The American Representative in Rumania (Berry) to the Secretary of State
[Received September 9—6:15 p.m.]
650. Third meeting Soviet-American Oil Commission September 6 Soviets requested details on Romano-American equipment.
- Inventory of oil equipment January 1, 1942 Note: All following refer to period January 1, 1942 to October 1, 1944
- Additions to stock
- Contracts for deliveries of equipment concluded with which companies
- Point of origin and place at which received
- Conditions as to payment on contracts
- Who completed necessary formalities in connection with receiving equipment and where. Actual contracts should be presented if possible
- Value of equipment received and to what extent equipment had been paid for
- List of equipment consumed
Americans asked why above material was wanted since it appeared irrelevant to problem in hand. After much discussion on this point, Russians stated that the material had been seized because it was considered German material and they will consider it so. They stated that when America entered war, Romano-Americana status changed. The information was requested in order to establish question of ownership. This question they consider fundamental. Discussion on this point ended by Americans saying they could not agree to furnish information requested but would submit same to their Government for approval, pointing out that they might offer counterproposals which should serve just as well as a basis for determining question of ownership. Russians replied that they would be pleased to consider any counterproposals providing questions asked were answered.[Page 661]
When asked about furnishing their list of materials seized the Soviets said question of material seized is secondary. Real question is that of ownership. From questions asked and discussion it appears that Soviets consider all equipment purchased by Romano-Americana during period in question as of doubtful ownership.
The Americans gained the impression that this would apply not only to equipment purchased in Germany but to all equipment purchased, possibly less stocks January 1, 1942.
At third meeting held by British September 5 similar discussions took place. British concluded that Russians were trying to prove that all material purchased in Germany during period Great Britain was at war should be classed as war booty. British finally agreed to furnish information requested but stated it would be done from June 22, 1941 rather than September 1, 1939. British intend to present preliminary data when ready with hope it will not be necessary to complete task.
Members of American Commission feel that question of ownership which has been raised by Soviets is not really part of assignment given Commission. Preparation of data requested would require much time and useless work.
Commission members therefore suggest they be empowered to inform Russians (a) that question of ownership is not for Commission to decide; (b) that American Government willing to discuss question of ownership and to furnish any factual data which may have bearing on same; (c) that in order to tackle this problem properly, Soviets should define under what conditions they would or would not consider property purchased by Romano-Americana as of German ownership; (d) when two Governments agree in principle on questions of ownership, preparation of pertinent factual information proceed.
No date set for fourth meeting.
Repeated to Moscow as 2045, London as 18.