740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–445

No. 343
The Assistant Secretary of State (MacLeish) to the Secretary of State
top secret

You asked me at the Staff Committee meeting this morning to submit a paper on the Department’s efforts to prepare a long-range policy for German reeducation. The paper is attached.

A[rchibald] MacL[eish]
The Assistant Secretary of State (MacLeish) to the Secretary of State
top secret

Subject: Long-Range Policy for German Reeducation.

The Present Status of the Problem.

The War Department has repeatedly requested the Department to prepare a long-range policy directive on German reeducation for the guidance of its representatives in Germany. Since the problem is one of the greatest difficulty, the Department invited a group of citizens distinguished and experienced in the field of education to advise with it. The Chairman of the Committee was President Edmund E. Day of Cornell. Members were: President George Shuster of Hunter College, President Frank Graham of the University of North Carolina, President John Milton Potter of Hobart College, Dean Martin [Page 483] McGuire of the Graduate School of Catholic University, Professor Eduard C. Lindeman of Columbia University, and Professor Reinhold Niebuhr of Union Theological Seminary. Not all members attended all meetings.

The Committee met on two occasions in May and June, its sessions covering two days in each case. Its recommendations were subsequently submitted to, and approved by, the Coordinating Committee of the Department of State and the Secretary’s Staff Committee, certain changes being made by both Committees. The recommendations as approved were subsequently discussed by President Frank Graham with Assistant Secretary of War McCloy and General Hilldring, Director of the Civil Affairs Division of the War Department. Mr. McCloy and General Hilldring expressed informal approval.1 To avoid undue delay in IPCOG, the approved statement was discussed by me directly with Secretary Morgenthau who undertook to communicate his reactions promptly.

Assumptions Underlying Proposed Statement of Policy.

The Advisory Committee and the Departmental Committees which formulated the proposed policy stated that their proposals were based upon certain assumptions as to the character of the military occupation of Germany, the economic reorganization of Germany, the transformation of the German social structure, the political and cultural structure of Germany following the occupation, and the long-range objectives of American foreign policy as they effect [affect] Germany. The Advisory Committee has pointed out that an educational program cannot be devised in an economic, social, and political vacuum. The reeducation of the German people should be an integral part of a comprehensive program of rehabilitation which would eliminate Nazi and militaristic influences and convince the German people of their defeat in the war and their responsibility for the inhuman manner in which it was conducted. The specific assumptions made by the Committees were listed by them as follows:

Character of the Military Occupation of Germany. The Committee assumes that the military occupation of Germany will be of such a character as to eradicate from German public life and from German schools Nazi and militaristic personnel and propaganda materials, and to offer the German people present and tangible evidence that Germany lost the war, that Germans individually and through national organizations were responsible for brutalities and inhumanities in the prosecution of the war for which punishment is due, and that the constraint of the German people during the period [Page 484] of occupation is a direct and necessary consequence of Germany’s fanatical conduct of the war.
Economic Reorganization of Germany. The Committee assumes that the economic reorganization of Germany, while impressing upon the German people the consequences of their responsibility for the war, will permit them to survive as a nation and to participate creatively in the economic life of their time.
The Transformation of the German Social Structure. The Committee assumes that a fundamental transformation of the German social structure will be necessary to eliminate permanently the Nazi and militaristic elements, that the Germans themselves will attempt to carry through this change in a democratic direction, and that the occupation authorities should encourage these efforts.
The Political and Cultural Structures of Germany Following the Occupation. The Committee assumes that no partition of Germany is intended, that the division of Germany into zones of occupation is a temporary division and that, following the occupation, Germany will emerge, with whatever territorial alterations are determined upon, as a political and cultural entity.
Long-Range Objectives of American Foreign Policy as They Affect Germany and the German People. The Committee assumes that it is the policy of the United States Government, while avoiding interference in the domestic affairs of other nations, to encourage the self-government of peoples on the ground that tyrannies have been demonstrated to be dangerous to the security of the world and that nations in which the people govern themselves are more likely to keep the peace and to promote the common interests of mankind. It is therefore the assumption of the Committee that the Government of the United States wishes to see Germany emerge from the period of occupation as a self-governing nation in which individuals are responsible for the conduct of the state, rather than as a totalitarian nation in which the state exercises responsibility for the individual citizens.

Reasoning Behind Proposed Statement of Policy.

The Advisory Committee, throughout its deliberations, was much impressed by the need for a common educational policy as among the occupying powers. It was recognized that a basic policy directive in the field of education would be applicable not only to formal education in schools and universities but also to programs of adult education through mass media and otherwise. The Committee was acutely conscious of the danger that, unless the occupying powers agreed among themselves, Germany might be turned into the cockpit of an ideological war with serious future implications. It was felt, therefore, that every effort should be made to discover a common denominator of policy in this field which would be acceptable to all the occupying powers.

While recognizing fully the extraordinary difficulty of the problem, the Committee felt that such a common denominator could be found. It believed that here as in other areas the most effective common denominator on which to base common action by peoples with different [Page 485] political systems was opposition to the common enemy—in this case to the ideas and practices of the common enemy. Specifically, it was the opinion of the Committee that certain principles, diametrically opposed to the practices of Nazism offered common ground for a program of reeducation intended to undo the evil which the Nazi system of education had perpetrated. These principles, as the Committee saw it, are the “universally valid principles of justice”. The policy they recommend, therefore, is a policy based upon the inculcation of these principles. It is worthy of note that it is not a policy based upon the inculcation of specific political ideas associated with the form and practices of government of any one of the Allied powers. On the contrary, universally valid principles of justice are postulated. The inconsistency with these principles of prevalent Nazi practices is pointed out. And conclusions are drawn as to the educational operation recommended.

The recommended long-range policy statement for German reeducation follows. I have omitted two introductory paragraphs in which the assumptions of the Committee as to the place of the reeducation program in a comprehensive program for rehabilitation, and the responsibility of the military occupation for the elimination of Nazi and militaristic doctrines and practices, are stated.

Statement of Policy.

The political and moral reeducation of the German people will foster the reestablishment of universally valid principles of justice.
The German people must come to understand that the Nazi repudiation of these principles destroyed all individual rights in the Nazi state, made the effort at world tyranny inevitable and brought Germany to its present disaster. They must come to understand that the present control measures over Germany are not prompted solely by the German violation of the rights of other peoples. They are also made necessary by the political chaos in Germany, which is the direct consequence of the Nazi denial of all political rights and the destruction of all alternative organized forces within the nation.
The primary principles of justice, basic to the program of reeducation, are:
That men and nations owe obligations to each other; and that these responsibilities are not, as Nazism maintained, limited to a single race, nation or group.
That the dignity and integrity of the individual must be respected by society and other individuals; and that the individual is not, as Nazism maintained, merely a tool of the state.
That citizens bear their share of responsibility for public policy and that they have the right and duty to participate in government resting on the consent of the governed.
That the untrammeled pursuit of truth is a prerequisite for the maintenance of justice; and that free communication between individuals, groups and nations is a necessary condition for national and international understanding. Experience with Nazism proves what evil consequences flow from the suppression and corruption of the truth.
That toleration between diverse cultural and racial groups is the basis of national and international tranquillity; and that coerced unity of culture, after the manner of Nazism, is the source of both tyranny and anarchy.
To be effective, the program of German reeducation must make use of those native resources of German civilization which offer promise of the peaceful development of new ideals and institutions. The collapse of centralized authority in Germany is conducive to the assumption of local and regional initiative and responsibility for such civic enterprises as schools, literary societies, libraries, social agencies and hospitals. But in addition to the mobilization of healthy cultural influence in the locality and in the region, it is essential that the cultural revival be allowed on a national scale. A potential basis for German self-respect is the justifiable pride of Germans in their former great literary, artistic, scholarly, scientific and religious contributions to civilization.
The occupation authorities will bear in mind that permanent cultural changes can be effected only as they are developed and maintained by the Germans themselves. Having first eliminated the Nazi elements, they will seek to effect the progressive transfer of authority in reeducation to responsible Germans as rapidly as conditions permit. The most obvious evidences of anti-Nazi resources will be found in specific religious, intellectual, trade union and political resistance to Nazism. A further source of anti-Nazism should be considered: that springing from the resistance of the family, particularly of the women, to the Nazi state. Similar resources must also be looked for in members of welfare and teaching organizations who remained unpolitical and thus possibly avoided the taint of Nazism. The occupation authorities will encourage the revival of educational and other cultural activities of those groups and organizations (such as the family, the churches, trade unions and welfare organizations) many of which have suffered under Nazism and which form a natural basis for the realization of the principles formulated above.
During the Nazi epoch, Germany was virtually cut off from outside cultural influences and a perverted German culture was deliberately used both at home and abroad as an insidious political weapon. Under no circumstances must this be permitted to happen again. The best way to prevent it, after the occupation authorities have taken the necessary measures of control, and subject to the [Page 487] willingness of individuals and cultural communities outside of Germany, is to encourage a resumption of carefully selected activities in the field of cultural relations between other nations and non-Nazi elements in Germany.
Archibald MacLeish
  1. In a letter to Byrnes dated July 13 (file No. 862.42/7–2845) MacLeish stated that this paper had been approved informally by Under Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson as well as by McCloy and Hilldring.
  2. The signature on the enclosure is typed.