CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 133: File—Ruhr Authority, Vol. I

The United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Occupied Areas (Saltzman)1


Dear Charlie: I was delighted with the Department’s excellent circular telegram of November 192 regarding international ownership of the Ruhr coal, iron and steel industries. I showed it to General Clay who telegraphed his approbation to the Department of the Army.

The Department’s position seems eminently sound. I appreciate that there may be various forms and degrees of “international ownership”. The French suggestions regarding international ownership which we have seen in the past have always carried with them the implications of governmental ownership plus extensive international control over management. Whatever arguments may be advanced against this on the score that it would inevitably create a most obnoxious type of international cartel with all the unfavorable aspects of stifling competition, there is no doubt in our minds here that it would eventually stimulate a wave of German nationalism comparable to what we saw in the 30’s. As the Soviet Union and satellites would be excluded from this international control apparently it could be safely assumed that they would contribute what they could to the opposition.

We fear that the French insistence on international ownership and control of management for the Ruhr coal, iron and steel industries is of a piece with a distorted approach to the question of security. We have seen this manifestation in every field—governmental, financial and industrial—with the French tendency to inject security provisions into every feature whether it be a municipal election, the manufacture of aspirin or shoes, state boundaries, education and religion, traffic on the Rhine, banking and trades unions, etc. It seems obvious to us that until the French are given the satisfaction of an adequate general security guarantee it will not be possible to work out with them a constructive policy vis-à-vis Germany because we will be beset at every step of the way by their fears and apprehensions of a powerful German neighbor who will again be prepared and determined to destroy France. It is our conviction that German recovery is impossible if every feature of German life is to be loaded with the burden of security [Page 524] restrictions. If that policy is to be pursued, then we should abandon the notion of a self-sustaining, peace-loving, democratic Germany. I have the impression that the crossroads of our policy has been reached. The US and UK stand for a courageous policy of German reconstruction with the proviso of general security guarantees whereas the French are loath to see large-scale German reconstruction and insist on minute security provisions attached to almost every feature of German life. It is difficult to imagine with such conflicting points of view a smoothly operating trizonal management for Western Germany.

I am glad, however, that there was opportunity at Paris to suggest to the Secretary that in his discussion with M. Schuman he offer to the French participation in the Coal and Steel groups at Essen and Duesseldorf.3 While this upset the British for a moment, they rallied nicely. French participation in these groups may not make life easier production-wise but is politically desirable.

I thought the Secretary’s statement of November 24 on the Ruhr first-class.4 It should do much to calm apprehensions regarding the characteristics of the trusteeship plan and Law No. 75, about which there has been so much misunderstanding.

All the best to you.

Yours ever,

Robert Murphy
  1. This letter was not received by Assistant Secretary Saltzman until December 10, and it appears evident from the text that the letter actually was sent to Washington sometime in late November.

    Assistant Secretary Saltzman subsequently circulated this letter to Under Secretary Lovett, George Kennan, John D. Hickerson, and Paul Nitze.

  2. The circular telegram under reference, which was addressed to the Embassies in Brussels, The Hague, London, and Moscow as well as the Mission in Berlin, consisted of a paraphrase of the final three paragraphs of telegram 175, November 18, to Paris, p. 509.
  3. Ambassador Murphy together with General Clay conferred with Secretary Marshall and his advisers in Paris on November 19; see footnote 1 to the minutes of the Meeting of the Foreign Ministers, November 19, p. 517.
  4. Post, p. 528.