THE European Coal Organization ceased to exist on January 1, 1948, when its functions were transferred to the Coal Committee of the Economic Commission for Europe in Geneva, an agency of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. But the record of the ECO forms an important part of the history of postwar Europe, and is also an instructive example of the possibilities and present problems of international economic collaboration.
The origin of the Economic Coal Organization was the Solid Fuels Section established at SHAEF during the war, under Colonel Robert P. Koenig, to get the coal mines wrested from the Germans into operation as quickly as possible. Sub-sections of the Solid Fuels Section were organized in the liberated countries, and a skeleton organization was set up for Germany, since the production and distribution of Ruhr coal was the major task. Experts of the SHAEF agency entered the badly damaged Aachen mines in the midst of battle in October 1944. The Ruhr mines were seized from the Germans in April 1945. Production of coal in the enemy countries was put in the hands of the Occupation authorities in the various zones; the task of allocating the output was entrusted to a combined Allied Fuel Committee which was located first in Frankfort and then in Berlin.
In August 1944, Samuel D. Berger and Arthur Notman of the United States Embassy in London had drafted a memorandum outlining the need for an organization to allocate coal for Europe, and representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union had discussed the matter in the fall of 1944. Early in 1945 France was included in these talks. The ECO was organized in London in May 1945 by Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States and Turkey. The Eastern European Governments did not join when the Soviet representative advised that he was without instructions. Poland, however, joined in March 1946 and Czechoslovakia in July of the same year.
The primary purpose of
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