Truman Papers

No. 418
Memorandum by the Joint Civil Affairs Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff1
top secret

Arrangements To Get Coal for Other European Countries


At the present time the coal industry of Northwest Europe, including Germany, is integrated under the supervision of Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force. After the dissolution of that Headquarters, this integration must be continued through another agency or agencies.
The Belgium and Netherlands mines are now operating at sufficient production rate to maintain the Belgian and Dutch economies, but only at the barest minimum. France, Norway, Denmark, and Italy are dependent upon imports.
The United States and United Kingdom coal production will not be sufficient on present estimates to meet United States and United Kingdom requirements during the coal year 1945–1946. The only remaining sources to meet Europe’s needs are Germany and Poland.
Under present conditions, with limited production in German mines, a disrupted European transport system, no agreement for the use of coal produced in eastern Germany and Poland and a limited export availability from the United Kingdom, it is necessary to ship coal from the United States (shipments of 204,000 tons are planned in June) in order to maintain a minimum economy in the western European countries. The needs of these countries will increase during the coming winter months.
Increased coal production in Europe, particularly Germany, is therefore essential, but solution of the problem is also dependent upon an efficient transportation system to distribute the coal to the countries where it is needed. This requires rehabilitation of the transportation both in Germany and the other European countries and their integration into an effective coal distribution system.
Increased production is dependent upon repair of damaged mines, recruitment of mine labor, the productive efficiency of miners for which extra rations, housing, medical care, means of transportation from homes to mines and consumer goods as an incentive to work are necessary, and an available stock of coal mining supplies and equipment.
As to Germany, all of these factors can be provided most effectively by treating Germany as an economic whole with equitable distribution of necessary supplies between zones. Imports of mining machinery and equipment will undoubtedly be necessary. The method of initial financing of such imports will have to be solved. If imports from the United States are to be effected, Congressional action for initial financing is required.
The level of coal production in liberated Europe cannot be permanently increased to any substantial extent until and unless the general level of economy in the area improves concurrently. Coal production cannot be accelerated much beyond its present level in France, Belgium, and Holland without taking the necessary steps to raise the general business and industrial activity. The state of transport, level of consumers’ goods, distribution and pricing of goods, general labor situation and other basic elements of the general economy directly affect coal production.
Exports of coal from Germany to other European countries are needed now. Pending formulation of plans and allocations by the [Page 610] Moscow Reparations Commission, an interim reparations program on an ad hoc basis must be developed.
To make effective use of European production as one of the world’s coal resources, a central European agency for the establishment and screening of requirements and the allocation of production and distribution thereof should be established. Only in this way can European requirements and production be utilized efficiently in relation to total world supply and demand. Eastern Germany and Polish coal production as well as that in western Germany and the liberated countries should be integrated in this way.


  • a. Every effort be made to secure agreement of the Heads of State to unified treatment in Germany of the factors necessary to maximum coal production and integrated movement thereof. To this end agreement should be sought to have the Control Council function on the basis of such a policy.
  • b. Agreement of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics be secured for use of coal production in eastern Germany and Poland to meet the needs of other European countries.
  • c. Agreement of the Heads of State be sought to the policy of an interim reparations program to permit immediate export of coal from Germany.
  • d. Steps be taken to secure governmental agreement for the initial financing of imports to Germany required to effect maximum coal production.
  • e. Agreement be reached on policy of establishing a centralized European coal agency to effect integration of all European coal production and the allocation and transportation thereof. Because of the fact that coal production is not an isolated economic problem but is necessarily interwoven with the overall problem of economic restoration, such a coal agency should in due time be subordinate and responsible to a top European central economic authority responsible for integrating all of Europe’s basic economic problems during this emergency period.
  1. This memorandum was prepared in response to a request from Leahy (document No. 155) for recommendations which would be “useful to the President in preparing himself for the [Berlin] conference”. It was forwarded to Leahy by the Secretary of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on June 26, together with other reports, under cover of a memorandum which stated explicitly: “These reports represent the views of the committees only and have not been approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” Leahy subsequently passed it to Truman.