740.00119 EAC/7–1744

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State

No. 16892

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith copy of a draft directive on German records and archives, which has been received from the British Delegation and which is designed to give effect to pertinent provisions of the draft instrument of surrender for Germany.

[Page 1490]

The British Delegation intend to circulate this proposed directive to the European Advisory Commission in due course, and have requested that it be given consideration by the United States Delegation. Sir William Strang suggests that the proposal for a central record office made in paragraph 5 of the draft directive should be considered in connection with the proposals for control machinery in Germany which will be studied by the Commission. Any comment upon this proposed directive which the Department is prepared to offer will be appreciated.

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
E. Allan Lightner, Jr.

Secretary to the U.S. Delegation

British Draft Directive on German Records and Archives 50

This directive does not apply to archives of an archaeological, artistic, etc., nature on which a separate directive will be issued to you.51
Immediately after Germany surrenders, you will issue an ordinance making it an offence punishable in military courts for any person in Germany wilfully to destroy, remove or conceal records and archives of any nature, whether central, regional or local, and whether of the State or the Nazi Party or belonging to any corporation, association, firm, person or ecclesiastical body. You will not refer in this ordinance to any particular document or classes of documents, since to do so might draw attention to your intention to secure them, and increase the prospect of their being destroyed or concealed.
You may at any time require the German authority or individual who may be in a position to do so to give you any help you may need [Page 1491]in connection with the discovery, seizure, custody, preservation, disposal or study of German records and archives.
The directive was approved by the War Cabinet, Official Committee on Armistice Terms and Civil Administration on July 10, 1944; A.C.A.O./P(44)82 (Revise).
You will so far as possible arrange for the preservation from destruction or concealment of all German records and archives. Priority lists of those over which you should take immediate steps to get control as soon as you enter Germany are being supplied to you separately. With regard to those not included in these lists, you will be guided by the directives relating to the various matters to which these records and archives refer and will take appropriate measures to preserve those which are needed for the fulfilment of your directives on these matters.
It is probable that a central record office will be established on a tripartite basis in Berlin or some other central place to supervise the custody of records and archives as a whole, including those not immediately required for purposes of administration, demilitarisation, etc., and to ensure that all duly authorised persons can obtain access to records, or copies of them, which they may need in order to carry out their tasks. Its duties will include:
ensuring that all necessary steps are taken for the preservation and safe custody of records and archives of all kinds;
co-ordinating and approving applications by Allied agencies and their representatives to study or consult German records and archives not in their immediate custody, and seeing that they are, as far as possible, given access to the documents they require;
assuming direct responsibility for the preservation and safe custody of the records and archives of State or Party offices which are dissolved or cease to exist;
making arrangements for copying or photographing records and archives as may be required;
preventing damage to the value of records and archives by their dispersal;
assembling the information needed for compiling the reports referred to in paragraph 8 below.
Whether or not a central record office is established, you will ensure that all records and archives in the area under your control are properly preserved pending further instructions.
Subject to further instructions you will forbid the removal from Germany of any original records or archives. Authorised copies or photographs may be removed.
You will report from time to time what archives and records you have secured, and what their condition is. You will also report any destruction, removal or concealment of archives and records carried out by the Germans.
  1. Circulated unofficially to his colleagues in the European Advisory Commission by the British representative on July 13, 1944, this draft directive was issued as Directive No. 14 in the Handbook of Directives presented by Sir William Strang to the European Advisory Commission on October 27, 1944. In a covering letter to Ambassador Winant on July 13, 1944, Sir William Strang stated that the directive was designed to give effect to the Instrument of Surrender and to General Order No. 1. In the British drafts of these two documents, presented to the European Advisory Commission earlier, both required German authorities to furnish information and documents requested by Allied Representatives, and to permit Allied authorities entry into any building or property for the purpose of obtaining documents or information required. German authorities were required to furnish facilities, assistance and personnel for this purpose. For more detailed information, see ante, pp. 100 ff.
  2. For correspondence on the protection and salvage of artistic and historic monuments, see vol. ii, pp. 1031 ff.