740.00119 Control (Germany)/10–2748

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Occupied Areas ( Saltzman ) to the Acting Secretary of State

secret

Subject: French Protest1 Concerning Trusteeship Plan for German Coal, Iron and Steel Industries

On the evening of October 26 Mr. Penson of the British Embassy formally advised me that he had been instructed by his government to say that the British have decided that they cannot give the French any concession regarding the preamble in the Trusteeship Plan for the German coal, iron and steel industries and propose to inform the [Page 461] French that the scheme must be implemented as it stands.2 This would mean that the statement to the effect that eventual ownership of these industries should be left to the determination of a freely elected German Government and remain in the preamble notwithstanding the French protest on that score.

Mr. Penson told me that the British Government considers it highly important that the statement remain in the preamble in order to give firm reassurance to the Germans. They consider that any French protest will not in fact be particularly strong and that the French would probably protest anyway if we were to adopt the compromise suggestion of omitting the statement from the preamble and instead putting it in the form of a public statement by the Military Governors.

After weighing all the considerations I now agree with the British position and I recommend that the U.S. reply to the French in a similar vein. Mr. Hickerson concurs in this view. If you approve I shall see that General Clay and the British are so notified and that a suitable note to the French is prepared.3

C[harles] E. S[altzman]
  1. Ambassador Bonnet called upon Under Secretary of State Lovett on October 14. According to Lovett’s memorandum of the conversation, not printed, Bonnet said that his Government strongly objected to the provision on ownership of German coal, iron and steel industries in the preamble of the Bipartite Board’s proposed plan for the reorganization of those industries. Lovett observed that the Department of State had not yet received the full text of the proposed reorganization plan and would like to have an opportunity to study the preamble before commenting upon the views of the French Government (740.00119 Control (Germany)/10–1448). Bonnet called on Lovett again on October 19 to present an aide-mémoire setting forth the strong objections of the French Government to the proposed U.S.–U.K. plan for the reorganization of the German coal, iron and steel industries. In his conversation with Lovett, Bonnet orally repeated the substance of the objections and warned that if the American and British Military Governors insisted upon issuing the reorganization plan and included the contested preamble, the French Government would have to issue a public declaration disassociating itself from the proposal. (Memorandum of conversation by Lovett, October 19, 1948: 740.00119 Control (Germany)/10–1948).
  2. Several days earlier the British Embassy had informed the Department of State of a proposed concession to the French Government on this matter that was under consideration by the British Foreign Office. The paragraphs in the proposed plan for the reorganization of German coal, iron and steel industry to which the French Government objected would be omitted, and there would be a joint U.S.–U.K. press statement stating that the American and British Governments unilaterally intended to leave the ultimate disposition of the Ruhr properties to the German people to decide through normal democratic processes. See the memorandum of conversation by Assistant Secretary Saltzman of a meeting held in Secretary of the Army Royall’s office on October 21. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/10–2148)
  3. The last paragraph of the source text bears Acting Secretary Lovett’s marginal endorsement “OK L”.