Courtesy Reuters

The Choice in the Ruhr

THE economic geographers' maps show a black smudge running along both banks of the Rhine from just north of Cologne almost to the Dutch border. Loosely called "the Ruhr," after one of the eastern tributaries of the Rhine, this area provided one-third of the steel and two-fifths of the coal and coke produced in continental Europe (excluding Russia) before the war. Coal and steel are sources of power, and in a world where power is centered in national governments the decision to put the Ruhr under international control is momentous.

That decision had two professed purposes and a tacit one. As a means of ensuring against another German attack on the west, international control of the Ruhr has a good chance of success. As a means of getting the maximum economic benefit from the Ruhr for the whole of Western Europe, it is of dubious value and risks self-defeat. The third purpose, so plain that it has not needed expression, is to solidify and strengthen the western nations. This accounts for taking the decision now and gives grounds for running the risks that international control of the Ruhr will entail in the future.

Early in June representatives of the United States, Britain, France and the Benelux countries meeting in London made recommendations to their governments on five questions concerning Germany: a procedure for creating a government in the western zones, an outline of a security régime to guard against a renewal of German aggression, principles for the international control of the Ruhr, association of Benelux representatives with decisions on German matters, and provisional arrangements for minor changes in the western frontiers of Germany. Within a few weeks the governments accepted the recommendations and the first steps were taken toward establishing a German government in the western zones. At the same time other discussions continued about Western Germany's share in the European Recovery Program. Thus the agreement to internationalize the Ruhr -- "a statement of principles" to be followed by a

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