The Impossible Peace: Britain, the Division of Germany and the Origins of the Cold War

By Anne Deighton | Go to book overview

5
THE BIZONE AND THE BEVIN PLAN

Creating the Bizone

BYRNES'S offer to create an economic unit out of two or more zones was thus a response to Bevin's initiative -- or threat -- to organize the British zone independently. The offer was repeated by the American General MacNarney to the Allied Control Council on 20 July. He reiterated that the Americans' objective was to arrest the economic paralysis in the zones and to abolish the division of Germany into airtight compartments, and that their offer was open to all the occupying powers.1 It appears that at this stage the offer was welcomed more enthusiastically by Bevin's own officials than by Bevin himself.

Bevin was tired and ill during these weeks and vacillated between insisting that American support in Europe had to be secured at any price and fearing -- as did some of his fellow ministers -- that Britain could no longer afford high expenditure on Germany. He also admitted later that he did not fully understand the complexities of the venture.2 He was fully aware of the implications of zonal fusion, and knew that, if the Russians refused to join, the bizone would represent 'a measure which implied a clear division between Eastern and Western Germany'.3 He was still very much afraid the Americans might 'leave him in the lurch' in Europe and wondered if it might not be better to organize the British zone independently by raising coal prices and charging the other zones in dollars -- not Reichsmarks -- for coal.4 Some Treasury officials remained as sceptical as Bevin, for the cost of a bizone was estimated at $500 million between 1947 and

____________________
1
CP(46)292, 23 July 1946, CAB 129/11.
2
Bevin note, 3 Oct. 1946, FO 800/466. Dalton recorded that Bevin seemed tired and gave a sense of being generally baffled . . . he . . . is still not at all the man he was', High Tide and After, 158.
3
CM68(46), 15 July 1946, CAB 128/6.
4
Interdepartmental meeting, 22 July 1946, meeting with Bevin and Hynd, 23 July 1946, FO 371/55589.

-105-

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