65 Cabinet Submission [1] by Evatt

Agendum 1059 (extracts) CANBERRA, [1 February 1946]



In implementation of the Berlin Protocol of 1st August, 1945, which stated, inter alia, that 'the reparations claims of the United States, United Kingdom, and other countries entitled to reparations shall be met from the western zones and from appropriate German external assets', an invitation on behalf of the Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France was issued to the Commonwealth Government on 28th August, 1945, to submit a claim for reparations from Germany.

2. Australia's Reparations Claim.

Australia's claim for reparations from Germany was discussed by War Cabinet on 24th July, 1945 (see War Cabinet Agendum No.

320/1945). [2] In accordance with War Cabinet recommendations and the abovementioned invitation a formal claim for reparations was submitted on 2nd October, 1945. [3] This claim was based on the following:

I. Damage to and loss of property other than military equipment of the war against Germany.

II Budgetary expenditure on the war.

III. Man years allocated to the war. (Figures supporting this have been supplied by the Service Departments.) IV. Loss of life and injuries suffered.

3. Inter Allied Reparations Conference.

On 16th October, 1945, a further invitation was issued on behalf of the Governments of the United Kingdom, France, and the United States of America to the Commonwealth Government to appoint a representative to a Conference in Paris commencing on 9th November, 1945.

Dr. E. R. Walker, then Charge d'Affaires, Paris, attended this Conference as Australian Representative. (Copy of Report [4] attached as Appendix A.) The purpose of this Conference was to examine the claims for reparations submitted by various Governments.

4. The final act of the conference, extracts from which are attached hereto (see Annex B), embodied a Draft Inter-Governmental Agreement on the following subjects:

I. Reparations from Germany;

II. The establishment of an inter-Allied Reparations Agency;

III. The restitution of Monetary Gold.

5. Types of Reparations.

Under this draft Agreement, German reparations, with the exception of certain money which has been set aside for the rehabilitation of refugees, are divided into two categories.

Category A including all forms of German reparation except those included in Category B; and Category B including industrial and other capital equipment removed from Germany and merchant ships and inland water transport of these.

Australia's share would be 0.70 percent of Category A and 0.95 percent of Category B.

6. The distribution of German merchant ships will be made in proportion to the respective overall losses of merchant shipping by Governments signatory to the Agreements provided that the receipt of merchant ships does not exceed in value the share due under Category B.

7. Allocation of Reparation Items.

In the allocation of items which are declared available for reparations, with the exception of merchant ships, the following principles would be adopted:

I. Any item or related group of items in which a claimant country has a substantial prewar financial interest will be allocated to that country if it so desires.

II In other cases, the following considerations will apply:

(a) The urgency of each claimant country's needs for the item or items to rehabilitate, reconstruct or restore to full activity the claimant country's economy.

(b) The extent to which the item would replace property which was destroyed or damaged during the war.

(c) The relation of the item to the general pattern of the claimant country's prewar economic life and to programs for its post war economic adjustment or development.

(d) The requirements of countries whose reparations shares are small, but which are in need of certain specific items or categories of items.

8. In relation to German external assets, it is proposed that each Government will, under such procedure as it chooses, hold or dispose of German enemy assets within its jurisdiction in such a way as to preclude their return to German ownership and control.

These assets will be charged against reparations shares.

9. Australian Scientific Mission to London.

The conference did not discuss patents or technical processes.

Information obtained by the U.K. and United States concerning these is being made freely available to the Australian Scientific Mission in London.

This Mission which was selected by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Secondary Industries Commission and other interested Departments, has been sent to London for the purpose of ascertaining the industrial knowledge and data which has become available from Germany and also to advise the Australian members of the reparations agency of particular German equipment to which Australia should lay claim.

[matter omitted]

10. Proposed inter-Allied Reparations Agency.

The proposed inter-Allied Reparations Agency to which each Government will appoint a Delegate and the Headquarters of which will be in Brussels will have the responsibility of:-

(a) allocating German reparations among the signatory Governments;

(b) dealing with all questions relating to the restitution to a signatory Government of property situated in any of the western zones of Germany.

II. The expenses of the Agency will be paid in the following manner:-

I. Salaries and expenses of Delegates and their staff will be paid by their own Government.

II The common expenses of the Agency will be met from the funds of the Agency which for the first two years from its date of establishment will be contributed in proportion to the percentage shares of the signatory Governments in Category B and thereafter in proportion to the percentage shares in Category A.

12. The Agreement will enter into force as soon as it has been signed on behalf of Governments collectively entitled to not less than 80% of the aggregate of shares in Category A of German Reparations. The Agreement will remain open for signature by other Governments and will enter into force among such Governments on their signing.


This is submitted for consideration and decision whether approval be given to the Reparations Agreement as recommended by our representative. [5]

H. V. EVATT Minister of State for External Affairs

1 War Cabinet had been disbanded on .9 January.

2 See Volume VIII, Document 140.

3 ibid., Document 283.

4 Document 13.

5 On 7 February Cabinet requested further information regarding acquisition of rights to German patents by Australian government or citizens, the rights to German patents already secured by Australians and the expropriation of enemy property in Australia.

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