238 Evatt to Beasley and Hodgson

Cablegram 14 CANBERRA, 13 January 1947, 9.30 p.m.


settlement are in addition to the procedure at the London meetings contained in my telegram No. 10.


Solution of German problem is a vital need of post-war Europe. The solution in itself must be just and far-sighted so that it contains no seeds for future war. The method of reaching that solution is also important. It must be such as to leave no residue of bitterness between the nations who have taken part in the victory. To fulfil the latter condition the German settlement must be prepared in a spirit of co-operation by just and democratic methods.

2. This condition was not fulfilled in the preparation of the Peace Treaties with Italy and Germany's satellites. As a result we have no confidence in the permanence of these treaties. This must not be the case with Germany and Australia has definite proposals to avoid similar errors.

Procedure- 3. Australian policy on procedure for preparing peace settlements has frequently been stated by the Minister for External Affairs.

No procedure is just and democratic unless all substantial belligerents participate fully in negotiations from the outset. By full participation is meant:-

(a) discussion at an early stage of the views of effective belligerents; and (b) final decisions to be made by a full conference of effective belligerents.

4. Australia has urged that the first of these requirements can and should be met during the present meetings. We also urge that consideration be given to the second requirement.

General Conference- 5. When a conference is taking final decisions, those decisions should as far as possible be unanimous. We believe that with adequate preparation and prior discussion such as is taking place now, many decisions will be unanimous. Where differences of opinion prevail, we believe that a simple majority should be sufficient on questions of procedure and a two-thirds majority might be necessary for a decision on a question of substance. It is to be clearly understood that the ultimate objective is unanimity.

Interim Agreement- 6. Specific proposals on procedure must be based on the facts of the situation before us. The significant difference between the German problem and that, for example, of Italy is that there is no German Government in existence to accept a peace treaty. In our view it must be some years before such a Government will be in existence. Over a long period the Germans have shown themselves unfit for self-government. The process of educating them to this responsibility will be long, and in the intervening period the Allies must act as guides and trustees. Nothing would be worse for the peace of the world than to hasten the formation of a central German Government merely in order to have a treaty signed and the state of war ended to suit the convenience of certain Allies.

7. Nevertheless we believe the general nature of the eventual peace terms should not be kept from the Germans. They should be incorporated not in a treaty of peace, but in an Interim Agreement to be prepared and signed by all substantial belligerents. This Agreement would be in effect a revised and enlarged Potsdam Agreement. This Agreement would have what Potsdam lacked-the sanction of all substantial belligerents.

8. Australia therefore proposes that the immediate step to be taken in the solution of the German problem is the preparation of an Interim Agreement on the lines indicated.

Summary- 9. Summing up, we propose that the present meetings should be used for the exchange of views and discussion, and in particular as a fact-finding machine. Where necessary sub-committees should be set up to consider facts relating to specific claims. As a result of these meetings the Council of Foreign Ministers in March should draft an Interim Agreement on lines here recommended. This draft should be submitted immediately after the March meeting to a conference of all substantial belligerents which could make amendments and would take final decisions.

10. Such an Interim Agreement is required urgently because of the importance of Germany to the economy of Europe. Where many nations are involved, a satisfactory agreement can only be reached if objectives and the steps to be taken to achieve them are clear and definite. Our proposals to this end are submitted in a constructive and co-operative spirit and merit the full support of all Governments concerned.

[AA : A1068, E47/15/5/2/6]