840.6362/6–2445: Telegram

No. 420
The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)

5117. Following message from the President should be delivered to Prime Minister Churchill:

“The coal famine which threatens Europe this coming winter has impressed me with the great urgency of directing our military authorities in Germany to exert every effort to increase German coal production and to furnish for export the whole quantity over and above minimum German needs.

From all the reports which reach me,1 I believe that without immediate concentration on the production of German coal we will have turmoil and unrest in the very areas of Western Europe on which the whole stability of the continent depends.

Similar representation should be made to France and Belgium to take drastic steps to increase their production within their own boundaries.

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I, therefore, propose to send the following directive to General Eisenhower. Before dispatching it I should like to have your agreement that a similar directive will be sent by you to General [Field Marshal] Montgomery.

I am sending a similar communication to the Provisional French Government to cover the production in the Saar region.2

It is my belief that there are a number of other urgent measures relating to coal which must be undertaken if a situation dangerous to the stability of Western Europe is to be averted. However, I think the steps proposed above should be taken at once. Text of directive follows:

‘Directive to the American Commander-in-Chief in Europe.

Unless large quantities of coal are made available to liberated Europe in forthcoming months, there is grave danger of such political and economic chaos as to prejudice the redeployment of Allied troops and to jeopardise the achievement of the restoration of economic stability which is the necessary basis for a firm and just peace. Coal for Western Europe in adequate quantities cannot, as a practical matter, be obtained from any source other than Germany. It is a matter of great urgency that Germany be made to produce for export to other European nations the coal which they must have to support economic life on at least a minimum basis.

You are therefore directed, in your capacity of Commanding General of United States Forces in Germany and as United States member of the Allied Control Council, to take all steps necessary to achieve the following objectives:

To make available for export from Germany out of the production of the coal mines in Western Germany, a minimum of 10 million tons of coal during 1945, and a further 15 million tons by the end of April, 1946.
To the extent necessary to accomplish the export of 25 million tons of coal at the rate directed, to assign the highest priority to all matters pertaining to maximizing the production and transportation of German coal, with this priority to be subordinate only to requirements necessary to ensure the safety, security, health, maintenance, and operation of the occupying forces and the speedy redeployment of the Allied Forces from Germany.
To recommend to the Allied Control Council an assignment to the production and export of coal from Eastern Germany of an urgency as great as that implied in the required export of 25 million tons of coal from Western Germany by the end of April, 1946.
To follow the principle, in the allocation of coal within Germany, that the export of coal from Germany is to take precedence over the use of coal for industrial production and civilian purposes within Germany, to the extent necessary to accomplish the export of 25 million tons of coal from Western Germany at the rate directed and to comply with paragraph 3 above, subject only to providing for the safety of the occupying forces and the redeployment of Allied Forces from Germany. It is recognized that the following of this policy during the period of critical coal shortage will delay the resumption of industrial activity in Germany.
To make available to the European Coal Organization full and complete details of coal production and coal allocations within Germany, in order that the member nations of the European Coal Organization may know the relationship that prevails between the level of coal consumption in Germany and the level of coal consumption in liberated Europe.
To assign a high priority status to the production of brown coal and the production and export of brown coal briquettes and of additional quantities of other coal in excess of the 25 million tons specified in paragraph 1.
In order to meet the emergency existing in western Europe, you are requested to assist in every reasonable way efforts in the Ruhr and the Saar areas to maximize the production of coal there.

It is recognized that the carrying out of the above policies with respect to German coal may cause unemployment, unrest and dissatisfaction among Germans of a magnitude which may necessitate firm and rigorous action. Any action required to control the situation will be fully supported.’ ”3

F[rank] E D[uvall]
  1. Truman is probably referring particularly to the PotterHyndley report on “The Coal Situation in North West Europe”, dated June 7, on which portions of the draft directive quoted below are based. For the “Summary of Main Recommendations” from the PotterHyndley report, see enclosure 2 to document No. 421.
  2. Sent to Caffery on June 24 for delivery to de Gaulle (telegram No. 2923, file No. 840.6362/6–2445). De Gaulle’s reply, transmitted by Caffery in telegram No. 3890 of June 28 to the Secretary of State ad interim (file No. 840.6362/6–2845), stated that the principles expressed in Truman’s message “regarding the coal crisis in western Europe and the means of ending it are in entire agreement with the views of the Fren Govt. … I accordingly give you my full agreement on the directives which you propose to send to Gen Eisenhower concerning coal production in Germany. I add that I intend to send without delay similar directives to the Commander in Chief of the Fren forces in Germany.”
  3. For the text of the directive on this subject actually issued to Eisenhower on July 26, see the attachment to document No. 1046, printed in vol. ii .