840.414/10–2145: Telegram

The United States Political Adviser for Germany ( Murphy ) to the Secretary of State

823. Reference mytel 791, October 16, 3 p.m.,97 and Deptel 564 of September 28. Subject is German FonOff and related documents.

Latest developments: in response to a recent invitation by General Clay98 to visit the Ministerial Collection Center near Kassel, the Russians sent Col. P. V. Safanov, Major M. A. Kreselava, Capt. A. K. Altakhov and civilian interpreter A. J. Merck. This group arrived at the MCC October 2 and remained one full week. Their inspection of all ministerial documents except FonOff was thorough and complete. The Russian officers were intelligent and thoroughly competent. They showed special interest in the German FonOff archives, asking about these daily and in considerable detail. They were told by Colonel Newton, the American officer in charge, that he had only the FonOff library and records up to the early thirties which were as yet unboxed since they had no bearing on the re-establishment of the various German central administrations authorized by the Allied Control Council. Colonel Newton also told them that some FonOff records were being exploited by a British-American team at Marburg and he felt certain that some important records had been destroyed by the Germans. After being pressed further to see these records, Colonel Newton suggested that further information could be obtained through the normal diplomatic channels, since he himself was neither familiar nor directly charged with the details. The Russians indicated that they would formally ask to examine the Marburg documents. Since they have Dr. Ullrich, Chief of German FonOff [Page 1123] archives, and some other members of his staff in their custody, it is probable that the Russians are quite fully informed as to the extent and general contents of these archives.

We and the British are in agreement that these documents should be screened if possible before release to Russians and French. With the present British and American staffs, this screening will require not less than one year. According to Mr. Michael Creswell, British FonOff representative recently here, the British FonOff believes that the State Dept and itself should decide very soon as to the ultimate disposition of these documents, namely, whether they should be sent to Berlin for use of the Allied Control Council or whether they should be removed to the United States or United Kingdom to be worked upon by historians and scholars. The FonOff is in favor of the latter solution with the plan eventually to accept the participation of Russian and French experts in the study of these documents.

At the present time, the bulk of the FonOff archives, including those up to the year 1933 and the 60,000 volume FonOff library, is at MCC near Kassel. Approximately 150 tons are still at Marburg being actively exploited by a team of five British military officers and four American auxiliary State Dept officers. One British and one American officer are handling the documents at MCC.

Up until the present time, nothing has been found which in our opinion might be embarrassing to the State Dept. The British while not pointing to specific cases, feel that certain documents should not go out of British-American control.

Two possible lines of action seem to be open:

Transfer all FonOff archives, except the library to either the US or UK. This would transfer responsibility of the Military Govt for the documents to the State Dept and FonOff but would hardly satisfy the Russians who are aware of the existence of these documents.
Continue the exploitation of these documents by British and American teams at MCC, excluding all other participation until fully screened. As documents are screened, they could be released [apparent omission] examination by French and Russians. The FonOff library could be released immediately. Eventually, all documents could be moved to Berlin. This will require a firm policy on the part of the State Dept, British FonOff and the Office of Military Govt. It might be used to develop a more reciprocal attitude on the part of the Russians, who thus far have not released to us any similar documentation which they may have captured in their zone.

We should receive definite telegraphic instructions from the Dept without delay and I recommend that this second plan be adopted.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Lt. Gen. Lucius D. Clay, Deputy Military Governor, Deputy Chief of Staff and Commanding General of U.S. Group, Control Council.