Council of Foreign Ministers Files: Lot M–88, CFM London Documents, Box 2058

Memorandum by the French Delegation to the Council of Foreign Ministers

C.F.M. (45) 17

Control and Administration of Germany7

On 31st July last the Provisional Government of the French Republic received an invitation to participate in the Council of Foreign Ministers of the five Great Powers.8 On the same day they received the text of an Agreement concluded between the Governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union concerning “The political principles to govern the treatment of Germany in the initial control period”.9

In replying to these two communications the Provisional Government made various reservations regarding the solutions which were mentioned as applicable to Germany. These reservations refer to the contemplated restoration of political parties throughout Germany and the setting up of central administrative departments headed by State Secretaries whose authority would extend over the whole of German territory.

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In replying to the communication transmitting the above Agreement the Provisional Government pointed out that such measures seemed to presume a future evolution of Germany along lines as to which it was at present impossible to say whether they accorded with the interests of European peace and the actual desires of the populations concerned.

So far as they are concerned the Provisional Government fully endorse the principle stated in the opening lines of paragraph 9 of the Agreement concerning the way in which the control of Germany is to be exercised, namely that “The administration in Germany should be directed towards the decentralisation of the political structure and the development of local responsibility”. They feel that to prejudge the possibilities of political disintegration in Germany is at the moment premature and will for some time remain problematical; that certain schemes for decentralisation are calculated to produce not merely administrative but also political consequences; that to divide Germany into a number of States would promote the maintenance of security in Europe if it were the result of natural evolution and not an imposed solution. They regret, therefore, that the same paragraph 9 contemplates already the possible re-establishment of a central German Government, the creation of central German administrative departments and the reconstitution of political parties throughout Germany—all of these measures which are likely to revive the trend towards a united Germany and to favour the return to a centralised German State. More especially would they regret to see the Allied authorities replacing their own control, which prejudges nothing, by that of central German administrations set up in Berlin which would look like the first sign of a rebirth of the Reich.

The Provisional Government, further, notes that under the terms of the Potsdam Report the territories situated to the east of a certain line will be handed over to the administration of the Polish State “and for such purposes should not be considered as part of the Soviet zone of occupation in Germany.” Thus, these territories are henceforth not subject to the authority of the Soviet Commander-in-Chief in Germany and the Allied Control Commission, Berlin. Still less would they be subject to the authority of future central German administrations or an eventual central German Government.

The Provisional Government do not a priori object to such arrangements, but they must point out that this is the only step so far taken which indicates the intention of the Allied powers to alter the frontiers of Germany as they existed in February, 1938. If at the very moment such a decision is published notice is given of the imminent establishment of central German administrations with powers extending over the whole German territory left after such amputation, [Page 871] these two rulings will very likely be interpreted as confirming the maintenance of German sovereignty over all the areas to which these powers would actually extend.

The Provisional Government, however, have at various times publicly stressed the paramount importance they attach to preventing the Rhineland and Westphalia ever again becoming an arsenal, corridor or base for an attack by Germany on her western neighbours. They feel that the final separation of this region, including the Ruhr, from Germany, is both indispensable in order to cover the French frontier and an essential condition for the security of Europe and the world. They consider it necessary, therefore, that if central German administrations are to be set up, it should, at the same time be specified that their authority should not extend to the Rhineland and Westphalia.

In view of the importance to Europe and the world of the German problem the French Delegation would have expected to see this problem at the head of the agenda of the first meeting of the Council of Five Foreign Ministers. In view of the large number of questions on the agenda they do not propose to insist on this problem in general, or that of the future of the Rhineland and Westphalia in particular, being discussed at the first session. They are, however, obliged to state that the French representative on the Allied Control Commission in Berlin will not be empowered to agree to any action prejudging that area’s future until the question here raised has been discussed by the five Ministers and decided by the Council.

London, 14 September 1945.

  1. Paper submitted to the London session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, September 11–October 2, 1945. For documentation on the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, see vol. ii, pp. 99 ff.
  2. For the invitation to the French Government and the subsequent documentation on the French attitude toward the decisions of the Berlin Conference, see Conference of Berlin (Potsdam), vol. ii, pp. 15431566; and France, Ministère des Affaires Étrangères, Documents français relatifs à l’Allemagne, Août 1945–Février 1947 (Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 1947), pp. 7–13.
  3. Conference of Berlin (Potsdam), vol. ii, pp. 14811483.