762A.022/1–1750: Telegram

The United States High Commissioner for Germany ( McCloy ) to the Secretary of State


436. Reference third paragraph mytel 160, January 7.1

In conversation with Riddleberger2 January 14 at French reception for Schuman, Adenauer stated his great concern over French intentions regarding Saar and his fear of strong reaction in Germany which might endanger his entire policy of Franco-German rapprochement. Yesterday I had opportunity of discussing Saar with Schuman who indicated French intention to conclude 50-year leases on Saar mines and to effect certain “administrative changes” irrespective of German opposition. Administrative changes in question are not entirely known to us but apparently will involve changing Office of French Commissioner in Saar to some kind of Legation plus certain other arrangements of which we are not informed. I told Schuman that conclusion of 50-year leases would in my opinion pre-judge final settlement of Saar status in view of their long-term nature, although I understood that if French were willing to give certain assurances to Adenauer that ultimate destiny of Saar would be established by peace treaty. Schuman, though evasive on 50-year aspect of leases, repeatedly emphasized fact that any arrangements now made would be subject to review at time of peace treaty.

I have just learned from German sources in Bonn that at two-hour interview between Adenauer and Schuman late yesterday French continued to be somewhat evasive regarding their precise intentions but did indicate that they would go ahead with mine leases and administrative arrangements regardless of German position. I understand that Schuman stated that these long-term leases would not prejudge ultimate settlement but Germans, of course, are far from satisfied with this assurance.

French explanation of why this action is taken as present time, as given to us yesterday in Bonn, is to effect that rise of Gaullist sentiment in France is now so strong that Schuman is compelled to take [Page 928] these steps regarding Saar. While I cannot judge internal French pressures from here and, making allowance for Adenauer’s propensity to overplay his local sentiment, I do regret this action at this time as it is certain, in my opinion, to make policy of rapprochement more difficult of fulfillment. Adenauer has just urgently requested to see me before any departure for US and I plan to have an interview with him within next few days at which time I expect to have fuller account of his interview with Schuman.3

In press interview in Bonn yesterday, Schuman is reported to have stated that French Government has decided to continue with its Saar policy and that conversations with Adenauer will not influence this decision, although he admitted that “peace treaty would be all powerful”.

Sent Department 436; repeated Paris 17, London 7.

  1. Not printed; in it McCloy reported that in a conversation on January 5 Chancellor Adenauer had (a) indicated that he intended to make a strong protest to Foreign Minister Schuman on the proposed leasing of Saar mines to French interests, and (b) asked for United States intercession to prevent such leasing. McCloy also stated his view that the proposed leasing would run counter to the frequently-stated United States position that no decisions would be taken regarding the Saar until a final peace treaty with Germany, and he reported that Sir Brian Robertson, the British High Commissioner for Germany, had expressed similar concern to the Foreign Office. (762A.00/1–750)
  2. James W. Riddleberger, Director of Political Affairs in the Office of the United States High Commissioner for Germany.
  3. In telegram 554, January 19, from Frankfort, not printed, McCloy reported on his interview with Adenauer regarding the Saar question. Adenauer, who was “obviously greatly stirred up over French plan”, indicated that the Bundestag would refuse Federal participation in the Council of Europe if something was not done about the proposed French plan, and he made three specific points: (a) the French should be persuaded that the timing of their action was bad and the United States and the United Kingdom should try to win more time for an eventual settlement, (b) direct and informal conversations should be proposed between France, the Saar, and the Federal Republic of Germany, and (c) nothing should be done contrary to the will of the Saar population. (762A.002/1–1950)