740.00119 Control (Germany)/4–649

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State1



The Secretary of State Mr. Bevin Mr. Schuman
Mr. Murphy The British Ambassador The French Ambassador
Dr. Jessup Mr. Steel Mr. Couve de Murville
Mr. Kennan Mr. Dean Mr. Bérard
Mr. Beam Mr. Barclay Mr. Laloy

Paper on General Principles

I read the document relating to the principles governing the exercise of powers and responsibilities of the US, UK and French Governments following the establishment of a German federal republic.2

Mr. Bevin said that we must be careful, in whatever we present to the Germans, to make it clear we are establishing a legal basis for the future relationships, since the Germans had requested a legal occupation statute. Furthermore, the instrument should not be too irreconcilable with four-power decisions. I confirmed that we were dealing with a statement of principles, that we intended to retain sovereignty in Germany as well as the legal basis of our occupation.

The various paragraphs of the statement of principles were then discussed, the chief points being the following:

Paragraph 4.3 Mr. Bevin said that the UK aid furnished Germany must also be taken into account. While the US aid would come under the ECA system, provision must be made for an arrangement making a similar adjustment in the UK–European inter-payments scheme [Page 163] with respect to the British contribution. Accordingly, he entered a caveat regarding this paragraph.

Mr. Schuman referred to the need of obtaining the agreement of the OEEC countries for direct German participation, since Germany was now represented by the Military Governors. I said the present arrangement would continue until a German government is established, following which the matter would be taken up with other governments.

Mr. Bevin said that for budgetary purposes, he would suggest a study be made of when the new arrangements would come into effect.

Paragraph 5.4 Mr. Bevin objected to the transfer to a civilian high commissioner of all functions of Military Government, saying this would put him in an embarrassing position with respect to General Robertson. Mr. Schuman said that while he preferred a civilian administration, the Potsdam Agreement provided for the exercise of power by general officers, and he suggested that the functions now exercised by the Military Governors be separated between those relating to political military affairs and those relating to civil affairs which would be the concern of a high commissioner. I agreed and said we would so re-draft paragraph 5.

Military Governors’ Letter Approving Basic Law

Minor drafting changes were suggested in the various paragraphs:

Paragraph 6.5 Dr. Jessup raised the point whether this reserved necessary power to revoke or amend the government arrangements in the event of four-power agreement on a government for all of Germany. It was agreed that in order to cover this point a phrase along the following lines should be added to the next to the last sentence: “Or to ensure compliance with their international obligations.” Mr. Bevin suggested the addition of another phrase “as circumstances so require,” but it was agreed to drop this proposal since, according to Mr. Schuman, this would entail too great a restriction of German responsibility.

With reference to the draft letter generally, Mr. Bevin said that while he had obtained Cabinet approval only for acceptance of the old occupation statute,6 he nevertheless personally would give approval [Page 164] to the new proposed letter and would initial it, thus accepting it subject to Cabinet decision. He was willing to recommend its approval by the Cabinet.

Mr. Schuman said he had full authority to approve.

I said that if agreement is obtained here, I would inform the President and get his authority to approve, thus giving US acceptance. I continued, it was our definite intention to clean up everything here respecting Western Germany, including the Ruhr, future ECA arrangements, etc. Mr. Bevin wished to be sure our decisions would represent definitive governmental understandings, with no risk that the troublesome issues settled would be reopened. I said this was our intent, and Mr. Schuman agreed.

Referring to Annex A of the London Agreement,7 Mr. Schuman suggested we inform the Benelux Ambassadors here concerning our work. It was agreed this would be done after general agreement was reached among us. Mr. Schuman also suggested the Germans be informed, before they take a final decision on the Basic Law, regarding the principles in the draft letter of approval of the Military Governors and that they be told that the terms of the occupation statute have been rendered considerably easier. It was agreed that when the document is approved it be transmitted to the Military Governors to communicate to the Germans. Mr. Bevin also said we would wish to report our work in a communiqué.

Basic Law

Mr. Bevin expressed great anxiety that we might be too intolerant of the federal powers over finance which the Parliamentary Council might propose. Mentioning that the German states were unequal in their resources, he claimed that the federal government must have certain powers to meet emergency economic conditions and to extend the necessary social services. He referred to the interest of the trade unions in these questions, saying we would want them on our side, and he hoped we would take a liberal attitude toward the work of the Parliamentary Council in order that the constitution will obtain ratification. Mr. Schuman said the Parliamentary Council apparently was not clear regarding this issue and that we should hold them to the Military Governors’ recommendations, as we had tactfully done in the message the three Foreign Secretaries had sent on April 4.8 We should not impose an Allied veto, we should be reasonable, but should ask the Germans to take due consideration of our recommendations.

Referring again to the British Government’s interest that the Basic Law be acceptable to the Germans, Mr. Bevin said that if the French Government could assist him in this regard, it would be helpful in his efforts to obtain Cabinet approval for the new approach represented in the draft letter from the Military Governors approving the constitution.

[Page 165]

A drafting committee was established to amend the text cited above and to report to the meeting at 4:30 this afternoon.

  1. The memorandum was prepared by Beam. A transcript of proceedings in file 740.00119 Control (Germany)/4–649 indicates that the meeting convened at 11 a. m. in room 5106 of the Department of State.
  2. Not printed. Apparently drafts of the paper on general principles, the letter approving the Basic Law, and the agreement as to tripartite controls, discussed by the Ministers on April 6 and 7, were prepared at a meeting of their representatives on April 5, no record of which has been found. However, attached to a copy of the papers signed by the Ministers on April 8 were drafts of these three papers and an agenda for the meetings, none printed, all undated. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/4–849) These drafts which correspond exactly to the texts read by Secretary Acheson at the various meetings as indicated in the transcripts of proceedings have been used to supply the texts of the various other paragraphs not included in the transcripts. Another draft of the paper on general principles was taken to the April 5 meeting by Kennan, not printed. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/4–549) Apparently it was used as the framework from which the representatives worked since it corresponds closely to the draft read by Acheson.
  3. According to the transcript of proceedings and the undated draft, this paragraph read:

    “4. Upon the coming into being of the German Federal Republic, the responsibility for supervision of the utilization of funds made available by the United States Government to the German economy for the purpose of relief as well as recovery should rest with the Economic Cooperation Administration.”

  4. According to the transcript of proceedings and the undated draft, this paragraph read:

    “With the establishment of the German Federal Republic and the termination of military government, the Office of Military Governor should be abolished and each of the allied establishments in Germany, aside from occupation forces, should come under the direction of a civilian high commissioner. The three high commissioners together should constitute the Allied Control Commission.”

  5. The transcript of proceedings did not indicate the text of this paragraph, but according to the undated draft, it read:

    “6. It is the hope and expectation of the three Governments that the occupation authorities will not have occasion to take action in fields other than those specifically reserved above. The occupation authorities, however, reserve the right, acting under instructions of their Governments, to resume, in whole or in part, the exercise of full authority if they consider that to do so is essential to security or to preserve democratic government in Germany. Before so doing, they will formally advise the appropriate German authorities of their decision and of the reasons therefor.”

  6. The text of the draft occupation statute under reference here was transmitted in telegram 1338, p. 62.
  7. The Report of the London Conference on Germany, June 1, 1948, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ii, p. 191.
  8. For the text of this message, see editorial note, p. 236.