740.00119 Council/11–1049: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the President and the Acting Secretary of State


4693. For President and Webb from Secretary. Three Ministers met Wednesday morning and afternoon1 with their staffs to discuss general questions concerning Germany and in further session in late afternoon with just three High Commissioners to review dismantling. Discussions will be continued Thursday. We agreed in our discussions to cover following points:

[In the first part of this message Secretary Acheson reported generally on the attitude of the three Allies toward the new West German Government and its participation in various international agencies.]

Bevin broached subject of dismantling with somewhat rambling statement, reviewing points in his note of October 30 [28?],2 and ending in inconclusive manner, leaving problem on table and requesting views as to what ought to be done.

Schuman in lengthy statement indicated willingness to reduce scope of dismantling, saying he thought interest in subject from reparations viewpoint had been considerably reduced. The main issue is now one of security. From this viewpoint, he questioned allowing Germans to keep more basic steel capacity.

At outset, I refrained from entering discussion, saying that my views on subject had been made clear at recent Washington meeting.3 However, Bevin failed to pick up discussion and proposed referring whole question to High Commissioner[s]. I felt that Ministers should settle question at this meeting, and urged necessity for speed and for [Page 633] reviewing question from security viewpoint in broadest sense. This meant bringing Germany fully into western community. I pointed out that there was no question among us as to removal of war plants. Plants which had been reserved for Soviet Union also presented no problem since they had been largely dismantled. Issue came down to 15 to 20 plants, consisting for most part of synthetic oil and rubber plants and steel plants. Synthetic plants, in my view, did not present security hazard. As for steel, issue turned on examination of actual plants.

In response to question by Schuman for facts on question as to steel capacity involved, Robertson said it was matter of two plants, August Thyssen at Hamborn and Reichswerke at Salzgitter. At beginning of war, former had capacity of 2.3 million tons of steel annually and latter capacity of 1 million tons annually. Because of war damage and removals, Hamborn plant could only produce from capacity now left (refitting of which would take 9 to 12 months) 600,000 tons of pig iron and only 117,000 tons of steel. Reichswerke, on same basis, could produce 500,000 tons in about 6 months. Finishing capacity of Hamborn plant practically gone.

Schuman said that if dismantling of these plants were now stopped, we would be forced allow Germans restore them and suggested this might occur with benefit of ECA aid. I assured him categorically that neither direct American aid nor counterpart funds could be used to replace any equipment removed from dismantled plants. During course of discussion, I suggested that among principles on which our settlement should be based is that no change in limit on steel production would be involved.

In view of Bevin’s reluctance to discuss specific plants in large meeting, I proposed that meeting be restricted to three Foreign Ministers and High Commissioners.

Before going into closed session, we agreed on settlement of one outstanding point regarding limitation on German shipping which has remained unresolved for some months. Committee of experts now sitting in London will complete agreement on this subject on basis of Ministers’ decision.4

Sent Department 4693; repeated Frankfort 127, London 808.

[ Acheson ]
  1. A copy of the agenda for the meetings and minutes of the morning and afternoon sessions of the Foreign Ministers is in CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 144: 3 Min Talks.
  2. The reference is to Bevin’s note printed on p. 618.
  3. For documentation relating to the Foreign Ministers meetings in Washington, September 15, see pp. 599 ff.
  4. Under reference here is the agreement by the Ministers to allow exceptional ships, such as refrigerator vessels, to have a maximum trial speed of 16½ knots. Another technical point on the construction of vessels was referred to the London Committee of Experts for resolution. (USDel/P(49)2Mfg, CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 144:3 Min Talks) The shipping experts subsequently signed an agreement with regard to German shipping, November 18, and the text was transmitted in telegram 4607, November 18, from London, not printed. (862.642/11–1849)