460.509/5–2251: Telegram

The United States High Commissioner for Germany (McCloy) to the Secretary of State 1


875. From Liaison Bonn. Re Deptel sent Frankfort 7710 rptd Berlin 373 Bonn 141 Paris and London unn May 16 and Frankfort’s tel to Dept 9321 pouched Berlin, Bonn, Paris, London, May 19.2 Wehner, Chairman Bundestag Comite All-Ger Affairs, informed Liaison Bonn May 21 that comite still engaged in collection and analysis of facts re East–West trade, but expects within next two weeks possess sufficient info and have developed sufficiently firm control proposals on which to base consultation with HICOM or HICOG reps re best method attack problem. Comite concentrating primarily on ascertaining facts re firms participating in trade and their modus operandi, using inter alia East Zone sources, and scheduled hear two “well informed” sources, one from Berlin and another from North Rhine Westphalia, during course next few days.

During conversation Wehner stated problem of real and effective East–West controls sources of production complicated by fact that any such control wld affect many industrial interests, as revealed by data he already has assembled, and that hence Parliamentary support for genuine control not as easy to obtain as might be suggested by ostensible concensus in favor of cracking down on East–West trade. In this connection he expressed certain doubts re competency of Min Econ or Min Interior as possible admin control agencies for East–West trade, stating that Min Econ employs many functionaries who have connections with industry by virtue of prior employment there, and that Interior Min Lehr, however great his integrity might be, would perhaps find it difficult to be objective in this matter due his long association with Ruhr steel interests. (Note: While these arguments possibly somewhat plausible, it shld be recalled that Wehner belongs to SPD opposition.) Wehner stated that he had refrained from giving above agencies the considerable intelligence info he has collected, through SPD OST Bureau and other contacts, re illegal trade of many prominent firms, because he fears they wld be tipped off and better prepared to hide evidence when and if investigations eventually take place. Although vague about proposals or plans his comite has under consideration re form and implementation of controls, Wehner did say that in [Page 1913] addition to tightening present controls as proposed by Fed Govt, some effective administrative means for checking records of suspect firms must be established, possibly through tax auths. He made general mention of legal, constitutional and practical difficulties which made it difficult for his comite to work in close liaison with govt agencies on this subj, and discussed in similar terms the problem of ultimately providing, on Ger side, for effective punitive action against violators of East–West trade control measures. As example, he stated that Bundestag comites unfortunately do not have the power to subpoena witnesses and undertake thorough investigations of activities of private firms or individuals, but that it might be possible to establish a special commission including both Bundestag and Fed Govt officials. At same time he expressed concern lest HICOG or HICOM proceed too fast on unilateral policy with respect to this problem, which he felt basically to be Ger problem in which it wld be best for Gers to take initiative, albeit with Allied help in implementation.

In sum, it appears that Wehner’s comite has not moved very far in crystallization of new control proposals during past month. However, comite is by no means ignoring problem, as indicated by extent to which it evidently has gone to gather detailed info and consider such complexities as Salzgitter steel interests, who reported was forced into illegal trade of crude steel in return for Silesian coal because Ruhr coal and steel interests are engaged in boycott which has allegedly effectively denied them necessary West Ger coal supply.

On basis conversation with Wehner, however, Liaison Bonn inclined to guess that unless Gers continuously prodded by HICOG, it will take considerable time to close gap between different points of view of Wehner-led Bundestag comite and Fed Govt re extent and type of East–West trade controls, not to mention their implementation.

  1. Repeated to Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris, and London.
  2. Neither printed; the former requested details on the Bundestag committee’s discussions on East–West trade, while the latter reported that the evidence concerning the activities of the Federal Government on East–West trade did not clearly indicate whether it was a result of SPD needling or HICOG pressure. (460.62A9/4–2751 and 5–1951) For further documentation on U.S. policy on East–West trade, see vol. i, pp. 993 ff.