Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Central European Affairs (Harris)


From the beginning of their participation in the occupation of Germany the French have been strongly desirous of bringing the whole of Baden under their control. As a part of the agreement with the French which fixed the boundaries of their zone we committed ourselves through a letter by Ambassador Winant (July 26, 1945)63 “at a later stage in the Allied occupation of Germany, to review with the Provisional Government of the French Republic the assignment of [Page 680]areas of occupation between the French and U.S. zones, in the light of the then prevailing conditions of occupation and the requirements of the respective forces of occupation”.

The administrative problems growing out of the division of the Laender of Baden and Wuerttemberg led to a special study by U.S. military authorities last October. The Department of State at that time (telegram No. 646 to USPolAd, October 1064) took the position “that it would be desirable in interest of political development of Germany along democratic federal lines if political and administrative unity of Baden and Wuerttemberg were to be reestablished as soon as possible”.

The USFET report was unfavorable to an exchange of all of Baden for all of Wuerttemberg because primarily of military transportation considerations (USPolAd telegrams 819, 892 and 169 (Frankfort) of Oct. 20, Oct. 31 and Nov. 3 respectively),65 and the Land Wuerttemberg-Baden was organized on the basis of the original delineation agreed to by the French.

In December General Koenig, French member of the Control Council, raised a question of rectification with General McNarney and was advised that the problem should be taken up on the governmental level.66 On January 31, consequently, the French Embassy sent in a note67 proposing a rectification of the occupation zones in Baden and Wuerttemberg. The note made particular reference to the difficulty for the French administration by virtue of not having the capital, Karlsruhe, and the important city of Mannheim.

The French note was submitted to SWNCC (15/10/D, 8 February) and the Subcommittee for Europe, in collaboration with the Joint Logistics Committee, recommended a reply to the French Ambassador stating that “it would be premature to initiate a discussion of the revision of zone boundaries before the projected central German agencies have been established and have begun to function effectively”. In making this recommendation (15/11) the Subcommittee had before it a telegram from CG USFET67 expressing opposition to the cession of Karlsruhe and Mannheim principally on grounds of transportation and supply installations. The telegram concluded: “If and when central administrative machinery is established it should be possible to fix permanently the state boundaries within Germany. When this is accomplished and state governments are functioning uniformly under a federalized structure, the origin of occupying troops would [Page 681]become less important and the French proposal reconsidered” (SWNCC 15/11, Appendix “D”).

The Joint Chiefs of Staff concurred in the recommendation of the European Subcommittee (15/12) and on April 11 SWNCC gave its approval. The French Embassy was informed in a note sent on April 22.68

On May 7 the First Counsellor of the French Embassy69 presented a new aide-mémoire68 the original and a translation of which is attached. This document announced plans for holding elections in September and October in the French zone and for establishing Land governments comparable to those of the U.S. zone. The French, the aide-mémoire went on, continued to believe it wise to reestablish former territorial units and, since by our note of April 22 we stated our unwillingness to revise boundaries, they proposed that we proceed at once to restore the historical entities of Baden and Wuerttemberg under joint control. In order to make this possible, it is suggested, there should be a “preliminary rectification” which would assign Karlsruhe, the capital of Baden, to the French zone while leaving “the region and the city” of Mannheim under U.S. control.

In presenting the memorandum the French counselor explained that this proposal of joint control, as envisaged by the French, would mean that a predominant influence should be exercised by the U.S. in Wuerttemberg and a predominant influence in Baden minus Mannheim by the French. A copy of a memorandum of this conversation is attached.68

When they were in Paris for the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers the French repeated their proposals to Mr. Matthews70 and Mr. Riddleberger.71 They spoke to General Clay of their conversations and he indicated a sympathetic interest.

During his leave in Washington Colonel Dawson, Military Governor of Baden-Wuerttemberg, read the French aide-mémoire and expressed his conviction, based on a year’s experience of dealing with his French neighbors as well as on other considerations, that an outright exchange of territory would be more satisfactory than a restoration of the two Laender under joint control. In his judgment it would be feasible, and useful, to cede the remainder of the Bezirk of Karlsruhe in Baden to the French in exchange for Southern Wuerttemberg, Sigmaringen and the Kreis of Lindau in Bavaria. A memorandum of conversation, with Colonel Dawson is attached.68

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A second French aide-mémoire on this subject was presented to the Department on June ll.73 This new document restated the proposal of May 7 and went on to suggest that the control of the government of Wuerttemberg would be exercised by American authorities with the assistance of a French liaison mission “charged especially with administrative control of the southern agricultural Kreise which would continue to be a part of the French zone” and, in turn, an American mission would assist the French authorities in the control of Baden. This plan would incorporate Karlsruhe in the French zone. The body of the text concludes, “This reorganization of the control of the two German Laender would not lead to a modification of the present economic regime, particularly with regard to the disposition of resources in the American and French zones, respectively, as long as present conditions of occupation are maintained”.

In view of the dates fixed for elections in the French zone—September and October—the aide-mémoire expresses hope for a prompt reply.

  1. Letter by John G. Winant, formerly Ambassador in the United Kingdom, not printed; for further information on this letter, see Foreign Relations, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, vol. ii, p. 1005, footnote 2. For documentation relating to the establishment of zones of occupation in Germany, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. iii, pp. 160 ff.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. iii, p. 978.
  3. Telegram 819 not printed; for texts of telegrams 892 and 169, see ibid., pp. 994, and 997, respectively.
  4. See telegram 211, December 29, 1945, from Frankfurt, ibid., p. 1025.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Not printed.
  7. Not printed.
  8. Armand Bérard.
  9. Not printed.
  10. Not printed.
  11. H. Freeman Matthews, Director of the Office of European Affairs.
  12. James W. Riddleberger, Chief of the Division of Central European Affairs.
  13. Not printed.
  14. Not printed.