740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–1245: Telegram

No. 433
The Political Adviser in Germany ( Murphy ) to the Acting Secretary of State 1
us urgent—niact

157. Please relay to the Secretary. My 130, July 7.2

General Clay and I attended the meeting in Berlin on July 10. Clay and Weeks each accepted commitments starting July 15 to supply 20,000 tons of food monthly to the civilian population in Berlin. The meeting stressed that every effort would be made to provide food from indigenous resources but the immediate requirements will necessarily be met in part from imported stocks. This supply of food is proportioned to the size of the American Berlin sector. The commitment was made with the understanding that it would be subject to review and modification by our respective governments and that it would probably be discussed at the pending conference.

General Weeks for the United Kingdom also agreed to supply, after exposition of the many difficulties involved and the state of public opinion in the United Kingdom and the liberated areas, 2,400 tons of coal per day from the Ruhr as soon as rail communications permit and subject to further study by the commandature as to minimum needs. The supply of coal is also to be on a proportionate basis and the Soviet Union will supply either ⅓ of the total amount or a tonnage to be based on kilowatt usage. A committee of technicians is at present working on this problem.

At the meeting, Strang stated in behalf of the United Kingdom the reservation which I had made at the first meeting regarding Marshal Zhukov’s statement that the Crimea Conference had determined that the western Polish frontier would be along the Oder and Neisse Rivers. Strang insisted that under present agreements the Control Council should consider its jurisdiction over German territory as inclusive of that territory within the 1937 boundaries. Zhukov [Page 639] reacted mildly, stating that under his orders his jurisdiction did not extend east of the Oder and Neisse line. We felt it best under the circumstances to allow matters to stand at that, since Zhukov made it clear that he had no authority to take any other position.

General Clay in his report to the War Dept 3 has emphasized that the Soviet request has always been limited to the United States and United Kingdom each furnishing a proportionate share of the requirements for Berlin. The Russians, of course, have indicated their willingness to have a complete review of this question made when the Allied Control Council begins operations. General Clay has also pointed out that as we are now in Berlin we have the obligation to see that the civilians living in our zone have sufficient food to live and the minimum of utility service.

General Clay has also made the point, in which I concur fully, that we have very little to bargain with in meeting the Russians in so far as the output of the American zone is concerned. He suggests that we could bargain more successfully if we were given authority to discuss transfers between zones, particularly with relation to Lend-Lease and other forms of aid which are being given directly to the Soviet Union by the United States. We are, of course, convinced that the Allied control machinery will be established but feel that this operation will take weeks, if not months, to function efficiently. Pending the establishment of such machinery it is obvious that we must negotiate with respect to any exchange of resources between the zones.

This meeting went off smoothly. The Russian attitude was conciliatory and I believe that the publicity which first broke in the London press as a result of statements made by Brigadier Hinde in Berlin4 may have had a salutary effect. In that connection, both General Weeks and General Hinde apologized to the American staff for Hinde’sunauthorized account to the press of the first meeting and the emphasis which he laid on the difficulties confronting the Berlin administration.

. . . . . . .

  1. The gist of this message was included in an unnumbered communication of July 13 sent by Grew to Byrnes by pouch (file No. 740.00119 Potsdam/7–1345).
  2. Document No. 429.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Hinde had held a press conference at Berlin on July 8, in the course of which he had indicated (a) that British military government would not begin to operate in Berlin until the problem of supplying the city had been settled by the occupying powers; (b) that in the meantime the Soviet authorities would continue to supply food and fuel to the city; (c) that in these circumstances it was obviously impracticable for the British to govern alongside the Soviet authorities; and (d) that the problem would have to be settled by the Control Council or by even higher authority. The British press, which reported Hinde’s remarks prominently, interpreted the last point as a reference to the possibility that the problems referred to would be discussed at the forthcoming conference of Heads of Government.