Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of
the Division of Western European Affairs (Bonbright)
The French Ambassador, M. Henri Bonnet, called on the Under Secretary1 at 3:30 this afternoon, and left with him the attached note (No. 678, September 4, 1945) relative to the disposition of the German fleet and Merchant Marine. The note states that the French Government “has just been informed”2 of the creation of a Tripartite Naval Commission in Berlin, consisting of representatives of the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union, charged with the task of dividing the German naval and merchant ships between the three countries. The note insists strongly that a representative of France be admitted without delay to the Commission in question and that there be no distribution of ships until the question of French participation is settled.
In addition to repeating the point made in the note that the setting-up of this Tripartite Commission is contrary to the agreements reached in the European Advisory Commission at London, to the effect that [Page 1565] all matters concerning Germany should be settled on a quadripartite basis, the Ambassador spoke at some length in support of the French request. He emphasized the immediate French need for a share of the German shipping in view of the great damage done to the French fleet and the sacrifice which France made by placing her usable merchant ships in the Allied pool. Merchant ships, he added, were urgently needed to carry supplies not only to France but to the colonies. In this connection, he referred specifically to the lack of transport and cargo space between France and North Africa. He indicated that naval vessels were needed for the purpose of patrolling and protecting French supply lines.
The Ambassador assumed that similar démarches were being made by his Government in London and Moscow but he hoped particularly to obtain the support of the United States Government. He stated that although, as indicated in the note, the French proposed to raise the question at the forthcoming Conference of Foreign Ministers in London, he would very much appreciate receiving an early reply, even of a preliminary nature.
Mr. Acheson indicated to the Ambassador that we would look into the question at once.
- Dean Acheson.↩
- Cf. document No. 1414.↩
- Printed from the official translation (file No. 740.00119 Control (Germany)/9–445), rather than from the informal translation actually attached to the original of Bonbright’s memorandum.↩
- See document No. 1383, section iv.↩
- See document No. 1410.↩
- See documents Nos. 1403, 1406, 1407, 1409, and 1411.↩