Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State 1


Participants: Foreign Minister Schuman of France
The Secretary

Foreign Minister Schuman called on me late this afternoon at my request to discuss this matter subsequent to the protest which he and Foreign Ministers van Zeeland and Bech had made to me on the matter earlier in the day. In the earlier conversation the three Ministers had all stated that a devaluation of 25% would wreck the economies of France and the Benelux countries. At that time I promised to obtain current information on the question and talk further.

I informed Mr. Schuman that while I was not handling this matter in New York I had informed myself about it because of my desire to do what was possible to meet the French point of view on the question. I said that I found that while 25% devaluation had in fact been under consideration and that Mr. McCloy had thought it was justified because of the present rate of 30 cents being excessively high, that Mr. McCloy was also taking into account the French point of view on the question. I said, as I understood it, Mr. McCloy was now attempting to persuade the Germans to accept a 20% devaluation and that if persuasion should fail he proposed to override the Germans on this point and would, as I understood it, join with the French in support of a 20% devaluation. Mr. Schuman interjected at this point to say [Page 455] that he had understood the Germans a few days ago were preparing to accept 20%. I asked Mr. Schuman if the 20% proposal would be quite satisfactory to the French. He said while it would not be completely satisfactory it would be much better than the 25% devaluation.

Mr. Schuman then reverted to the question of the price for coal and said that the 20% plan coupled with a revision in the coal price would, in his opinion, result in a situation which would not injure France. I told him that we considered the coal price question a separate issue. Mr. Schuman readily agreed that they were separate but pled for consideration on the coal price matter. I said that as he would recall from our recent conversations in Washington,2 Mr. Paul Hoffman had stated that he felt strongly that the coal price was out of line. I said I felt the same way and believed the Department did also. I promised that this matter would be reviewed and promised for my own part to do all I could to see that it was reviewed sympathetically and some revision made. I added, however, that of course this was a matter which could not be handled tomorrow or the next day.

In the course of the conversation I also told Mr. Schuman that we understood action on this matter would probably be taken tomorrow. Mr. Schuman promised to advise Foreign Ministers van Zeeland and Bech of our conversation.3

  1. The memorandum was prepared by G. Hayden Raynor, an adviser to the United States delegation to the United Nations.
  2. For documentation on the Foreign Ministers’ talks on Germany, September 15, see pp. 599 ff.
  3. The text of Secretary Acheson’s memorandum was transmitted to Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, London, Brussels, and Luxembourg on September 24.