740.00119 EAC/3–2745: Telegram

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

2663. From Lubin. Concerning the problem of restitution, I have read your cables 3141 of March 27 and 2107 of March l.32

I am very much disturbed by the suggestion that discussions on restitution should not be raised in Moscow. Personally I cannot see how it will be possible completely to separate the two problems, particularly in so far as plant, equipment and productive facilities are concerned. I can readily see how we can separate the restitution of art objects and financial securities from reparations. To handle all aspects of restitution independently in London through the EAC, however, might involve conflict of authority and all sorts of difficulties particularly in those instances Where machinery may be found in a plant which it may be decided to move to a liberated area as part of reparations.

In so far as productive equipment is concerned I urgently recommend that the policy suggested in the Department cable number 418 of January 18, 1945 under paragraph 3a be accepted by the E.A.C. This paragraph, as you remember, recommends that it be definitely provided that the restitution commission should be a sub-commission of the Reparations Commission. This should not require postponement of establishment by E.A.C. of a restitution commission, and, in practical effect it is not likely that there would be any real difficulty on the principles to be followed by a restitution commission so far as works of art and securities are concerned. It would mean that so far as problems of plant or plant facilities are involved, the decisions of the Restitution Commission would be recognized as being subject to over-all reparation policy. I understand that the Department’s reparation document in any event always contemplated that the right to obtain restitution of such identifiable looted property as machinery and rolling stock would be subject to decisions based on over-all necessity. A reparation decision to transfer a plant to one claimant should not, in other words, be frustrated by the absolute right of another claimant to remove a vital and irreplaceable machine, which is a minor part of such plant.

The one thing that I wish to avoid is conflict of authority and possible difficulties in the future when the actual transfer of reparations items take place. I cannot see how such difficulties can be avoided if the restitution of productive equipment is handled by a body independent of the Reparations Commission.

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On the other hand, they can be avoided by explicit agreement that the operating Restitution Commission which will presumably eventually be set up in Germany will both organizationally and in operational authority be a body subsidiary to the similar operating Reparation Commission.

Department concurs in above.[Lubin.]

  1. Latter not printed.