740.00119 Potsdam/7–1845

No. 1144
Memorandum by the British Delegation

The Eastern Frontier of Germany as It Affects the Principles Governing the Treatment of Germany and the Authority of the Control Council

For background information please see attached paper.1

At the plenary session on the 18th July2 it was unanimously agreed that as a preliminary working assumption Germany should [Page 1137] be regarded as comprising all territories contained within her 1937 frontiers. It is suggested that at this afternoon’s meeting Marshal Stalin should be asked how, in the light of this understanding, the Soviet Government regard the Polish claim to a frontier on the Oder and the Neisse (including Stettin) in its effect upon the joint occupation and control of Germany. Do these territories come under the authority of the Soviet Commander-in-Chief in Germany? Are the Polish authorities in this area acting as the agents of the Soviet Commander-in-Chief and responsible to him? Are the resources of the area available for supplying the rest of Germany?

If these questions do not provoke a direct answer we might go on to say that we understand that Marshal Zhukov at recent meetings in Berlin, has maintained that the territory to the east of the Oder and the Neisse was outside his zone and that he could not therefore draw upon it for food and fuel supplies for his zone.3

We should then develop our grievance on the following lines:—

Under the agreements concluded in the European Advisory Commission on the occupation and control of Germany,4 the controlling Powers agreed that the zones of occupation should be created out of Germany within her frontiers as they were on the 31st December, 1937, including East Prussia, and that the members of the Control Council should jointly exercise authority in matters affecting Germany as a whole (i. e. 1937 Germany). His Majesty’s Government do not regard these agreements as having been modified by the Crimea decisions on Poland.5 His Majesty’s Government consider that the Soviet Government are not entitled to release from their authority any of the territory of 1937 Germany without prior consultation and agreement with the other controlling Powers.
If these German territories are withdrawn from the authority of the Control Council and of the Soviet Commander-in-Chief, the whole basis of our combined plans for the treatment of Germany is altered. The balance between the zones is upset. The Soviet zone, reduced in area but obliged to support a larger population owing to the influx of Germans expelled from the territories further east, becomes in Marshal Zhukov’s view a deficit area. The British and American Commanders-in-Chief, instead of being able to draw upon the normal surpluses of Eastern Germany, are expected to help to supply Berlin. This radical readjustment threatens to cause very [Page 1138] serious consequences for us in our zones. Moreover the total stock of reparation supplies available for the common pool is gravely reduced.
His Majesty’s Government, while fully supporting Poland’s right to accessions of territory, regard the present claim to the Oder–Neisse line,6 including Stettin, as excessive. On the short term view it is doubtful whether the Poles will be able to maintain full production in the whole of this area during the critical next winter, while continued expulsion of Germans from the area will cause grave problems for the controlling Powers in Germany. On the long term view Poland’s capacity to populate and absorb the whole of these territories is uncertain, while the permanent amputation of one-fifth of the area of Germany would be a cause of weakness to Poland and of instability in Europe as a whole.

Marshal Stalin should then be asked to have the Soviet view reconsidered in the light of our attitude and to let us know the result.

  1. No attachment found. Cf. the attachment to document No. 518, printed in vol. i.
  2. See ante, p. 90.
  3. See document No. 429, printed in vol. i.
  4. i. e., (a) the protocol regarding the zones of occupation in Germany and the administration of Greater Berlin, signed at London, September 12, 1944, as amended by a further agreement signed at London, November 14, 1944 (Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 3071; United States Treaties and Other International Agreements, vol. 5, pt. 2, p. 2078), and (b) the agreement on control machinery in Germany, signed at London, November 14, 1944, as amended by a further agreement signed at London, May 1, 1945 (Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 3070; United States Treaties and Other International Agreements, vol. 5, pt. 2, p. 2062). Texts of the agreements of September 12 and November 14, 1944, also in Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, pp. 118, 121, 124.
  5. See document No. 1417, section vi.
  6. See the map facing p. 1152, post.