Truman Papers

No. 419
Memorandum by the Joint Civil Affairs Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1
top secret

Exchange of Commodities Between Zones of Occupation—Food From the Russian Zone and Other Areas in Germany


To attain the most effective use of German resources for the supply of German civilians, inter-zonal exchange of commodities is essential. In general, Germany as a whole is self-sufficient in vital supplies such as food and coal. However, each of the zones of occupation is predominant over the others in one or more important supply commodity. The Russian zone, for example, has been referred to as the “bread basket” of Germany, while the United States, United Kingdom and French zones together constitute a deficit food area. On the other hand, the United Kingdom zone contains the rich Ruhr coal fields, but does not have the necessary pitprops; while the United States zone does not have any coal assets, but it does have timber to provide pitprops for the coal mining industry. Surveys of supplies and resources should be made in each zone and the result thereof made available to the Control Council.
Distribution of food and other commodities across zonal boundaries from surplus to deficit areas requires integrated transportation, the effective use of which is dependent upon equitable distribution of coal.
To secure food surpluses from the Russian zone, the United States, United Kingdom and French will probably be asked to agree to equitable distribution of commodities which are surplus in their zones and deficit in the Russian zone.
Under the present world supply shortage of agricultural products and coal, maximum production of these commodities within Germany is imperative not only to meet the needs of Germany, but also to provide exportable surpluses for distribution to the other countries of Europe, including Italy and the Balkans. If this is not done, an unnecessary strain will be placed upon other world resources, particularly [Page 612] the United States, to provide imports for even a minimum economy for Europe.
To maximize production in Germany, certain imports will be required: for example, coal mining and farm machinery. Provision must be made to provide and finance initially a large portion of these necessary imports from resources outside Germany.


  • a. Agreement should be reached that in each of the zones immediate surveys should be conducted to determine the supplies and resources available throughout Germany and the results of such surveys made known to the Control Council.
  • b. Every effort be made at the conference to secure governmental agreement to the equitable distribution between zones of occupation of supplies locally available within Germany and an integrated German transport system to effect the movement of such supplies. To this end the respective Heads of State should agree that the Control Council will follow the general policy of equitable inter-zonal distribution through an integrated transport system.
  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.