The Secretary of State to the Office of the United States High Commissioner for Germany, at Frankfort 1
626. Personal for Hays. Amb Bonnet delivered during weekend Fr draft of proposed Fr-Saar agreement, which we understand has not as yet been made known to Saar officials. Text will fol by separate message.2[Page 935]
While document is still under study it is evident that present Fr position is not as alarming as expected or perhaps as it had actually been prior to recent expressions of concern. Document expresses Fr position that ownership of mines will be determined at Peace settlement but that their position at that time will be to support Saar ownership. Fr lease of Saar mines therefore will be valid only until peace treaty with stipulation in Fr Saar agreement that, should the peace settlement determine the mines to be of Saar ownership, the lease would automatically be reinstated for a further period of fifty years.
McCloy and Byroade3 informed Bonnet that present Fr position was most helpful and great step toward calming rumors of more serious Fr designs. McCloy stated that had Fr originally taken this position, and promptly informed other Govts or even Poncet,4 present tense feelings which have been most detrimental in Eur could have been avoided. Bonnet was also informed that without study, our first reaction was that further improvement could be obtained if substitute wording could be found to avoid use of the specific “50 year” phrase. Bonnet stated that he would report to Schuman our feeling that, in view of past rumors, substitute wording along lines of “long term arrangements” wld be preferable and perhaps avoid the possibility of the creation of an exciting slogan in Ger. We plan make this point again to Fr in our reply on suggested agreement but do not, unless you feel otherwise, consider it a vital point.
From a realistic point of view and ignoring of course opposition politics there wld seem little cause for concern on part of Adenauer at this agreement as it merely states well known position which Fr could be expected to take at peace treaty. Conversely it is a commitment on part of Fr not to take a more extreme position, namely that the mines shld become Fr property.
As has been made clear, the US is committed to support at peace conference Fr claim to economic and financial integration of Saar with Fr. Beyond this the US position that major decisions must await the peace settlement has also been, we believe, made quite clear. Certainly the question of ownership of the Saar mines is one such major decision. Adenauer’s question (ur niact 8425) may be aimed at determining whether additional commitment exists between France and US or possibly whether we already have arrived at decision to support some other course at peace treaty on question of mine ownership. You may make it quite clear that neither of these alternatives is correct and that [Page 936] your Govt has no position on this question other than that it is an item for discussion and settlement at time of treaty. We wld expect to be in a position to study with open mind various claims to mines which will be presented at that time. For your info we have not made here as yet a sufficiently exhaustive study on this complex question to have a position at this time. We consider the above position shld remain however even if we do reach a conclusion on the legalities of the case.
We are certain you realize the adverse reaction of any misunderstanding on this issue with Adenauer so that he might erroneously imply to Cabinet or Bundestag that he had US commitment not to support Fr at peace treaty on question of mine ownership.
Analysis of expected Fr position at time of treaty and knowledge that US does not expect to make commitment to anyone before treaty shld, it seems, add up for Adenauer that peace settlement has not been prejudiced.
We certainly feel that refusal to consummate trade agreement on this ground would have most unfortunate implications and welcome your advice to Adenauer in this regard.
McCloy is in New York and has not had opportunity see this message.6
- Repeated to London for Holmes as 437 and to Paris for Bruce as 408.↩
- A translation of the preamble and principal articles of the draft agreement on the Saar coal mines was transmitted in telegram 641, January 31, to Frankfort (repeated to London and Paris), not printed. (762A.022/1–3150)↩
- Col. Henry A. Byroade, Director of the Bureau of German Affairs.↩
- André François-Poncet, French High Commissioner for Germany.↩
- Not printed; it reported Adenauer’s information on various aspects of the French attitude toward the Saar and asked whether the United States would support a French proposal “that mines leases would be valid until peace treaty but with provision that if confirmed by peace treaty the leases will run for “50 years.” Riddleberger replied to this question that the United States had not given the French carte blanche for any arrangements. (862.2552/1–2950)↩
- The source text was initialed by Secretary Acheson.↩