Morgenthau Papers

The Secretary of the Treasury ( Morgenthau ) to the Secretary of State 1

My Dear Cordell: I was delighted at the attitude which you expressed yesterday in regard to the treatment of the German people.

We here in the Treasury have prepared a much more detailed memorandum, and I feel that it might serve a useful purpose if the President were given a copy of it. I am also enclosing a copy for yourself.

With best regards,

Sincerely yours,


The Secretary of the Treasury ( Morgenthau ) to the President 2

top secret

Suggested Post-Surrender Program for Germany

1. Demilitarization of Germany

It should be the aim of the Allied Forces to accomplish the complete demilitarization of Germany in the shortest possible period of time after surrender. This means completely disarming the German Army and people (including the removal or destruction of ail war material), the total destruction of the whole German armament industry, and the removal or destruction of other key industries which are basic to military strength.

2. Partitioning of Germany

Poland should get that part of East Prussia which doesn’t go to the U.S.S.R. and the southern portion of Silesia as indicated on the attached map (Appendix A).3
France should get the Saar and the adjacent territories bounded by the Rhine and the Moselle Rivers.
As indicated in part 3 an International Zone should be created containing the Ruhr and the surrounding industrial areas.
The remaining portion of Germany should be divided into two autonomous, independent states, (1) a South German state comprising [Page 102] Bavaria, Wuerttemberg, Baden and some smaller areas and (2) a North German state comprising a large part of the old state of Prussia, Saxony, Thuringia and several smaller states.

There shall be a custom union between the new South German state and Austria, which will be restored to her pre-1938 political borders.

3. The Ruhr Area

(The Ruhr, surrounding industrial areas, as shown on the attached map, including the Rhineland, the Kiel Canal, and all German territory north of the Kiel Canal.)

Here lies the heart of German industrial power, the caldron of wars. This area should not only be stripped of all presently existing industries but so weakened and controlled that it can not in the foreseeable future become an industrial area. The following steps will accomplish this:

Within a short period, if possible not longer than 6 months after the cessation of hostilities, all industrial plants and equipment not destroyed by military action shall either be completely dismantled and removed from the area or completely destroyed. All equipment shall be removed from the mines and the mines shall be thoroughly wrecked.
It is anticipated that the stripping of this area would be accomplished in three stages:
The military forces immediately upon entry into the area shall destroy all plants and equipment which cannot be removed.
Removal of plants and equipment by members of the United Nations as restitution and reparation (Paragraph 4).
All plants and equipment not removed within a stated period of time, say 6 months, will be completely destroyed or reduced to scrap and allocated to the United Nations.
All people within the area should be made to understand that this area will not again be allowed to become an industrial area. Accordingly, all people and their families within the area having special skills or technical training should be encouraged to migrate permanently from the area and should be as widely dispersed as possible.
The area should be made an international zone to be governed by an international security organization to be established by the United Nations. In governing the area the international organization should be guided by policies designed to further the above stated objectives.

4. Restitution and Reparation

Reparations, in the form of recurrent payments and deliveries, should not be demanded. Restitution and reparation shall be effected by the transfer of existing German resources and territories, e.g., [Page 103]

by restitution of property looted by the Germans in territories occupied by them;
by transfer of German territory and German private rights in industrial property situated in such territory to invaded countries and the international organization under the program of partition;
by the removal and distribution among devastated countries of industrial plants and equipment situated within the International Zone and the North and South German states delimited in the section on partition;
by forced German labor outside Germany; and
by confiscation of all German assets of any character whatsoever outside of Germany.

5. Education and Propaganda

All schools and universities will be closed until an Allied Commission of Education has formulated an effective reorganization program. It is contemplated that it may require a considerable period of time before any institutions of higher education are reopened. Mean while the education of German students in foreign universities will not be prohibited. Elementary schools will be reopened as quickly as appropriate teachers and textbooks are available.
All German radio stations and newspapers, magazines, weeklies, etc. shall be discontinued until adequate controls are established and an appropriate program formulated.

6. Political Decentralization

The military administration in Germany in the initial period should be carried out with a view toward the eventual partitioning of Germany into three states. To facilitate partitioning and to assure its permanence the military authorities should be guided by the following principles:

Dismiss all policy-making officials of the Reich government and deal primarily with local governments.
Encourage the reestablishment of state governments in each of the states (Länder) corresponding to 18 states into which Germany is presently divided and in addition make the Prussian provinces separate states.
Upon the partition of Germany, the various state governments should be encouraged to organize a federal government for each of the newly partitioned areas. Such new governments should be in the form of a confederation of states, with emphasis on states’ rights and a large degree of local autonomy.

7. Responsibility of Military for Local German Economy

The sole purpose of the military in control of the German economy shall be to facilitate military operations and military occupation. The [Page 104] Allied Military Government shall not assume responsibility for such economic problems as price controls, rationing, unemployment, production, reconstruction, distribution, consumption, housing, or transportation, or take any measures designed to maintain or strengthen [the German economy, except those which are essential to military4] operations. The responsibility for sustaining the German economy and people rests with the German people with such facilities as may be available under the circumstances.

8. Controls Over Development of German Economy

During a period of at least twenty years after surrender adequate controls, including controls over foreign trade and tight restrictions on capital imports, shall be maintained by the United Nations designed to prevent in the newly-established states the establishment or expansion of key industries basic to the German military potential and to control other key industries.

9. Punishment of War Crimes and Treatment of Special Groups

There is attached (Appendix B) a program for the punishment of certain war crimes and for the treatment of Nazi organizations and other special groups.

10. Wearing of Insignia and Uniforms

No person in German[y] (except members of the United Nations and neutral countries) shall be permitted to wear any military insignia of rank or branch of service, service ribbons or military medals.
No such person shall be permitted to wear, after 6 months from the cessation of hostilities any military uniform or any uniform of any quasi military organizations.

11. Prohibition on Parades

No military parades shall be permitted anywhere in German[y] and all military bands shall be disbanded.

12. Aircraft

All aircraft (including gliders), whether military or commercial, will be confiscated for later disposition. No German shall be permitted to operate or to help operate such aircraft, including those owned by foreign interests.

13. United States Responsibility

The responsibility for the execution of the post-surrender program for Germany set forth in this memorandum is the joint responsibility [Page 105] of the United Nations. The execution of the joint policy agreed upon should therefore eventually be entrusted to the international body which emerges from United Nations discussions.
Consideration of the specific measures to be taken in carrying out the joint program suggests the desirability of separating the task to be performed during the initial period of military occupation from those which will require a much longer period of execution. While the U.S., U.K. and U.S.S.R. will, for practical reasons, play the major role (of course aided by the military forces of other United Nations) in demilitarizing Germany (point 1) the detailed execution of other parts of the program can best be handled by Germany’s continental neighbors.
When Germany has been completely demilitarized there would be the following distribution of duties in carrying out the German program:
The U.S. would have military and civilian representation on whatever international commission or commissions may be established for the execution of the whole German program and such representatives should have adequate U.S. staffs.
The primary responsibility for the policing of Germany and for civil administration in Germany would be assumed by the military forces of Germany’s continental neighbors. Specifically these should include Russian, French, Polish, Czech, Greek, Yugoslav, Norwegian, Dutch and Belgian soldiers.
Under this program United States troops could be withdrawn within a relatively short time. Actual withdrawal of United States troops should not precede agreement with the U.S.S.R. and the U.K. on the principles set forth in this memorandum.

14. Appointment of cm American Sigh Commissioner

An American High Commissioner for Germany should be appointed as soon as possible, so that he can sit in on the development of the American views on this problem.

Appendix B

Punishment of Certain War Crimes and Treatment of Special Groups

A. Punishment of Certain War Criminals

A list of the arch-criminals of this war whose obvious guilt has generally been recognized by the United Nations shall be drawn up as soon as possible and transmitted to the appropriate military au thorities. [Page 106] The military authorities shall be instructed with respect to all persons who are on such list as follows:
They shall be apprehended as soon as possible and identified as soon as possible after apprehension, the identification to be approved by an officer of the General rank.
When such identification has been made the person identified shall be put to death forthwith by firing squads made up of soldiers of the United Nations.
Certain Other War Criminals.
Military commissions shall be established by the Allied Military Government for the trial of certain crimes which have been committed against civilization during this war. As soon as practicable, representatives of the liberated countries of Europe shall be included on such commissions. These crimes shall include those crimes covered by the following section and such other crimes as such military commissions may be ordered to try from time to time.
Any person who is suspected of being responsible for (through the issuance of orders or otherwise), or having participated in, causing the death of any human being in the following situations shall be arrested and tried promptly by such military commissions, unless prior to trial one of the United Nations has requested that such person be placed in its custody for trial on similar charges for acts committed within its territory:
The death was caused by action in violation of the rules of war.
The victim was killed as a hostage in reprisal for the deeds of other persons.
The victim met death because of his nationality, race, color, creed, or political conviction.
Any person who is convicted by the military commissions of the crimes specified in paragraph (b) shall be sentenced to death, unless the military commissions, in exceptional cases, determine that there are extenuating circumstances, in which case other punishment may be meted out, including deportation to a penal colony outside of Germany. Upon conviction, the sentence shall be carried out immediately.

B. Detention of Certain Groups

All members of the following groups should be detained until the extent of the guilt of each individual is determined:

The S.S.
The Gestapo.
All high officials of the police, S.A. and other security organizations.
All high Government and Nazi Party officials.
All leading public figures closely identified with Nazism.

C. Registration of Males

An appropriate program will be formulated for the re-registration as soon as possible of all males of the age of 14 or over. The registration shall be on a form and in a manner to be prescribed by the military authorities and shall show, among other things, whether or not the person registering is a member of the Nazi Party or affiliated organizations, the Gestapo, S.S., S.A. or Kraft Korps. 5

D. Labor Battalions

Apart from the question of established guilt for special crimes, mere membership in the S.S., the Gestapo and similar groups will constitute the basis for inclusion into compulsory labor battalion to serve outside Germany for reconstruction purposes.

E. Dissolution of Nazi Organizations

The Nazi Party and all affiliated organizations such as the Labor Front, The Hitler Youth, The Strength-through-Joy, etc., should be dissolved and their properties and records confiscated. Every possible effort should be made to prevent any attempts to reconstitute them in underground or disguised form.

F. Prohibition on Exercise of Certain Privileges

All members of the following groups should be dismissed from public office, disenfranchised and disqualified to hold any public office or to engage in journalist, teaching, and legal professions, or, in any managerial capacity in banking, manufacturing or trade:

The Nazi Party.
Nazi sympathizers who by their words or deeds materially aided or abetted the Nazi program.
The Junkers.
Military and Naval officers.

G. Junker Estates

All Junker estates should be broken up and divided among the peasants and the system of primogeniture and entail should be abolished.

H. Prohibition on Emigration

A Proclamation shall be issued prohibiting any person resident in Germany from leaving or attempting to leave Germany, except with permission from the Allied Military Government.
Violation of this Proclamation shall be an offense triable by military commissions of the Allied Military Government and heavy penalties shall be prescribed, including death.
All possible steps shall be taken by the military authorities to prevent any such person from leaving (without permission).
Henry Morgenthau Jr.
  1. The ribbon copy of this letter has not been found in Department of State files. The enclosure and appendix B thereto are printed from the Roosevelt Papers.
  2. The source text is not dated, but a copy in the Morgenthau Papers bears the following notation: “Treasury—9/5/44. As sent to Hull 9/6/44”. Cf. the Treasury memorandum of September 1, 1944, ante, p. 86, and two papers on this subject dated September 4, 1944, printed in Morgenthau Diary (Germany), vol. i, pp. 503–509, 517–519.
  3. Appendix A is identical to the map printed facing p. 86.
  4. The words in brackets appear to have been omitted inadvertently. Cf. the parallel passage in the versions of this paragraph dated September 1 and 9, 1944, ante, p. 89, and post, p. 130, respectively.
  5. i.e., the motor corps of the Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrkorps).