The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)

7288. Brit Emb here has communicated to Dept telegram from Marshal Montgomery to War Office77 on subject of German coal [Page 1525] directive,78 asking for authority (1) to place an “adequate” interpretation on the extent of civil and military coal requirements necessary to ensure the safety, security, health, maintenance and operation of the occupying forces, and (2) in particular, to regard coal for military requirements, certain transportation requirements, necessary public utilities, production and processing of food, production of building materials for essential shelter, production of medical and sanitary supplies and similar fundamental requirements, as a first charge on the production of German mines.

In supporting this request, Montgomery expresses doubt that it is practicable to keep industry in Germany suspended over a long period and a belief that the carrying out of the present directive would result in wide-spread unemployment which he implies should be avoided.

Montgomery also suggests the appointment either by the Brit Govt, in consultation with American and French Govts, or by ECO79 of a commission, including leading coal producers and transportation authorities, who would be instructed to examine the entire coal position in Germany with the Combined Coal Committee of CRAB.

Covering note by Brit Emb reports that preliminary opinion in London favors granting zone commanders latitude in application of coal directive which Montgomery desires.

Dept understands Brit ministers are considering Montgomery’s message August 27, and accordingly suggest that you communicate to FonOff US views as given below, as promptly as possible.

While it may not be possible to achieve the goal of 25 million tons set in directive, this Govt continues opposed to making any amendment either by formal action or interpretation in the directive which clearly established principle that greatest amount of coal possible be made available for export and that use of coal in Germany should be minimum necessary to protect occupying forces and redeployed Allied forces. There will be distress and unemployment in many parts of Europe under best of circumstances and purpose of directive was to put Allied countries in a position substantially superior to that of Germans. In paragraph 6 of coal directive, British, French and American Govts all specifically recognized that “the carrying out of the above policies with respect to German coal may cause unemployment, unrest, and dissatisfaction among Germans of a magnitude [Page 1526] which may necessitate firm and rigorous action” and promised that “any action required to control this situation will be fully supported”.

The interpretation which Montgomery suggests and which was specifically discussed and rejected prior to issuance of directive might, in effect, place Germany in a favorable position relative to liberated areas, particularly in so far as it contemplates using coal in Germany for purpose of avoiding unemployment in that country.

This Govt, however, is entirely willing to supply experts to assist Marshal Montgomery in achieving the necessary volume of coal production in Germany. This Govt is also disposed to favor participation in appointment of commission of experts which would examine on the spot ways and means of raising coal output in Germany provided an effort is made to select not only experts on coal production and transportation but also experts on other factors such as labor, housing, etc, affecting coal production. This Govt does not consider appointment of such a commission by ECO advisable.

  1. A copy of the telegram was transmitted to the Department under cover of an aide-mémoire from the British Embassy dated August 24, 1945; neither printed. Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery was Commander in Chief, British Forces of Occupation in Germany; Military Governor, British zone in Germany; and British representative, Allied Control Council for Germany.
  2. For text of the directive sent to the United States Military Governor, General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, on July 26, see Conference of Berlin (Potsdam), vol. ii, p. 1028; a similar directive was sent to Field Marshal Montgomery, see ibid., p. 1033; French President Charles de Gaulle had also agreed to send a directive to the Commander in Chief of the French Forces in Germany, Gen. Marie-Pierre Koenig.
  3. European Coal Organization; for documentation on interest of the United States in the formation of a European Economic Committee and a European Coal Organization, see vol. ii, pp. 1411 ff.