Roosevelt Papers

Briefing Book Prepared in the Treasury Department1

top secret

[Section 1]

Program To Prevent Germany From Starting a World War III2

1. Demilitarization of Germany

[This paragraph is identical with paragraph 1 of Morgenthau’s memorandum of September 5, 1944, ante, p. 101.]

2. New Boundaries 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. (See map in 12 Appendix.3)
France should get the Saar and the adjacent territories bounded by the Rhine and the Moselle Rivers.
As indicated in 4 below an International Zone should be created containing the Ruhr and the surrounding industrial areas.
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3. Partitioning of New Germany

[This paragraph is identical with subparagraph 2 (d) of Morgenthau’s memorandum of September 5, 1944, ante, p. 101.]

4. The Ruhr Area

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

Here lies the heart of German industrial power. 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 be completely dismantled and transported to Allied Nations as restitution. All equipment shall be removed from the mines and the mines closed.
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 objective.

5. Restitution and Reparation

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

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.

6. Education and Propaganda

[This paragraph is identical with paragraph 5 of Morgenthau’s memorandum of September 5, 1944, ante, p. 103.]

7. Political Decentralization

The military administration in Germany in the initial period should be carried out with a view toward the eventual partitioning of Germany. [Page 130] 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.

8. 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 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 military 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.

9. Controls Over Development of German Economy

[This paragraph is identical with paragraph 8 of Morgenthau’s memorandum of September 5, 1944, ante, p. 104.]

10. Agrarian Program

All large estates should be broken up and divided among the peas ants and the system of primogeniture and entail should be abolished.

11. Punishment of War Crimes and Treatment of Special Groups

A program for the punishment of certain war crimes and for the treatment of Nazi organizations and other special groups is contained in section 11.4

12. Uniforms and Parades

No German shall be permitted to wear, after an appropriate period of time following the cessation of hostilities, any military uniform or any uniform of any quasi military organizations.
No military parades shall be permitted anywhere in Germany and all military bands shall be disbanded.
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13. Aircraft

[This paragraph is identical with paragraph 12 of Morgenthau’s memorandum of September 5, 1944, ante, p. 104.]

14. United States Responsibility

Although the United States would have full military and civilian representation on whatever international commission or commissions may be established for the execution of the whole German program, the primary responsibility for the policing of Germany and for civil administration in Germany should 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.

[Section 2]

Reparations Mean a Powerful Germany

If we were to expect Germany to pay recurring reparations, whether in the form of money or goods, we would be forced at the very beginning to start a rehabilitation and reconstruction program for the German economy. For instance, we would have to supply her with transportation equipment, public utility repairs, food for her working population, machinery for heavy industry damaged by bombing, re construction of housing and industrial raw materials. No matter how the program would be dressed up, we would, in effect be doing for Germany what we expect to do for the liberated areas of Europe but perhaps on an even greater scale, because of Germany’s more advanced industrialization.

When reparation deliveries cease Germany will be left with a more powerful economy and a larger share of foreign markets than she had in the Thirties.

Therefore, a program of large-scale reparations must be rejected for the following reasons:

Politically it would be very difficult to persuade people of liberated Europe and of the other United Nations, including the U.S., to accept a program of immediate reconstruction of the German economy.
If liberated Europe becomes economically dependent on Germany for reparations, her economic dependence cannot be broken off when reparations cease. The rest of Europe would continue to be dependent on Germany as a source of supply and as a market. These economic ties would also mean political ties. Germany would be right back where she was in the Thirties when she was able to dominate the rest of Europe economically through her industrial power and to exert her economic power to achieve political domination.
An economically powerful Germany ipso facto constitutes a military threat to world security.
The payment of reparations is directly competitive with the export industries of the U.S., the U.K. and France and would create political dissensions among the United Nations.
Whatever the recipient countries get in reparations they will not buy from the Allied industrial powers in the post-war period.
If Germany is placed on a reparations basis she will have to export industrial goods to non-European markets in order to get the necessary foreign exchange to import the raw materials for her industry. Therefore, she will again compete with England and the United States in the Latin American, African and Asiatic markets.
An economically powerful Germany would be able to compete more effectively with other countries as and when the payment of reparations ceases.

A reparations program for Germany after this war holds no greater promise of success than the Dawes and Young plans5 tried after the end of the first World War.

[Section 3]

Economic Restitution by Germany to United Nations

In lieu of recurring reparations payments the nation entitled to such payments will receive from Germany a lump sum payment in the form of German material resources, German human resources and German territory.

This lump sum payment, which may be described as restitution rather than reparations will be effected in the following manner:

The transfer of German territory to liberated countries including the industrial installations located there. It is proposed that the great industrial areas of Silesia be transferred to Poland and the industry of the Saar and the adjacent territories be transferred to France. These territories will represent enormous wealth to the recipient countries.
By removal and distribution among devastated countries, of industrial plants and equipment and transportation facilities including railroads, situated within the remaining German territory and the Ruhr. It is expected that complete factory units, machinery, equipment, stocks of raw materials, railroad and shipping will be transferred to the devastated countries and will constitute a real basis for the reconstruction and industrialization of liberated Europe. To the extent possible the whole industry of the Ruhr will be so transferred.
By the creation of German labor battalions to be used for reconstruction work outside Germany.
By confiscation of all German foreign exchange assets of any character whatsoever.

The type of restitution described above will be more beneficial both politically and economically to recipient countries than would be any form of recurring reparations payments.

Benefits will be realized almost immediately by the receipt of machinery, equipment and manpower, and the economies of the recipient countries will be strengthened absolutely as well as relatively to that of Germany.

To the extent that the need of these countries for industrial products is supplied by U.S. and U.K. instead of by Germany, the receiving nations benefit by obtaining delivery more rapidly in the immediate post-war period. Also by supplying such goods U.S. and U.K. enjoy expanded foreign post-war markets.

[Section 4]

It Is a Fallacy That Europe Needs a Strong Industrial Germany

1. The assumption sometimes made that Germany is an indispensable source of industrial supplies for the rest of Europe is not valid.

U.S., U.K. and the French-Luxembourg-Belgian industrial group could easily have supplied out of unused industrial capacity practically all that Germany supplied to Europe during the pre-war period. In the post-war period the expanded industrial capacity of the United Nations, particularly the U.S., can easily provide the reconstruction and industrial needs of Europe without German assistance.

Total German exports to the entire world in 1938 were only about $2 billion, of which machinery steel and steel products amounted to about $750 million, coal $165 million and chemicals $230 million.

These amounts are trivial in comparison with the increased industrial potential of the U.S. alone, or of the U.K. One-fifth of our lend-lease exports of 1943 would be sufficient to replace the full exports of Germany to the whole world.

2. A claim has been made that Europe is dependent upon Ruhr coal. The French-Belgian steel industry and some of the new industrial units which will arise in Europe after the war will need imported coal [Page 134] supplies. However, the British coal industry which suffered from German competition before the war will be able to supply a major part if not all of these needs. The coal industries of France, Poland, Silesia and the Saar are also capable of further expansion if the competition of the Ruhr is eliminated. Further supplies if necessary could be obtained from the United States though at a much higher price. The different quality of the substitute coals may require some technological changes but the adjustment can be made.

Germany had a net export of coal of 32 million tons in 1937. The difference between the British coal production in a good year and a depressed year was more than the total German exports of coal. Moreover, at no time in the last 25 years has the British coal industry worked at full capacity.

3. Germany has been important to the rest of Europe as a market principally for surplus agricultural products. In 1937 Germany’s food imports from the world were $800 million, of which Europe supplied $450 million. Total German purchases of raw materials from Europe in 1937 were about $350 million. The loss of the German market will be largely compensated for by the following developments:

If German industry is eliminated, no doubt the bulk of the industrial raw materials which Germany used to purchase will now be bought by other European nations which will henceforth produce the industrial commodities which Germany exported before to Europe.
The industrialization and the heightened standard of living of the rest of Europe will absorb a part of the food surpluses which formerly went to Germany.
Those part[s] of Germany which will be added to other countries (the Rhineland, Silesia, East Prussia) may have as high a volume of food imports as before, perhaps higher.
The remaining part of Germany will continue to import some food, perhaps 25%–50% of former food imports.

4. Germany was important to the rest of Europe as a market to the following extent:

Percentage of each country’s exports to Germany

United Kingdom 4%
France 6%
U.S.S.R. 7%
Belgium 12%
Norway 13%
Italy 15%
Czechoslovakia 15%
Netherlands 15%
Denmark 20%
Poland 24%
Yugoslavia 38%
Greece 38%

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The U.K. exported principally coal and textile materials to Germany and the principal French exports were iron ore and wool. The elimination of German industrial exports will provide adequate markets for these exports and more.

The loss of the German market may be important to the Balkan countries. Agricultural exports of these countries to Germany were abnormally large in 1938 because of Germany’s unscrupulous exploitation through clearing agreements and other devices. These countries will find markets for part of their food surplus through industrialization and a higher standard of living within their own country. German areas will continue to import some food from them. However, there may be a net loss of markets to Denmark, Holland, and Yugoslavia, and these countries will need to make an adjustment in their economies which should not be difficult in the period of greater adjustments which will come with liberation.

5. In short, the statement that a healthy European economy is de pendent upon German industry was never true, nor will it be true in the future. Therefore the treatment to be accorded to Germany should be decided upon without reference to the economic consequences upon the rest of Europe. At the worst, these economic consequences will involve relatively minor economic disadvantages in certain sections of Europe. At best, they will speed up the industrial development of Europe outside of Germany. But any disadvantages will be more than offset by real gains to the political objectives and the economic interests of the United Nations as a whole.

[Section 5]

Why the Resources of the Ruhr Should Be Locked Up and the Equipment Removed

During the last hundred years the basis of modern German militarism has been the industrial capacity of the Ruhr. Very large resources of high quality coal that lends itself particularly well to the production of coke and a fortunate geographic location which facilitated the importation of iron ore, were the foundation of an industrial apparatus that is unique throughout the world and the development of which has been deliberately guided by military objectives.

The elimination of this industrial apparatus is indispensable to rendering renewed German aggression impossible for many years to come. No other device could serve this main objective of the United Nations with the same effectiveness. Dismemberment of Germany alone would not suffice since political developments several decades hence may make a reunion of the several German states possible. In that case the reunited German State would immediately possess a huge industrial potential unless the Ruhr industry were destroyed.

[Page 136]

If the Ruhr industry were eliminated, new iron and steel industries would unquestionably be built up in the rest of Europe to provide for those needs in iron and steel which the Ruhr used to satisfy, and to make use of the French iron ore production. Coal would become available from the Saar, from increased production in France, Great Britain, Silesia and Poland. The elimination of the Ruhr would hence be a welcome contribution to the prosperty of the coal industry of several United Nations. Great Britain has very large reserves of coal; her proved reserves are held to represent, at the present rate of extraction, about 500 years’ supply.

Britain’s coal production has severely declined in the inter-war period and never again reached its maximum of 1913 (293 million metric tons). The level of production in the years preceding this was that of the turn of the century, the increase between 1900 and 1913 having been lost. The production in 1938 was 60 million tons lower than in 1913.

The new iron and steel industries which will arise in Europe to take the place of the Ruhr will have such a powerful vested interest that they will constitute a permanent and effective barrier to the reindustrialization of the Ruhr.

[Section 6]

How British Industry Would Benefit by Proposed Program

The British coal industry would recover from its thirty year depression by gaining new markets. Britain would meet the major portion of the European coal needs formerly met by the annual Ruhr production of 125 million tons. The consequent expansion of British coal output would allow for the development of a coherent program for the expansion and reorganization of what has been Britain’s leading depressed industry since 1918 and facilitate the elimination of the depressed areas.
The reduction in German industrial capacity would eliminate German competition with British exports in the world market. Not only will England be in a position to recapture many of the foreign markets she lost to Germany after 1918, but she will participate in supplying the devastated countries of Europe with all types of consumer and industrial goods for their reconstruction needs in the immediate post-war years.
Transference of a large section of German shipping, both commercial and naval, and shipbuilding equipment to England will be an important item in England’s program of post-war economic expansion of restitution.
Britain’s foreign exchange position will be strengthened and the pressure on sterling reduced by the expansion of her exports and shipping services.
The assurance of peace and security would constitute England’s greatest single economic benefit from the proposed program designed to put Germany in a position never again to wage effective war on the continent. England would be able to undertake the program for economic and social reconstruction advanced in the Beveridge plan6 and the Government program for full employment without having to worry about the future financial burdens of maintaining [a] large army and huge armament industries indefinitely.
Britain’s political stability would be reinforced by her increased ability to meet the insistent domestic demands for economic reform resulting from the assurances of security and of an expansion of her exports.
[Section 7]

The Well-Being of the German Economy Is the Responsibility of the Germans and Not of the Allied Military Authorities

The economic rehabilitation of Germany is the problem of the German people and not of the Allied Military authorities. The German people must bear the consequences of their own acts.

The sole purpose of the military in control of the German economy should be to facilitate military operations and military occupation. The Allied Military Government should 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. The responsibility for sustaining the German economy and people rests with the German people with such facilities as may be available under the circumstances.

No relief supplies should be imported, or distributed from German stocks, beyond the minimum necessary to prevent disease and such disorder as might endanger or impede military operations or occupation. The Allied Military authorities should have no responsibility for the provision and distribution or [of] relief, including food and medical supplies. German import requirements should be strictly limited to minimum quotas of critical items and should not in any instance take precedence over the supply requirements of liberated territories.

Agricultural supplies in Germany should be utilized for the German population, provided, however, that German consumption shall be [Page 138] held to a minimum so as to maximize the surplus of agricultural products available for liberated countries.

Allied Military authorities should not be concerned with restoring any physical destruction caused during hostilities, except as absolutely essential to the health of the population. The Germans will have that responsibility, to do the job as best they can.

[Section 8]

Controls Over Development of German Economy

A long range program should be put into effect for the purpose of controlling the strategic elements in the German economy for a prolonged period, at least 20 years. The elements which should be controlled are:

German foreign assets, including patents and copyrights.
German foreign trade.
Clearing and trade agreements with foreign countries.
Capital imports and capital exports.
Industries producing strategic materials other than those for which special provision has been made.
The German commercial and fishing fleet.
Inland navigation, e.g., canals and rivers.

It is essential that the foregoing strategic elements in the German economy be controlled lest through their use, the Germans once again proceed to build up various aspects of their industrial and economic structure for future militaristic and aggressive purposes. Germany has been the leader in the world in using customs tariffs, trade preferences, foreign exchange control, control over transit trade, import quotas, international cartels, patents and copyrights for discriminatory and unfair trade advantages against her neighbors. It has been the focal point for many of the festering sores and competitive trade wars throughout the 1920’s and 30’s.

[Section 9]

What To Do About German Education

The militaristic spirit which pervades the German people has been deliberately fostered by all educational institutions in Germany for many decades. Schools, Colleges and Universities were used with great effectiveness to instill into the children and the youth of the nation the seeds of aggressive nationalism and the desire for world domination. Re-education of the German people must hence be part of the program to render Germany ineffective as an aggressive power.

Re-education cannot be effectively undertaken from outside the country and by teachers from abroad. It must be done by the Germans [Page 139] themselves. The hard facts of defeat and of the need for political, economic and social reorientation must be the teachers of the German people. The existing educational system which is utterly nazified must be completely reorganized and reformed. The chief task will be to locate politically reliable teachers and to educate, as soon as possible, new teachers who are animated by a new spirit.

A United Nations Commission of Education should be created which will have supreme authority in all matters of education and organs of public opinion. All educational institutions of any type and character will be closed. Their reopening will depend (1) upon the possibility of assembling faculties in whom political confidence can be placed; (2) upon reorganization of curricula; (3) upon the completion of new text books to replace the utterly unusable books of the past. During a preliminary period only[,] appointments to faculties of educational institution[s] should be subject to the approval of the United Nations Commission of Education. While it may be possible to reassemble faculties for primary schools after a relatively short time, all institutions of higher learning, the chief centers of militaristic, pan-German propaganda in the past, may have to remain closed for a number of years.

[Section 10]

German Militarism Cannot Be Destroyed by Destroying Nazism Alone

The Nazi regime is essentially the culmination of the unchanging German drive toward aggression.
German society has been dominated for at least three generations by powerful forces fashioning the German state and nation into a machine for military conquest and self-aggrandizement. Since 1864 Germany has launched five wars of aggression against other powers, each war involving more destruction over larger areas than the previous one.
As in the case of Japan, the rapid evolution of a modern industrial system in Germany immeasurably strengthened the economic base of German militarism without weakening the Prussian feudal ideology or its hold on German society.
The Nazi regime is not an excrescence on an otherwise healthy society but an organic growth out of the German body politic. Even before the Nazi regime seized power, the German nation had demonstrated an unequalled capacity to be seduced by a militarist clique offering the promise of economic security and political domination in exchange for disciplined acceptance of its leadership. What the Nazi regime has done has been to systematically debauch the passive German [Page 140] nation on an unprecedented scale and shape it into an organized and dehumanized military machine integrated by all the forces of modern technique and science.
The dissolution of the Nazi Party will not, therefore, by itself ensure the destruction of the militaristic spirit instilled into the German people over generations and given an overwhelming impetus in the last decade. This will of necessity be an arduous process, and for a long time to come it would be gambling with the very destiny of civilization to rely on an unproven German capacity for self-regeneration in the face of its proven capacity for creating new weapons of destruction to be used in wars of aggression. Therefore, in addition to disarming and weakening Germany as a military power, the interests of world security will best be promoted by:
Forcibly reducing Germany’s industrial capacity so that she will cease to be a major economic, military and political power.
Strengthening all Germany’s neighbors politically and economically relatively to Germany. The more powerful her neighbors, the more likely she is to realize the futility of the militarist philosophy from which aggression ensues.
[Section 11]

Punishment of Certain War Crimes and Treatment of Special Groups

[Paragraphs A and B of this section are identical with paragraphs A and B of appendix B to Morgenthau’s memorandum of September 5, 1944, ante, p. 105.]

C. Registration

An appropriate registration program will be formulated designed to identify all members of the Nazi Party and affiliated organizations, the Gestapo, S.S. and S.A.

[Paragraphs D–F are identical with paragraphs D–F of appendix B to Morgenthau’s memorandum of September 5, 1944, ante, p. 107.]

G. Prohibition on Emigration

[This paragraph is identical with paragraph H of appendix B to Morgenthau’s memorandum of September 5, 1944, ante, p. 107.]

[Section 12]

[An appendix to the briefing book includes (1) a map (not printed herein, but reproduced in Morgenthau Diary (Germany), vol. I, facing p. 554) on which the information shown is identical with that on the map printed ante, facing p. 86; (2) a map (not printed herein) entitled “Map of Lorraine Iron Districts and Tributary Coal Fields”; and (3) the three charts which follow.]

[Page 141]


By Geographical Areas

[Page 142]


[Page 143]


Yearly, 1922–1938

  1. This briefing book was before Roosevelt during his meeting with the Cabinet Committee on Germany on September 9, 1944. See Morgenthau Diary (Germany), vol. i, pp. 608–609. Concerning the preparation of these briefing materials, see ibid., pp. 591–596.

    In the Roosevelt Papers these briefing papers are attached to and preceded by: (1) A typed memorandum reading, “This was done by Henry Morgenthau, Jr. and his people. In the conversations [at Quebec] with the Prof (Lord Cherwell) we used it in discussing the financial problems, but not the recommendations on the allocations of zones in Germany. F.D.R.” (2) A table of contents listing serially (from 1 to 11) the titles of the individual sections of the briefing book and identifying the two maps and three charts which were included in the briefing materials. The table of contents indicates, however, that the third appended chart is entitled “Trade Pattern of Europe”, whereas the final chart filed in the Roosevelt Papers is entitled “Coal Production in United Kingdom and Ruhr”. Cf. ibid., pp. 594–595.

  2. In Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Germany Is Our Problem (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1945), a facsimile of this section of the Treasury briefing book is reproduced before p. ix, and identified as “a photographic copy of the memorandum summarizing ‘The Morgenthau Plan’ which President Roosevelt took with him to the historic conference at Quebec in September of 1944.” The briefing book taken as a whole is the fullest exposition of the “Morgenthau Plan” which has been found.
  3. The maps and charts contained in the briefing book were appended in section 12, following the first 11 sections of the book. See post, p. 140.
  4. Post, p. 140.
  5. The plans referred to were drawn up by two committees of experts headed, respectively, by Charles G. Dawes and Owen D. Young. For the text of the “Dawes Plan” (i.e., the report of the First Committee of Experts submitted April 9, 1924), see Federal Reserve Bulletin, vol. 10, May 1924, pp. 351–411; Reports of the Expert Committees Appointed by the Reparation Commission (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1924; Cmd. 2105), pp. 2–125; or The Experts’ Plan for Reparation Payments (Paris: The Reparation Commission, 1926), pp. 2–116, also printed with the same pagination in the series Reparation Commission: Official Documents, vol. xiv (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1927). For the text of the “Young Plan” (i.e., the report of the Committee of Experts submitted June 7, 1929), see Federal Reserve Bulletin, vol. 15, July 1929, pp. 465–494, or Report of the Committee of Experts on Reparations (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1929; Cmd. 3343). Concerning the preparation and implementation of the Dawes and Young Plans, see, respectively, Foreign Relations, 1924, vol. ii, pp. 1 ff., and ibid., 1929, vol. ii, pp. 1025 ff.
  6. See Social Insurance and Allied Services: Report by Sir William Beveridge (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1942; Cmd. 6404).