CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 94: File–Germany Treaty V

The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Bevin) to the Secretary of State

Dear Mr. Marshall: I am very concerned about the problem of procedure for the preparation of the German Peace Treaty which we discussed yesterday65 and I am very anxious to know your views on the matter. I could not fully understand the American Delegation’s proposals as then submitted.

May I give you the background? When we discussed this matter in connexion with the Paris Peace Conference in Moscow in 194566 it was emphasised, owing to the words used in the Potsdam Agreement, that we ought to define the countries who had a priority in taking part in the Peace Conference. At that time I was rather in favour, owing to the words of the Potsdam Agreement “for submission to the United Nations”, that the Treaties should be submitted to a full conference. I argued then that that implied that the whole treaty had to go to all the countries, but that was opposed and it was said that this was not intended.

When we were in New York67 and the question of the right of hearing [Page 408] by the Deputies was under discussion I adhered to the principle that had been laid down in connexion with the other treaties, and this was adopted without dissent.68 The definition we then agreed to is now set out in paragraph 2 of Part I of our paper on procedure.69

I looked into the matter during the Deputies Meetings in London, and I understood that the countries named in paragraph 2 of Part I, with the exception of Albania, were agreed to by all four Deputies. I therefore recommended my Government to accept this before I came to Moscow, but called attention to Persia in view of our engagement to Persia in the Treaty.

Now, if I understand your proposal, there is to be no priority. Everybody is to be consulted on equal terms and I find a great difficulty in supporting this.

My view would be that we should determine the countries which have the prior claim actually to take part in the Peace Conference. When we have decided this, the same group of countries should be those which would have the advantage of attending and commenting in the way set out in Part II, paragraph 1, with the suggested amendments that I put forward yesterday. But I would bring the U.S.S.R. proposal into the same paragraph and it would then read as follows:70

“Such oral statements will be made in the presence of the representatives of the others of the Allied States entitled to attend the Peace Conference. It will be open to such representatives to make additional comment in writing upon communications from representatives of other Allied States.

In addition representatives of States not represented on the Council will be invited to participate in the discussion and study of questions relating to the German Peace Treaty in which they have a direct interest.”

Paragraph 2 of the Committee’s report, I understand, is agreed, but not the following paragraphs about the composition of the Committees and Sub-Committees.

Now as to the wider group of States. It is already agreed by the Deputies in paragraph 3 of Part I that the other Allied belligerent states and the ex-enemy states who have participated with their armed [Page 409] forces in the war against Germany on the side of the Allies will at an appropriate stage in the preparation of the Peace Treaty be afforded the opportunity to state their views on the German problem orally or in writing to the Deputies or to the Council of Foreign Ministers as the latter may think appropriate. That, I think, should meet them; but I would be willing to try to get agreement to go one stage further and to say in Part II that this group should also be entitled to the information given to members of the Information and Consultation Conference as set out in paragraph 7, and to comment in writing. I do not think that they should be actual members of that Conference, nor do I think it is necessary that they should be called in in the Committee and Sub-Committee work under paragraphs 3 to 6 of Part II.

Finally, as to who should be included in the priority group. You mentioned Mexico and I have mentioned Persia. I would not be averse, in order to get agreement, to adding to the list set out as referred to above, Mexico, Persia or any other agreed limited number of states who rendered effective assistance. This could be met by saying that the States entitled to attend should be neighbouring Allied States and other Allied States who participated with their armed forces, giving the New York list and in addition certain other named states who rendered effective assistance.

I would like you to give this your earnest consideration in the hope that we might find common ground for the Deputies.

Yours sincerely,

Ernest Bevin
  1. Reference to the 14th Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, March 26; see telegram 1030, Delsec 1353, March 26, from Moscow, p. 292.
  2. For documentation on the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers, December 16–26, 1945, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, pp. 560 ff.
  3. The reference here is to the 3rd Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, New York, November 4–December 12, 1946; for documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. ii, pp. 965 ff.
  4. Bevin is here referring presumably to item IVa of the Decisions of the Council of Foreign Ministers Respecting Its Next Session, document CFM(46) (NY)74, December 12, 1946, Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. ii, p. 1557.
  5. The paper referred to here is the Annex to document CFM(47) (M)60, March 24, 1947, p. 397. The Annex is not printed. It was subsequently somewhat revised by the Deputies for Germany and circulated to the Council as document CFM(47) (M)125, April 12, 1947; for the text, see p. 452. Part I, paragraph 2 of the Annex to CFM(47) (M)60 was identical to the same section in CFM(47) (M)125.
  6. The first paragraph quoted here is the British proposal; the second quoted paragraph is the Soviet proposal made at the Council’s 14th Meeting, March 26. For the original wording of this paragraph as it appeared in the Annex to CFM(47) (M)60, see footnote 17, p. 455.