740.00119 Control (Germany)/2–146: Telegram

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


530. SfAmb from the Secretary. On my behalf please convey the following message to Bidault:28

“I should be most grateful if you could see your way clear to review the French attitude on the establishment of central German agencies. In doing this, I should like to ask you to take into account the following considerations:

I believe, as a result of our close cooperation in the European Advisory Commission29 in planning the occupation of Germany and in our day-to-day relationships with the French representatives on the Control Council, that the basic ideas of the French and American Govts on the political principles which govern the treatment of Germany in the occupation period are not far apart. I am certain that our reiterated intention to destroy German militarism and Nazism and our joint measures to accomplish the complete disarmament of Germany have received the complete approval of the French Govt. I know that we are in accord on the political premise that the administration of affairs in Germany should be directed toward a decentralization of German governmental structure and the development of local administrations based upon democratic principles. Furthermore, I am sure you will agree that the time has not yet come to reestablish any central German Govt and that the occupation of Germany under [Page 497] the prevailing agreements is expected to continue for an indefinite period. I should like you to know that I fully appreciate the natural desire of your Govt to prevent the resurgence of a militant and aggressive Germany. Lying next to Germany as France does, I can readily understand the desire of the French Govt to effect territorial changes which, in its opinion, will form the basis of security against Germany. Therefore, I can understand the reasons which have prompted the French Govt, acting under the unanimity rule of the Control Council, to prevent the establishment of central German administrative departments.

On the other hand, the central German agencies proposed will be operating under the direction of the Control Council, in which the French Govt has full participation. The Control Council is directed so to manage affairs in Germany that the former highly centralized governmental structure of the German Reich will be abolished and replaced by a much looser structure. It does not seem to me that this theory is incompatible with the establishment of certain central administrative departments which will enable the Control Council to equalize and make uniform the treatment of Germany in many important aspects. Even under a loosely-federated form of govt it would seem to be indispensable eventually to permit the establishment of central agencies in the fields of finance, transport, communications, foreign trade and the control of German industry. Otherwise, we may have a situation in which it will become impossible to administer Germany as an economic unit and to effect that reduction of German war potential which we both agree is essential.

I should also like you to know that in my opinion the establishment of certain central German agencies does not prejudice the eventual consideration of Germany’s western frontier. This problem is an enormously complicated one which will no doubt be the subject of extended exchanges of views between the Allies. We have not as yet begun our joint labors on the conclusion of a peace treaty with Germany and I think you will agree the time has not yet come to do so. The greatest security which France and all of the United Nations have against Germany is indeed a continued occupation of the German Reich. We all hope that this occupation will result in a Germany which is incapable for an indefinite future of waging war, but the problems of this occupation are enormously complex and it is indispensable that the four occupying powers should collaborate in executing the purposes of the occupation. The American, Brit and Soviet Govts have all agreed that the establishment of central German agencies is required for the purposes of this occupation. They have further agreed that such agencies will be under the direction of the Control Council.

Last, but not least, it seems to me that we must view the functioning of the Control Council as a test of the ability of the four Allies represented thereon to work together in the post-war world. Failure of the Council would mean failure of Allied cooperation and would be so regarded in the world at large.

I, therefore, express the earnest hope that the French Govt will reconsider its attitude in this matter and will, by so doing, facilitate the development of the common Allied policy in Germany.”

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In addition to the above written message, you may orally and discreetly inject the thought that any steps which the French Govt may publicly take at this time in the way of cooperating with American aims should help to create a more favorable atmosphere for the important economic and financial talks which they are about to initiate.30

  1. This message was communicated to Georges Bidault, French Foreign Minister, on February 6.
  2. For documentation on United States participation in this Commission, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. iii, pp. 1 ff.
  3. For documentation relating to the Agreements between the United States and the Provisional Government of the French Republic on economic and financial matters, signed May 28, 1946, see pp. 399 ff.