740.00119 EW/1–1946: Telegram

The United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy) to the Acting Secretary of State


169. See my 112, January 13, 6 p.m., and my 89, January 11, 6 p.m. Following is text of definition of restitution based on Soviet counter proposal adopted by Coordinating Committee at its thirty-second meeting:

  • “1. The question of restitution of property removed by the Germans from Allied countries must be examined, in all cases, in light of the declaration of January 5, 1943.17
  • “2. Restitution will be limited in the first instance to identifiable goods which existed at the time of occupation of the country concerned and which have been taken by the enemy by force from the territory of the country.
  • “Also falling under measure of restitution are identifiable goods produced during the period of occupation and which have been obtained by force. All other property removed by the enemy is eligible for restitution to the extent consistent with reparations. However, the United Nations retain the right to receive from Germany compensation for this other property removed as reparations.
  • “3. As to goods of a unique character, restitution of which is impossible, special instructions will fix the categories of goods subject to replacement, the nature of these replacements and the conditions in which such goods could be replaced by equivalent objects.
  • “4. Relevant transportation expenses within the present German frontiers and as repairs necessary for proper transportation, including the necessary manpower, material and organization, are to be borne by Germany and are included in restitution. Expenses outside Germany are borne by the recipient country.
  • “5. The Control Council will deal on all questions of restitution with the government of the country where the objects were looted.”

General Clay approved the proposal on condition that restitution to be effected will not involve expenses to US occupation forces and he emphasized that the US accepted no obligation to replace art objects item by item. In reply to a question from the French as to meaning of “compensation” Russian member envisaged compensation as including equipment, manufactured goods, raw material of minerals delivered at Germany’s expense as far as possible. French member requested the record include Soviet member’s understanding that the Control Council will decide the question to what extent restitution is consistent with reparations.

Instructions envisaged under paragraph 3 of text above were referred to the Reparations Deliveries and Restitution Directorate for drafting and agreement will be reported to Control Council meeting 21 January subject to British member obtaining final approval from his Government of the above definition.18

Sent Dept repeated to Moscow as 17, Paris as 17, London as 40 and copy to Angell19 in Berlin.

  1. Reference is to the Inter-Allied Declaration Against Acts of Dispossession, Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, p. 443.
  2. Telegram 198, January 22, 4 p.m., from Berlin, reported on the discussion concerning restitution at the 17th meeting of the Allied Control Council, January 21. British General Playfair presided because of the illness of both Field Marshal Montgomery and General Robertson. “Playfair stated that the British delegation would accept the definition of restitution which was agreed by the French, Soviets and U.S., at the last Coordinating Committee meeting. British stated, however, that they accepted on the assumption similar to that stated by Clay for the U.S., namely, that definition would not result in any additional burdens on the German economy which would have to be met from British sources. The British also agreed with the Soviet provision that ‘goods of an unique character’ would relate only to artistic and cultural objects. Koenig suggested and obtained unanimous agreement that ‘scientific apparatus’ also be included. British pointed out that they agreed with the U.S. view that there would not be replacement of objects of art item for item.” (740.00119–Control (Germany)/1–2246)
  3. James W. Angell, United States representative, Allied Commission on Reparations.