862.515/8–1445: Telegram

No. 978
The Assistant Secretary of State (Clayton) to the Secretary of State1

8243. From Clayton.

At Potsdam the Soviets renounced claim to gold captured by Allied troops in Germany.2 Although in practice it may be difficult to enforce this against any gold captured by Soviet forces certainly the term “Allied” includes the Soviet forces and Germany includes the Soviet Zone. There was no discussion or reason to indicate that only SHAEF Command was involved. None of the Big Three powers have implicitly or explicitly renounced a voice in the disposition of the gold. The statement means merely what it says that the Soviet have renounced a claim to the gold. (Reurtel 67843)

[Page 938]

We strongly believe in the Gold Pot theory4 and engaged in informal discussions of this at Potsdam with the British and Pauley. Although the question of first lien on account of US claims was mentioned by Pauley the very tentative view expressed by Sir David Waley was opposed to this. I believe that the Dept is correct in stating that this is impracticable and inadvisable.

I would recommend that the problem of disposition of gold under the Gold Pot doctrine be handled simultaneously with the general problem of restitution in the first instance perhaps by Pauley in the Reparations Commission and then if full agreement is not reached there by Generals Eisenhower and Clay in the Control Council. In this view the French although a claimant would, of course, participate in the discussion. As in all questions eventually requiring action by the Control Council if the Council fails to agree the zone commander will then have to make the decisions.

Sent to Dept as 8243, repeated to USPolAd Berlin for Pauley and Despres as 75 from Winant.

  1. Sent over the signature of Winant.
  2. See document No. 1383, section iii, paragraph 10.
  3. Not printed.
  4. The “gold pot” principle is explained as follows in a report dated February 18, 1946, submitted to the Secretary of State by James W. Angell, United States Delegate to the Paris Conference on Reparation held in November–December 1945 (file No. 740.00119 EW/2–1846):

    “This principle recognizes that the countries whose gold was wrongfully taken by Germany are entitled to its restitution. For administrative convenience (since a great deal of the gold is either unidentifiable or bears questionable markings) as well as for reasons of economic policy regarding gold, it was desirable to avoid the restitution of identifiable gold to particular countries. An analogy to explain this seeming departure from the principles of property which normally govern restitution was found in the rule of the Law Maritime regarding losses in a common disaster.… Briefly stated, the principle is that if A and B both ship cargo on a particular vessel and during a storm or fire A’s cargo is jettisoned to save the ship, B’s cargo, when it arrives safely in port, must bear a proportionate share of the loss suffered by A. The analogy has proved quite convenient in the presentation of the ‘gold pot’ principle.”