London Post Files: Lot 58F47: Box 1391: 236 Reparations

The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom


3571.1 Following from New York.

Delau 308, Sept. 29, 8:55 p. m. For Murphy from Reber. The following is British text of draft memorandum prepared by three High Commissioners in Germany containing their recommendations:

  • ‘1. At their meeting in Berlin on 24th the three High Commissioners have studied the effect of the decision taken in Washington2 that the present reparations programme should be maintained unaltered and that the entire problems should be reviewed again in some months time. The Federal Chancellor in declaration of policy informed the Bundestag that he understood that the dismantling question would be raised in Washington. If only to enable him to deal with questions from the opposition he will thus certainly ask for information about the outcome of the discussions of the Allied Ministers for Foreign Affairs, [and] the High Commissioners will not be able to avoid giving him some reply.
  • 2. The High Commissioners do not consider that a statement should be published. Such a statement would necessarily be negative and would draw a very bad political reaction. A public statement would only be of value if it announced the cessation of dismantling.
  • 3. On the other hand, the High Commissioners consider that it would be beneficial if they could invite the Federal Chancellor to exercise a moderating influence upon the attitude both of the Bundestag [Page 607] and of the workers, opposition elements among whom favour agitation.
  • 4. From this point of view the High Commissioners desire to be authorized to remind the Chancellor that dismantling is made necessary:

    By reasons of security, and
    By the obligation to make reparations for the losses suffered by the countries who were the victims of German aggression.

    They would wish to add that public opinion in their countries would not understand a surrender of these objectives particularly at a moment when the atmosphere of the recent elections3 and the awakening of nationalism has spread alarm outside Germany and when the new German Federal Government has not yet had time to translate its professions on this subject into action. They would like to be able to inform the Federal Chancellor at the same time that they would always be ready to welcome, in this context, any proposals which he might wish to submit to them.

  • 5. If the current dismantling programme is carried out there is the risk that trouble will occur at certain key plants such as August Thyssen, Borsig, Reichswerke and the chemical plants. The High Commissioners consider that it would be desirable, without prejudice to the accomplishment of this programme, to reduce the pace of dismantling operation at these plants. This would prevent tension becoming widespread thus aggravating the position and making any later review of the problem impossible.’4

As Bevin explained it, this recommendation has been referred to the three Governments and at today’s meeting he asked whether Mr. Schuman and Mr. Acheson would be prepared to give their approval. Schuman pointed out that as the first sentence of paragraph one was merely a statement of the decision taken in Washington he had no objection. He is likewise in agreement with the course of action outlined in paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 and will authorize the French High Commissioner to agree. As to the proposal contained in paragraph 5 to reduce the pace of dismantling, Schuman prefers to reserve his decision in this respect until after consultation with his government in Paris next week. The Secretary likewise agreed to authorize the U.S. High Commissioner to proceed in accordance with these recommendations.”5

Frankfort for McCloy.

  1. Repeated to Frankfurt as 1883 and Paris as 3736.
  2. Regarding the Foreign Ministers’ discussion of dismantling, see memorandum of conversation, Washington, September 15, p. 599.
  3. The reference here is to the first West German Bundestag election, August 15, in which the Christian Democrats won 139 seats, the Social Democrats 131, the Free Democrats 52, and the Communists 15. For further documentation relating to the establishment of the West German Government, see pp. 187 ff.
  4. In telegram CC 9524, September 24, from Berlin, McCloy had transmitted the text of a similar message which François-Poncet was sending to his government. The portion of this telegram dealing with devaluation of the mark is printed p. 458.
  5. In telegram 1884, September 30, to Frankfurt, not printed, the Department of State informed McCloy that the last sentence of the quoted text authorized him to proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the British memorandum (740.00119 EW/9–3049).