740.00119 Council/2–2848: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Douglas ) to the Secretary of State


774. Delsec 1587. February 27 meeting German conference1 continued discussion Item C of agenda. Frenchncirculated proposal on Ruhr transmitted in cable to follow.2 Massigli in replying to Douglas’ remarks yesterday stated France, while conscious need adopting solution to current realities, has drawn certain lessons from history which differ from conclusions drawn by US. Soviet and German problems not two problems solution of which involves reconciliation but part of single problem for which single solution must be found. Admitted Germany by itself not threat for long time, but could become so immediately if allied with Soviet. Any German regime regardless of whether or not it is Communist might ally itself with Soviet if advantageous. For very purpose of guarding against this danger France does not wish to fix now terminal date for occupation of Germany, wants to consolidate position of Laender and federal pattern of Germany. Only then would it be possible to counter centralist and Soviet influence emanating from Berlin. Partly for same reason France advocates control of Ruhr which would be means for keeping Soviet influence out. In this connection recalled existence of Communist cell in Ruhr which played important role in past and still strong. Discounted danger of ultimate Soviet participation in Ruhr in event quadripartite agreement, for assumed that in such event Soviet policy would have undergone radical change. In any event deprecated attempts to win German people by favors, which was not way to stop German aggression. Can never prevent Soviet from setting itself up as champion of German unity because only by espousing German unity can Soviet obtain means of extending its influence throughout Germany. History shows that when Slavs press westward, Germans do likewise. Germany’s western neighbors must be constantly cognizant this danger.

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Douglas declared he intended only to give background against which German problem should be examined. US feared certain French proposals would produce very consequences designed to guard against. Commenting on Strang’s remarks yesterday, agreed broadly except that US reluctant to see International Ruhr regime during occupation period. Conceded that pattern set now might constitute precedent but suggested necessary safeguards might be provided either in eventual peace treaty or in terms under which provisional German government would be allowed to exercise its authority. As to British proposal for advisory group, with Benelux participation, in occupation period, US would want to examine specific terms of reference and functions and could hardly contemplate encumbering military government with elaborate advisory machinery that would make discharge of manifold tasks of military government more difficult. As to public ownership, German people within such Germany as might be reconstituted would ultimately have to decide this question free of restraint even though, according his personal view, there might be danger in concentrating ownership of such important industries in hands of German government.

Turning to specific problem of international control Ruhr, Douglas stressed US sympathy with principle access to Ruhr products should not be exclusively controlled by Germany and readiness consider proposals for long-term control Ruhr in post-occupation period. Would hope, however, such control would be of such nature that Western Germany and Western Europe would be effectively integrated and would not be punitive so as to create conditions in Germany which we all desire to avoid and which would increase bargaining power of Soviet in Germany. While realizing international control would have to set at rest fear of Germany’s western neighbors, also important that it have effect of making German people feel part of Western Europe instead of turning them to east. US attached very great importance to economic integration Western Europe. Therefore very tentatively and very informally, he wanted to suggest that international regime might look toward inclusion not only Ruhr but also similar industrial regions of Western Europe. Recognized the functions of any such international regime would have to change with circumstances, that in initial period of scarcity it would have to deal primarily with equitable distribution of products of major importance, that in later stage of abundance its function might largely be to prevent frustration of natural economic forces, of natural flow of trade. Recalled in this connection that Germany able to build up its war potential before last war only behind barrier of artificial restrictions on trade. Acknowledged his suggestion might be too ambitious and might look too far into future, but felt it worthy of examination.

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Benelux spokesman3 generally endorsed French views, stressing particularly need to guard against German mentality which had often expressed itself in aggressive forms. Welcomed American suggestion for consideration, but felt it important to establish bases for international control of Ruhr now lest psychological moment for such establishment will have passed. After further exchange of opinions between Douglas and Benelux spokesman, Douglas stated he saw possibility of laying basis now for international control which might be applied in future.

Strang agreed US diagnosis of elements of situation which should color our thinking in problem, but also agreed with France that Germany could easily become danger again. Recalled UK suggestions made yesterday and elaborated somewhat UK suggestion for some preliminary control system with Benelux participation. UK had in mind establishment inspectorate for three western zones which would ensure there would be no reactivation of prohibited industries and war research or any violation of other security restrictions. Such inspectorate with which Benelux representatives would be associated as observers or advisers, would operate under allied commanders without impairing latter’s authority. While conceding probably no need such inspectorate at present, thought it wise to make start. Returning to question ownership Ruhr industries, deemed it important question be promptly decided in order avoid danger German Socialists would be driven into arms of Communists. Suggested that pending such decision by democratic methods mines should be turned over to German trustees who would hold them in trust for German people. Interests of foreign owners would of course have to be protected.

After further exchange in which Massigli agreed Douglas’ suggestion merited serious consideration, conference agreed to establish working party to consider and report on the problem of establishment of international regime for Ruhr mining and steel industries.

Conference also decided to permit Benelux to circulate papers elaborating additional problems it wanted to raise under Item C such as currency, foreign trade, transport and food problems so that conference might decide whether such problems could appropriately be discussed in light already heavy agenda and US/UK views operational matters problems should not be considered.

Sent Department 774, repeated Berlin 35, Paris 73, Moscow 36, Hague 17, Oslo 10, Copenhagen 15, Stockholm 19, Rome 36, Brussels 26, pass to Luxembourg.

  1. This was the Fourth Meeting of the London Conference on Germany.
  2. See telegram 772, Delsec 1589, February 27, from London, supra. Unexplained difficulties in transmitting messages from the Embassy in London appear to have reversed the sequence in which telegrams 772 and 774 were sent to Washington.
  3. Netherlands Ambassador Michiels van Verduynen.