Memorandum by the United States Political Adviser for Germany ( Murphy ) to the United States Military Governor for Germany ( Clay )1


You may recall that several days ago I sent you the report of the Working Party on the Western German Frontier,2 which concluded its discussions in Paris on 1 September 1948. In the meantime, I have received a telegram3 from the State Department requesting the transmission of any views which you and I may have relative to the recommendations of the Working Party for provisional territorial adjustments.

For your convenience, I attach a memorandum prepared in the Office of Political Affairs summarizing the proposed changes and giving a brief analysis of their economic importance. The adjustments approved by the Working Party are of minor economic consequence to Germany, with one possible exception. The larger claims, such as that of the Netherlands Government to the Bentheimerbocht, the larger Luxembourg claims, and the French claim to the port of Kehl, were not approved by the Working Party. Inasmuch as the frontier adjustments recommended are of minimum economic importance, my inclination is to concur with the exception of the Saar case.

In the report of the Working Party, the reasons for the adjustments recommended are not set forth in detail. This is probably because of the original terms of reference for the Working Party which stated that it “shall only examine and report on those proposals which involve no appreciable loss to the German economy and which, being of a minor character only, can be regarded as desirable to eliminate local anomalies and improve communications”. This being the case, the general assumption can be made that all of the adjustments agreed to by the American representative were approved on this basis. For example, most of the changes approved in the Netherlands-German border usually embraced very small territorial areas and were usually concerned with straightening out the frontier line or changing control of a road. On the Belgian-German frontier, minor rectifications involved the straightening of the border, the control of certain roads and the control of certain railroad facilities from Germany to Belgium. The changes approved involved the transfer of only 40 square kilometers. Only one Luxembourg-German border change, involving the transfer of 8.3 square kilometers of forest, was approved. On the [Page 695] Franco-German border, the approved adjustments would transfer one small village from Germany to France where most of the inhabitants are employed on the French side.

With respect to the enlarged Saar territory, the Working Party unanimously recommended the approval of the delimitation of the Saar territory as established by the Ordinance of the French Commander-in-Chief of 6 June 1947. Three minor modifications, providing for the incorporation into the Saar territory of two communes and one triangular road junction, were also approved. This latter claim is of minor consequence, but the territory attached unilaterally to the Saar in 1947 is another matter. The Saar comprised in 1946 approximately 1,925 square kilometers and 865,000 inhabitants. The changes in June 1947 added about 627 square kilometers and 63,683 inhabitants. In area, this represents an increase of approximately one-third. USPolAd does not possess information which indicates in detail the French justification for the transfer of this territory. I recall that at Moscow in 1947, where certain informal conversations were held with the French, it was claimed that, the reasons for enlarging the Saar were (a) to give it a common frontier with Luxembourg and eliminate the German neck, (b) to make the Saar more self-sufficient agriculturally as the region was primarily agricultural, (c) that a large part of the population of the newly incorporated region was employed in the Saar coal mines and (d) that it would bring within the Saar a railroad line which served primarily the Saar territory. I am not informed whether other arguments were advanced by the French when the Working Party met in Paris. In view of the area involved in this proposed transfer, I am not inclined to concur as it seems to me to go beyond the terms of reference of the Working Party cited in the preceding paragraph.

With respect to the proposal contained in Part I, paragraph 1, for a Delimitation Commission to determine the exact line of the frontier, the State Department is inclined to believe that this Commission should be composed of representatives of the Military Governments of the U.S., the U.K., and France, together with a representative of the country concerned in each instance. The State Department points out that such composition of the Commission would be preferable to a Commission having representation of Military Government only of the Zone involved in each boundary case, which would mean, for example, that on French claims there would be exclusively French representation on the Commission.

In arranging for American representation on the Delimitation Commission, it would be agreeable to the State Department to have the U.S. representatives either from OMGUS or USPolAd.

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The maps illustrating the boundary changes discussed by the Commission are likewise attached.4

Robert Murphy

Memorandum Prepared by the Civil Affairs Division, Office of Military Government (U.S.)


West German Boundary Changes

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

8. In summary, this Division

Concurs with the Political Adviser’s inclination to refuse acceptance of the enlarged Saar of June 1947, as going beyond the terms of the Working Party.
Concurs with the Political Adviser’s recommendation that the Delimitation Commission be composed of representatives of all three Military Governments.
Is ready to provide a qualified United States representative on this Commission, unless he is provided by the Office of Political Affairs.
Believes that, since the original Working Party did not set forth the reasons for its decisions in detail and there is, therefore, no record indicating the compelling necessity, under a strict interpretation of its terms of reference, for the 29 minor changes accepted by the Working Party, these changes either should not be concurred in by this headquarters or that the concurrence should be withheld pending a re-investigation on the scene.

9. In connection with d, it is suggested that one possible solution would be to appoint the proposed Delimitation Commission under terms of reference that do not bind it or this headquarters to acceptance of the report of the Working Party, but with instructions to delimit boundary changes, if at all, on the basis of the original London instructions.

10. The above recommendations have been coordinated with Dr. Litchfield, who is at present in Frankfurt. Dr. Litchfield wishes to draw particular attention to the undesirability of introducing 29, even minor, border modifications at the present stage of the Bonn discussions5 and of the negotiations on the Occupation Statute.6

For the Division Director:
L. E. de Neufville

Consultant to the Director
  1. The source text was transmitted to the Department as an enclosure to despatch 1542, October 28, from Berlin, not printed.
  2. Ante, p. 682.
  3. Telegram 1701, October 7, to Berlin, not printed (862.014/9–1348).
  4. The maps under reference here were not attached to the source text.
  5. The reference here is to meetings of the West German Parliamentary Council at Bonn; for documentation regarding these meetings, see pp. 375 ff.
  6. For documentation regarding the preparation of an Occupation Statute, see pp. 597 ff.