740.00119 Control (Germany)/11–2647

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Secretary of State

Participants: The Acting Secretary, Mr. Lovett
The Netherlands Ambassador, Mr. Van Kleffens
The Belgian Ambassador, Baron Silvercruys
Mr. NoltingNOE

On behalf of the three Benelux countries, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Belgian Ambassadors called on me and delivered copies of a joint note from the three governments which was transmitted simultaneously to the Council of Foreign Ministers in London.71 The note set forth their governments’ views concerning the German settlement.

In the course of conversation, Mr. Van Kleffens and Baron Silvercruys made the following points:

Their governments and the Luxembourg Government had on several previous occasions expressed their views regarding the German settlement, but had not received definite replies to these previous communications. They were, therefore, again bringing to the attention of the Council of Foreign Ministers their views in the hope that they could contribute not only to the solution of the German problem, but to the solution of the Western European problem as a whole.

[Page 773]

Mr. Van Kleffens pointed out the dependence of the recovery programs in the three Benelux countries upon the economic revival of Germany. He emphasized the vital importance to the Low Countries of their prewar transit trade with Germany and of the exchange of goods with Germany for processing.

Mr. Van Kleffens and Baron Silvercruys further pointed out that in the opinion of their governments the Benelux countries could be of real help to the occupying powers, because of their long and intimate relations with Germany, if they were given a voice in the councils concerning Germany.

I replied that the views of the Benelux countries regarding Germany were of real interest to the US Government; that with regard to certain specific problems which the Low Countries had raised (e.g. the question of routing some of the supplies imported into Germany through the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp), the views of the Department were already known to the governments concerned. I further pointed out that the Office of Military Government was operating under a set of regulations, and under a budget, which did not encourage OMGUS to exercise any great amount of flexibility in its decisions; that the military government officials were concerned to operate the US Zone in Germany, and now the British and American Zones jointly, as economically as possible in order to avoid further excessive burdens upon the US taxpayer; that this consideration, plus their difficulties in maintaining the “disease and unrest” formula, was in my view an explanation, if not a justification, of what might appear to be an excessively rigid policy. I further pointed out that proposals concerning Germany as a whole could not be adopted by this government, however sound we might consider them, in the absence of a unified point of view among the four occupying powers. Nevertheless, I said that I thought the specific points raised by the Ambassadors were points which might profitably be discussed during the meeting of the CFM in London.

The Belgian Ambassador then presented another note transmitting a joint study of the Benelux countries concerning possible means for obtaining convertibility of various western European currencies.72 He described this study as one which the US Government might find useful in connection with the long-range plan for European recovery. He said that the Belgian government, for example, would find it increasingly difficult to carry on trade with other European countries having unstable and nonconvertible currencies if some means for converting such currencies were not soon devised.

[Page 774]

I replied that this subject was of particular interest to me, in as much as I had been working on such a plan and had discussed it with various representatives of the CEEC nations.73 I remarked that I had had difficulty in selling my plan to these representatives. I informed the Ambassadors that I would be much interested in studying these proposals.

I asked Mr. Nolting to study the memorandum concerning Germany and to formulate some views on this matter for possible transmission to our Delegation in London.

At the close of the conference, the Ambassadors handed to representatives of the press copies of the note concerning Germany.

Robert A. Lovett
  1. The joint note under reference here was circulated to the Council of Foreign Ministers as document CFM(47) (L)5, November 26, 1947, infra.
  2. Not printed.
  3. The reference here is to conversations held in Washington in October and early November 1947 between American officials and a delegation of the Committee of European Economic Co-operation. The question of currency convertibility was considered in the course of these discussions. For documentation regarding these Washington conversations, see volume iii .