740.00119 Control (Germany)/3–246: Telegram

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


1024. For the Secretary. Dept’s 530, Feb 2 [1]. Following is free translation of Bidault’s reply to your message. Begin translation:

Mr. Ambassador, in the course of my last visit to London, Mr. Dunn52 delivered to me, on behalf of the Secretary of State of the United States, a personal communication dated February 6, relating to the position taken by the French Government on the subject of the creation of central agencies in Germany.

I have the honor to request you to communicate to Mr. Byrnes, in reply to his communication, the following message:

“By a communication dated February 6, you were good enough to inform me of your desire to have me re-examine the position taken by the French Government on the subject of the creation of central German agencies.

[“] You reviewed for me on this occasion the principles on which American policy toward Germany is founded: The destruction of German militarism and Naziism, the complete disarmament of Germany, the greatest possible decentralization of the German structure, and the development of local administrations with a democratic character. You indicated that the time has not come to re-establish a central German government and that the occupation of Germany under the prevailing arrangements is expected to continue for an [Page 513] indefinite period. Finally you expressed your full comprehension of the French Government’s desire to assure against further German aggressions and for this reason to effect territorial changes in neighboring frontier regions.

“I am happy to verify the agreement of our Governments on these principles and to take note of this understanding. After all, I have the feeling that, since in the last analysis it is a question of strenthening democracy and guaranteeing security, which are matters of concern common to all the United Nations, a fundamental agreement has never ceased to exist between our governments. The divergence of views appears only over the practical measures to be taken to assure the effective application of our common ideas.

“The French Government for its part, if it considers, in agreement with the American Government, the prolonged occupation of Germany as the best guarantee of security, nonetheless cannot ignore the fact that this occupation will eventually end. Even at this time the French Government is preoccupied with the measures which must be taken to avoid the possibility that Germany shall become again a menace to peace when the occupation shall have ended. It seems to it, given the human potential of this country, that the German menace will exist as long as a German Government, perhaps favored by a relaxation of international vigilance such as occurred between the two World Wars, has at its disposal the necessary industrial resources to reconstitute its military power. The experience of the last 25 years has made it clear that territorial clauses are the last that revisionist states question. Those clauses also may be easily implemented by an effective and precise international guarantee. For these reasons, the French Government proposes that the separation of certain regions from German sovereignty characterize (marqué) the irrevocable nature of the limitations imposed on German potentialities and render it, in fact, irrevocable.

“These preoccupations are known to your Government. You tell me you understand them. You nonetheless judge that they present an enormously complicated problem; that—for the present—the occupation assures us security; that this occupation in itself presents very complex questions; that the treatment of these questions (in this instance the creation of central German agencies) does not prejudice the terms of a future territorial settlement and therefore should be not delayed by a study of these terms.

“Whatever be the importance, complexity and urgency of the questions posed by the occupation and administration of Germany, the French Government does not think that the occupation powers should, to facilitate their immediate task, compromise the guarantees of the future. It is not a simple concern for logic which leads the government to desire that before reestablishing German administrative services, the four powers will reach agreement on the extent of future German territory. In fact, to the French Government it would appear that even if the frontiers remain theoretically open to future settlement, the establishment of central German services having their own right of decision, having ramifications in all the territory actually under control and exercising direct action everywhere by their agents, will be generally considered, particularly by the German population, as prejudicing future settlements. Furthermore, the [Page 514] manner in which this same problem has been treated in the past will reinforce this impression and finally this impression itself will make subsequent territorial modifications on which the powers may agree more difficult.

[“] Moreover, the experience of the years just after the First World War showed that the most active and successful adversaries of any kind of decentralization of the Reich were precisely the local agents of the central German administration.

“For all these reasons, the French Government continues to feel that, if the occupying powers intend to follow a policy of decentralization, they should not begin to establish extended (tentaculaires) administrations having independent authority. The French Government could not in any case agree to the extension of the authority of such administrations to the Ruhr, Rhineland or even more to the Saar.

[“] This does not mean that my Government does not recognize the necessity of coordinating the activities of the various zones. It considers however, that this coordinating role belongs to the Inter-Allied Council and that the Council, under present conditions, should alone retain the power of making decisions, these decisions to continue to be presented, as necessary, to the local German administrations through the Allied authorities in each zone. As a matter of fact, this position would seem to be close to that which you yourself take in stating that the time has not yet arrived to establish any sort of central German Government.

“If it is only a question, as I understand it, of facilitating the examination of technical questions coming under the competence of the Inter-Allied Council and of assuring better coordination in the governing of the four zones by the authorities charged with their administration, it would not seem necessary to weaken the rules recalled above to obtain this result. It would suffice for the Council, without changing present practice, to obtain the collaboration of the German technical administrations in the preparation and support of the Council’s policy.

“The French Government would not object that the establishment of services of this nature and the definition of their duties should be examined by representatives of the four Governments.

“Moreover, whatever may be the complexity of the problem of the western frontiers of Germany and the future regime of the Rhine-Westphalian region, my Government, whose views were presented in the memorandum submitted to the Council of Ministers for Foreign Affairs on September 13,53 and subsequently explained by the Chief of the French delegation on the 26th of that month,54 feels it must point out that no reply has been received up to this date in spite of the visits of M. Alphand to Moscow. It hopes that these proposals which the governments primarily interested have had the time to study in all their phases, may also be submitted to joint discussion.

“It therefore suggests that a four-party conference be called as soon as possible for the examination of both the question of central German administrations and that of western Germany. If the idea of such a conference should be approved by the Government of the United States and the two other Governments—to whom a similar [Page 515] proposal has been made—the French Government would be happy to receive any suggestions regarding the conditions under which such a conference might be organized. It feels that an appropriate setting would be the Conference of Ministers for Foreign Affairs which, in accordance with the resolution adopted at its meeting of September 26, is the proper body having competence for the discussion of these matters. The French Government is, however, ready to examine any other method of examination which might be presented to it.”

Accept, etc., etc., signed Bidault.

  1. Assistant Secretary of State James C. Dunn, Senior Adviser, U.S. Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, London, January 10–February 14, 1946.
  2. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 177.
  3. See ibid., p. 400.