Lot 60 D 224

The Secretary of State’s Special Assistant (Pasvolsky) to the Secretary of State 1

Memorandum for the Secretary

Subject: Boundary Problems of Germany

The attached memoranda deal with alternative solutions for the following boundary problems of Germany:

German-Polish (including East Prussia, Danzig, and Silesia).
German-Czechoslovak (on the assumption that the Sudetenland will be returned to Czechoslovakia).
Minor frontier adjustments.

The memoranda are accompanied by appropriate maps.2 They are based, in large measure, on discussions in various committees.3

These frontier adjustments are considered separately from the problem of whether or not the remainder of Germany should remain united or be partitioned. The problem of unity or partition is analyzed in another set of documents.4

L[eo] P[asvolsky]
[Page 731]
[Enclosure 1]

Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Political Studies (Mosely)



Territorial Problems: Polish-German Frontier From Silesia to the Baltic Sea

i. the problem

The problem is the determination of the boundary between Poland and Germany from the northern boundary of Silesia to the Baltic Sea.

It arises from Polish claims for a revision of the pre-1939 Polish-German frontier and from Germany’s dissatisfaction with its eastern frontier as established in 1919–1920. The problem has been rendered more acute by intimations from the Soviet Government that, in return for acquiescence in the loss of all or most of the Polish territories annexed by Russia in 1939, Poland should receive compensation along its western frontier at the expense of Germany. The Governments of Great Britain and the United States have urged that the settlement of boundary disputes be postponed until the end of the war, but there are indications that British leaders believe a territorial settlement with Russia, and hence with Poland, must be reached as part of a general political settlement with Russia, during the war.

The western boundary of Poland was drawn in 1919 mainly on the basis of linguistic data provided by the pre-1914 Prussian censuses. The boundary of 1919 was challenged by all post-war German regimes. German resentment was particularly strong against the “Corridor”, which cut off East Prussia from the Reich proper; German nationalists even denied Poland’s right to exist as a state. Between 1919 and 1939 the Polish already strong historic and ethnic claims to Poznan. and Pomerania were strengthened by the more rapid growth of the Polish element and by the decline of the German minority, a decline accelerated by the emigration of considerable numbers of Germans, particularly of the official and professional class.

In order to provide Poland with an outlet to the Baltic Sea the Free City of Danzig was established under a complicated arrangement by which the local population, Poland and the League of Nations shared responsibility. Although Danzig’s prosperity depended upon the furtherance of trade with its Polish hinterland, political agitation for the return of Danzig to the Reich was incessant and reached [Page 732] its culmination in 1939, when alleged Polish oppression of Danzig served as a pretext for an all-out attack upon Poland.

Although East Prussia was claimed by Poland in 1919 on historic and strategic grounds, the victorious states held, on ethnic grounds, that it should remain a part of Germany. Plebiscites, held in the ethnically mixed Marienwerder and Allenstein districts under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, turned out to be unexpectedly favorable to Germany, and in the final settlement, of August 16, 1920, Poland received only a small riparian belt along the east bank of the Vistula. Long an economic liability to Germany, East Prussia, as the original home of the Prussian tradition, holds in German emotions a position out of all proportion to its area and population. To Poland, East Prussia has represented a permanent military threat, which the campaign of 1939 demonstrated. The demand for a wider and more secure outlet to the Baltic Sea has repeatedly been advanced by Polish nationalists, especially in 1919 and since 1939.

The area of East Prussia within the boundaries of 1920 was 14,283 square miles. According to the census of May 1939 it had a population of 2,496,017 persons. According to the census of 1925—the latest moderately reliable index of linguistic distribution—the Polish-speaking population totalled 40,502. According to the censuses of 1933 and 1939 the number of Poles was 4,522 and 3,718, respectively. The district of Allenstein also contains a substantial number—62,596 in 1925—of “Masurians”. While the Masurians speak a Slavic dialect closely akin to Polish and are claimed as Poles by Polish writers, the Germans regard them as non-Polish. In 1920 the majority of Masurians apparently voted to remain with Germany, perhaps because their religious and cultural affinity with the Germans as Protestants outweighed the factor of community of language with the Poles.

Danzig, with an area of 731 square miles, had a population of 412,000 in 1936. According to the census of 1923, out of a total population of 366,000, some 12,000 spoke Polish or Kashub, a Slavic dialect closely related to Polish. The number of Slavic-speaking inhabitants was not reported in 1936.

ii. alternative solutions

A. Transfer of Danzig and East Prussia to Poland Without Compensation to Germany (see Map C–1, Polish series).

This solution was generally regarded by the Political Subcommittee as the “least bad” of possible alternative solutions.

This solution would add to Poland an area of 15,014 square miles. In 1939 this area had a population of approximately 2,900,000, of whom only some 10,000 were reported by the German census as Polish-speaking. [Page 733] East Prussia contains 9 percent of the cultivable land of pre-1939 Germany and produced about 7 percent of its cereals and 7 percent of its livestock. It contained no important industries or mineral resources.

The role of Danzig prior to 1939 was defined by its position near the mouth of the Vistula River. It served as a transit center for Poland, although its relative importance in this respect had declined with the rapid rise, after 1930, of its Polish competitor, the newly created port of Gdynia, Danzig’s economic ties with Germany proper and with East Prussia, as distinguished from its political and cultural affinities, were slight. Never important as a manufacturing center prior to 1939, Danzig has reportedly been transformed into a center of submarine building and other war industries.

This solution would assure Poland of approximately 280 miles of Baltic coast instead of 40 miles prior to 1939. It would place under Polish control the entire valley of the Vistula, It would open the way for the construction of more direct and efficient outlets to the Baltic from central and eastern Poland. It would add considerable agricultural resources to the predominantly agricultural economy of Poland, without enlarging its industrial capacity to any marked degree. Poland would be relieved of the fear of German flank attack based on East Prussia, and would have a much shorter frontier with Germany.

In losing East Prussia Germany would lose 7.9 percent of its pre-1939 territory, an area which is associated with great historic traditions not only for Prussians, but for other Germans. Such a transfer would undoubtedly be protested by the Germans as an alleged violation of the Atlantic Charter. The question of the future of the East Prussians and the Danzigers would be an extremely difficult one. Their mass expulsion to Germany would raise difficult problems of economic adjustment within Germany; on the other hand, for almost 3,000,000 Germans settled compactly and for centuries on this land to be placed under a traditionally despised Polish rule would multiply the problems of internal reconstruction within Poland itself.

1. Discussion of the Political Subcommittee

The Political Subcommittee generally felt that, while this proposal was accompanied by tremendous difficulties of adjustment, it might, in view of the Soviet attitude, prove to be the least bad of the available alternatives. It was pointed out that German aggression against Poland and the special cruelty with which Poland has been treated since 1939 deprived Germany of any moral right to protest against this solution. Some members of the subcommittee felt that Poland should make some territorial concession to Germany in Pomerania and Poznań, in order to provide space for the settlement of a part of [Page 734] the population to be evacuated from East Prussia and Danzig. The majority felt, however, that it was impossible to ask Poland to concede territory both on the east to the Soviet Union and on the west to Germany, and that other means would have to be found within Germany itself for absorbing the displaced population of East Prussia and Danzig.

The subcommittee was inclined to the view that not all the Germans need be evacuated from East Prussia and Danzig, and believed that international assistance for the orderly movement and absorption of the displaced population should be provided.

B. Transfer of Danzig and East Prussia to Poland With Compensation to Germany (The areas proposed for cession to Germany by this solution indicated by reel lines on the secret version of Map C–1 A, Polish series.)

This solution differs from that under (A) in that a strip of western Poland, amounting to 6,563 square miles, would be assigned to Germany as partial territorial compensation for the loss of Danzig and East Prussia, This strip of territory contained in 1931 an estimated total of 959,410, of whom 123,463 were Germans. This cession could not be justified on ethnic grounds, but solely, as a means of providing some territorial compensation for Germany without injuring the Polish transportation system and without depriving Poland of any historic centers such as Poznań and Gnezno. The area concerned is almost purely agricultural and to that extent would offset in part the loss of East Prussian agricultural production.

1. Discussion of the Political Subcommittee

The specific solution described above was not discussed by the Political Subcommittee, but some members of the subcommittee held that a partial compensation of this nature was desirable to weaken any future claim of dismemberment, to reconcile the German people with its territorial loss in the east, and to alleviate the economic effects for Germany of the loss of East Prussia. It was generally felt, however, that the loss of East Prussia would be so bitterly resented by Germans that no partial territorial compensation would in itself serve to change that feeling.

C. Transfer of Part of East Prussia to Poland

This solution, which was not discussed in detail, would provide for the transfer to Poland of the sparsely inhabited eastern districts of East Prussia, while leaving Koenigsberg and the western districts to Germany. This solution would give Poland an additional, more easterly, outlet to the Baltic. Such an outlet would, however, be remote from the more highly developed parts of western Poland. It would not solve any of the types of problem presented by the Corridor in past years.

[Page 735]

1. Discussion of the Political Subcommittee

Some members of the Political Subcommittee felt that this alternative was preferable to the total transfer of East Prussia to Poland. It was generally agreed, however, that this solution, would result in creating a second corridor, which would be as bitterly resented as that of 1919, without removing the strategic threat presented by East Prussia to Poland. It was also questioned whether the Soviet Government would favor such a half-way solution of the problem of East Prussia.

D. Transfer to Poland of Danzig Territory West of the Vistula

This solution was preferred by the Territorial Subcommittee at an early stage in its consideration of the problem.

This solution would transfer to Poland about 380 square miles and would assign to East Prussia (Germany) about 350 square miles. The territory east of the Vistula contained only 795 Poles or Kashubs (census of 1923) in a total population (1929) of 65,000. The transportation and drainage systems of the east Vistula area would be improved by being reintegrated with those of East Prussia, while Poland would lose no strategic advantage through the assignment of this territory to Germany.

This solution would strengthen Polish control of the Vistula to is mouth and, if the German population were removed from the Polish-annexed part of the Free City, the Polish outlet to the sea would be slightly widened as compared with the pre-1939 situation. This solution involves retention by Germany of East Prussia, to which Danzig’ territory east of the Vistula would be added.

1. Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

In an early stage of its discussions the Territorial Subcommittee assumed that East Prussia, even if demilitarized, should not be transferred to Poland, because of its outstandingly German population. It felt, however, that the question of Danzig was susceptible of a solution favorable to Poland on important economic and strategic grounds, which in this case should override the ethnic factor. Since all the advantages of annexing the Free City could be obtained by Poland without acquiring Danzig territory east of the Vistula, it was considered desirable to reduce the ethnic problem even by a small degree through assigning Danzig territory east of that river to East Prussia.

E. Transfer of Danzig to Poland

Under this solution Poland would receive the entire area of the Free City of Danzig, amounting to 731 square miles and containing a population of 412,000 (1936). This solution was later abandoned by the Territorial Subcommittee in favor of solution (D).

[Page 736]

F. Transfer to Poland of Danzig and East Prussia Together With Additional German Territory West of the 1939 Boundary

This solution, advanced by some Polish spokesmen, would involve the same terms as solution (A) together with the transfer of parts of German Pomerania, of Grenzmark and adjacent districts extending perhaps as far as the Oder River. Some Polish spokesmen have urged that the new western boundary of Poland be drawn “from Kolberg on the Baltic to the Oder River”, without defining it more precisely. This solution is apparently viewed with some favor by the Soviet Government; the Soviet press has referred to the need for a post-war “peace patrol on the Oder” to be exercised jointly by the Soviet Union and a Poland friendly to it.

The subcommittees have not considered the possibility of extending Polish territory to the west of the Polish-German boundary before 1939.

G. Restoration of Pre-1939 Territorial Status as Between Germany and Poland

This solution was not favored by the subcommittees, although at an early stage in its discussions of the problem the Territorial Subcommittee assumed that its basic principle should be that of favoring minimum boundary change and of requiring that every change in the pre-1937 boundaries must be fully justified.

Throughout their deliberations, however, the subcommittees assumed that the “corridor” of 1919 had not worked satisfactorily for either Poland or Germany; that German aggression meant that territorial sacrifices could not justifiably be imposed on Poland; and that a solution which would strengthen Poland’s position vis-à-vis Germany was generally to be desired.

[Here follows a section headed “Documentation”.]

[Enclosure 2]

Memorandum by Messrs. William Koren, Jr., and John C. Campbell, of the Division of Political Studies



Territorial Problems: German Upper Silesia

i. the problem

The problem is the disposition of the eastern portion of German Upper Silesia.

[Page 737]

The problem arises as the result of Polish demands for that portion of German Upper Silesia which was awarded to Poland in the first draft of the Treaty of Versailles but which was assigned to Germany following the plebiscite ordered by the final treaty. Poland bases its claim upon the award of the draft treaty and upon its alleged need of the resources of the region, of a shorter frontier with Germany and a longer common boundary with Czechoslovakia, and of a strip of territory interposed between its Silesian industries and Germany.

The territory in question, covering approximately 2,950 square miles, forms the easternmost third of the German salient thrust between Poland and Czechoslovakia. Neither its boundary with Poland nor its juncture with the rest of Germany follows important physiographic features. The area was administratively divided during the present war, the major portion remaining in Regierungsbezirk Oppeln and the industrialized eastern section being included with territory recovered and newly acquired from Poland in Regierungsbezirk Kattowitz.

In 1939 the population totalled 1,354,000, of whom one-third lived in the highly industrialized eastern tip. Throughout the territory the people were overwhelmingly Catholic by religion. According to the 1925 census, 44 percent of the total population, but only 30 percent of that of the industrial district, were Polish-speaking. This Polish minority of half a million persons suffered certain disabilities in spite of the protection of the minority clauses of the Geneva Convention of 1922. Their political and cultural organizations were never strong; the former were dissolved when the Nazis came to power and the latter soon after the German conquest of Poland. These Polish-speaking citizens of the Reich are not thought to have been expelled from their homes or otherwise treated like the Poles in occupied Poland.

The wealth of this region is concentrated in the coal-mining and metallurgical district contiguous with the larger complex of heavy industries in Poland. This district contained 5 percent of the coal reserves of Germany, equal to 6.5 percent of those of Poland; it possessed reserves of lead ore equal to 71 percent and of zinc ore equal to 45 percent of those in Poland. In 1935 its production of bituminous coal was almost one-seventh of Germany’s total output; it produced two-thirds of Germany’s zinc ore, over a quarter of its lead ore, one-seventh of its zinc sheets and from 1 to 5 percent of its pig iron, crude steel and coke. Its somewhat higher production in 1937 equalled 72 percent of Polish coal output, 36.5 percent of Poland’s crude steel output, and exceeded Poland’s total production of lead and zinc.

Extraordinarily lacking in diversity, Upper Silesian industry had to send its products to other centers for finishing. German economic [Page 738] policy as well as foreign restrictions on international trade resulted in the marketing of nine-tenths of Upper Silesia’s products in Germany. After the partition of the mining and industrial basin in 1922, Germany consistently worked to free German Upper Silesia from dependence on its Polish counterpart, even when that meant gutting the German coal mines, pouring capital into profitless enterprises or bankrupting German-owned concerns in Poland. Upper Silesia’s distance from the sea, its need to import iron ore, iron and steel scrap and steel-hardening metals, and the completion of the Middle German Canal in 1938, all placed it at such a serious disadvantage in competition with Ruhr-Rhineland heavy industry that four-fifths of its output was marketed in east Germany. Since the reconquest of the industrial area lost in 1922 and of adjacent Polish and former Czech mining areas, the Nazis have reversed the divided exploitation of the industrial basin and have introduced integrated and somewhat rationalized ownership and operation of the coal and metallurgical complex.

ii. alternative solutions

(shown on Map B–4, German Series)

A. Transfer to Poland of the Industrial District and of Additional Territory on Both Banks of the Oder River Selected Primarily on Ethnic Grounds (Line “D”)

This solution was tentatively adopted by the Territorial Subcommittee.

The Polish-German boundary would run from a point on the northern border of the claimed area northeast of Kreuzburg southwest to meet the Oder River at a point about ten miles south of the city of Oppeln; it would then run southwards across the eastern tip of Kreis Neustadt and would follow the eastern boundary of Kreis Leobschutz to the border of Czechoslovakia.

This solution would transfer to Poland half the area and two-thirds of the population of the territory demanded by the Poles. According to the 1925 census, there were 340,000 (44 percent) Poles and 437,000 (50 percent) Germans in the territory to be transferred, and 155,000 (41 percent) Poles and 221,000 (59 percent) Germans in the territory remaining in Germany.

Poland would acquire important coal, zinc and lead reserves. In immediate productive capacity of coal, zinc, lead and crude steel the Polish gain would be far greater than the concurrent loss to Germany in terms of the respective national totals. Marketing of these products would depend largely on the expansion of demand in eastern Europe, since nine-tenths of the output was formerly sold in Germany and since Poland was already an exporter of coal, semi-finished steel and zinc [Page 739] products. Transfer of the additional territory west of the industrial district would give to Poland a considerable number of small-scale chemical, optical, machinery, textile, building, and food-processing plants, as well as agricultural and forest land.

This solution would shorten Poland’s frontier with Germany by 25 miles and lengthen the common Polish-Czech frontier by 28. It would give Poland territorial protection on both sides of the Oder River for its vital industrial district, control of the Oder valley rail, road and water transportation system in the region between Oppeln and the border of Czechoslovakia, and two additional rail links with Czechoslovakia. Germany would retain the important rail junction of Oppeln, which would be located very close to the Polish frontier, and the narrow, German-populated Leobschiitz salient on the left bank of the Oder. The strategic advantages which the pre-war boundary gave to Germany would be reduced.

Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

The subcommittee favored maintenance of the economic unity of the Upper Silesian industrial area. It agreed that that end could be attained through the acquisition by Poland of the industrial district of former German Upper Silesia. It favored also the cession to Poland of a part of the predominantly agricultural territory, populated in the majority by Polish-speaking persons, lying west of the industrial district. The desirability of improving the strategic position of Poland and Czechoslovakia against Germany was also stressed, although it was conceded that Poland’s security in this region would depend principally on factors other than the location of the boundary.

The subcommittee considered: “That the best division of German Upper Silesia is midway between the line of Polish claims and the line which bounds the Silesian industrial area on the west; it is the sense of this subcommittee that the industrial area should be unified and that furthermore, in seeking a final line, it is desired to maintain city-country relationships …,5 It is agreed that, in locating the line exactly, it is desirable to maintain some connection with natural features, with the necessary rail connections, and with the German administrative lines.” Line “D” was agreed on as the most desirable compromise boundary based on these considerations.

B. Transfer to Poland of the Industrial District and of Additional Territory on the Eight Bank of the Oder River Selected Primarily on Ethnic Grounds (Line “C”)

This boundary would coincide with line “D” from the northern border of German Upper Silesia to the Oder River; it would then [Page 740] follow the Oder upstream to meet the old Polish-German border at a point immediately south of the city of Ratibor, which would be left in Germany. This solution would increase Polish territory by approximately 1,200 square miles, leaving to Germany 1,750 square miles of the territory claimed by Poland. The total population of the area transferred to Poland would be 626,000 (1925), or 363,000 (58 percent) Germans and 263,000 (42 percent) Poles. The German majority is the result of the concentration of German population in the industrial district. In the rural area lying between that district and line “C” the Poles have a strong numerical advantage, 125,000 as against 43,000.

This boundary would follow the natural line of the Oder River in its southern sector. It would leave to Poland agricultural and forest land and some light industries in addition to the heavy industries and mineral resources of the industrial district. The Polish-Czechoslovak frontier would remain unchanged and the communications between the two countries would undergo no improvement since Germany would retain the Leobschütz–Ratibor salient, through which run the main Oppeln–Ratibor–Bohumín railway and the Oder valley highway. Possession of this salient, however, would hardly give any positive strategic advantage to Germany since it would have poor communications with the rest of Germany.

Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

In the discussions of the Territorial Subcommittee some members preferred the line of the Oder River on the grounds that it formed a clear geographical dividing line and was as good an ethnic line as any line further west. In the end, however, these members subscribed to the subcommittee’s recommendation of line “D”, which runs to the west of the Oder.

C. Transfer to Poland of the Industrial District and of Additional Territory on Both Banks of the Oder River Selected Primarily on Strategic Grounds (Line “E”)

This line would coincide with the recommended line (Line “D”) in the sector between the northern boundary of the claimed area and the Oder River; from the Oder River it would run in a southwesterly direction, to meet the border of Czechoslovakia at the northernmost tip of the Krnov salient, leaving to Poland Kreis Leobschütz and the eastern part of Kreis Neustadt. By incorporating the Leobschütz salient within Poland, this solution would improve the strategic position of Poland vis-à-vis Germany. It would increase the length of the common boundary between Poland and Czechoslovakia by 97 miles over the pre-war boundary and would decrease the length of the Polish-German boundary in Upper Silesia by one-third.

[Page 741]

The population of the territory which would fall to Poland is approximately 874,000 (1925), or 523,000 Germans and 351,000 Poles. In the territory remaining in Germany the population was 279,000, of whom 135,000 were Germans and 144,000 were Poles. The additional area included within Poland by line “E” but not by line “D” contains 86,000 Germans and only 11,000 Poles.

Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

This line was suggested by the chairman at one of the early discussions of the subcommittee and was favorably received by several other members. In later discussions it was agreed that the disadvantages of including the solidly German-populated district of Leobschütz in Poland out-weighed the advantages of securing for Poland a slightly better strategic frontier.

D. Transfer to Poland of the Industrial District (Line “B”)

This solution would establish as the Polish-German boundary a line roughly equivalent to the dividing line which the Nazis selected after the conquest of Poland between predominantly rural Regierungsbezirk Oppeln and the heavily industrialized Regierungsbezirk Kattowitz.

This solution would transfer to Poland one-seventh of the claimed area, with 30 percent of the total population and 28 percent of all the Poles in the territory claimed. According to the 1925 census, the Polish-speaking population would be only 138,000 (30 percent of the total) while the German-speaking total would be 320,000 (70 percent). In the area remaining to Germany the Poles would number 357,000 (51 percent) and the Germans 338,000 (49 percent).

Poland would acquire the same mineral resources and plant capacity in the heavy industries as by Solution A and would be faced with the same marketing problem. It would acquire almost no light industries, agricultural hinterland or protective belt for the industrial district and would fail to improve its transport facilities or strategic position.

Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

Acquisition of the industrial district was considered a minimum satisfaction which should be given to Poland’s territorial claims. It was thought desirable, however, that Poland should acquire additional territory west of the industrial cities.

E. Restoration of the Pre-War Frontier

This solution was rejected by the Territorial Subcommittee.

This solution would be in accord with the principle of minimum boundary change. Germany would retain an area having a population 56 percent German-speaking (1925). In the plebiscite of 1921, 71 percent of the population of this area, including many of the Polish-speaking [Page 742] inhabitants, voted for Germany. The 1922–1939 boundary, which was based on the results of the plebiscite, probably was as fair a frontier as could be drawn at the time on the basis of the principle of national self-determination.

The establishment of this boundary in 1922 broke up the economic unity of the Upper Silesian industrial basin. Industrial plants were separated from their sources of oil and fuel, heavy industries from finishing industries, and workers’ homes from their mines and factories. Unless over-all international administration or control were provided, the restoration of this bounary at the close of the present war would represent a second break-up of the unity of the area, which Germany has exploited as a whole since its conquest of Poland in 1939.

This solution would again place the Polish-German frontier within less than 30 miles of the chief rail links connecting Poland and Czechoslovakia, and Poland’s great industrial district of Upper Silesia would again be adjacent to the German frontier.

Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

One member of the subcommittee spoke in favor of establishment of the pre-war frontier in combination with some degree of international administration and control to assure the unified economic exploitation of the whole Upper Silesian industrial basin. After showing some disposition to favor this solution, the subcommittee turned to the idea of the preservation of the economic unity of the area through revision of the pre-war frontier to include the industrial district of German Upper Silesia within Poland.

F. Recognition of the Polish Claim (Line “F”)

This solution was rejected by the Territorial Subcommittee.

Should the full Polish claims be accepted, Poland would acquire a territory of some 2,950 square miles, with a population of 1,354,000, of whom 44 percent (in 1925) were Polish-speaking. The Polish-German boundary would run west of the Oder River from the northern most point of the Krnov salient in Czechoslovakia northwards to a point on the Oder River below the city of Oppeln; thence along the river downstream to the boundary of the former plebiscite area and following that boundary northwards to the former Polish-German frontier. The area acquired by Poland would include a German minority of 658,000 (57 percent). This solution would shorten the Polish-German frontier in Silesia from 162 to 75 miles; it has the strength of a good strategic frontier for the Poles.

Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

It was conceded that the Silesian “peninsula” between Czechoslovak and Polish territory had given Germany advantages for military operations [Page 743] against those countries. However, the subcommittee was not prepared to recommend the full extent of the Polish claims partly because of the population structure of the area and in particular because those claims would add an unnecessary number of Germans and some exclusively German territory to Poland. It was considered undesirable to include within Poland strongly German cities such as Oppeln and rural districts such as Leobsehütz.

[Here follows a section headed “Documentation”.]

[Enclosure 3]

Memorandum by Messrs. William Koren, Jr., and John C. Campbell, of the Division of Political Studies



Territorial Problems: The Upper Silesian Industrial Basin

i. the problem

The problem is the disposition to be made of the whole industrial basin of Upper Silesia, comprising parts of Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia.

The problem arises in connection with Polish territorial demands and with any regional plans touching the area. It also arises from any plans for German disarmament.

The Upper Silesian industrial basin may be defined by circumscribing the coal, iron, zinc and lead mines of southeast Germany, southwest Poland and north central Czechoslovakia and the heavy industries based on them. Such a boundary coincides with no important topographic features. It includes the eastern tip of German Upper Silesia (Regierungsbezirk Oppeln), the Polish province of Silesia, part of Kielce and part of Kraków, Czech Teschen and part of Moravia. This area contains the break between the Sudeten and Carpathian mountains through which pass the Oder River and the vital railways connecting the plain of northern Europe with the valley of the Danube. The total area approximates 4712 square miles, of which, according to the 1937 boundaries, 420 lay in Germany, 3761 in Poland and 531 in Czechoslovakia. Of its total population, approximately 3,182,000, 458,000 were in the German section (1925), 2,244,000 in the Polish (1931) and 480,000 in the Czech (1930). Within each of the three national sections was a linguistic minority, amounting to 138,000 Poles in the German part of the basin, 97,000 Germans in the [Page 744] Polish part, and 48,000 Germans and 86,000 Poles in the Czech industrial area.

This basin has immense coal reserves and substantial deposits of iron ore, zinc and lead. It produced in the years immediately preceding the present war approximately 22 percent of the bituminous coal mined in continental Europe outside the U.S.S.R., 8 percent of its coke, 6 percent of its pig iron, 8 percent of its crude steel, 33 percent of its zinc ore and 15 percent of its zinc. Nevertheless its serious deficiency (relative to plant capacity) in iron ore and iron and steel scrap and its total lack of steel-hardening metals, especially when taken in conjunction with its inland position and distance from steel-finishing centers and location on the border of the subsistence economy of Eastern Europe, have greatly handicapped the Upper Silesian basin in competition with the centers of heavy industry in Western Europe. It is dependent on the outside for both capital and markets; its overwhelming concentration on heavy industry makes it peculiarly vulnerable in periods of economic depression. Even the stimuli of government favors, of French occupation of the Ruhr, of the British coal strike and of the armaments race of the late 1930’s did not suffice to keep much of Silesian enterprise profitable.

Until the Nazi conquest of Poland, this industrial basin had always been exploited in three relatively uncoordinated national units, before 1919 by Germany, Austrian-Hungary and Russia, and since then by Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The revision of national frontiers after the first World War and local bitterness between Poles and Czechs over Teschen and between Poles and Germans over the boundary drawn following the plebiscite of 1921 in German Upper Silesia sharply aggravated the tendency to economic nationalism. Poland tried to eliminate German ownership of its newly acquired mines and industries. In all three countries plant and railway duplication was protected and promoted by tariffs, import quotas, export bounties and differential freight rates.

The products of each part of Silesia were generally marketed within their respective countries. Although all three participated in the steel cartel, the coal companies were not organized in a cartel, and the Czechoslovak producers did not belong to the coke cartel.

The Nazis have attempted to integrate the industrial basin by consolidation of ownership in German hands, by rationalization of operation and by its political incorporation into Germany. Except for the city of Częstochowa (left in the Government-General of Poland) and the city and environs of Moravská-Ostrava in Moravia (which have been left in the Protectorate), the Germans have carefully included the coal and ore beds, the mines and industries of the entire basin [Page 745] in the new Regierungsbezirk Kattowitz, a district of the enlarged province of Upper Silesia. At least partial maintenance of this integration would be a necessary factor favoring a Polish-Czechoslovak confederation if one should develop.

The Polish portion of the Upper Silesian basin had the most important natural resources of the three, both absolutely and in proportion to the total resources of the country. In actual output, the Polish area ranked first in coal and a poor third in iron and steel. It and the Czech portion were important to their respective countries; the German was not. Polish Silesia accounted for virtually the entire national production of coal, coke, iron ore, zinc ore and zinc, and for approximately two-thirds of that of iron and steel. The Czech portion of the basin produced almost the entire Czech output of coke and three-quarters of the country’s bituminous coal, iron and steel. On the other hand, German Upper Silesia, while producing nearly one-half Germany’s zinc ore, smelted none of it, accounted for only one-seventh of the country’s bituminous coal output and for less than five percent of its coke, iron and steel, and produced no iron ore.

Although there has been no local sentiment for uniting the industrial basin politically, all three parts have possessed a certain amount of particularist sentiment and Polish Silesia enjoyed quasi-autonomous political institutions. The non-German-speaking inhabitants of the German Upper Silesia of 1914, part of which was transferred to Poland in 1922, spoke a Polish dialect (“wasserpolnisch”) rather than Polish proper. Both they and, to a less extent, the German-speaking inhabitants of the area thought of themselves until quite recent times as Silesian rather than either Polish or German.

The jurisdiction over questions of minority rights exercised by the Mixed Commission and Arbitral Tribunal, whose chairmen were appointed by the League of Nations, also marked off Polish and German Upper Silesia from the rest of the two countries. Under Austrian rule the inhabitants of the Duchy of Teschen, speaking Polish, Czech, “Slonzak” (a dialect between Polish and Czech) and German, maintained a tradition of particularism without aspiring to any real political autonomy. During the unsettled period following the last war there was some local movement for autonomy (particularly among the propertied Germans) but the majority favored incorporation into Poland or Czechoslovakia. After the division of the Duchy the Czech portion was given no special treatment; the Polish part shared in the partial autonomy of Polish Silesia.

This industrial basin includes two disputed areas: the small, central region of the former Duchy of Teschen, with a mixed Polish and Czech [Page 746] population, which is claimed by both Poland and Czechoslovakia; and the greater part of German Upper Silesia, which is claimed by Poland.

ii. alternative solutions

A. Restoration of National Sovereignties and National Economic Control

This solution has been favorably regarded by the Territorial Subcommittee.

This solution would probably accord with the desire of the majority of the inhabitants to belong to one of the three national states already constituted. It would not preclude boundary adjustments between any two of them or even the incorporation of all industrial German Upper Silesia into Poland. It would guarantee to Poland control of its prewar heavy industries.

On the other hand, it would cause initial economic dislocation through the break-up of unified German control and would probably encourage a repetition of the extreme economic nationalism which resulted in the inefficient exploitation of the industrial basin between the wars. (This probability would be negated if industrial German Upper Silesia were transferred to Poland and the projected Polish-Czechoslovak federation became an economic reality.) Even if boundary changes were made, this solution would not solve the problem of the existence of large ethnic minorities in the respective national units.

Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

The subcommittee felt that this solution would involve the least political difficulties. It was agreed that the unity of the greater part of the industrial basin could be assured by the cession of the industrial district of German Upper Silesia to Poland, which the subcommittee recommended, and that the inclusion of the remainder in a unified economic system would then depend on the economic relations established between Czechoslovakia and Poland. It was thought that the unification of the greater part of the area in this way would benefit all the states of Eastern Europe, especially if associated together through economic arrangements or some regional organization, since those states represent an accessible market for Silesian industrial products, particularly in view of the reported construction of the Oder-Danube Canal.

B. Restoration of National Sovereignties Combined with International Economic Control

This solution would guarantee the maintenance of the industrial integration introduced by the Nazis and would thus promote the efficient exploitation of the entire basin. It would permit the area’s [Page 747] economy to be directed either by the participating states acting jointly or by an instrumentality of a larger European or a world organization. It would satisfy the wishes of the inhabitants to belong to one of the three states already constituted and would permit rectification of boundaries without unbalancing the economic structure of the area.

This solution would, however, make the economic and military security of Poland and, to a less degree, that of Czechoslovakia dependent on the good-will of the international agency directing the Upper Silesian economy. If that agency were to be controlled by outside states, this solution would arouse the hostility of Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. It would in any case encounter frictions attendant upon the unprecedented coexistence of international direction of economic life with three national political sovereignties.

Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

Several members of the subcommittee suggested that the disposition of the Silesian industrial basin must be considered in the light of the general economic arrangements possible for Europe, and for Eastern Europe in particular. The nature of these arrangements was not yet clear. One member expressed the opinion that, if international control in Upper Silesia were limited to economic matters, the political difficulties of internationalization would be minimized. The subcommittee considered no specific plan of “international exploitation” of Upper Silesia and made no recommendation.

C. Creation of a New Political Unit To Coincide With the Upper Silesian Industrial Basin

This solution was regarded unfavorably by the Territorial Subcommittee.

The unit so created might set up its own government or be administered by an instrumentality of an international organization; it might be wholly independent or a unit of an East European or other union.

This solution would preserve and probably perfect the economic integration begun by the Nazis.

On the other hand, this solution would deprive Poland of a vital industrial area on which it has depended both for military potential and for exports essential to its balance of payments. It would also constitute a far more serious economic blow to both Poland and Czechoslovakia than to Germany. It would place under a common sovereignty fractions of three peoples who have desired to be segregated from each other and to be united with their co-nationals and two of which have been grievously oppressed by the third. Furthermore, the new political unit would lie athwart the main rail and road [Page 748] links between Poland and Czechoslovakia and between Bohemia-Moravia and Slovakia.

Economically, such a unit would be peculiarly vulnerable to foreign pressure since it would be unable to feed itself, would require outside capital, would depend on imports of iron ore, iron and steel scrap, and steel-hardening metals, and would have to export the major portion of its output to areas most of which would possess satisfactory alternative sources of supply.

Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

The subcommittee did not consider seriously this solution because of its obvious political difficulties. Mention was made of a possible international corporation, enjoying certain political powers and privileges, which might govern the Silesian area. The general sentiment of the subcommittee was against such a solution.

[Here follows a section headed “Documentation”.]

[Enclosure 4]

Memorandum by Mr. Harry N. Howard, of the Division of Political Affairs



Territorial Problems: German-Czechoslovak Boundaries

i. the problem

The problem is the determination of the boundary between Germany and Czechoslovakia.

The problem arises from the demand made by the Czechoslovak Government-in-exile for the restoration of the territory seized by Germany in 1938.

Czechoslovakia’s claim for the integral restoration of its pre-Munich frontiers is supported by the Soviet Union and by the French National Committee (Fighting France). While the United States and Great Britain do not recognize the frontiers established by the Munich Agreement of 1938, neither is committed to restoration of any specific boundaries.

The Treaty of Saint-Germain of 1919 restored the historic frontiers of Bohemia and Moravian–Silesia with a few minor modifications, because it was thought that only within them could the political, strategic and economic independence of Czechoslovakia be assured. As a result [Page 749] of this decision, one of the largest single minority groups in Europe—3,300,000 Sudeten Germans (1930 census), the greater part of whom lived in the frontier districts contiguous to Germany and Austria—was left within Czechoslovakia, which had a total population of about 15,000,000. The Sudeten districts contained about 80 percent of the coal and lignite of Czechoslovakia, 70 percent of the metallurgical industry, 80 percent of the textiles, a considerable portion of the timber, and almost all the glass and china industry.

ii. alternative solutions

A. Return to the Pre-Munich (1937) Frontiers With Cession of Six Czechoslovak Salients to Germany
(Indicated on Maps B–4 to B–7, German Series; and Maps B–3 to B–6, Czechoslovak Series.)

This solution was favored by the Political and Territorial Subcommittees.

This solution would involve the return to the frontiers of 1937, with the exception of the salients of Aš (Asch), Rumburk–Varnsdorf–Šluknov (Rumburg–Warnsdorf–Schluckenau), Frýdlant (Fried-land), Broumov (Braunau), and Frývaldov–Krnov (Freiwaldau–Jagerndorf). The total area of the salients is 792 square miles. The German population (1930) was 306,000 (96 percent) and the Czechoslovak population was 14,000 (4 percent). Agriculture and light industries, especially textiles, dominate the economic life of the salients. Cession of the salients would not injure Czechoslovakia economically or cut any major railway communications. It would leave in Czechoslovak hands the main mountain barriers which protect the Bohemian basin.

The American Delegation at the Paris Conference favored cession of Aš and Rumburk to Germany, while the Czechs were willing to cede Aš and to cut the Frýdlant and Frývaldov salients in return for compensations in the Glatz region and on the North Bohemian frontiers. The Czechoslovak Government-in-exile, although insisting on the recognition of the legal continuity of Czechoslovakia within its 1937 frontiers, has expressed a willingness to make minor rectifications through the constitutional organs of the restored Republic; rectifications thus far hinted at affect several but not all of the salients listed above. Such minor modifications, including even the six salients, would not satisfy the demands of German nationalists.

1. Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

The Territorial Subcommittee favored the restoration of the 1937 pre-Munich frontiers, with the exception of the six salients, which, [Page 750] because of their position beyond the mountain barriers and their marked German character, could be transferred to Germany without economic or strategic injury to Czechoslovakia.

2. Discussion of the Political Subcommittee

The Political Subcommittee generally concurred in the views of the Territorial Subcommittee.

B. Return to the 1937 Frontiers With Cession of Six Czechoslovak Salients to Germany, and Compensations for Czechoslovakia
(Compensation for Czechoslovakia indicated on Map 49, German Series.)

Research on the problem of compensations for Czechoslovakia indicates the possibility of adjustments in the regions of Glatz and Leobschütz–Ratibor, involving about 770 square miles, and a population of about 125,000, of whom about 20,000 may be Czech. Such a cession would improve the strategic position of Czechoslovakia, particularly with respect to the Silesian and Moravian industrial districts. It would have the grave disadvantage, however, of adding to Czechoslovakia German-speaking regions which have never been a part of the Republic.

Official Czechoslovak circles in London have expressed no desire for such extensive compensation. They have, however, expressed a desire for slight accessions of territory in the Adlergebirge without acquiring any substantial number of Germans. The line suggested by them would run south from Broumov (Braunau), turn southeast half way between Glatz and the 1937 frontier, and continue eastward near Frývaldov (Freiwaldau).

1. Discussion of the Subcommittees

Both the Political and Territorial Subcommittees approved the principle of compensations for Czechoslovakia in the Glatz and Leobschütz–Ratibor areas, but neither subcommittee discussed the problem in detail.

C. Return to the Pre-Munich Frontiers Without Modification

This solution is desired in principle by the Czechoslovak Government-in-exile, and by former German political parties in Czechoslovakia (liberals, clericals, Social Democrats, and Communists), representing in the elections of 1935 perhaps one-third of the German population. The French National Committee and the Soviet Government favor this solution. While such a restoration of frontiers may be justified on historic, legal, economic and strategic grounds, the same ends may be achieved through the acceptance of the first alternative, which [Page 751] has the additional advantage of relieving Czechoslovakia of a significant part of its German minority.

1. Discussion of the Subcommittees

In view of the decided preference of the Political and Territorial Subcommittees for the first alternative solution, there was no detailed discussion of this solution. One member of the Territorial Subcommittee definitely favored simple retention of the 1937 frontiers.

D. Cession to Germany of German-Majority Districts Adjacent to the Frontier
(Indicated on Map B–2, German Series; Map B–1, Czechoslovak Series.)

The cession of districts adjacent to the 1937 frontier containing fifty-one percent German majorities or above would affect an area of 8,730 square miles. It would restore about 2,300,000 Germans to Germany, transferring 400,000 Czechoslovaks to Germany, and leaving 1,000,000 Germans in Czechoslovakia. It would take from Czechoslovakia all strategic mountain barriers, destroy the communication system, and remove the most vital heavy industries. While such a cession would involve a somewhat smaller area and population than were transferred by the Munich settlement, its general effects on Czechoslovakia would be the same. The strategic argument against the cession of the German-inhabited areas would have little value in case an effective international security organization were established.

1. Discussion of the Subcommittees

The Territorial Subcommittee rejected this solution because it would deprive Czechoslovakia of vital resources and industries and would leave it without natural defenses. The Political Subcommittee concurred in the views of the Territorial Subcommittee.

E. Retention of the Munich Frontiers

Cession to Germany of the Munich frontiers would involve an area of about 11,700 square miles, with a population of about 3,600,000, of whom some 740,000 are Czechoslovaks. The probable effect of this solution would be to destroy the possibility of an independent Czechoslovakia, since it would remove the vital heavy industries, disrupt the system of communications, and break the mountain barriers. It would also mean rewarding the aggressor and penalizing the victim of aggression.

1. Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

It was agreed that return to the Munich frontiers was impossible if an independent Czechoslovakia were to be restored, since the Munich [Page 752] frontiers would deprive Czechoslovakia of her industries, natural resources, and natural frontiers.

[Here follows a section headed “Documentation”.]

[Enclosure 5]

Memorandum by Mr. David Harris, of the Division of Political Studies



Territorial Problems: The Austro-German Frontier

i. the problem

The problem is the delimitation of the frontier between Germany and an Austria either restored to complete independence or joined in a Danubian federation.

The boundary of 1937 extending from the crest of the Böhmerwald in the East to the Lake of Constance in the West was the product of a long historic development. Most of the 460 miles of the line were established before the disturbances of the French Revolution. In 1815 there were several small changes, but thereafter the frontier was undisturbed until the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938.

Following the annexation an area of some 316 square kilometers, with 2,132 inhabitants, was transferred from the Austrian province of Vorarlberg to the Bavarian district of Sonthofen. The area involved is a small valley lying north of the crest of the mountains and is more accessible from Germany than from Austria.

The Archduke Otto von Hapsburg has asserted a claim for the annexation by Austria of Berchtesgaden and of the important railway bridgehead of Passau on the ground of historic and strategic considerations.6

The pre-1938 frontier followed, in general, the crest of the mountains from the Lake of Constance to the vicinity of Salzburg whence it followed rivers—the Salzach, the Inn, and the Danube—to a point near the Bohemian mountains. In the western segment there are several passes between the two countries, but only one affords an important railway connection. The only other railways and highways cross the frontier at Salzburg, Braunau-am-Inn and Passau.

On the two sides of the frontier are Catholics of German language divided in culture by their different political experiences. Those cultural [Page 753] divergences, however, have been too slight, and the boundary has been too long established, to have created a conventional frontier problem.

Economically, likewise, there has been no cause for friction. The frontier region is lacking in significant mineral resources and in industry. The extensive traffic in electric power in both directions has given rise to no political problem.

ii. alternative solutions

A. The Present Frontier

This solution would accept the slight modification—indicated in red on map 4 of the Austrian series—effected in favor of Germany after the annexation of Austria. This change, involving only a small number of people and a small area shut off by the mountains from easy connection with Austria, was made for administrative convenience rather than for political considerations, and there would be no reason to intervene unless subsequently the two thousand inhabitants presented convincing claims of dissatisfaction. No strategic considerations are involved.

1. Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

The Territorial Subcommittee was not disposed to make a political issue out of the change. In the opinion of one member familiar with the area, the rectification was a useful and proper adjustment.

B. The Pre-1938 Frontier

This solution would simply restore to Austria the area discussed above.

C. Cession of Berchtesgaden and Passau to Austria

The solution proposed by Archduke Otto would transfer to Austria approximately 40,000 Germans in the Berchtesgaden appendix and 25,000 in Passau. The two territories belonged to ecclesiastical princes in the eighteenth century rather than to the House of Habsburg and came into Bavarian possession during the Napoleonic period. Austria has therefore no historic claims and the possible prestige accruing to Austria by the acquisition of these localities would hardly compensate for the damage done to Austro-German relations by the creation of two irredentist points. The strategic considerations hinted at by the pretender have little value, even in terms of traditional military concepts. Any relocation of the frontier at the expense of Germany would mean extending the Austrian position beyond natural lines into the plain.

[Here follows a section headed “Documentation”.]

[Page 754]
[Enclosure 6]

Memorandum by Miss Evelyn M. Acomb, of the Division of Political Studies



Territorial Problems: Alsace–Lorraine

i. the problem

The problem is the disposition of Alsace and a part of Lorraine.

The problem arises because of the persistent conflicting French and German claims and because of certain proposals for its inclusion as a member-state in a Rhineland federation.

The United States, Great Britain and Czechoslovakia have promised to restore Alsace–Lorraine to France. The Soviet Union, while pledging itself to the restoration of independence, has made no specific reference to frontiers.

France was forced to cede most of Alsace (except Belfort and a strip surrounding it) and a part of Lorraine (the département of Moselle) to Germany in 1871, and recovered them in 1919. This territory has an area of 5,605 square miles and a population of close to two million. The inhabitants of Alsace are primarily German-speaking, but the large majority speak French as well; those of Lorraine are partly German-speaking, with a French-speaking majority in the West. In both the population is chiefly Catholic.

The iron ore of this region is important to both Germany and France. Under French rule it was the source of approximately two-fifths of the national production, amounting to almost one-fifth of the entire output of the continent of Europe exclusive of the Soviet Union, or to one and a half times the total production of Germany. Germany’s Thomas steel furnaces in the Ruhr and the Saar, which required French iron ore, consumed close to one-fifth of total French production and possibly a higher proportion of the Moselle output. Moselle coal production was almost one-seventh of the French total, or 1/33 of that of Germany.

After 1871 the people of Alsace–Lorraine as a whole were dissatisfied under German rule and hoped for reunion with France. After 1919 their economic situation improved with the relative prosperity of France, compared with that of Germany, but they still had many grievances. Most French governments provoked unrest by policies of centralization and anti-clericalism. Many inhabitants of the provinces [Page 755] desired regional autonomy, bi-lingualism in schools, courts and civil service, and maintenance of the Concordat.

Nazi Germany has, to all intents and purposes, treated this territory as annexed. Contrary to the terms of the 1940 armistice with France, it has established a German civil administration in this area. It has carried on a rigorous policy of Germanization and Nazification, and has integrated the economy of the territory with that of the Greater Reich. The Germans have reportedly settled in Alsace a considerable number of former Alsatians and other Germans and have expelled “disloyal” elements. Resistance to German rule is strong and widespread, even by admission of German newspapers.

ii. alternative solutions

A. Restoration of Alsace–Lorraine to France

This solution was tentatively approved by the Political Subcommittee.

The return of Alsace–Lorraine to France would satisfy French national feeling and would accord with the declared policy of this country and other members of the United Nations. It would satisfy the wishes of the inhabitants, especially if the policy of France were not one of centralization and anti-clericalism. This solution would weaken Germany and strengthen France by returning to the latter the source of almost 40 percent of its iron ore and almost 14 percent of its coal. It would also reincorporate in France powerful fortifications.

This solution would, however, require the dissolution of the economic integration of this area with the rest of Germany which has taken place since 1940. It would place in different customs and currency areas the iron and steel industries of the Ruhr and Saar, which consume Moselle iron, and the iron and steel industry of Moselle, which consumes Ruhr and Saar coal.

1. Discussion of the Political Subcommittee

In the discussions approving this solution, one member stated that the return of Alsace–Lorraine to France was justified despite the large number of German-speaking inhabitants before 1940, because of German violence, destruction of property, and depopulation of France. Another declared that a strong France was necessary to the United States. Evidence of anti-German feeling in Alsace was introduced.

2. Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

The Territorial Subcommittee tentatively accepted the restoration of Alsace–Lorraine to France.

[Page 756]

B. Incorporation of Alsace–Lorraine in a Rhineland federation composed, in addition, of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Baden, and Germany west of the Rhine.

Such a federation would serve as a buffer between France and Germany and between Great Britain and Germany. The Alsatians are culturally akin to the peoples of the Rhine Province. The Rhine would serve as a unifying factor in the field of transportation, and the ports of Belgium and the Netherlands would service the entire area of the federation. Germany’s economic strength would be somewhat but not vitally weakened by the territorial losses involved. A Rhineland federation would be large enough to form one unit in a larger Western European Federation, if such were created.

This solution would represent a reversal of stated American and British intentions. Furthermore, because the heavy industry of the Ruhr would be left to Germany, it would not by itself impose any serious limitation on Germany’s war potential. The proposed member states would probably be reluctant to join in a basically artificial creation of this type, and would be confronted with the certainty of German irredentism. Its importance as a buffer state would tend to diminish with the development of air power. Although the federation would include a part of Germany in which there has been some sentiment for autonomy, there is no evidence that it would be acceptable locally in the Rhineland, still less in the rest of Germany. The states to be united in the federation are disparate in government, historical traditions and religion. These same arguments would tend to militate against any purely economic arrangements in this area.

1. Discussion of the Political Subcommittee

It was agreed that this solution should be discussed, since the Governments of Belgium and Luxembourg were considering it without having come to a decision, and since such a federation might prove a means of controlling the armament industry in the Rhineland. It was stated that the Political Subcommittee had not consented to place Alsace–Lorraine in a West German state, and that the Netherlands government at present would disapprove of including it in such a state.

2. Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

The Territorial Subcommittee rejected this plan. It believed that security should be achieved by controlling armaments and by supervising the uses of economic power within Germany rather than by territorial transfers. It was convinced that Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland would be unwilling to participate in a Rhineland state, because it would involve them in measures of security which might permanently antagonize Germany.

[Page 757]

C. Incorporation of Alsace–Lorraine into a Rhineland federation composed, in addition, of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany west of the Rhine, and the Ruhr area.

Most of the arguments relevant to Solution B apply also to this solution. This federation, however, would not involve Switzerland, which traditionally has preferred to remain isolated from Great Power arrangements. It would weaken Germany by including the great industrial area of Western Germany. It would give maximum political recognition to the economic integration of Alsace–Lorraine and the Ruhr.

1. Discussion of the Political Subcommittee

One member declared that such a confederation might give considerable local autonomy to its members and receive an international guarantee of its integrity. It might be a factor for peace, especially because its mixture of nationalities would deter it from war. Another member stated, however, that the international control of cartels, including armaments industries, would be an easier solution; and that the United States was solemnly committed to restore Alsace–Lorraine to France.

[Here follow sections headed “Documentation” and “Plans for Further Research”.]

[Enclosure 7]

Memorandum by Miss Madeleine Hale, of the Division of Political Studies



Territorial Problems: Eupen, Malmédy and Moresnet

i. the problem

The problem is the disposition of the districts of Eupen, Malmédy and Moresnet, i.e., the delimitation of the entire German-Belgian frontier.

The problem arises for three principal reasons: 1) the Belgian government-in-exile demands the return of these districts after Germany is defeated; 2) Germany claims a lack of popular sanction for the 1920 transfer of these territories to Belgium; and 3) the population of these districts is for the most part German-speaking.

These three districts, previously a part of Germany, were awarded to Belgium in 1920 under the Treaty of Versailles. Modifications of the [Page 758] boundary were made during the following two years whereby the Eupen–Monschau–Malmédy railway was awarded to Belgium, as well as other portions of German territory including part of the Kreis of Monschau; small German enclaves were left between the railway and the Belgian frontier line. On May 19, 1940, by a decree of Hitler, this whole region was re-incorporated into the Reich.

The three districts have a combined area of 367 square miles and had a total population in 1930 of 67,000, more than 70 percent of whom were German-speaking. The contested territory is of very little importance to the economy of either Belgium or Germany. Whatever strategic significance they may have had in 1914 has been virtually eliminated by modern methods of warfare.

Germany after 1919 claimed these districts on the basis of historic right and ethnic composition. It insistently criticized what it claimed to be the unfair and coercive nature of the open-registers on which persons of German nationality had theoretically the right to protest a cession already made. Despite the League of Nations’ acceptance of the Belgian defense of the “consultation”, the German Government continued to press for a genuine plebiscite to be held under the supervision of the League of Nations.

The Belgian Government-in-exile bases its claims on the prescriptions of the Treaty of Versailles and on the confirmed legality of the consultation in 1920. It insists on the sufficiency of that procedure as an index of the desires of the population, and has pointed out that in all provincial and general elections for the past two decades a pro-Belgian majority consistently defeated pro-German elements, which in recent years were supported by the Nazis. It contends further that the economy of the whole region is integrated with that of Belgium.

ii. alternative solutions

A. Restoration of the 1939 Frontier
(Indicated on Cartogram 1–A, Belgian Series, as Line A).

This solution has been accepted by the Political and Territorial Subcommittees.

This solution would accord with the principle of minimum boundary change. It would permit Belgium to regain the minor economic advantages of the Versailles settlement, such as the forests and small industries, the control of the headwaters of rivers important to its canals, and a frontier which possibly has some strategic value. On the other hand, the return of the districts to Belgium would provide for no expression of the desires of the inhabitants and might give Germany an excuse for future agitation and perhaps even aggression.

[Page 759]

1. Discussion of the Political Subcommittee

In the deliberations of the Political Subcommittee it was felt that the use of the open-register voting system in 1920 had been unsatisfactory, but that, considering the adjustments which took place after 1918, no change in the pre-1940 situation should be made.

2. Discussion of the Territorial Subcommittee

In view of the good treatment which the German-speaking minorities had enjoyed between the wars under Belgian rule, the Territorial Subcommittee agreed that the 1939 frontier should be restored, subject to adjustments to be agreed upon between Germany and Belgium after examination in situ of the railway line connecting the two areas and of the German enclaves to the west of it.

B. Division of the Region According to the Linguistic Line
(Indicated on Cartogram 1–A, Belgian Series, as Line B).

Under this solution, only the northwestern part of Malmédy, including the town, would be restored to Belgium. By this solution 2,200 Germans and 10,000 Walloons would remain in Belgium, and 49,100 Germans and 2,100 Walloons would go to Germany. There would result, of course, a temporary dislocation of local economic life, and Belgium would lose whatever strategic advantage the 1939 frontier may have offered.

C. Division of the Region According to the Results of a Plebiscite

A plebiscite, if held under effective international supervision, would probably lead to a more accurate determination of the wishes of the inhabitants than the open-register system used in 1920. A line drawn on the basis of a vote, however, might easily result in a partial disregard of economic and strategic considerations.

D. Restoration to Germany of Monschau and Segments of the Railway

Such a solution would decrease the number of Germans under Belgian jurisdiction. On the other hand, it would deprive Belgium of the only existing direct railway link between Eupen and Malmédy, thus necessitating construction of new lines on the Belgian side of the border or reliance upon the more roundabout railway through Limburg and Stavelot.

E. Incorporation Into Belgium of All Territory Between the Railway and the Old Boundaries of Eupen–Malmédy, Thereby Eliminating the Former German Enclaves

While this would simplify and strengthen Belgian control of the railway, it would mean including more Germans within Belgium’s frontiers.

[Page 760]

F. A Compromise Between the 1914 and 1914 Boundaries
(Indicated as Line F on Cartogram A–1, Belgian Series).

A line based partly on ethnic considerations and partly upon the watersheds of the area would give Neutral Moresnet (La Calamine) and Neu Moresnet (now included in Eupen) to Belgium, leaving the Moselle–Rhine system in Germany and the tributaries of the Meuse in Belgium. A small part of northeastern Eupen, the northeastern section of Malmédy, and most of St.-Vith would go to Germany. Belgium, on the other hand, would retain most of the strategic and all of the hydrographic advantages of solution A, while it would lose some forest land and possession of the Eupen–Monschau–Malmédy railway. St.-Vith, which is probably more closely tied with Belgian-Luxemburg culture and economy than with German, would go to Germany; and Eupen, more German in its orientation, would go to Belgium. This compromise line would give approximately 18,000 Germans and 500 Walloons to Germany, and leave 36,000 Germans and 12,000 Walloons in Belgium. An accompanying exchange of population would result in a more equal distribution of minority groups on both sides of the line.

[Here follows a section headed “Documentation”.]

[Enclosure 8]

Memorandum by Mr. Amry Vandenbosch, of the Division of Political Studies


Germany—The Netherlands

Territorial Problems: Frontier Along the Ems River

i. the problem

The problem is the clarification of the German-Netherlands boundary at the mouth of the Ems River.

The problem arises from the lack of a specific delimitation of the frontier in the estuary and from the claims of the Dutch Government for a frontier following the main channel of the river.

The Dutch-Hanoverian treaty of 1824 which has provided the juridical basis for the frontier merely stipulated the Ems River without further specification. By a new German-Dutch treaty in 1896 the German Government agreed to establish the necessary navigational aids in the estuary, but the Netherlands shared the expense. The [Page 761] German Government, despite its acceptance of Dutch aid, acted on the assumption that the frontier lay on the west side of the estuary along the Dutch shore-line. During the preceding war and from the beginning of the present conflict Germany exercised belligerent rights over the whole of the estuary. It justified its assertion of sovereignty on the ground of historic rights which the Dutch Government has consistently rejected.

ii. alternative solutions

This problem has not been discussed in the subcommittees.

A. Frontier Following the Middle of the Main Channel

This solution would conform to the principle of international law which holds that, whenever a treaty designates a navigable river as the boundary between two states, the main or the most frequently used channel constitutes the frontier. Such a line would give equal protection to Dutch and German interests in the use of the channel, without injury to any proper German interest.

B. Retention of the Line Claimed by Germany

This solution would give Germany continued control over the entrance to the Dutch port of Delfzijl and the Delfzijl–Groningen Canal and would make the Dutch dependent upon German goodwill in the maintenance of the navigational aids in these channels.

[Here follows a section headed “Documentation”.]

  1. Although this memorandum was presented to Hull in anticipation of the First Quebec Conference, no detailed discussion of German boundary problems took place at that conference.
  2. The maps and cartograms accompanying this memorandum are not reproduced.
  3. Specifically the Subcommittee on Political Problems and the Subcommittee on Territorial Problems of the Advisory Committee on Post-War Foreign Policy. See Notter, pp. 96–108, 117–123.
  4. See post, p. 761. Following this covering memorandum in the file is a table of contents (not printed) to the enclosed “German Boundary Documents” and the accompanying maps.
  5. Ellipsis in the source text.
  6. Cf. post, p. 1111.