Memorandum by President Roosevelt to the Secretary of War 89

This so-called “Handbook”90 is pretty bad. I should like to know how it came to be written and who approved it down the line. If it has not been sent out as approved, all copies should be withdrawn and held until you get a chance to go over it.

It gives me the impression that Germany is to be restored just as much as The Netherlands or Belgium, and the people of Germany brought back as quickly as possible to their pre-war estate.

It is of the utmost importance that every person in Germany should realize that this time Germany is a defeated nation. I do not want them to starve to death but, as an example, if they need food to keep body and soul together beyond what they have, they should be fed three times a day with soup from Army soup kitchens. That will keep them perfectly healthy and they will remember that experience all their lives. The fact that they are a defeated nation, collectively and individually, must be so impressed upon them that they will hesitate to start any new war.

The following are a few extracts of things which have caught my eye in a very hurried reading of this “Handbook”. There are doubtless many others.

“Your main and immediate task, to accomplish your mission, is to get things running, to pick up the pieces, to restore as quickly as possible the official functioning of the German civil government in the area for which are [you?] are responsible.…91 The first concern of military government will be to see that the machine works and works efficiently”.

“The principles with which Officers in Military Government Staffs and Detachments will be concerned include: the reorganization of the German police and the maintenance of Law and Order; the supervision of the German Judiciary and the establishment of Allied Military Courts; the control of the German Finances; the protection of [Page 545] property; the establishment and maintenance of an adequate standard of public health; the promotion of agriculture; the control, supply and distribution of food and essential supplies of every kind; the restoration and maintenance of public utilities; the provision for the gradual rehabilitation of peace-time industry and a regulated economy; the employment of Labour and the prevention of industrial unrest …”92

“Military Government Officers will, in conjunction with other interested and affected agencies and authorities, ensure that steps are taken to:

Import needed commodities and stores.
Convert industrial plants from war to consumer goods production.
Subsidize essential economic activities where necessary.
Reconstruct German foreign trade with priority for the needs of the United Nations.
Modify existing German regulations controlling industrial and raw material production”.

“The highly centralized German administrative system is to be retained unless otherwise directed by higher authority”.

“All existing German regulations and ordinances relating to …92 production, supply or distribution will remain in force until specifically amended or abrogated. Except as otherwise indicated by circumstances or directed by higher authority, present German production and primary processing of fuels, ores and other raw materials will be maintained at present levels”.

“The food supply will be administered so as to provide, if possible, a diet on the basis of an overall average of 2000 calories per day. Members of the German forces will be rated as normal consumers. The control of retail prices will be continued. The existing rationing system and classification of consumer groups will be maintained subject to modifications required by circumstances …92 Should the indigenous products of Germany be insufficient to provide such a basic ration, the balance will be made up by imports”.

“All possible steps will be taken to ensure the utilization of German economic, material and industrial facilities to an extent necessary to provide such raw materials, goods, supplies or services as are required for military and essential civilian needs, and to any additional extent—as approved by higher authority—necessary to provide surpluses for international transfer, supplies for reparational requisition, and legitimate industrial stock-piling”.

“The fishing industry has long been important in German economy, but owing to the requisitioning of trawlers for naval operations, the most important North Sea fish catch has been seriously curtailed. Before extensive commercial fishing can be resumed, a considerable amount of fishing gear will be required as well as stores and material for the repair and reconditioning of fishing vessels. There will possibly also be an immediate shortage of fuel and lubricants”.

[Page 546]

“The Agricultural economy will be freed of Nazi discrimination; it will not otherwise be changed except where direct advantages are to be gained. Agricultural production control, and grain and other agricultural products collection agencies existing prior to occupation will be maintained or re-established. Equitable prices co-ordinated at Reich level will be fixed for farm products. Violations of farm price control, wages or rationing regulations will be severely punished”.

“The main objective of Allied Military Government in the financial field is to take such temporary measures as will attempt to minimize the potential financial disorder and chaos that is likely to occur and thus assist the military forces in their operations and ease the burdens that will face the more permanent Allied control organization that will later deal with the problems of Germany”.

“Wherever possible, removals and appointments (of civil servants) will be made by Military Government officers acting through German officials who are vested with this authority under German law; nothing will be done which would unnecessarily disturb the regular German civil service procedure or deprive the official or employee to be removed of any ultimate rights to which he may be justifiably entitled under German law, after cessation of military government”.

“International boundaries will be deemed to be as they were on 31 December 1937”.

There exists a school of thought both in London and here which would, in effect, do for Germany what this Government did for its own citizens in 1933 when they were flat on their backs. I see no reason for starting a WPA, PWA or a CCC for Germany when we go in with our Army of Occupation.

Too many people here and in England hold to the view that the German people as a whole are not responsible for what has taken place—that only a few Nazi leaders are responsible. That unfortunately is not based on fact. The German people as a whole must have it driven home to them that the whole nation has been engaged in a lawless conspiracy against the decencies of modern civilization.

Please let me see the revision of this and also let me have this original copy back.

F[ranklin] D. R[oosevelt]
  1. Copy obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y.
  2. Handbook of Military Government in Germany, 1 September 1944, issued “By Command of General Eisenhower” by W. B. Smith, Lieutenant General, Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, mimeographed (Hickerson files, Lot 55D374, Box 5339). For details see Forrest C. Pogue, The Supreme Command, in the official Army history, United States Army in World War II: The European Theater of Operations (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1954), p. 354.
  3. Omission indicated in the original memorandum.
  4. Omission indicated in the original memorandum.
  5. Omission indicated in the original memorandum.
  6. Omission indicated in the original memorandum.