Paper Prepared by the Policy Planning Staff


Status of the Saar

In view of the increasing frequency with which the question of the status of the Saar is raised, the following statement of fact and policy [Page 483] has been prepared for the guidance of certain missions in Europe as well as officers of the Department.

official policy

Secretary Marshall stated at the Moscow CFM that the US agreed to the political separation of the Saar from Germany and to the economic and financial integration of the Saar with France. Beyond this, the United States reserves its position and holds that the definitive status of the Saar is to be determined in the final peace settlement.

relationship between germany and the saar

The Saar is not treated as part of the French Zone of Germany, and will not, therefore, be subject either to the High Commission or the Federal Republic.

basic relationship between france and the saarland

The present position of the Saarland was established in December 1947 and January 1948 by three basic enactments:

The Saar Constitution, adopted on December 15, 1947, which provided in its preamble
that the Saar become independent of Germany;
that France take over the defense and foreign relations of the Saar;
that French tariffs and currency be introduced in the Saar;
that a French representative be appointed with the right to issue decrees for safeguarding the economic union and to supervise the execution of a charter; and
that judicial uniformity, within the framework of a charter, be set up.
The decree of January 10, 1948 concerning military government in the Saar, issued by the French Commander in Chief in Germany, transferring top French representation in the Saar to a High Commissioner.
The French decree of December 31, 1947 regarding the French High Commissioner in the Saar, giving him
authority to supervise the execution of the Saar Constitution, French-Saar agreements, and French laws in the Saar,
the right to veto all Saar laws and regulations, to pass on all nominations for higher Saar offices and on all naturalizations, and
the power to issue decrees within the framework of the French-Saar economic union, to amend the Saar budget under certain conditions, and to take emergency measures to safeguard the public order.

[Page 484]

[Here follows a discussion of the economic union between France and the Saar, the French–Saar judicial convention, Saar citizenship, postal and railroad matters, the Saar mines, patents, police, and military and cultural matters.]

international status (council of europe)

The Saar currently has no international status. The French are campaigning for its admission to the Council of Europe. We have been advised but not consulted on this. Our official but unpublicized position is that such a move is premature, and would have an adverse effect in Germany, whose admission to the Council is desirable and of much greater importance and should not be prejudiced by admission of the Saar.


It is practicable to continue our present policy of accepting many de facto developments in the status of the Saar, while postponing (“until the final peace settlement”) a definitive decision. Furthermore such a policy is desirable in order to leave us more tactical freedom with regard to the problem of the Oder-Neisse line, and in order to determine what the prospects are for a successful permanent separation of the Saar from Germany. Our present policy does not necessitate direct or positive action on our part, in general, although on occasion we may desire to exercise indirect pressure in order to safeguard wider and more important objectives in Germany and Europe.

While admissions to the Council of Europe are not directly our affair, we have a strong interest in the French proposal to admit the Saar, which has been adversely received in Germany where political leaders and the press continue to criticize the political separation of the Saar from Germany. The French have defended their proposal as indicating that they had not proposed to join the Saar politically to France. We have two interests. First, we do not wish to see any step taken which would prejudice in any way the admission of Germany to the Council of Europe which we regard as an important objective contributing to German cooperation with the Western world. It would accordingly be preferable to admit Germany first so that the Germans could officially express themselves with regard to the admission of the Saar.

Second, we do not wish to see a step taken which would finalize the legal and political status of the Saar in the absence of a definitive peace settlement. This position is based on doubt that the three occupying powers alone are legally competent to settle this question and on a desire not to take steps in the West which would damage our tactical position with regard to the Oder–Neisse line in the East. [Page 485] We would be prepared to approve the admission of the Saar to the Council of Europe only if a fair and free plebiscite of the people of the Saar should confirm the political separation of the Saar from Germany and approve the entrance of the Saar into the Council of Europe. Such a plebiscite would have the effect of forcing the Germans to accept the separation of the Saar as soundly based on the wish of the Saar-landers themselves, or it would demonstrate conclusively to the French that they are pursuing a will-o-the-wisp. It would also plant our feet on firmer ground generally as regards German territorial changes.