740.00119 E.W./12–1545: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to the Secretary of State

4175. Vyshinski replied in letter dated December 13 to my representations concerning removal by Soviet military authorities of equipment of vacuum tube factory in Vrchlabi and of telephone factory in Bruntal as follows:

“The Soviet Government is not able to agree with the point of view of the American Government in accordance with the actions of the [Page 536] Soviet military authorities in Czechoslovakia, in particular concerning the removal of trophy equipment of the above named German factories, could be regarded as contrary to article IV, paragraphs 1, 5, 8 and 9 of the decisions of the Berlin Conference of the Three Powers. In this connection, the Soviet Government believes it is necessary to draw the attention of the American Government to fact that article IV of these decisions relates only to reparations and not trophies.

In this regard I must also point out the correctness of the assertion of the Soviet military authorities in Czechoslovakia that the equipment of these German factories in Vrchlabi and in Bruntal, whose production was placed entirely at the service of the German Army, is a war trophy and, as a consequence, can be removed to the Soviet Union. In particular such a decision is in full conformity with the definition of the term ‘war material’, given in the texts of the protocols to the armistice agreements where it stated that the term ‘war material’ will be regarded as including all ‘war material’ or equipment belonging to, used by, or destined for use of the enemy or their members.78

In addition the question of the removal from the territory of Czechoslovakia liberated by the Red Army of the equipment of German enterprises and of other trophy property possessing an important military significance, was already settled in the month of March of this year by an agreement between the Governments of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Czechoslovakia; the equipment of enterprises, which in the present instance is under discussion, fully comes under the operation of this agreement.

However, meeting the wishes of the Czechoslovak Government, the Soviet Government has decided to limit itself to the removal of only 50 percent of the equipment of one of the above mentioned factories (namely, the vacuum tube factory) and that as regards the remaining part of this equipment in place, transferring it to the disposition of the Czechoslovak Government.79

Thus, this question should be considered, as you see, exhausted.

I beg you Mr. Ambassador, et cetera”.

Sent to Department 4175; repeated to Prague 36; Berlin 145.

  1. For the definition of “war material”, see article 2 of the Protocol to the Allied Armistice with Rumania, September 12, 1944, Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 490, or 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1712, 1726; article 2 of the Protocol to the Allied Armistice with Bulgaria, EAS No. 437, or 58 Stat. (pt. 2) 1498, 1514; and article 1 of the Protocol of the Allied Armistice with Hungary, January 20, 1945, EAS No. 456, or 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1321, 1351. For documentation regarding the negotiation of these armistice agreements, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, pp. 133 ff. for Rumania; ibid., vol. iii, pp. 300 ff. for Bulgaria, and ibid., pp. 847 ff. for Hungary.
  2. Telegram 725, December 13, from Prague, reported receipt of a note of December 7 from the Czechoslovak Foreign Ministry stating that the Czechoslovak Government had been informed that the Soviet Government had renounced its claim to the International Telephone and Telegraph plant at Bruntal and had agreed to increase the percentage of machines and equipment to be left on the premises of the tube plant at Vrchlabi. The telegram also reported that the Embassy had renewed its protest to the Czechoslovak Government against the removal of any equipment from the American-owned plant. (360F.115 International Telephone and Telegraph Co./12–1345) Telegram 787, December 27 from Prague, recommended that the attention of the Soviet Government be called to the fact that the Vrchlabi plant was wholly American owned and therefore not subject to classification as a “war trophy” (740.00119 EW/12–2745).