740.00119 Control (Germany)/1–948: Telegram

The United States Political Adviser for Germany ( Murphy ) to the Secretary of State


46. Personal for Saltzman and Hickerson (Eyes Only). Reference mytel 43 January 9.1

After announcement of decisions on German proposals Military Governors continued discussion with Germans on subject of food and pit props. Clay called upon General Robertson who resumed food situation about as follows. He recognized that maintenance of adequate ration is essential to improvement of economic situation in Bizonia. We are aware that present ration is not being met and that outlook is unsatisfactory. There are two points to consider: (1) why has situation gotten into this condition? and (2) what can we do to improve situation?

The ration, Robertson explained, is made up of two components-imports and domestic production.

On subject of imports, the world shortage of food is of great magnitude. Forecasts regarding imports have not only been fulfilled but have been exceeded.

On domestic production potato harvest was below expectation but we are certain there was no disaster. However potatoes are not now available as they should be in a number of Laender. There was lamentable failure on part of Germans to collect and distribute food. Collection of grain crops was good in some Laender and bad in others. Net results today is that although imported food has arrived according to schedule the ration cannot now be met. Robertson said he would not endeavor to fix blame at this point but asked what can we do (1) increase imports? or (2) get hold of food in the country and distribute it.

On (1) there is no possibility to increase imports sufficiently to make a difference in the ration. Food is simply not available. (2) Regarding better distribution, Germans must focus their attention on this factor if they want to improve situation.

Clay then reviewed import figures for twelve months 1 July 1946 to 30 June 1947, emphasizing an importation of 3,600,000 tons of bread-grain equivalent. He stated that for period 1 July 1947 to end of June 1948 there would be imported 4,228,000 tons. Clay said that investigations by nutritional teams demonstrate that Germans last year were better fed than during previous year, but that industrial laboring class was not. In his opinion the only cause for failure now to meet ration is maldistribution. Minister Presidents should agree immediately [Page 18] on drastic action. Economic Council should authorize, a census of food in possession of every storehouse, factory and individual in Bizonia, and German authorities should confiscate irregular holdings and make proper distribution. Germans cannot count on increased imports.

There followed speech by Arnold, Minister President of North Rhine Westphalia, of which he gave warning on preceding day. Arnold stated, with considerable emotion, that success of new Economic Council will largely depend on way in which food problem is handled. Food position in North Rhine Westphalia (including Ruhr-Aachen basin) is grave. North Rhine Westphalia willing to grant necessary authority to Economic Council to search for and confiscate foodstuffs but these will be insufficient to improve situation materially. Arnold said it was impossible to exaggerate gravity of situation and that all sections of population are aroused. Trade unionist officials, party leaders, etc. He was informed only today that on January 9 there would be general strike in Essen of all workers except miners during hours of 12 to 5 p. m. and that similar action is pending in other areas which will probably also affect the miners. Every action should be taken to avoid general strike in Rhine and Ruhr area. Population does not want to strike but there is complete physical and mental breakdown of workers. Arnold agreed that German steps should be taken to insure better collection and distribution but stated that German power at the moment is insufficient. In his opinion, deficit of fats is most serious. He recommended urgently that following quantities of foodstuffs be imported at a cost of $85 million: 100,000 tons fats, 250,000 tons fish, and 200,000 tons sugar.

There followed brief expose of food situation by director of food and agriculture agency (Schlange-Schoeningen). He declared that Frankfurt and Minister Presidents have done everything reasonably possible to improve food situation. Clay’s suggestion regarding census of foodstuffs and confiscation has already been carefully considered. There is now in operation a corps of 100 German experts who are investigating holdings of milk products, sugar, etc. Director doubted that large volume of foodstuffs is being held back. He admitted that certain potato collections were not successful and complained of difficulty arising from giving first priority transportation to Berlin. He summarized following points: (1) crop estimates were over-optimistic on US–UK side and under-estimated on German side. (2) With present paper currency full collection from farmers is simply impossible. Nobody has confidence in the money. (3) Since farmer has no access to machinery and other urgently needed supplies, it was impossible to stop barter operations. (4) Of all European states, Germans are only one without governmental authority. Director complained [Page 19] there was so much talk of lack of morality in Germany, but when it is considered that for years German people have been living in unlighted and unhealed cellars without adequate food and clothing, that might be understandable. He also felt that black market is not much better in some other countries. Director made two requests: (1) If possible a clearer outline should be given Germans of what may be expected from imports and at what time they might be received, and (2) there should be a clearer distinction between responsibilities of bizonal agencies and Laender on the one hand and between Military Government and German agencies on the other.

Military Governors demanded: (1) precise estimate of food expectation in Germany, and (2) executive council should undertake whatever action may be best to improve food situation.

Clay concluded his remarks with reference to serious situation regarding pit props, stating that quotas are not being met. Military Government has been instructed to accord every help to Germans. Without pit props production of coal will be affected and without coal production improvement of economic situation and living conditions of German population simply is not possible.

Koehler concluded German statement with reference to fact that Germans would have liked opportunity to discuss number of other economic problems but that time would not permit. He presented memorandum, text of which will be transmitted. At end this session it was agreed there should be periodic meetings between Military Governors and Germans.

Repeated Frankfurt for Gantenbein 2, Department 46.

  1. Supra.