740.00119 EAC/1–945: Telegram

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

313. Cornea 148. Under date of January 8 French delegation has submitted to the EAC a memorandum on restitution. Full text by air.98

Beginning of summary.

Memorandum begins by reference to United Nation’s declaration of January 5, 1943,99 and calls for determination of “a general economic policy towards Germany which will balance, for the better protection of Allied interests, the relation between economic activities maintained for purposes of reparation and activities which must disappear for security reasons, without prejudging the economic status of certain parts of German territory which may be subjected to a special regime”.

Section 1 calls for restitution of identifiable objects; of “identical” objects when the original ones cannot be found; and of “equivalent” objects in the case of artistic and cultural objects, gold and precious metals. Section 2 calls for assigning to the despoiled states a priority upon German resources. Before there if [is] any general compensation for the Allies, the stolen goods, in the broadest sense of the term, should be restored to the invaded countries; this priority for the invaded countries would be limited automatically to the assets found in Germany upon surrender. Some deviation from this priority might be found necessary in order to meet German needs for transport and supply, but the distress of the victim should have precedence over that of the robber.

Section 3 proposes four principles of regulating transfer of German assets. (1) Assets subject to transfer would include factories and equipment, transport equipment, patents, processes of production and labor, skilled and unskilled. (2) The transfer will be rapid and will be limited only by the requirements of the forces of occupation. (3) German proprietors of transferred goods will be compensated in Reichsmarks placed at the disposal of the beneficiary Allied governments. (4) Unsatisfied balance of claims of despoiled nations will [Page 1171] be regulated as part of the general problem of reparation for war damage.

Section 4 defines “spoliation” as covering (1) “the seizure, confiscation or requisitioning by the Germans of goods, rights and interests of any kind not recovered in the liberated territories”, (2) “the ‘purchase’ by the Germans of goods, rights and interests of any kind, regardless of the manner of fictitious payment adopted by them (payment in national currency extorted from the occupied power, assignment to an unbalanced clearing account, et cetera)”. This definition includes goods, rights and interests owned abroad by the United Nations or their nationals and seized by the Germans in whatever manner.

An inter-Allied office should be created to enforce these principles, charged with safeguarding stolen goods, receiving the requests of the Allied nations and taking action on them. Relations between it and the reparation, deliveries and restitution division under the Control Council for Germany would have to be defined. While waiting for each despoiled country to present a complete picture of damage suffered, the French delegation urges earliest possible agreement on the principle of restitution. End of summary.

  1. E.A.C. (45) 3. January 9, memorandum by the French Delegation to the European Advisory Commission, was transmitted by the Ambassador in the United Kingdom in his despatch 20329, January 11; neither printed. Corrigenda to the French memorandum were transmitted by the Ambassador in despatch 20374, January 15; neither printed.
  2. For text of the declaration regarding forced transfers of property in enemy-controlled territory, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, p. 443.