740.00119 Control (Germany)/9–1846

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Chief of the Division of Central European Affairs (Harris)

Participants: M. Bérard, Counselor of the French Embassy;
Mr. Wallner, Division of Western European Affairs;
Mr. Harris, Division of Central European Affairs.

M. Bérard called yesterday at my request to receive the Department’s note95 rejecting the French proposal for the joint administration of Baden and Wuerttemberg and for a modification of the boundary between the United States and French zones of occupation.

M. Bérard energetically deplored the reply and asserted that it would increase heavily the difficulties of M. Chauvel96 and the other members of the Quai d’Orsay who have been working so hard to effect a reconciliation of French and American views and, by the same token, would play into the hands of those who were insisting on an independent French policy in Germany.

M. Bérard protested the charge that there were “apparent divergencies of objective” as between the two countries and insisted that the French plans for the organization of German Laender and for the forthcoming elections were derived directly from the model of the American zone. Our refusal to allow the French to occupy Karlsruhe, the capital of Baden, made, in M. Bérard’s opinion, a Land organization of the French part of Baden virtually impossible, thus striking at the very heart of the federal structure of Germany which the French insist must precede the establishment of a central government.

M. Bérard went on to challenge our intermingling of political and economic considerations in the note. The French proposal was purely political in its intent and the note was not justified in its reference to economic considerations.

I informed M. Bérard that I found it rather difficult to give him the note in view of our great pleasure at the progress which we were making toward harmonizing our views concerning Germany and because of our very real appreciation of what M. Chauvel and others in Paris have been doing in this direction. We preferred to look forward to complete agreement on policy rather than to discuss old questions. Because of the harsh economic realities of our zone we could not accept his thesis of the separation of political and economic considerations. We remain so concerned with material conditions [Page 694] in Germany that it is impossible for us to talk about changes in zone boundaries until central administrative agencies adequate to meet these problems are well established; then, when it is not important which force occupies which area, we could certainly reopen consideration of the French proposals.

M. Bérard complained that the import of our plans and of Mr. Byrnes’ speech was a move in the direction of a centralized Germany, a move which the French had to deplore. M. Bérard hesitated to reply to my question as to whether the French desire for a decentralized Germany arose from their concern over security but both Mr. Wallner and I in turn complained that the French had not taken seriously our security offer,97 an offer which was revolutionary from the point of view of traditional American policy. M. Bérard admitted that probably the Senate would accept the security pact but continued to nurse apprehension for the future.

M. Bérard in conclusion spoke with considerable vigor of the way in which General Clay in Berlin allegedly dealt with his French counterpart.98 Because of difficulties between General Clay and General Koeltz, the French had replaced the latter with a general of wide diplomatic experience99 but the change had produced no moderation of General Clay’s brusque tactics. M. Bérard stated unequivocally that the character of French collaboration in Berlin will be in no small measure determined by the character of the relations of the two generals in question.

David Harris
  1. Supra.
  2. M. Jean Chauvel, Secretary General, French Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
  3. Reference is to the Draft Treaty for the Disarmament and Demilitarization of Germany, submitted to the Council of Foreign Ministers, April 29, by Secretary Byrnes; for documentation, see volume ii.
  4. Lt. Gen. Louis Koeltz had been, until June 1946, Deputy Military Governor of the French Zone of Occupation and French member, Coordinating Committee, Allied Control Council for Germany.
  5. Gen. Roger Noiret.