CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 142: United States Delegation Minutes

United States Delegation Minutes of the 12th (2nd Restricted) Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, Paris, June 4, 1949, 3:30 p.m.



United States

Mr. Acheson (Chairman)

Mr. Jessup

Mr. Dulles

Mr. Murphy

Mr. Bohlen

U.S.S.R. France
Mr. Vishinsky M. Schuman
General Chuikov M. Parodi
Mr. Semenov M. François-Poncet
Mr. Smirnov M. Couve de Murville

United Kingdom

Mr. Bevin

Sir I. Kirkpatrick

General Robertson

Lord Henderson

Record of Decisions

Mr. Acheson (Chairman) opened the meeting with a procedural question concerning the record of decisions raised by the Secretary-General [CFM/P/49/141]

Mr. Bevin suggested that each Delegation keep its own records but no report be made to the Secretary General until a report was made to a plenary session. (All agreed.)

Berlin (Cont’d.)

Mr. Acheson said it had been agreed to proceed at this meeting with a discussion of Paragraph 4 of the American proposal [Page 950] [CFM/P/49/102]. The proposition, as presented at the previous meeting, had been to leave as much authority as possible to the Germans, to determine the functions of allied control, and to set up the mechanism for exercising this control. Several days previously Mr. Vishinsky had suggested that a key to this problem might be found in the Four Power Control Agreement for Austria.3 With this in mind Mr. Acheson wanted to outline a plan for dividing the powers between the Kommandatura and the city government.

I. The powers of the city government might be handled in the following manner:

The municipal authorities of greater Berlin should exercise legislative, executive and judicial powers subject only to the reservation by the occupation authorities of powers in such fields as: (a) disarmament and demilitarization; (6) reparations, external restitution, decartelization, deconcentration, and the protection of foreign interests; (c) protection and security of the allied forces; (d) the care and treatment of prisoners; (e) quadripartite supervision of future elections; (f) control over relations with foreign authorities other than the occupying powers.
The city government would not have authority without the previous written approval of the control body in matters such as the following:
amendments to the temporary constitution and adoption of a new constitution; (b) internal restitution.
All other action and legislation by the municipality in fields not specifically mentioned should be deemed to be within their competence and should become effective unless disapproved by the Kommandatura within twenty-one days after its submission.

II. The powers of the occupation authorities should be exercised in accordance with the following provisions:

Actions of the Kommandatura would be by unanimous decision, but if unanimous agreement was not reached each Commandant would be free to take whatever action he considered appropriate in his own sector with respect to such matters as:
protection and security of the allied forces; (b) control of the care and treatment of prisoners; (c) action to maintain the authority of the city government in case of disturbance.
Occupation costs would be reduced to a minimum and would be determined by methods to be agreed upon by unanimous vote of the Kommandatura.

[Page 951]

Mr. Vishinsky stated that in the absence of a written text of these proposals, he could make only a few comments. When he had previously spoken of the Austrian control agreement, he had in mind Article 12 of that agreement.4 This specifically covered the principle of unanimity. He had not referred to Article 6, which provided for unanimous disapproval.5 This article was peculiar to the situation in Austria, which had a government. Germany has no government, so the article would not apply. On the operation of the Kommandatura, he understood that Mr. Acheson’s proposals provided for the principle of unanimity, but that if unanimity were not possible each commander had the right to take such measures as he considered necessary in his own zone. He considered this procedure quite the opposite of a principle of operating according to agreed decisions and one that could not be considered a method of coordinating control. The Soviet Delegation considered that it would be preferable to follow the statute of January 18, 1946 on the Allied Kommandatura of Berlin [USDel/Working Paper/166], Article 3 of which specifically provided that only unanimous decisions would be valid. He believed it would be desirable to adopt this procedure which had been previously agreed upon. In general, the following principles should be kept in mind concerning the Kommandatura:

It should not deal with matters of high politics.
It should coordinate overall Berlin measures and have control over matters such as the protection of the interests of Berlin and assuring normal life within the city. He had certain proposals to make concerning the statute of the Kommandatura. In all other respects the statute would remain as it now was, including Article 3. If proposals were adopted, a discussion of Mr. Acheson’s proposals would be unnecessary. Mr. Vishinsky then read the following Soviet paper.

[Page 952]

Berlin and the Currency Question

inter-allied kommandatura of berlin

(Proposals of the USSR Delegation)7

June 3, 1949.

The Council of Foreign Ministers deems it necessary:

To reserve for the Inter-Allied Kommandatura the following functions:
Control over the observance of the Provisional Constitution of 1946;
Problems of all city finance including all city budget, credits, prices and taxes;
Problems of external trade of Berlin with the Western Zones and third countries;
Control over fuel and electric power;
City transport;
Public security (police, etc.);
Control over appointment and dismissal of responsible personnel in all city organs of government;
Supervision over imprisonment of the persons sentenced by the Nuremberg International Tribunal;

The problems which fall within the competence of the City Assembly and all Berlin Magistrate may be dealt with by the Allied Kommandatura only if any of the four Commandants raises objection to a decision of the City Assembly and of the all Berlin Magistrate.

In this case the opposed decision shall come into force only after its approval by the Inter-Allied Kommandatura.

All decisions of the Kommandatura shall be adopted unanimously.
To make the appropriate changes in Article 6 of the Statute of the Inter-Allied Kommandatura of the City of Berlin of January 18, 1946.

Mr. Acheson pointed out that Mr. Vishinsky had misunderstood him in saying that his proposal allowed the sector commandants to do what they chose in regard to all matters when there was not unanimous agreement. The powers of the Kommandatura should be exercised by unanimous agreement. In certain specific matters, if unity of action was riot possible, each commander should be authorized to take independent action. The only matters where independent action was essential included:

the protection of occupation forces;
the protection of prisoners;
threat to the authority of the city government in his sector. With reference to Article 12 of the Austrian Control Agreement, the [Page 953] fact of the existence of a government in Austria was not pertinent, since he was proposing a government for Berlin as well. Mr. Vishinsky had previously cited the Austrian Control Agreement as an example of the effective operation of the principle of unanimity. The reason that this principle worked in Austria was that unanimity had been modified in the Austrian Agreement. It provided that in some cases unanimity was presumed and in some cases independence of action was appropriate in the absence of unanimity.

Mr. Schuman said that Berlin was actually an exceptional case departing from all precedents in the matter of control. The Western Powers contemplated setting up a city assembly with well defined governmental powers. There were few examples of this anywhere else, and it was quite different from the situation in Austria. Mr. Vishinsky had stated that the Interallied Kommandatura should not deal with general policy—or less with general policies than with the daily affairs of Berlin. His own view was diametrically opposed to this. The control mechanism should not enter into routine questions of the daily life of the city. The Soviet proposal reserved to the Kommandatura a tremendous range of authority. In particular, point (a) was too broad; point (b) covered what was properly a municipal function; and point (c) would give the Kommandatura such authority as totally to displace the local administration. In general, the occupation authorities should abandon more and more authority to the Germans, while retaining only supervisory powers. The reserved powers of the Soviet proposal, combined with the operation of the principle of unanimity, would obviously make the government of Berlin impossible. The Soviet proposals actually applied a more stringent control than the 1945 arrangement.

Mr. Bevin confessed his surprise at the Soviet proposals, especially in view of Mr. Vishinsky’s previous comments about his willingness to transfer powers to the Germans. He was particularly worried about point (i) which threw the principle of democracy to the winds. No Western state could accept this. The Soviet proposals placed absolute authority in the Kommandatura, which in turn operated under a rule which allowed any one person to prevent action on what he considered purely domestic issues. Furthermore, Paragraph 2 allowed any one person to suspend action on a municipal act. Was this proposal really put forward seriously when the Soviet Delegation knew that the Western powers and Western public opinion could never accept it? What had been proposed appeared to establish the most powerful veto that existed anywhere.

With reference to Mr. Acheson’s last statement, Mr. Vishinsky said they were not discussing the authority a commander enjoyed in his [Page 954] own sector but rather the functions of the Kommandatura. Obviously, in emergency matters the commander had the right to take action. What was now under consideration were the acts which he took in connection with the other commanders. This had been previously settled in the statute of the Kommandatura, which should be followed in this case. With reference to the Austrian Control Agreement, he stated that Article 6 did not alter the situation, since everything done under Article 6 was done in accordance with Article 12. The principle of unanimity was upheld. Furthermore, Article 6 concerned relations between the Allied Council in Austria and the Austrian Government, and was therefore not pertinent to the operations of the Kommandatura. With reference to Mr. Schuman’s point on control over constitutional questions, he said that his proposal was consistent with Paragraph 5 of the Occupation Statute for Western Germany.8 With reference to the powers reserved to the Kommandatura in his proposal, it was not intended that the Kommandatura would carry out these functions but only that it would exercise supervision from the standpoint of control and coordination. He made these proposals quite seriously, and he wanted to note that Soviet public opinion did not like the tendency to dictation on the part of the other powers. The USSR desired to discuss the whole question seriously and patiently and to try to reach agreement despite the many differences of opinion. The Council was now dealing with the most acute problem of all, and he wanted patiently to seek agreement, although the USSR would never subordinate itself to the rule of the majority.

Mr. Acheson pointed out that nobody except Vyshinsky has been talking about majority decisions. The Western powers were merely proposing that the USSR accept as a basis for the Berlin Kommandatura the kind of arrangement they had accepted in the case of Austria. His proposal had been that four-power control operate through the Kommandatura, which should function for the purpose of controlling and not administering the municipal government. This control would [Page 955] operate in carefully defined areas according to the principle of unanimity, except in three areas where the local commanders would have a certain right to unilateral action. This provision was the same as in the Austrian Control Agreement. In all other cases the Kommandatura would still act according to the principle of unanimity, but would act negatively as in the Austrian Agreement. He was aware that Article 6 of the Austrian Agreement applied to the Allied Council and not to the Kommandatura, but the principle involved was the same. Mr. Schuman and Mr. Bevin had already pointed out the vast differences between the proposals. One had to do with a Kommandatura acting as a control authority in a limited field, while the Soviet proposal was for a Kommandatura acting as the governing mechanism in Berlin. The Soviet proposal boiled down to a single sentence: nothing at all could be done in Berlin if any one on the Kommandatura objected. The Four Powers could never cooperate if they tried to agree on every last detail of the city administration; they could only cooperate if they sought agreement on general principles and leave the details to the Germans. Mr. Acheson said he was willing to discuss this question as long as desirable, but before adjourning this meeting he wanted to know whether Mr. Vishinsky had totally rejected the idea of a control mechanism based on the principle of the Austrian Agreement.

Mr. Vishinsky said that he understood the proposals to involve this difference: the West wanted to apply a new rule to the Kommandatura, while the USSR wanted to maintain the old rule. It was a complete exaggeration to say that under the Soviet proposal nothing could be accomplished without the unanimous vote of the Kommandatura. Much had been accomplished before and much could be accomplished again. The Soviet Delegation believed that the control mechanism should operate according to the statute of 1946. Under this there were two categories of controls; (1) matters not within the competence of the provisional magistrate, such as control over the observance of the provisional constitution and the supervision of war criminals; (2) matters which fell within the competence of the magistrate, such as budget, finance, supplies, etc. The Kommandatura would not enter into this second category unless some objection were raised.

Mr. Schuman interrupted to excuse himself, and left Mr. Parodi in his place.

Mr. Vishinsky answered Mr. Acheson’s direct question by saying that he could not tell whether the Soviet Delegation agreed with the US proposal until he saw the proposal in Writing.

Mr. Bevin said that to clarify the record on these proposals he would like to quote himself from an earlier meeting to the effect that [Page 956] the UK would not accept the Kommandatura if it were reestablished on its former basis with its tendency to interfere with every aspect of the city life. If some sensible proposal were put forward, the UK was prepared to consider it point by point. The Western Powers, without fighting about the question of unanimity versus majority rule, had seriously sought a proposal on which agreement might be possible. They had therefore turned to the Austrian Agreement, on which there had been previous agreement. This was not offered as any “diktat”, as Mr. Vishinsky implied, but in a serious effort to reach a settlement. So far Vyshinsky refused even to consider the proposal. Mr. Bevin did not challenge the rule of unanimity under Paragraph 2 of the Soviet proposal but only the method by which it was to operate. Paragraph 2 in effect allowed one man to veto a municipal act. The UK preferred that the decision to veto be made by a unanimous decision. Under the present Soviet proposal one person on the Kommandatura could overthrow any act of the city body. In the case of Point (i) this one person could upset the vote of the electorate. It was no threat nor “diktat” to say that the UK would never accept this.

Mr. Vishinsky insisted that Mr. Bevin was misinterpreting him. He considered it only appropriate that control over personnel be reserved to the Inter-Allied Kommandatura, since there had to be supervision to ensure that no Nazis were returned to office. He had quite sincerely set forth the Soviet ideas on this subject, but these thoughts were not new. Law 56 of February 1947 covered the appointment and dismissal of municipal officials and reserved to the Kommandatura authority much along the lines of the present Soviet proposal.

Mr. Acheson proposed that in view of the hour the meeting adjourn, and asked whether it was desired to have the next meeting open or closed. The Ministers were not making any progress, and he felt that it perhaps gave a false impression to continue longer in restricted meetings. Mr. Bevin said that he felt Mr. Acheson’s proposals on the control mechanism should be examined in a restricted meeting. The Ministers agreed that the next meeting would be restricted and would convene at 3:30 p. m., June 6.


The Ministers agreed on the following communiqué:

“The Foreign Ministers with Mr. Acheson in the chair outlined today in closed session their consideration of the proposals of the United States and the Soviet Union relative to Berlin. The next meeting will be on June 6.”

[The meeting adjourned at 8:00 p. m.]

  1. Not printed. Brackets throughout the document appear in the source text.
  2. Transmitted in Delsec 1839, June 2, from Paris, p. 943.
  3. The reference here is to the New Control Agreement for Austria, June 28, 1946. For the text of this Agreement, see A Decade of American Foreign Policy, Basic Documents, 1949–1949, pp. 614–620 or Department of State Bulletin, July 28, 1946, pp. 175–178.
  4. Article 12 read:

    “The decisions of the Allied Council, Executive Committee, and other constituted bodies of the Allied Commission shall be unanimous.

    The Chairmanship of the Allied Council, Executive Committee and Directorates shall be held in rotation.”

  5. Article 6 read:

    • “(a) All legislative measures, as defined by the Allied Council, and international agreements which the Austrian Government wishes to make except agreements with one of the four Powers, shall, before they take effect or are published in the State Gazette be submitted by the Austrian Government to the Allied Council. In the case of constitutional laws, the written approval of the Allied Council is required, before any such law may be published and put into effect. In the case of all other legislative matters and international agreements it may be assumed that the Allied Council has given its approval if within thirty-one days of the time of receipt by the Allied Commission it has not informed the Austrian Government that it objects to a legislative measure or an international agreement . . . .
    • (b) The Allied Council may at any time inform the Austrian Government or the appropriate Austrian authority of its disapproval of any of the Legislative measures or administrative actions of the Government or of such authority, and may direct that the action in question shall be cancelled or amended.”

  6. Not printed.
  7. The Soviet proposal was circulated as CFM/P/49/15.
  8. The paragraph under reference read:

    “Any amendment of the Basic Law will require the express approval of the occupation authorities before becoming effective. Land constitutions, amendments thereof, all other legislation, and any agreements made between the Federal States and foreign governments, will become effective twenty-one days after official recept by the occupation authorities unless previously disapproved by them, provisionally or finally. The occupation authorities will not disapprove legislation unless in their opinion it is inconsistent with the Basic Law, a Land Constitution, legislation or other directives of the occupation authorities themselves or the provisions of this Instrument, or unless it constitutes a grave threat to the basic purposes of the occupation.”

    For the full text of the Occupation Statute, agreed by the three Western Ministers in Washington on April 8, 1949, see p. 179.