Matthews Files

The President to the Secretary of State 1

Memorandum for the Secretary of State

I do not think that in the present stage any good purpose would be served by having the State Department or any other department sound out the British and Russian views on the treatment of German industry. Most certainly it should not be taken up with the European Advisory Commission which, in a case like this, is on a tertiary and not even a secondary level.

The real nub of the situation is to keep Britain from going into complete bankruptcy at the end of the war.

Somebody has been talking not only out of turn to the papers or on facts which are not fundamentally true.

No one wants to make Germany a wholly agricultural nation again, and yet somebody down the line has handed this out to the press. I wish we could catch and chastise him.

You know that before the war Germany was not only building up war manufacture, but was also building up enough of a foreign trade to finance re-arming sufficiently and still maintain enough international credit to keep out of international bankruptcy.

I just can not go along with the idea of seeing the British empire collapse financially, and Germany at the same time building up a potential re-armament machine to make another war possible in twenty years. Mere inspection of plants will not prevent that.

But no one wants “complete eradication of German industrial -productive capacity in the Ruhr and Saar”.

It is possible, however, in those two particular areas to enforce rather complete controls. Also, it must not be forgotten that outside of the Ruhr and Saar, Germany has many other areas and facilities for turning out large exports.

In regard to the Soviet government, it is true that we have no idea as yet what they have in mind, but we have to remember that in their occupied territory they will do more or less what they wish. We cannot afford to get into a position of merely recording protests on our part unless there is some chance of some of the protests being heeded.

I do not intend by this to break off or delay negotiations with the Soviet government over lend-lease either on the contract basis or on the proposed Fourth Protocol basis.2 This, however, does not immediately concern the German industrial future.

F[ranklin] D. R[oosevelt]
  1. The memorandum did not reach the Department of State until October 3. The source is a copy typed in the Department.
  2. The Fourth Protocol pertained to Lend-Lease supplies to be made available to the Soviet Mission during the period from July 1, 1944, to June 30, 1945. For text, see Soviet Supply Protocols, Department of State Publication 2759 (Washington, Government Printing Office, no date).