740.00119 Council/2–2948: Telegram

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


783. Delsec 1592. Fifth meeting February 28 on German problems opened with discussion of agenda item D, Security Against Germany.

De Gruben, speaking for Benelux, indicated there were two types of security controls, external agreements and measures within Germany, such as disarmament measures, occupation controls and long-term control of Ruhr and industrial areas. He believed security system required organic structure and suggested this might be done through regional agreements under UN.

Massigli stated with respect to security measures under the occupation that there seemed to be agreement that there would be long-term occupation but no agreement whether certain areas (Rhineland, outlets of Ruhr) shall be occupied permanently as French proposed. Re disarmament he said situation unsatisfactory as agreement on prohibited industries1 not being implemented. These industries actually [Page 105] privileged industries are not being dismantled. Re outside guarantees Byrnes’ draft D and D treaty2 at one time provided satisfactory system but now not clear where we stand. He doubted Benelux proposal sound from legal point of view as regional agreements under UN Charter subject Security Council approval and veto.

De Gruben believed Articles 53 and 51 of Charter could be interpreted as authorizing regional agreements without requiring Security Council approval. He referred to Rio pacts3 as precedent. (Later in reply to Douglas’ questions he said regional agreements he contemplated would probably be discussed in Brussels in connection Bevin proposal.4)

Strang referred to draft D and D treaty and wondered whether it could be adapted to present situation; said British willing consider this and that it mght be useful idea.

Re French views on prohibited industries Robertson replied for British that original agreement on this was Four-Power one and quite separate from quadripartite agreement on level of industry. Bizone level of industry covered restricted industries but not prohibited industries. British felt whole question of prohibited industries should be reviewed but up to present no agreement reached on extent of modifications.

Douglas was doubtful whether Four-Power D and D treaty as proposed by Byrnes would be appropriate under present changed circumstances or whether it could be modified to meet present circumstances. It was necessary to take new situation into account including Bevin’s proposal of last January in considering idea of pact.

Benelux representative stated two pillars on which security rested should be deconcentration of Germany’s economic power and decentralization of its political power.

Strang suggested these points be taken up under item F. As there was no further discussion on item D discussion item F followed immediately. It was understood security question was not disposed of and could be brought up again in subsequent meetings. Long discussion followed in which representatives three Benelux countries explained [Page 106] their views on decentralized political structure they had in mind for Germany or western Germany. They proposed loose confederation of sovereign states similar to North Rhine Confederation. States would delegate certain powers to central authority. These powers would include those necessary for economic viability. Powers to central authority would be temporary in that states, which held full powers, could by agreement always revise or withdraw powers temporarily delegated. Benelux representatives claimed they realized necessity having central direction of prices and wages, food, foreign trade, taxation, et cetera, but believed this possible under their proposal. In reply to Douglas’ question they indicated any peace treaty would have to be made with the individual sovereign states.

Douglas questioned whether central authority with limited temporary powers delegated by sovereign Laender could enforce decisions. Laender could always refuse abide by decisions of central authority; presumably could even secede. Benelux representatives unable give satisfactory reply; asserted Laender would abide by decisions their own central authority; occupying powers presumably would prevent secession and enforce mutual agreement of Laender. In reply to Strang’s question Benelux representative stated proposed system would be imposed by occupying powers.

Douglas asked whether system imposed by coercion was consistent with our understanding of democracy and how long occupying powers expected bear cost occupation.

Luxembourg Minister said coercion did not arise under occupation and would not arise at time of peace treaty as no treaty would be signed with German Government in which we did not have confidence. Occupation must go on until such German Government existed and until viable economy developed. It would take long time to develop democratic institutions in Germany. Douglas pointed out there was contradiction in view that no coercion was involved yet government to be enforced by occupation. He also raised question of consequences in Germany in event of threat from East under proposed separatist system.

De Gruben claimed Benelux proposal took into account German interests and that plan to give Germans reasonable prosperity and political activity was not incompatible with necessity to assure guarantees against Germany.

Douglas then gave brief outline US views on political structure for western Germany, emphasizing ITS had no desire for highly centralized government; favored federal state under constitution; all powers not specifically delegated to central government to remain with Laender, et cetera. He mentioned possibility more extensive powers might be given central government in truncated western Germany [Page 107] than would be required for unified Germany. He added it was necessary central government have sufficient powers if stable economy to be achieved.

Strang stated British subscribed to Douglas views.

Next meeting to be held March 1 will continue discussion item F.

Sent to Department as 783; Berlin as 36, Paris as 75, Moscow as 37, the Hague as 18, Brussels us 27, pass to Luxembourg; Oslo as 11, Copenhagen as 16, Stockholm as 20 and Rome as 37.

  1. The reference here is presumably to the plan, agreed upon by the Allied Control Council for Germany on March 28, 1946, regarding reparations and the level of industry for the post-war German economy; for the text of the agreed plan, see Ruhm von Oppen, Documents on Germany, p. 113. A portion of the plan was devoted to the prohibition of certain industries in Germany.
  2. The reference here is to the Draft Treaty for the Disarmament and Demilitarization of Germany which was submitted to the Council of Foreign Ministers on April 30, 1946, by the then Secretary of State, James F. Byrnes. For the text of the treaty, see Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. ii, p. 190.
  3. The reference here is presumably to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, signed at Rio de Janeiro on September 2, 1947; for documentation regarding the negotiation of the treaty at the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Continental Peace and Security, held in Petropolis, Brazil from August 15 to September 2, 1947, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. viii, pp. 1 ff.
  4. The representatives of the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg were scheduled to hold conversations in Brussels in March 1948 to consider proposals for a five-power security arrangement first suggested by Foreign Secretary Bevin in January 1948. The conversations eventuated in the signing, on March 17, 1948, of the so-called “Brussels Pact”. Documentation regarding these events is printed in volume iii .