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To Admiral of the Fleet William D. Leahy
Sunday a.m. [July 22, 1945] [Babelsberg, Germany]
My dear Admiral Leahy:
Yesterday a.m. the U.S. JCS, in your absence, acted favorably on a proposal to the President through the Secretary of State, and to the CCS for the Internationalization of the Danube River.1
It is the opinion of Admiral King, General Arnold and me that this matter is of urgent importance as a practical requirement for the support of the American forces in their Zone in Europe. The Danube is now blocked as a supply route. We have practically all the barges but the Russians can block free passage along the river. Yet I am told that the local Russians desire a regularized arrangement as much as we do.
The necessity for American supply use of barges along the river is increasing daily and the importance of a decision at the earliest date is therefore indicated. Please see if Mr. Byrnes cannot get an agreement out of the Russians, and if not, have the President take it up direct with Marshal Stalin.2
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. The right of passage through and control over the banks of certain key waterways in Europe (the Kiel Canal, Rhine River, Danube River, the Dardanelles/Bosphorus, etc.) had become an important issue during the weeks after Germany’s surrender. On July 3, General Eisenhower had sent the J.C.S. a message asking that the controversies with the Soviet Union over the Danube be taken up at the Potsdam Conference and that United States policy seek to reestablish the river’s international character. (Foreign Relations, Potsdam Conference, 2: 653-54.)
2. Section XVIII, International Inland Waterways, of the Potsdam Conference’s August 1 final Protocol of Proceedings noted that: “The Conference considered a proposal of the U.S. Delegation on this subject and agreed to refer it for consideration to the forthcoming meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers in London.” (Ibid., p. 1497.) The issue of international control of the Danube festered until the mid-1950s, when a Soviet-dominated commission was established.
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), p. 248.