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

11749. US Salco 50.

1. Ronald,8 FonOff, under date of November 2 has written as follows to Blaisdell9 concerning subject of reference:

“I am very sorry for the delay in replying to your letter of August 28 containing the views of the US Govt on Field Marshal Montgomery’s [Page 1542] telegram about the directive on German coal. (Re Department’s 7288, 25 August.) The question has required very careful consideration and I am now able to give you the views of His Majesty’s Government.

2. “There is no intention on the part of His Majesty’s Government or Field Marshal Montgomery to depart from the principle that so long as there is a serious shortage of coal in Europe the needs of the civil populations of the liberated countries must have preference over the needs of the civil population of Germany. On this point there does not seem to be any difference between the British views and those of the US Government.

3. “Nor does it seem that there is any difference between us (although you do not specifically mention the point in your letter) on the necessity of providing some coal for local use in Germany, to meet which the words ‘civil and blank’ were (at our suggestion and with your agreement) inserted in the last sentence of paragraph 2 of the directive so that it read ‘blank subordinate only to the civil and military requirements necessary to ensure the safety, security, health maintenance and operation of the Allied forces blank’. The difficulty arose in deciding what are the minimum civil requirements necessary for this purpose. Since you wrote I have learned that the Combined Coal Committee has been dissolved and that a coal subcommittee has been set up under the Economic Directorate of the Allied Control Authority, among the duties of which will be the allocation of German coal for internal use and for export. You will also be aware that the Coordinating Committee of the Allied Control Authority in Berlin have instructed the Economic Directorate to study the directive on coal production and distribution addressed to Field Marshal Montgomery and to submit a report to the committee at the earliest possible moment.

4. “Meanwhile we are informing Field Marshal Montgomery that in the practical application of the directive he is entitled to exercise the powers of discretion normally enjoyed by a Commander in Chief in the field provided always that the needs of the civil population in the liberated territories concerned have preference over the needs of the civil population of Germany and that the general standard of coal consumption in Germany remains below that in those liberated territories.

5. “We note that the US Government welcome the proposal for a commission to be appointed to study on the spot various matters concerned with the production of coal in the Ruhr. His Majesty’s Government are in agreement and also share the view expressed in your letter that the appointment of such a commission by ECO is inadvisable.

His Majesty’s Government are instructing the Commander in Chief of the British zone to set up a commission with broad terms of reference embracing the points you mentioned. He is also being instructed to consult with the Commanders of the American and French zones about the arrangements for the Commission, with particular reference to the appointment by those commanders of American and French representatives as members of the Commission.

His Majesty’s Government propose that the Commission should report in the first place to Field Marshal Montgomery and that [Page 1543] copies of this report should be sent simultaneously to the US and French zone Commanders. They suggest that the question of reference to the Allied Control Council should be left open for further discussion.

6. “In taking this course His Majesty’s Government are determined that no practical measures should be neglected that may enable the Commander in Chief of the British zone to increase the production of coal and exports to liberated countries. We hope therefore that the US authorities will cooperate in the arrangements we propose to this end.”

Following comment on Ronald’s letter to Blaisdell is offered:

Reply indicates that pending comment by Economic Directorate of the Allied Control Authority on Prime Minister’s coal directive (and presumably the parallel directives issued by the heads of the US and French Governments) the directive is suspended by British Government insofar as it requires a specific export target. It will be recalled that Montgomery’s reply to directive questioned ability to meet export target of 10,000,000 tons by end of year and additional 15,000,000 tons by 30th April. The new instructions to Montgomery described in letter to Blaisdell have neither affirmed original target nor indicated desirability of any alternative target. Only criterion now affirmed for determining export volume is that general standard of coal consumption in Germany shall be below that of liberated countries. Responsibility for determining whether or not this test which is subject to wider latitude of interpretation has been met is apparently delegated to Montgomery. Inferential negation of specific export target would render meaningless the parallel directive from President to Commanding General US Zone, since coal exports must come chiefly from British zone.
It should be noted that total German coal exports to France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Denmark and Norway 4 months July–October amount to approximately 2,000,000 tons. It is indicated that German allocation for December delivery to these countries will be less than 900,000 instead of 1,200,000 as earlier projected by former Combined Coal Committee of CRAB.
It does not seem to us that suggested commission, as UK now proposes to constitute it, would serve any significant purpose. Initial Montgomery suggestion was the British Government name a commission outside of BAOR [Board?] to examine production possibilities. US welcomed this in principle but proposed that commission should be jointly named by UK, US and French Governments, that it have broad terms of reference with respect to production and transport of coal in 3 western zones of occupation and that because of urgency of problem the commission should report directly to the 3 zone commanders. A commission named by Montgomery, even though [Page 1544] including US and French nominees, and reporting to Montgomery on British zone only would constitute little more than an internal review of matters that are presumably already under frequent review by approximately the same personnel. Commission of this character would indicate that Ruhr supply was mainly a UK interest rather than a matter of urgent concern to all occupying powers as emphasized in Department’s 9666 of November 2.10
It is suggested that a high level overall survey of problems concerning production and transport of German coal is no less urgent than it was last August and that this approach should again be urged upon the British. In the 9 weeks, however, since US proposal was made to UK significant new developments have occurred which should now be taken into account. Allocation of German coal is now a quadripartite responsibility and Soviet has bid for Ruhr coal for its zone of occupation. Under these circumstances it would seem appropriate that despite current deadlock in Berlin on coal allocation, German coal supply position in all important aspects should be jointly explored by representatives of 4 controlling powers and that their terms of reference should embrace all 4 zones. It is suggested that an approach of this character might help overcome some of the difficulties that have resulted in current impasse. In considering all aspects of German supply position the proposed 4 party inquiry should fully examine possibility of importing Silesian coal for those areas of Germany for which it is the nearest source of supply. In the light of its findings and within the framework of the principles set forth in the directives issued by the heads of the US, UK and French Governments, the proposed commission should recommend a new export target.
Presumably the proposed civilian coal adviser to the Commanding General US zone (see Department’s 9390 dated October 2411) would be the appropriate US member of the proposed commission.
It would be desirable if the proposed inquiry could be initiated at the highest level and it is to be hoped, therefore, that the matter might be included in the forthcoming talks between the President and the Prime Minister.12 In the meanwhile, it is suggested, if you concur in these recommendations, that nomination of US representative to commission to be named by Montgomery be declined for reasons stated above and that explanation of our position be given to UK in Washington and here.

Sent to Department as 11749 repeated to Murphy Berlin as 271.

  1. Nigel B. Ronald, Acting Assistant Under Secretary of State, British Foreign Office.
  2. Thomas C. Blaisdell, Chief of the United States Mission for Economic Affairs, London.
  3. The Inter-Allied governing body for Greater Berlin. For documentation on
  4. Not printed; it transmitted the information that the appointment of a civilian coal adviser was under consideration (862.6362/10–1545).
  5. For documentation on these talks, mainly dealing with atomic energy, see vol. ii, pp. 1 ff.