840.50/4–145: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman)

986. Redeptel No. 768 of April 1, 1945. Informal discussions have been held here with British Embassy representatives on Eden’s memorandum concerning Eastern European food surpluses.

They have dispatched a cable to British Government after clearance with us substantially along following lines.

Summary. US agrees that problem of maximum utilization of indigenous European resources is a serious one and that UK and ITS can have only a limited responsibility for food in Eastern Europe and the Balkans except for Greece. ITS believes that the various countries in this area present separate problems and it is not feasible to discuss them as a whole. It is doubtful that supply discussions can be conducted on a strictly technical basis with the Soviets because broader questions of policy will be inevitably linked with them. It is the US belief that the problem of using food in Western Germany from Eastern Germany would appropriately fall within the reparations discussions and the discussions of EAC and could usefully be taken up in connection with the reparations talks in Moscow if there were present food experts and representatives familiar with EAC. Polish and Czechoslovakian supply problems involve matters of policy pertaining to UNRRA and other supply arrangements viz. lend lease upon which definite conclusions cannot be reached without further analysis. The distribution of any surpluses from satellite countries and production of food in those areas should be discussed in connection with the supply policy toward the Soviet Union. US therefore desires more careful analysis of specific problems and does not believe general discussions at this time in Moscow would be of value. End summary.

Certain aspects of the question of East European food surpluses will unquestionably come up in connection with discussions in EAC on German policy and in the reparations discussions at Moscow. We shall press in EAC and in Moscow for early acceptance of the principle [Page 1090] that there must be equitable interzonal distribution of food available in Germany and that food shipments from Germany, whether for reparation account or otherwise, shall not be permitted on a scale that would require us to provide sustained relief to Germany. We shall also insist both in the Moscow reparations discussions and EAC that if any imports of food into Germany or Austria prove necessary, payment for such essential imports should constitute a first charge on all German or Austrian exports. Actual procurement of any essential food imports for Germany or Austria must, however, be left to the control authorities in those countries. Lubin’s57 staff does not at present include food experts since we are assuming that the Embassy’s agricultural experts will be able to supply such advice on food matters as will probably be required. If, however, the food aspects of reparation questions should require more detailed consideration than could be handled in this way, food experts might later be added to Lubin’s staff.

In accordance with your recommendation the availability of food in Southeastern Europe for the support of Russian armies in those areas and as reparations to Russia will be considered in connection with future protocol shipments.

Regarding Czechoslovakia and Poland, our general view would be that such UNRRA supplies as are necessary to assist the local population to meet their basic needs should be sent to these countries. However until the Soviets agree that they will not consume or export food from those countries we question the advisability of our shipping in equivalent food supplies. In case they do not agree we should make it clear why we deem it necessary to curtail shipments of supplies. This problem in Czechoslovakia can be handled directly with the Czechoslovakian Government. In regard to Poland it will be necessary to act in accordance with future developments.

Repeated to London as 3416.

  1. Isador Lubin, Associate United States Representative on the Allied Commission on Reparations.