740.00119 Control (Germany)/2–1749: Telegram

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


614. From Holmes. In absence Department’s comments on Embtel 579, February 15, repeated Berlin 107,1 today’s Occupation Statute plenary2 largely devoted to Kehl. At outset, French delegate circulated revised French proposal which translated reads as follows:

  • [Here follows a translation of a French proposal that the administration, direction, management, and operation of the Kehl Port Zone be assured by the French authorities of the Port of Strasbourg and that Kehl be included in the French customs area and use the French monetary system.]

[Page 43]

French delegate indicated foregoing principles should be embodied in statute to replace within six months present provisional ordinance regarding Kehl and statute would be in effect until peace settlement. In reply question by US delegate, he said proposed formula envisaged gradual return city Kehl to German administration as additional housing becomes available Strasbourg for French temporarily domiciled Kehl. One-third city could be turned over within several months and full evacuation completed within approximately four years depending an availability building materials for housing in Strasbourg. Compensation office necessary to handle payments to Germans working in Port Kehl who would desire their wages in marks, settlement port dues and charges, etc., during period in which exchange control systems are in effect. German members proposed mixed commission would be nominated by Land Baden. Proportion of German members to French would be 1 to 3 as ratio between traffic Ports Kehl and Strasbourg in prewar period was 1.7 to 5.2. French delegate indicated cost repairs and improvement Port Kehl would be approximately several billion francs in addition 600 million already spent on reconstruction Kehl. He asserted that Baden authorities would welcome the entire arrangement in view of circumstance that French Government has given up thought annexation Kehl and is willing to spend French funds in improving port. In view considerable sums needed for port rehabilitation, he said French would like some assurance for provision in peace settlement for continuance above outlined regime since otherwise French Parliament would be unwilling invest these sums unless sufficiently long period of amortization is reasonably assured. He said he fully realized UK and US Governments could not commit themselves with regard peace settlement but French desired some assurance that if regime contemplated works well in interim, its continuation would be regarded benevolently. Point might be covered by exchange of letters phrased in general terms. British delegate said he would discuss proposal with Bevin and give French his views at tomorrow’s plenary.3 British delegate afterwards informed me that formula along following lines would probably be acceptable his government.

“French Government has informed HMG that if Port of Kehl is to be rehabilitated, it will have to invest substantial funds in project and therefore French Government desires some reasonable assurance to [Page 44] make such an investment worthwhile. HMG has noted French position and considers that if system including mixed commission works well, if interests of all parties concerned are protected and if it does not develop into a source of irritation between Germans and French, HMG would approach problem at time of peace settlement in same sympathetic manner as that now manifested.”

Formula along above lines would appear to have certain advantages as it would be an inducement to French to operate joint ports during provisional period in interests both countries rather than from purely national standpoint. At conclusion meeting, French Delegate said his government would agree 9-man court including German judge having full voting powers provided satisfactory solution reached on other matters, obviously referring Kehl and principles Trizonal fusion.

US delegate urgently requests Department’s instructions Embtel 579, February 15 as well as Kehl proposal.

Sent Department 614; repeated Berlin 114.

  1. Supra.
  2. The minutes of the 12th meeting on the occupation statute for Germany were transmitted in despatch 305, February 21, from London, not printed (740.-00119 Control (Germany)/2–2149).
  3. In telegram 621, February 18, from London, not printed, Holmes reported on the 13th meeting on the occupation statute, at which the British delegate gave Bevin’s views on the French proposal. While the British Foreign Secretary saw some advantage in joint operation of the ports, he was very reluctant to give any assurance for its prolongation in the peace settlement. The British delegate then suggested that he and the French delegate prepare a formula along the lines of that indicated in the penultimate paragraph of the source text for submission to Bevin. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/2–1849)