War Cabinet Submission by Evatt

Agendum 23/1945 CANBERRA, 8 January 1945



1. In telegrams 131A, 133A and 135A [1], received early in October, the Commonwealth Accredited Representative, London, reported that the United Kingdom authorities had under active consideration the possibility of including a proportion of personnel from Australia and other Dominions in the British element of the proposed control machinery for Germany and Austria.

These telegrams (copies of which are attached hereto) give the main categories of staff required, including men with qualifications in law, accountancy, finance, banking, insurance, education, public health, industrial relations, industrial welfare, postal, radio and telephone services, general administration and European languages. There are about 390 positions available besides 2,500 interpreters.

2. These positions are in the divisions of the Control Commissions dealing with economics, industry, manpower, transportation, finance, internal affairs and political questions. Both civilian and military personnel can be recruited. These requirements are entirely separate from requirements for military personnel in the service divisions of the Control Commissions.

3. In view of decisions by War Cabinet in Minute No. 2947 of 9th July, 1943, Minute No. 3102 of 19th October, 1943, and Minute No.

3682 of 22nd July, 1944, to the effect that proposals for the attachment of Australian personnel to the service divisions of the Control Commissions in Europe should be submitted to War Cabinet, the matter is referred for consideration. By decision in Minute 3682, War Cabinet confirmed the despatch of two A.M.F. officers who had already been sent abroad to be attached to the Military Section of the Control Commissions for Germany.

4. The chief arguments in favour of the nominations of Australians to the staff of Armistice Control Commissions Europe are:-

(a) in keeping with our claim to be heard in international affairs, we should accept a share of international responsibilities;

(b) the value of the experience to the Australian officers who participate.

5. The strength of the first argument is reduced in the present case because any Australians who take part will not serve as representatives of Australia but as elements in a British team, and, notwithstanding the expression of contrary views by the Dominions, the conclusion of armistices in Europe and the control of European armistice machinery remains mainly in the hands of the United States, U.S.S.R., and the United Kingdom Governments.

6. The chief arguments against the nomination of Australians to the Armistice Control Commissions in Europe are:-

(a) Australian manpower difficulties and particularly the demands for the Australian war effort against Japan;

(b) the prospective need for qualified men for civil affairs and armistice control in the Far East;

(c) the difficulty of arranging the transfer of selected civilians or military personnel from Australia to Europe.

7. Furthermore, in view of the decision of Cabinet, endorsing the resolutions of the recent Wellington Conference, to take the strongest possible action to ensure Australia’s right of participation in the conclusion of armistices and in armistice control arrangements in the Far East [2], it is suggested that care should be taken that the nomination of Australians to the European Control Commissions does not imply acceptance for the Far East of a system of ‘Big Three’ control of armistice machinery and exclusion of Dominions from direct representation.

8. Weighing these arguments, and having regard to the decision of Cabinet regarding the military sections of the Control Commissions, it is recommended- The nomination of Australian civilians or military personnel to the non-military sections of the Armistice control machinery should be limited in number; so far as possible, nominees should be drawn from personnel already in Europe; in considering any nomination, priority should be given to the needs of the Australian war effort and the prospective needs of civil affairs and post-armistice control in the Far East; and nominations should be made on the understanding that Australian personnel specially required for Australian Governmental participation in civil affairs and armistice control in the Far East shall be made available for that purpose. 9. To implement this recommendation, it is further recommended-The selection of Australian nominees to the non-military sections of the Armistice Control Commissions in Europe should be made by the Department of External Affairs in consultation with other departments concerned. [3]



1 Dated 29 September, 3 and 5 October 1944 respectively. On file AA:A1066, H45/1013/2/1A, i.

2 Agendum 599A, 10 November 1944, in AA:A2703, vol 2. See also Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. VII, Document 337.

3 These recommendations were approved by War Cabinet (Minute 4007) on 9 January together with recommendations for a maximum provision of ten Australian service personnel to the military advisers. A list of fifteen Australian nominees for non-military divisions of the Commission, dated 21 November, is in AA:A5954, box 538. By mid-December, however, less than half of these had been offered appointments and the Commonwealth Govt instructed Hood to protest at the ‘dilatory and unsatisfactory’ treatment of nominations made, in most cases, five months earlier. See in particular cablegram 578 to London, dispatched 14 December, and cablegram 502 from The Hague, dispatched 17 December. On file AA:A1066, H45/1013/2/1A, ii.


[AA:A2671, 23/1945]