740.00119 (Control) Germany/6–2845: Airgram

No. 339
The Political Adviser in Germany ( Murphy ) to the Director of European Affairs ( Matthews )1
top secret

A–63. Following considerations appear pertinent (top secret for Matthews) to our present policy of completely banning all political activity in Germany (supplementing my 3268 June 2, 2 p.m.2).

Any or most political groups we permit to organize in near future seem likely to become anti-American-Military Government, particularly if as appears probable German people will suffer an adverse economic existence for some time to come. And once we lift present ban on political activity it would be extremely difficult to reintroduce it.

Our current policy is essentially negative and suppressive and results in a political vacuum which various groups will undoubtedly try to fill. If we continue ban too long, it may discourage the more democratic elements which begin to show signs, though these are faint and timid, of a desire to express themselves following years of Nazi suppression. Continuation of ban may well provide milieu for exploitation by totalitarian extremists of both Right and Left who are only too adept at disciplined underground activity. Relatively unorganized Social Democrats and Centrists might be inclined to obey our orders while Communists and Nazis advance their own organizations.

An added and most important consideration is that ban on political activity will not be in effect throughout Reich. There is good reason to believe that Free Germany Movement (see Morris’ memorandum no. 332 for comprehensive analysis of present situation) is already being given administrative power on exclusive basis in Russian areas, with obvious future political implications.

Department has presumably already received Radio Monitoring Report of Berlin broadcast on June 10 giving Zhukov’s Order No. 2.3 Besides permitting establishment of free trade unions, this authorizes formation and activity in Soviet Zone of all anti-fascist parties to extent that they are aimed at exterminating fascist remnants and consolidating democracy.

The accompanying commentary broadcast suggests strongly that this order will lead to development of one party totalitarian political [Page 473] system of type already established in eastern Europe and Balkans. The commentary calls for a strong democracy, not a democracy of the Weimar type, and emphasizes that the democractic forces must be united and not split up. It ends by warning that whoever tries to interfere with the unity of these democratic forces will be treated as an enemy of democracy.

The above will probably have as its net results placing political control in the Russian Zone completely in the hands of the Free Germany movement. Its activities will tend to overflow into our Zone, and when we finally raise the present ban on political activity, Communists may profit from a considerable head start as the only political group in Germany organized and active on a national basis. The possibility that they may be strongly supported by one of the four occupation powers will be an additional factor in their favor.

The Political Division has just submitted to General Clay a proposed directive4 to the American Military District Commanders for the implementation of JCS 10675 after the dissolution of SHAEF. The proposed directive covers paragraphs 9a and 9c of JCS 1067 dealing with political activity and parades. We have sought in an accompanying memorandum4 to give some guidance to Military Government officers in their handling of purely local political and quasi-political groups which have sprung up here and there. We have suggested the possibility of making some informal use of local non-political groups to assist in the handling of Military Government problems. We have particularly emphasized the possibility of using individual members of such groups as are democratic and represent more than extremist minorities. All of this has been based on the rule laid down in JCS 1067 that there shall be no political activity, except as may be authorized by the Theater Commander. So long as the ban continues absolute, as it has been hitherto, it will remain difficult to avoid stifling completely all democratic elements in our zone. It now appears however that General Clay is inclined to strengthen our memorandum in a positive sense and to make it an integral part of the directive when issued. This would mean in effect a modification for the first time of the absolute ban on political activity.

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The problem is one to which we will undoubtedly have to give continuing serious attention and I would appreciate the Department’s reactions.

  1. Sent to the Secretary of State ad interim.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. For the text of Zhukov’s Order No. 2, see Beate Ruhm von Oppen, ed., Documents on Germany Under Occupation, 1945–1954 (London, 1955), p. 37.
  5. Not printed.
  6. J. C. S. 1067 was the first in a series of drafts and papers produced during the development of the directive to the Commander in Chief, United States Forces of Occupation in Germany, regarding the military government of Germany (text in Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, p. 143). The reference throughout this paragraph, however, is actually to a later paper in the series, viz., the directive as finally issued in May 1945 (see Department of State Bulletin, vol. xiii, p. 596).
  7. Not printed.