762A.022/1–1850: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Holmes) to the Secretary of State


282. Kirkpatrick1 called me to Foreign Office this morning to give me latest British thinking re Saar. He said [he] had reviewed British position on matter since Bevin’s statement at 18th meeting Moscow CFM of March–April 19472 and had come to conclusion that present French proposals not inconsistent with this and subsequent commitments given them by UK. (List of such commitments being air pouched.) McNeil3 shared this view and had just instructed him to call in Massigli4 and speak to him along following lines.

British trust French will refrain from any action that might prejudice German application for membership in Council of Europe.
Although not objecting in principle to French proposals British consider timing highly inappropriate and feel that French would lose nothing by letting matters rest as they are for time being.
British do not concur in French view that Saar Government has legal right to lease coal mines. UK considers ownership vested in Reich and Saar authorities not empowered to dispose of Reich property.
British also reject French thesis that 50-year lease would have no effect on terms of peace settlement.5

Kirkpatrick not sanguine that French will modify their plans in light these observations, and intimated that chances of success would be enhanced if we were to make similar approach. British apprehensive lest Saar attempt drive wedge between French and themselves. According Foreign Office guidance to press emphasizes fact that French technically justified in advancing present proposals.

Sent Department 282; repeated Paris 84; Frankfort 10.

  1. Sir Ivone A. Kirkpatrick, Permanent Under Secretary of State for the German Section of the British Foreign Office.
  2. Regarding Bevin’s statement, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. ii, p. 300.
  3. Hector McNeil, Minister of State, British Foreign Office.
  4. René Massigli, French Ambassador in the United Kingdom.
  5. On January 24, Embassy London transmitted a memorandum of Kirkpatrick’s conversation with Massigli, which developed along the lines indicated in the source text. Despatch 360, January 24, from London, not printed. (762A.022/1–2450)