740.00119 EW/3–2548

The Assistant Secretary of State for Occupied Areas ( Saltzman ) to the Secretary of Commerce ( Harriman )1

My Dear Mr. Secretary: The Department of State has reexamined the matter of the Cabinet working group on reparations in the light of the discussion held in Ambassador Douglas’ office last Friday afternoon.2 It is suggested that the value and authority of the working group’s analysis and recommendations would be greatly increased if, in line with your suggestion, a limited number of engineers and other technical personnel of outstanding qualifications were brought into its work and especially the proposed field trip to Germany. Preferably, these technicians should have some acquaintance of the German problem, and it would appear entirely appropriate to draw them from either within or outside the Government.

In order to maintain the character of the working group as established under the original Cabinet recommendations, it is recommended that the additional technical personnel should be selected by the Secretaries of Commerce, Agriculture, and the Interior, or their representatives.

In view of the urgency of this matter, it would be greatly appreciated if you would inform me at your earliest convenience whether you agree that the above suggestion would meet your objective, which is shared by the Department of State, of insuring that the investigation is carried out by an impartial and technically competent group. I feel [Page 742] certain that you will agree a speedy conclusion of the task of the working group is imperative.3

Sincerely yours,

Charles E. Saltzman
  1. Virtually identical letters were sent to Secretary of Agriculture Clinton P. Anderson and to Secretary of the Interior Julius A. Krug.
  2. Regarding the meeting of March 19 under reference here, see the memorandum of conversation by Wisner, March 22, p. 738.
  3. No answer to this letter has been found in the files of the Department of State. Agreement with the proposal set forth here was, however, apparently promptly forthcoming. On March 30, the Secretaries of Commerce, Interior, and Agriculture, in consultation with the Departments of State and Army, established a special group of advisers and consultants. The group, subsequently called the Cabinet Technical Mission on Reparations, was to visit the American, British, and French zones of occupation of Germany to examine industrial plants tentatively listed for reparation which might be retained in Germany to produce items of critical world short supply under the European Recovery Program. The Technical Mission on Reparations, which originally included Norman H. Collison, Fred T. Searles, Edward Falck, Frank J. Baumis, Julius Graf, and Julius C. C. Edelstein (as Executive Secretary), assembled in Europe during the first week of April and went to London on April 7 for consultation with Ambassador Douglas and preliminary discussions with British and French experts.