280 Department of External Affairs to Beasley

Cablegram 1125, CANBERRA, 4 April 1948, 4.25 p.m.

SECRET

Germany - tripartite talks.

United Kingdom have asked us through Garnett, for comments on recent discussions as reported in cables. You will have noted (e.g. in D.103[1]) that United Kingdom have not admitted our right to genuine consultation on ground that discussions either relate to future governmental attitudes or to 'administrative decisions'. However, any decision to establish a government for Western Germany and issue directives as to form of such government is, in our view, far more than an 'administrative decision'. If then we are not to participate in the making of such decision, we would not wish to be committed to detailed views on the questions under discussion, nor would we wish to take an active part in study groups such as that in Berlin with which we appear to have only a vague and undefined association.

2. The main danger, as we see it, in the trend of recent discussions is that the three powers may agree to set up a government in Western Germany and thus prove true the present Russian allegations that they are by-passing the Russians on matters which should be subject to quadripartite decisions. The difficulty of such quadripartite decisions is, of course, appreciated. Nevertheless it may not be desirable even at this stage to regard them as impossible. Russian objections would have less force if, for instance, the proposal to establish an actual government were deferred, and if the occupying powers concentrated on taking concerted measures (e.g. trizonal fusion) for the economic recovery of their zones, including participation in ERP. On information available, we are not certain that the further step of political integration and establishment of a German government is essential. This does not mean that we do not welcome the evidence in the discussions of reconciliation of views of the three powers on the kind of government which should eventually be established in Germany. However, if any decisions resulting from the discussions are, in fact no more than administrative, we feel that it will still be possible genuinely to leave the door open to the Russians and other Eastern European countries.

3. On reparations, it appears to us most desirable to discourage the United States tendency to disregard obligations to the Russians.

4. Please discuss with United Kingdom authorities informally on above lines and report at earliest.[2]

[1] Document 277.

[2] Beasley reported in cablegram 1129, dispatched 8 April 1948, that UK officials had assured him that no firm decisions on the future of Germany had been taken; that the door was not closed to four-power co-operation; and that talks were concentrated on economic questions, in particular ERP. He added that UK authorities believed that the Soviets had established in the Volkskongress a basis for German government, at least in the Soviet zone, and that this could be set up in a matter of days.

[AA : A1838, 29/2/3/7, II]