840.6362/6–2447: Telegram

The Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy) to the Secretary of State

top secret

1536. Personal for the Secretary’s Eyes Only. My 1452, June 17, 10 a.m.40 Last evening British Political Adviser told me that British were disturbed regarding our recent suggestion that the Ruhr coal mines should be placed under a German trusteeship to continue until [Page 930]a central German Government had been established and German people could determine under more normal conditions the future of mine ownership. Steele said that Mister Bevin was determined that socialization of the coal mines on a land basis should be promoted at once and that in fact plans in North Rhine-Westphalia were advanced to a point which would not permit of cancellation. He also said that it had been General Robertson’s understanding that General Clay had agreed to the socialization of the mines provided it was done on a land basis after vote of the German people.

General Clay is telegraphing Howard Petersen that this is a liberal interpretation of what he said to General Robertson, stating that he has told him repeatedly that it would be a great mistake for British Military Government to undertake nationalization of industry within Germany and that he doubted that such action would be acceptable to the US. Clay has told Robertson that US might accept socialization in Germany if it were undertaken on a state and not a national basis as the result of the freely expressed desire of the German people. General Clay has pointed out that he does not anticipate that conditions could be created in Germany which would permit such a free expression until its future political structure has been determined and a central government established. No views have been expressed by us as to the desirability or lack of desirability of socializing the coal and steel industry of the Ruhr in land North Rhine-Westphalia. It is, of course, that this would give to the one state the control of the major resources of Germany and a dominant position as a result in the German Government.

It is also pointed out that the British have not thus far advised us in detail of their conversations with the Germans in their zone and particularly in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia regarding socialization.

Steele indicated that we may expect adverse British reaction to the proposed trusteeship with pressure for immediate transfer of ownership of the coal mines to land North Rhine-Westphalia. In fact Steele indicated that he felt this was a matter for British rather than US decision in any event.

Clay is advising Petersen that unless US is prepared now to take strong position that the question of socialization should be deferred until reasonable stability has been obtained in Germany, socialization may become the pattern for all of Western Germany. He adds that if our Government is prepared to accept socialism now without an effort to maintain a reasonable degree of free enterprise, then the position taken thus far is creating an unnecessary conflict in the bipartite, [Page 931]partite board. He recommends that we either accept or reject socialization now or else agree to defer the issue for a definite period of time. He has requested the War Department’s immediate advice and instructions.

I would be grateful for the benefit of the Department’s thinking on this subject.

Repeated to London as “Personal for Ambassador Douglas”.

  1. Ante, p. 924.