840.811/5–2046: Airgram

The Ambassador in France (Caffery) to the Secretary of State

Subject: Tripartite Traffic Operating Committee for the Rhine in Germany.

A–708. On May 17, 1946, representatives of the three Western Zones of occupation in Germany met at Duisburg. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the establishment and organization of a Tripartite Traffic Operating Committee for the Rhine in Germany. Present for the U.S. Zone were Lt. Col. C. R. Clemens, Chief, Rhine Waterways Organization, OMGUS: Major R. M. Fulton, U.S. Representative, Rhine Interim Working Committee: and Mr. R. S. McClure, U.S. Department of State. The French and British Zones were represented by their respective chiefs of IWT, accompanied by their advisers.

Representatives of the three Zones agreed in principle that the formation of a Tripartite Traffic Operating Committee for the Rhine in Germany is desirable.

Methods of control and operation in the three Zones were examined and it was found that in the British and U.S. Zones the methods of [Page 259]control and of operation were very similar. On the other hand, it was found that in the French Zone these were quite different. In the British and U.S. Zones, control of traffic and navigation facilities is in the hands of the military authorities with actual operation of the fleets in the Zones being the responsibility of Centralized German organizations known as Transport-Zentrale. In the French Zone, however, the use of German Rhine craft has been requisitioned by Zone authorities and assigned by these authorities to a government-sponsored shipping combine known as “La Communauté Française pour la Navigation Rhénane.” The Communauté both controls and operates the French Zone fleet as well as the French national fleet, although the German owners retain nominal title to the craft. (See Frankfurt’s No. 239 to the Department, May 2, 1946 and Paris’ No. 2219 to the Department May 8, 1946.56)

Methods of amalgamating these two different systems were explored at this meeting, and it was agreed to propose the following: (Concise.)

  • “(a) That the U.S., French and British German Rhine fleets be put under the common control of a Tripartite Traffic Operating Committee for the fulfillment of the German traffic programme and without regard to the sizes of the zonal Rhine fleets.
  • “(b) On the operating side the U.S. and British Zones agreed to propose the establishment of a Bipartite controlled German Rhine operating organisation. The German Rhine fleet in the French Zone is operated by the Communauté Française.

“The whole German Rhine fleet would therefore come under the common control of a Tripartite Traffic Operating Committee, and the actual operation of the craft would come under two controls, namely

“The Communauté Française and

“A Bipartite controlled German Rhine operating organisation.”

Meanwhile, M. Lebel of the French Foreign Office had arranged a meeting on May 20, 1946, to discuss various questions regarding Rhine arrangements. The proposals arising from the Duisburg meeting on May 17 were discussed at this meeting, the U.S. group consisting of L. T. Merchant, W. A. Radius, R. S. McClure and A. P. Muelberger. The French are in agreement on these proposals, stipulating that their agreement is provisional pending decisions concerning reparations and size of inland fleet to be allowed Germany for minimum economy requirements.

It should be noted that French are concurring in these proposals in spite of their disapproval in principle of centralized German traffic organization. They fear that such an organization will permit Germans to regain ascendancy in Rhine shipping.

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It had been agreed at the Tripartite discussions to meet again on May 29, 1946 in Duisburg, to see whether definite agreement on the above proposals were possible. The French, however, are asking that this meeting be postponed one week.

Repeated to London and Berlin.

  1. Neither printed.