. For reactions to this initiative see also docs. 35 and 36. The draft bears Ribbentrop’s amendments and initials.

Subject: European Confederation

I am of the opinion that, as already proposed to the Führer in my previous minutes, we should at the earliest possible date, as soon as we have scored a significant military success, proclaim the European Confederation in quite a specific form.

As a foundation ceremony I would envisage inviting all the Heads of State concerned, together with their Governments, to a safe meeting-place such as Salzburg or Vienna, where they would solemnly sign the instrument bringing the Confederation into being.

The States immediately concerned would be Germany, Italy, France, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Slovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Greece and Spain (?). If the Führer should intend to create independent states in the parts of Europe occupied by us, these would be added to the list.

In my opinion only a specific measure of this kind would produce the success we are aiming at.

The establishment of a European confederation would have the following political advantages:

  1. It would dispel the fear of our friends and allies that they might all be placed under German Gauleiters as soon as peace is concluded.
  2. Neutrals would be reassured that they would not be incorporated into Germany at the end of the war.
  3. Italy would be relieved of their fear that powerful Germany might wish to drive her into a corner.                   
  4. If the Führer decides to set up a number of more or less independent states in certain occupied territories, which of course would remain completely in our power, it would come as a considerable reassurance to those territories and induce them to muster their forces to help us in the war.
  5. It would give the Russians the impression that all Europe was against them, and thus weaken their fighting spirit.
  6. It would tend to disarm the fighting spirit of the British and Americans if they found that they were not liberating European states but attacking a Europe which stood solidly against them.
  7. It would have a weakening effect internally in both Britain and America. As regards America it would be a severe blow to Roosevelt. In both countries, especially America, it would destroy the best arguments of anti-German propaganda. Opposition groups would, for instance, be able to say: ‘We cannot forbid Europe to do what America herself did, namely to form a union of states.’
  8. In France and the occupied territories in general it would make all the difference to these countries’ war effort in the personal and material spheres. This would especially be so in the case of French labor and the armaments industry.
  9. As regards France I have particularly in mind, and have discussed this with Himmler, that with the clear watchword of Europe to help us we might recruit from the Germanic part of the population one of two first-class SS divisions which could be thrown into the battle on our side. All the details of this have been thought out and I shall in the next few days be again discussing them thoroughly with Himmler. Without the European watchword this recruiting would have no success.
  10. Several neutrals such as Sweden, Turkey, Portugal etc. would be deterred from too close relations with Britain and America. Turkey’s efforts to create a Balkan Pact, with England behind it of course, would not (sic) be foiled by the creation of a European Confederation.
  11. I shall submit to the Führer a first outline draft of the Act of Confederation. I believe that the establishment of the Confederation at the right moment will have such profound effects that our enemies will to all intents and purposes be robbed of their principal war aim for propaganda purpose in future. I also believe that given the great divergences which are already visible between England, America and Russia, and which will one day assume huge proportions, the enemy coalition will simply dissolve when it is brought up against a united Europe of this kind.
  12. The effort on the fighting in Tunis is also especially important, as I am convinced that when this Confederation is founded with marshal Pétain as a signatory, General Giraud will find it hard to go on mobilizing Frenchmen to fight against us.

The question of territorial frontiers between the different states should not be dealt with in connection with the Act of Confederation, but must clearly wait until the final peace settlement.

Other specific questions connected with the European Confederation may involve difficulties of one kind or another, e.g. the question of the presidency etc., but all this will give no trouble if the Führer agrees with the project in principle.

I would recommend with the most emphasis that this measure be adopted. If we take care to fill all the relevant posts, e.g. in new political entities, with suitably ruthless people who can make a show of flexibility while in fact not compromising on the true political end, the creation of such a Confederation will not prejudice anything, but will make it certain that the Greater Germanic Reich will come into being at the end of the war.

I am absolutely convinced that if we use the right tactics a great deal of German blood can be spared.

I would also suggest that this matter be discussed with the Duce at Salzburg.

Annex
Foundation of the European Confederation

The Governments of the German Reich, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Croatia and Spain have resolved to form a European Confederation.

For this purpose the Heads of State of …..and the Heads of Government of ….. have met at ….. on …..The instrument establishing the European Confederation, which was signed by the plenipotentiaries of the above-mentioned European Governments, includes the following provisions.

  1. In order to give tangible expression to the common destiny of European peoples and to ensure that wars never again break out among them, the States here represented have for all time established a European Confederation.
  2. The members of the Confederation are sovereign states and guarantee one another’s freedom and political independence. The organization of their internal affairs is a matter for the sovereign decision of each of them.
  3. The member nations of the Confederation will jointly defend the interests of Europe in every direction and protect the European continent against external enemies.
  4. The States of the Confederation will conclude an alliance for the defense of Europe, the plans for which will be drawn up in due course.
  5. The European economy will be organized by the member States on the basis of a uniform plan arrived at by mutual agreement. Customs barriers among them will be progressively abolished.
  6. While preserving their national character, the States united in the Confederation will conduct intensive cultural exchanges with one another.
  7. The European States which are not founder members of the Confederation are solemnly invited to join it.
  8. All details of the organization of the European Confederation shall be laid down in a Confederal Act, which will form the subject of consultation after the war by all the Governments concerned.

See the original document (in German)