No. 266
Department of State Memorandum1

Policy With Respect to the Administration of the Danube

The underlying recommendation of a provisional arrangement for the administration of the Danube has been prompted by a telegram from Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces ( Scaf 471, July 3, 1945).2

This telegram is summarized as follows: Before surrender of German forces, Danube shipping under German control was moved into the United States area; Soviet officers claim that some of the vessels did not reach the United States area before surrender and ask to have them delivered. Reply has been made that restitution of such property is under consideration by the Governments.

Soviet commanders contiguous to the United States area have no authority to enter local agreement for the use of Danube shipping, which in large proportion belongs to Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and other riparian states.

SHAEF recommends initial measure in restoration of international control of the Danube to be the creation of an interim Danube Navigation Agency on which initially would be represented the United [Page 330] States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union; membership subsequently would be expanded to include all states interested in Danube navigation. This problem has appeared so urgent to SHAEF that it has suggested discussion at the meeting of the three heads of states.

So far as is known in the Department of State, the War Department has taken no action on this telegram. A copy of the attached recommendation is being sent to the Pentagon.

This recommendation was prepared by an ad hoc committee of interested divisions of the Department and has been cleared with Major Kindleberger of the White House Staff.


Memorandum Regarding Policy With Respect to the Administration of the Danube River


The ultimate objective of policy with respect to the administration of the Danube River is the reestablishment of the international character of the Danube waterway and the eventual reestablishment of a permanent international Danube authority representative of all nations interested in Danube navigation and tied in with a permanent European transport organization if such is established.
As an initial step there should be set up as soon as possible an interim Danube navigation agency.
The functions of this agency should be the restoration and development of navigation facilities in the Danube, the supervision of river activities in the interest of equal treatment for various nationalities and establishment of uniform regulations concerning leasing, rules of navigation, customs and sanitation formalities, and other similar questions. The functions of this body should extend to all questions involving water use on the Danube.
The membership of this body should include the U. S., U. K., U. S. S. R., France and the sovereign riparian states recognized by these governments.
This body should be of a purely interim character, and while carrying on in part functions formerly performed by the International Commission of the Danube and the European Commission of the Danube it should not be considered as prejudicing the organization and functions of a permanent Danube authority which should be set up in the future. Its jurisdiction should cover the entire navigable length of the Danube.
The problems of the use of inland transport equipment, the pooling of such equipment, the restoration of such equipment to [Page 331] former owners and the regulation of traffic of common concern should be the subject of separate agreement between the occupation authorities and the states owning equipment operating on the Danube.
The best procedure for handling this arrangement would be through the Provisional Organization for European Inland Transport, provided the U. S. S. R., Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia participated in that organization.
If the U. S. S. R., Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia do not participate in the Transport Organization, a separate agreement should be reached between occupying authorities and those states owning equipment on the Danube which would put into effect the principles embodied in the Inland Transport Agreement.3 These would relate primarily to Article VII, Sections 7, 9, 10, 12 and 15, and Article VIII, Sections 2, 5 and 6, and the annex covering traffic on inland waterways.
This Government has subscribed in the ECITO agreement to the principle that identifiable transport equipment should be restored to the country of previous ownership subject to any general policies determined by the appropriate authorities of the United Nations regarding restitution of property removed by the enemy. Such delivery of equipment, however, should only be made on condition that this equipment is used with greatest efficiency for the handling of traffic of common concern under some form of arrangement as indicated above.


This Government believes that it is essential to set up an interim body pending the establishment of a permanent authority in order to deal with the immediate problems of restoration of navigation and control equipment and traffic movements. This interim body should function until a new permanent authority can be established which would supersede the previous Commissions which have only been suspended by the war and not abrogated.

The fact that a considerable portion of the waterway equipment is located within the American zone of occupation in Germany provides a strong bargaining point in securing an adequate organization for the pooling of inland water craft and the administration of its use in handling traffic of common concern. Equipment belonging to enemy countries might be assigned to participating countries for operation in conjunction with the pool, but such assignment should be without prejudice to its ultimate disposition. This would enable the craft to be put into use and the question of ultimate reparations to be deferred.

[Page 332]

In order to adequately handle this problem the first step would be the taking of a complete inventory of all water craft under the control of each of the riparian states or the respective control authorities.

The second step would be an analysis of the requirements for traffic within the U. S. occupation area.

The third step would be the working out of the transfer of surplus equipment to the countries outside of the U. S. zone upon the conclusion of a satisfactory agreement with respect to its use.

Close contact should be maintained with the Provisional Organization for European Inland Transport as that body is in a position to deal with the legal and technical problems involved.

  1. Printed from an unsigned mimeographed copy.
  2. See vol. ii, document No. 754, enclosure B.
  3. Signed at London, May 8, 1945 (Executive Agreement Series No. 458; 59 Stat. (2) 1359).