740.00119 Control (Germany)/11–1148: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Douglas) to the Acting Secretary of State


4830. [Ruhrto 2.] Ruhr Talks:

At opening session this afternoon1 after organizational details completed including designation Stevens head UKDel as Permanent [Page 477] Chairman, Alphand, head of French delegation, read prepared statement quoted in full below. US and UK reserved comment pending study of statement.
Alphand stated French desire for general discussion re geographic area of Ruhr before reference to a technical committee. British revised draft (sent Department November 10) circulated together with proposed area of Ruhr outlined on map.2 Area same as previous British position except that it includes Altena and conforms with OMGUS position.
Alphand stated French draft of agreement would be circulated tonight, covering only principles in Annex C, but not going into question of management which was separate matter. USDel promised to circulate draft also, although indicating certain sections might be withheld and be supplied later.
At suggestion USDel, following procedure agreed for press relations. At each meeting question would be raised as to whether meeting with press warranted. If affirmative, each delegate would brief representatives of its own national press although representatives of all delegations would previously coordinate general line to be followed. All remarks to be for background and not for direct quotation. Effort would be made to play down press interest in proceedings on ground that talks concerned with merely technical problems and not high policy. General atmosphere unusually friendly in view strong French reaction to trusteeship matter. Full text Alphand statement follows:

“On the occasion of the opening of these conversations, at which a detailed agreement is to be drawn up for the creation of an international authority for the Ruhr, the French delegation, on the instructions of its Government, is obliged to make a preliminary statement:—

“On the 18th June, 1948 when the French Government informed the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, it accepted the recommendations of the London conference on Germany, which form the basis of our present discussions, it drew the attention of those governments to certain reservations which reflected the unchanging position of the French delegation and which were the result of a resolution of the French National Assembly. These reservations referred to two principal points:—

  • “(1) The French Government declared that the question of the ownership of the mines and basic industries of the Ruhr ought to be settled as soon as possible. It emphasized that it had not yet been possible to reconcile the views of the various allied governments on this question. It expressed the hope that agreement would [Page 478] be reached without difficulty on the principle of the expropriation of the former magnates. For the remainder, it considered, as always, that the establishment of international ownership would be the best solution from every point of view.
  • “(2) Similarly, the French Government declared that when the occasion arose to take steps on the setting up the international authority for the Ruhr, it would wish to reopen the question of the international control of management of the mines.

“The Anglo-American bizonal authorities have yesterday, 10 November, published a law of which the preamble includes a declaration under the terms of which it would be for a freely elected German Government to determine the final settlement of the ownership of the coal and steel industries. Although this declaration is in accordance with position previously taken up by the American and British Governments and is accompanied by a reservation making it clear that the former magnates and Nazi owners can, under no circumstances, be restored to their properties, it cannot be accepted by the French Government. My Government indicated yesterday that it would not recognize this declaration, nor any other which might be made by the American and British Military Governors concerning the final disposal of the mining and metallurgical properties of the Ruhr, as no agreement had been readied among the governments of the interested powers on the question of eventual ownership. The settlement of the problem which is considered to be of paramount importance, is not a matter for the British and American Commanders-in-Chief but for governments only.

“Although this question of ownership is not on the agenda of these discussions and is being dealt with at present through the normal diplomatic channel, my Government has instructed me to re-state its position in this matter in such a way that it is made quite clear that our participate on in this conference changes in no way the views which it previously expressed on this point.

‘“On the other hand, so far as the control of management is concerned, the French Government hopes, as we said on the 18th June, that this question can be reopened during the present discussions.

“Examination of the text drawn up in May insofar as it concerns the international authority of the Ruhr has confirmed the fears already expressed by the French Government that the control of distribution of the coal, coke and steel of the Ruhr cannot be properly effective if the international authority does not retain certain number of the powers of control over the management of plants now exercised by the allied authorities. I must emphasize once more that we do not wish that management itself should be vested in international authority but that this organization should receive sufficient powers to supervise in particular the drawing up and implementation of programmes of production and re-equipment.

“It is understood that the new and limited powers which would thus be given to the authority would be exercised in conformity with the needs of economic reconstruction in Europe, including Germany.

“That is the declaration which I was charged to make in the name [Page 479] of the French Government, which acts on a formal mandate of its parliament.”3

Above is unofficial hurried Foreign Office translation.

Sent Department; repeated Berlin for Murphy and Clay 587 and Paris 866.

  1. The U.S. Delegation minutes of this meeting were transmitted to the Department of State as an enclosure to despatch 2254, November 15, from London, not printed (740.00119 Control (Germany)/11–1548).
  2. The British draft statute, together with the attached map under reference here, was circulated to the Conference as document RC/1, November 11, not printed. A copy of RC/1 was transmitted to the Department of State as an enclosure to despatch 2293, November 19, from London, not printed. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/11–1948)
  3. The text of this statement was circulated to the Conference as document RC/2; a copy of that document was transmitted to the Department as an enclosure to despatch 2293, November 19, from London, not printed. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/11–1948)