Minutes of a Meeting of the Secretaries of State, War and Navy

State War
Secretary Marshall Secretary Patterson
General Hilldring Assistant Secretary Petersen
Mr. Riddleberger
Mr. McWilliams
Mr. Moseley (SWNCC), Secretary
Secretary Forrestal
Under Secretary Sullivan
Admiral Denfield
Rear Admiral Wooldridge

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III. Socialization of German Coal Mines


It was agreed:

That strong representations should be made to the British Government to the effect that it must cease or defer any experiments in socialization of the German coal mines.
Representatives of the War and Navy Departments should revise paragraph 21(c) of SWNCC 327/337 regarding public ownership of enterprises in Germany.

Implementing Action:

Secretary of State to arrange for making representations to the British Government referred to above.
Assistant Secretary Hilldring and Assistant Secretary Petersen to undertake a revision of paragraph 21(c) of SWNCC 327/3.


Secretary Patterson again referred to his letter of June 13, 1947,38 to Secretary Marshall in which he stated that the British program for [Page 928]socialization of the Ruhr coal mines is certain to interfere with the maximum production of coal at this critical time, and that we must put pressure on the British to stop or postpone these experiments. He said that the decision on socialization should be put up to the German people at a later date after the Germans have succeeded in establishing their own economy on a sound basis. Mr. Petersen said that General Clay was similarly opposed to any experiments in socialization, although he had suggested as a compromise measure that the mines be placed under trusteeship.

Secretary Marshall said that he was in general agreement with Secretary Patterson’s views, but that there appeared to be uncertainty regarding the procedure and terms of a trusteeship for the coal mines; if uncertainty as to future ownership is a deterrent in coal production, it would appear that the trusteeship compromise would merely prolong the uncertainty. He added that as a matter of policy we must consider reaction in this country if we should be found supporting a nationalization of industry program in Germany, and we must also consider the effect on the German political parties in the U.S. Zone of any stand we take.

Secretary Forrestal said that we can by no means support any socialization program as such would be only an opening wedge for communism. He urged that Secretary Marshall take the matter up with the British at the highest level.

Secretary Marshall said that the general policy toward public ownership was well stated in paragraph 21(c) of SWNCC 327/3. He pointed out that this statement provided that the Commanding General should “refrain from interfering in the question of public ownership of enterprises in Germany, except to ensure that any choice for or against public ownership is made freely through the normal processes of democratic government.” He said he thought that this general policy could be applied to the coal mining industry. Pie asked if the other Members agreed with this statement of policy.

Secretary Forrestal said that he thought that the SWNCC policy statement was too negative in its effect. Secretary Patterson said that he also felt that this statement was unsatisfactory and should be revised.

It was decided that General Hilldring and Mr. Petersen should seek a revision of this policy statement.

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  1. Draft Directive to the Commander in Chief of United States Forces of Occupation Regarding the Military Government in Germany, not printed. The completed directive, designated J.C.S. 1779, was released to the press on July 15, 1947; for the text, see Germany 1947–1949, pp. 34–41.
  2. Post, p. 1151.