740.00119 EW/3–1646: Circular telegram

The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Representatives63

u.s. urgent

Following is substance of JCS directive to Commanders US zones [Page 526] Germany and Austria re restitution to Italy, Hungary, Rumania and Finland and to Austria from Germany which is supplement to outstanding directive re restitution to United Nations.

Pending agreement in Control Council on scope of restitution64 to above-named countries US zone commanders instructed to undertake interim program of restitution to governments of these countries of specified categories of identifiable property acquired by Germany through act of force or removed to Germany or Austria without compensation and removed from Italy between Sept 3, 1943 to May 15, 1945; from Hungary between Jan 20, 1945 and May 15, 1945; from Rumania between Sept 12, 1944 and May 15, 1945; from Finland between Sept 19, 1944 and May 15, 1945 and from Austria between March 12, 1938 and May 15, 1945.65

Following summarizes categories of property covered by directive (a) whole range of cultural and artistic works, museum collections, libraries, archives, etc. (Restitution of this category requires only submission of satisfactory proof of identifiability by claimant Govt irrespective of circumstances of removal.) (b) Heavy and power-driven industrial and agricultural equipment, communication, power and transportation equipment, except sea-going vessels (c) other property (except gold, securities and foreign currencies) found in storage or bulk form. (Restitution of this category need not be made if zone commander considers restitution would jeopardize minimum requirements German or Austrian economy or require additional US assistance to Germany or Austria).

Zone commander may defer restitution transportation equipment pending formulation of over-all program so as not to reduce available transportation below need for purposes of occupation, minimum requirements of German and Austrian economy and recommendations of ECITO.

[Page 527]

Please deliver to govt to which you are accredited memo along following lines:

“Pending agreement on scope of restitution among occupying powers of Germany and Austria the govt of US has instructed the Commanders in Chief of US zones of occupation in Germany and Austria to undertake an interim program of restitution to the govt of (blank) of identifiable property other than gold securities and currencies removed from (blank) during the period from (blank) to (blank).

“Accordingly govt of US invites the (blank) govt to submit to the US govt one or more lists of such property which (blank) govt has reason to believe may be located in US zones of occupation in Germany or Austria. These lists should, so far as possible, refer separately to such property believed to be in Germany and Austria. They should further contain as much description of property as possible and as may be required to enable occupying authorities to identify property and should include all available info as to location of property.

“Following the receipt of these lists, which may be submitted seriatim and which may indicate priorities in the urgency of return, it is intended, where necessary, to invite (blank) govt to send a small mission to US zones of occupation in Germany and Austria for purpose of identifying such of the listed property as each of the occupying authorities may have been able to discover in his zone.”

Lists received by mission should be transmitted directly to Murphy in Germany or Erhardt in Austria for delivery to US military authorities. Please make available to Dept duplicates of any lists forwarded to Berlin or Vienna. For your info, practice has been for military authorities to extend at appropriate time invitation to govts concerned for missions to proceed to US zone.

  1. Sent to the diplomatic representatives at Berlin (for information), Bucharest, Budapest, Helsinki, Rome, and Vienna.
  2. Under cover of despatch 3224, April 27, Mr. Murphy transmitted the text of a paper (CORC/P (46) 143, April 17) agreed upon by the Coordinating Committee, establishing quadripartite procedures for restitution to be observed by the zonal commanders in each zone in implementing the agreed definition of restitution, contained in telegram 169, January 19, from Berlin, p. 489. Concerning the eligibility of nations to file claims, it reads: “No nation shall be eligible for restitution unless its territory was occupied in whole or in part by the German armed forces or the forces of her allies and unless it is a United Nation, or shall have been specified by the Allied Control Council.” (740.00119 EW/4–2746)
  3. In a circular telegram dated July 1, the Department changed the periods covering restitution of property as follows: “Property in question was taken from Italy during period of 25 July 1943 to 15 May 1945; from Hungary during period 15 Oct 1944 to 15 May 1945; from Rumania during period 23 Aug 1944 to 15 May 1945 and from Finland during period 2 Sept 1944 to 15 May 1945. Period for Austria remains unchanged, i.e., 12 Mar 1938 to 15 May 1945.” (740.00119 EW/7–146)

    Subsequently, as reported in War Department’s telegram 87749, December 14, from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to General McNarney (not printed); Bulgaria and Albania were added to the list of countries eligible for restitution with the limiting dates September 9, 1944, to May 15, 1945, and July 25, 1943, to May 15, 1945, respectively (SWNCC 204).