740.00119 EAC/4–1345: Telegram

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

3315. Reurtel 3781, April 13, Comea 216. It is noted that the question of looted gold may come up in the EAC discussions on restitution. The gold question may be accentuated by the discovery of the Reichsbank gold by the Third Army. For your guidance, the Department’s views are as follows:

The Gold Declaration of February 22, 194462 indicated explicitly that United Nations subscribing thereto would not recognize the German title to gold taken from the occupied countries.
The reparation documents prepared in the Department, of which you have copies, indicated that looted gold found in Germany would not be subject to restitution but would be prorated. (See final report of Interdivisional Reparation Committee, ECEFP D–19/44,63 Part 2, page 10; and Summary: Report on Reparation, Restitution, et cetera, ECEFP D–37/44,64 page 11 para (g)).
It seems necessary to revise the views of the Department as expressed in the reparation documents, since the public announcement that transfers of gold would be regarded as invalid would seem to mean that looted and identifiable gold found in Germany is still regarded as the property of the persons or countries from whom it was taken. It does not seem politically or otherwise feasible to attempt to prorate gold which is thus declared to be the property of Allied countries.
For purposes of your discussions with EAC, therefore, you should adhere to the principle that gold, like other property, is subject to restitution if identifiable. However, it seems important to make the point that in this case especially restitution should be limited to the returning of identifiable looted property and should not be extended to cover the replacement of looted gold by gold which cannot be identified as having been the property of the country in question. Since the application of the restitution principle as above defined may result in one country recovering its stock of gold while another does not, Department believes gold recovered in Germany should be presumed to be unidentifiable unless convincing evidence to the contrary can be presented.