Memorandum for the Secretary of State53

Attached for your signature and for dispatch on Saturday, April 19 are two letters addressed to the French Foreign Minister on the subject of coal exports from the three western zones of Germany. Also attached is the draft of M. Bidault’s reply to the first of these letters.54

The first letter contains a copy of the sliding scale of exports of coal in relation to production. The letter is identical with that being sent by Mr. Bevin, except for the inclusion of the first sentence of the second paragraph. Objection was made on the part of the British and French to the use of similar rather than identical letters, because of the possible later difficulty of deciding which letter constituted the agreement in case of need for interpretation.

M. Bidault’s reply to the first letter accepts the sliding scale proposal and asks in addition that when a decision has been taken on the economic incorporation of the Saar with France, the three governments make joint notification of that decision to the European Coal Organization, inviting the latter to take account of the new situation. This formula represents a watered-down version of the original French request which invited United States support in the European Coal Organization for a maintenance of the present method of allocation after the transfer of the Saar. The French have been verbally advised that the U.S. position on the European Coal Organization is reserved.

M. Bidault’s letter does not commit the United States to tripartite action on the Saar or to recognize any unilateral action on the part of France. The decision referred to is understood to be a quadripartite decision, which cannot be taken without the agreement of the Soviet Union. It does not commit us, moreover, to any particular form of transfer, such as that proposed informally earlier by the French providing for five separate stages, each of which was linked to an increase of production in the Ruhr. The manner and timing of the exclusion of Saar coal from the resources of Germany, which may reduce German [Page 486]exports some $50 million annually, is still open for discussion.

It has been decided among the British, French and ourselves, subject to your approval to release the news of this agreement and the table of exports to the press as quickly as possible, in view of the fact that newspaper stories are already circulating on the subject. If you agree, a simultaneous announcement will take place from Washington, London, Paris and Berlin on Monday night in time for Tuesday newspapers. It will be mentioned that the agreement has been confirmed by the three Foreign Ministers.55

The French have urged, and we have tentatively agreed again subject to your approval and the consent of Ambassador Smith, that the Soviet Foreign Office should be informed of the agreement prior to the public announcement. We are giving a copy of this memorandum with attachments to Ambassador Smith. Will you, if you agree, request him to advise the Soviet Government of the agreement in concert with his British and French colleagues?

  1. This memorandum was from Edward S. Mason and Major General Draper. The source text was sent to the Department as enclosure 1 to despatch 110, April 22, 1947, from the United States Delegation at the Council of Foreign Ministers in Moscow, not printed.
  2. The letters under reference are printed infra.
  3. The text of the tripartite announcement regarding the distribution of coal and coke from western Germany was released to the press on April 21, 1947; for the text, see Germany 1947–1949, p. 481. The text of this press statement was transmitted to the Department in telegram 1444, Delsec 1439, April 18, 1947, from Moscow, not printed, which added the following information:

    “Paragraph on Saar incorporated in press release at French insistence although it does not bind the British and American Govts to anything beyond procedural notification of ECO when attachment of Saar to France is decided. It involves no decision on question of detachment of Saar, beyond positions taken in CFM, nor any position on change in ECO percentages after Saar is attached to France.

    “It is generally agreed that fact of agreement being signed at Moscow should be minimized. Soviet Foreign Office is to be informed of agreement Monday [April 21] prior to public announcement.” (740.00119 Council/4–1847)