C.F.M. Files: Lot M–88: Box 2061: CFM Documents

Memorandum by the French Delegation at the Council of Foreign Ministers

C.F.M. (46) 1


At the first session of the Conference of Foreign Ministers which was held in London the French Delegation presented a memorandum on 14th September, 1945 giving their views on measures concerning the control and administration of Germany.19

At the Meeting of 28th September it was decided that the French Government would expand their proposals through the diplomatic channel and that, following these preliminary conversations, the question would then be submitted to the Council for consideration.20

Between October and December, 1945 the French position has been stated in turn to the Governments of Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union, and aide-mémoires summarising this position as a whole were forwarded to the three capitals. These documents have also been sent to the Governments of Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Czechoslovakia.

The French Delegation consider the time has now come for the Council of Foreign Ministers to begin their study of the questions which have thus been raised with a view to coming to a decision.

The French plans are governed fundamentally by considerations of security.

Germany must be finally deprived of the war potential represented by the industry and raw material reserves of the Rhineland and Westphalia, and this region must no longer form a corridor, an arsenal or a starting point.

With this aim in view the French Government does not propose to resort to territorial acquisitions, but proposes that the Ruhr, the Rhineland and the Saar should be finally separated from Germany by establishing there a régime calculated to achieve the aims above described.

These territories taken together do not constitute either a political or an economic entity. Separate arrangements have therefore been proposed for each of the constituent regions.

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1. The Ruhr

The territory of the Ruhr comprises the coal mines and the factories associated therewith. It has a population of about five million inhabitants.

In order to ensure that the natural and industrial resources of this region are in future utilised not for military purposes but for the good of civilisation as a whole, the Ruhr must be treated as a political entity independent of Germany and placed under an international régime politically as well as economically.

All the countries concerned should share in the organisation of this regime, with the Powers most closely concerned playing, of course, a role of special importance.

The local administration should be elected as far as possible by the population, who might themselves, when the time comes, hold some of the functions of government. An international force would be stationed in this territory, the integrity of which should be guaranteed by all the interested Powers.

The more important mines and industrial concerns would be expropriated in the international interest, and their exploitation would be entrusted to international public utility companies.

It is essential that the Ruhr should cease to be an integral part of Germany, for if a German Government should continue to be responsible for the administration of the Ruhr, if it were in a position to give orders to officials and exercise sovereign rights there, any system of control which the Allies might establish would inevitably be ineffective and of short duration.

Moreover, the mere internationalisation of the mines and industry would not be sufficient to guarantee the control of the supply to Germany of raw materials and goods which might be used for armaments. A customs barrier should be set up between the Ruhr and Germany.

Nevertheless, part of the Ruhr’s credit balance might be used for a certain time for partial payment of the minimum supplies sent to Germany.

2. Rhineland

Adequate military forces should be permanently stationed in German territory on the left bank of the Rhine.

In so far as these forces are to constitute the direct protection of France; that is to say as far as Cologne, they should be supplied by France with the possibility of participation by Belgium and Luxembourg. Farther to the North it would probably be for Belgium, the Netherlands, and, if so desired, the United Kingdom to supply occupation forces.

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The Rhineland must be politically and economically separated from the remainder of Germany. Depending on how local conditions develop, it might be a State subject to Allied military occupation, or two or three States, each of them occupied by the troops of one of the Allied Powers.

Subject to such occupation and to permanent demilitarisation, the Government of the State (or the Governments of the States) to be set up in the Rhineland, would be free to manage their own affairs. They would be represented abroad by their own diplomatic services and would have their own currency and customs systems.

3. Saar

The French demands concerning the Saar were put forward in a note which the French Government presented on 18th February, 1946 in London, Moscow and Washington on the following lines:

The Saar mines, the ownership of which was given to France by the Treaty of Versailles, should again become the property of the French State and this territory would be included in the French Customs and monetary systems since the economic systems of both countries are virtually complementary.

The Saar would no longer be under the jurisdiction of the Control Commission in Berlin. France would be permanently responsible for the administration of the territory and would take all the steps necessary to sever the Saar public services entirely from those of the Reich.

French military forces would be permanently stationed in the Saar, in sufficient force to ensure internal security and control the frontier. The final political status and nationality of the inhabitants would be determined later. From now on France would be responsible for the protection abroad of Saar nationals and interests.

Such being the French Government’s proposals for the organisation of security in Western Germany, this statement should be supplemented by an indication of the French views on the general orientation which should be imparted to the organisation of Germany herself.

In a memorandum dated 14th September, 1945 the French Delegation gave their full approval to the provisions of the Agreements reached at Potsdam between the United States, United Kingdom and Soviet Governments envisaging the decentralisation of the political structure of Germany. At the same time they pointed out that they thought it premature to set up central administrative departments which might possibly revive the trend towards a single Germany and favour a return to a German centralised state.

They are convinced not only that the time is not ripe for the establishment of a central German Government, but that there is an urgent [Page 112] need to begin by recreating and developing the regional units which should constitute the basis of the future Germany.

In each of the occupied zones the direct administration by the Allies which obtained at the outset of the occupation, has already given way and will more and more give way in the future to control of local German administration. Governments have been set up in several German States, which are assisted by German consultative bodies. Elections have already taken place in the American zone and local constitutions are already being drawn up. The French Government have also decided to hold elections after 1st September in their zone, and to have constitutions framed in each of the constituent States.

As they see it, it is on the basis of such States or “Länder” that the political structure of Germany should be built in future, so as to prevent the re-establishment of a centralised State where the influence of a militarist Prussia would still, in spite of everything, predominate.

  1. Reference here is to the French Delegation’s memorandum on the control and administration of Germany, C.F.M. (45) 17, September 13, 1945, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 177.
  2. The decision referred to here was reached by the Council of Foreign Ministers at its 25th meeting, September 28, 1945; for the United States Delegation minutes of that meeting, see ibid., p. 429.