740.00119 E.W./4–845: Telegram

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

3590. Cornea 211. For Mr. Lubin. After careful consideration of your message, Department’s 2663, April 5, 7 p.m., and after reviewing [Page 1193] Department’s instructions on restitution, I believe there is no insuperable problem involved in working on reparation in Moscow and on restitution in the EAC. Discussing restitution separately from reparation may actually facilitate reaching an agreement in principles and preliminary machinery of restitution along lines advocated by the Department in its 418, January 18, midnight, its 1220, February 16, midnight,46 and its 1795, March 8, midnight. Early working agreement also appears urgent to the military now burdened with conflicting claims for restitution and to liberated United Nations.

I have always understood that any restitution commission would be closely linked with the Reparation Commission when established. Within Germany the four power control machinery will in any case have operational responsibility for giving effect to both restitution and reparation programs.

As you have noted the Foreign Office also hopes to reach an early agreement on restitution. It is not clear whether the French will be ready to discuss restitution in EAC if they do not participate in the Moscow talks. The Russians have not taken a position on the separate discussion of restitution.

Your message makes particular reference to 2 types of cases on borderline between restitution and reparation: 1, a case in which it is better to leave a looted machine in situ in order not to disrupt a larger plant of which it forms an essential part; 2, transfer of an identified looted object to a reparation claimant instead of returning it to the government of the owner claimant. In the first case, the Allied Control authorities in Germany would have power to defer removal; an Allied Government could also defer its return pending appeal to the restitution commission. In the second case, the good grace with which an owner claimant would relinquish his claim in favor of a reparation claimant would depend on whether agreement had been reached on an overall ratio for balancing damage recovered thru restitution against damage made good thru reparation.

One approach broadly stated to the general question of compensation is to lump both restitution and reparation claims in one account, treating all property found in the enemy country whether looted property or not as a single fund for meeting reparation claims according to a single agreed ration. Under this concept a restitution program would deal only with return of unique cultural objects. A different approach is to attempt to restore to owner claimants (or their governments) as much looted property as practicable particularly productive equipment leaving it to reparation to balance out inequities between restitution-receiving countries. I have understood that the second approach to restitution is advocated by the Department.

  1. Telegram 1220 not printed.