740.00119 EW/2–1748

Memorandum of Conversation, by Frank G. Wisner, Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of State for Occupied Areas


The Secretary informed Mr. Wisner that at the Cabinet Meeting of February 16th,1 the Cabinet had accepted without reservation or any [Page 731] form of qualification the five recommendations2 which were made to them. The proposed terms of reference for the working group provided for in the first recommendation were not submitted to or considered by the Cabinet, since the Secretary wished to devote further consideration to these terms of reference. Various members of the Cabinet indicated that they were pleased by the proposal for a working group which would re-examine the plant lists, and one or more stated that they felt that this step would be very well received by the Congress.

The President stated quite firmly that he did not want any general change made in the German reparation program (presumably referring to the various Congressional and Cabinet recommendations that the entire program be abandoned). He inquired of the Secretary whether the proposals contemplated any “change in the Potsdam Agreement”. The Secretary replied by pointing out that there was a proposal to change some Potsdam provisions relating to reciprocal deliveries in that a strict quid pro quo arrangement was proposed. The President stated that this was regarded by him as a very minor modification and that he was not particularly concerned about it in view of the fact that the Russians have violated so many of the important provisions of the Agreement and the further fact that they have already accused the United States and Great Britain of every conceivable type of violation.

The Secretary told the Cabinet that the State Department had never seen Mr. Harriman’s memorandum of January 233 and that Mr. Lovett had no recollection whatever of having received this memorandum. Accordingly, the contents of this memorandum had not been available at the time the Secretary wrote his letter to Senator Vandenberg.4 Mr. Forrestal likewise stated that he had never gotten a copy of the Harriman memorandum, although Mr. Harriman was quite insistent that he had made copies available to the members of the Cabinet.

The Secretary concluded by approving the proposed terms of reference after making a few changes in the form of the memorandum.5

Frank G. Wisner
  1. See also a portion of Secretary of Defense Forrestal’s account of this Cabinet luncheon in Forrestal Diaries, p. 379.
  2. For the text of the recommendations under reference here, see p. 727.
  3. Ante, p. 716.
  4. Regarding the Secretary of State’s letter of February 4 to Senator Vandenberg, see the editorial note, p. 717.
  5. The memorandum under reference is printed infra.