740.00119 EAC/89: Telegram

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

1435. Eacom 7. The document which you requested in your telegram 1267, February 15, 6 p.m., Comea 27,10 and which is entitled “Germany: Occupation Period: Proposed Control Machinery for the Administration of Military Government in Germany” (WS–15c), has now been cleared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and is being forwarded to you tonight by air pouch. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend, however, that in view of the military importance of this document [Page 184] you obtain through your Military Adviser the concurrence of the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force,11 prior to submitting it to the Commission for consideration.

With reference to your telegram no. 1310, February 16, 7 p.m., Comea 29, the President has directed me to present to you his views as follows for your guidance in outlining the American position in the discussion of the question of zones in the European Advisory Commission:12

The United States does not agree with the British proposal regarding the demarcation of the zones of occupation to go into effect after German surrender for the following reasons:

In as much as the United States is approximately 3,500 miles removed from Europe, it is not its natural task to bear the post-war burden of reconstituting France, Italy and the Balkans. This is properly the task of Great Britain which is far more vitally interested than is the United States.
It is not the principal object of the United States to participate in internal problems in Southern Europe but it is rather to take part in eliminating Germany as a possible and even probable cause of a third world war.
The objections which have been raised with regard to the difficulties to be encountered in transferring American troops from a French front to Northern Germany are not sound. No matter where American or British troops are on the day of Germany’s surrender, it would be physically easy for them to move in any direction—north, south, or east.
The ease with which American troops can be maintained in any specified part of Germany must always be considered. Bearing in mind all the pertinent factors and remembering in particular the distance which all supplies will have to be transported by sea, the United States requires the use of the North German ports, principally Hamburg and Bremen and the ports of the Netherlands for such a long-range operation.
For these reasons American policy envisages the occupation by American troops of northwestern Germany, with the British troops occupying the southern area and also bearing responsibility for the policing of Italy and France, if this be required.
The question of the long-range security of Great Britain against Germany does not arise with respect to the first occupation. There will be ample time for the British to work out a suitable program, with reference, for instance, to Helgoland, air fields, et cetera. The United States will be only too glad to retire all its military forces from Europe as soon as this is feasible.
In addition to the foregoing points, political considerations in the United States make essential the occupation of Northwestern Germany by American troops.

  1. Not printed; it reported that the British desired to begin discussions on the German surrender document, and it expressed the hope that the Department would soon provide the Ambassador with material enabling him to participate in the discussion (740.00119 EAC/87).
  2. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  3. The following statement of the views of President Roosevelt is a slight rewording of a memorandum by President Roosevelt to the Acting Secretary of State dated February 21, 1944, not printed (740.00119 Control (Germany)/2–2144).