Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic A fairs (Clayton) to the Secretary of State

The attached outgoing telegram24 agreeing to US participation in the Central Commission of the Rhine takes the position (paragraph 3) that Germany be represented by the Allied Control Council. The alternative that only the Allied military authorities controlling German riparian territory should be represented on the Commission by liaison officers is rejected. The former position is consistent with the proposal submitted by the US delegation to the Council of Foreign Ministers.

In his telegram 782 October 14 from Berlin, Murphy takes the position that the proposal for establishing an Interim German Rhine Control Organization should be by arrangement among the zone commanders having jurisdiction over the German portion of the Rhine rather than by a quadripartite Transport Directorate or the Control Council. Such an arrangement was the second alternative set forth in the attached cable 9977 of September 26 sent to Murphy from London and repeated to the Department.

The basic issue which needs immediate decision is whether this government should press for Control Council representation on the Rhine or some form of representation or liaison only by the authorities in riparian zones. The arguments in favor of Control Council representation are:

The Potsdam Declaration provided for centralized control of transportation in Germany.25
The US proposals at the Council of Foreign Ministers for the establishment of emergency regimes for the European waterways put [Page 1372] forth the principle that the four signatory powers (US, UK, USSR and France) should be represented in international commissions for the Rhine, Elbe, Oder and Danube Rivers and the Kiel Canal together with the riparian states and Germany or Austria as represented by the respective Control Councils.26
The abandonment at this time of the position of Control Council representation on the Rhine Commission would prejudice the question of Control Council representation with respect to the Elbe and Oder as far as Germany was concerned and the Danube in so far as Austria is concerned since the Oder is solely in the Soviet Zone, the Elbe in the Soviet and British Zones and the Danube in the US Zone in Germany and the US and Soviet Zones in Austria.
The adoption of riparian zone representation would eliminate indirect US participation in the other German waterways and French and British indirect participation in the Austrian section of the Danube and might be interpreted as an abandonment of the principles set forth in the memorandum submitted by the US delegation to the Council of Foreign Ministers.
In view of the failure to reach agreement on the broad principles of four-power representation on all rivers, the question is raised whether we should at this time give up the principle of four-power Control Council representation for the enemy states as well, since such a procedure would provide for at least a foothold by the major non-riparian powers in waterways other than the Rhine.

The arguments against Control Council representation are:

Soviet action in the Control Council could delay or impede action on the Commission through the exercise of a veto. It has been pointed out, however, that, on matters affecting only the Western Zone, the Soviets have not so used this power to impede action.
The French have objected to Control Council representation on the Rhine primarily because of their desire to avoid centralized control of German transportation and the “interference” of the USSR in Rhine affairs. (In discussing this question recently with Berard of the French Embassy, he emphasized this position. However, he had not followed this position through in so far as it would affect the French position on the Danube and promised to secure further views of his government on that question.)
Close working relationships between the three Western Zone authorities and the other riparian states might be more readily established without delay since it would be necessary to get French approval of action through the Control Council.

In view of the above considerations, it would appear necessary for the Department to reach a definite decision on the question of Control Council representation not only with respect to the Rhine but also with respect to other occupied territories with a clear understanding of the possible implications of such a decision to the President’s proposal at Potsdam and London.

  1. Not attached to file copy of memorandum.
  2. Conference of Berlin (Potsdam), vol. ii, p. 1503.
  3. See memorandum by the United States delegation, CFM (45) 1, September 12, p. 132.