An historical survey of American military government in Germany after World War II



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This study proposes to trace the development of the various policies of the United States government with regard to the occupation and military government of Germany during and after World War II. This experience of the United States is of extreme importance to political scientists, to the nation’s political leaders, and to the military departments. Germany is the key to the control of Western Europe and the principal prize of the present “Cold War” between East and West. This research does not attempt to evaluate the broad political decisions involved in United Nations planning on such questions as the arrangement of occupation zones. Rather our purpose is to examine the development of specific occupation policies and practices as they evolved. The military occupation of Germany was a great tactical maneuver directed at winning the peace. How did the United States prepare to meet this problem? How was out initial program changed in the light of experience and under the pressure of changing international developments? What lessons concerning military government have we learned from our experience in Germany? For obvious reasons it is impossible to draw final conclusions with regard to the above questions but it is hoped that this study will throw some light upon these matters. At this point it is perhaps well to point out that our occupation of Germany is but one phase of recent American experience in military government. The record of American military government in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy is most interesting and justifies careful examination by those who seek a detailed knowledge of modern military government. Military government in the Far East following World War II was less extensive than was anticipated, as a matter of fact large numbers of officers who devoted months to training for such undertakings left military service without action. The military government program un Japan aroused great public interest, not only because of its aggressive character, but perhaps even more because of the decided skill of General MacArthur in the public relations field. Military government in Japan had the advantage of profiting from the extensive experience in the North African-Mediterranean and European theaters. Moreover, it was unique in that it more or less skipped over the tactical phase which played such an important role in the other theaters. Instead of having to start from nothing and construct a new system of government, military government in Japan simply took over the Japanese political structure which continued to operate under United Nations supervision. If a single area is to be selected for observation of military government it must clearly be Germany. The German record may be less spectacular than that in Japan, but the problems encountered have been more varied and have involved more extensive operations. The experience gained in North Africa and Italy made possible a maturity in Germany which the initial military government activities could not be expected to have. Also the military government organization in Germany surpassed any other in size, elaborateness, and scope of program. Here one may observe a training program, planning activities, the tactical phase, the intermediate phase, and the final period before the transition to a civil administration. Military government in Germany involved complex liaison with our Allies, as well as the collaboration with three of them in the occupation. Plans had to be coordinated with the English, Russians, and French, and a new system of German regional and local government had to be coordinated with the English, Russians, and French, and a new system of German regional and local government had to be organized from the ground up. One finds the organization and the program in Germany so complex and so confronted with difficulties that it is much less easy to comprehend than the Japanese counterpart, but if military government in full strength and in full dress is to be examined, it must be in the Reich. It may be well to stress again the fact that military government in Germany is of great significance because the future stakes involved are so high. The location of Germany in Central Europe is even more commanding than that of Japan in the Far East. It is hardly an exaggeration to state that the return of anything like normalcy in Europe depends in large measure on developments in Germany. The German economy has long been closely geared into that of Europe. More than half of the steel of Europe and a considerable portion of the coal have come from Germany. The reestablishment of stable economic conditions and the defense of England, the Low Countries, France, the Scandinavian countries, and eastern Europe can be achieved only with the cooperation of Germany. It is obvious that the security and economic prosperity of the world as a whole is closely integrated with Europe. The first chapter of the study is of a background nature and deals with American experiences with military government prior to World War II. The succeeding five chapters are based on the chronology of events and treat the development of a military government staff and planning organization preparatory to invasion, military government during tactical operation and the problems faced during the occupation which followed the collapse of German arms. The final chapter deals with certain late developments in organization and policy and attempts to draw some tentative conclusions concerning the American experience with military government in Germany. This writer’s original interest in military government stems from a brief experience in the occupation government of Germany following World War II. This interest was nurtured by reading on the subject after the war and by lectures attended as a member of the Reserve Officers training Corps while enrolled at the University of Texas during 1951-1952. Serious research on the problem began in the summer of 1951. The primary source materials used in this research consist largely of special reports published by the United States Armed Forces and the Department of Defense. Since this type of matter was not widely distributed some difficulty was encountered in obtaining materials. Use was made of the libraries of the University of Texas, Fort Sam Houston, Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College, and Sam Houston State Teachers College. Senator Lyndon Johnson helped make available certain indispensable documents from the Library of Congress. This documentary material was supplemented by interviews with a number of officers having important positions in the American military government of occupied Germany.



American military, historical survey, military history