740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–445

No. 344
The Director of the Office of War Information ( Davis ) to the President

Dear Mr. President: While the subjoined suggestion proposes action which would not be taken until after the Berlin conference, it might perhaps usefully be borne in mind during the discussions.

The central problem of Germany is the reeducation of the German people, without which our other measures may be no more than temporary palliatives. I suppose that what we all want is a Germany which will no longer be dangerous to its neighbors; but how best to attain that objective is a problem that calls for the best intelligence available in the world. The problem is of course far beyond the competence of OWI, as the execution of the program will far outlast our lifetime; yet the information which the OWI–Army news team is now providing the Germans, through newspapers, the radio, and news-reels, cannot help being the actual beginning of that reeducation. We plan it as well as we can; but we cannot see very far ahead, and we could make a better beginning if we knew more about the ultimate goal.

Ideally, it may be hoped that the four occupying powers will agree on the general outline of a reeducation program; but if they should fail to do so we shall still have an education problem in our own occupation zone. Somebody, whether well equipped or not, whether sure of his objective or not, will have to start doing the job pretty soon; and it seems to me clearly to our interest to have it done as well as possible.

I venture to suggest, therefore, that on your return you appoint a commission of the ablest educators obtainable, plus representatives from the State and War Departments, to recommend for your consideration a program of both objectives and methods for German reeducation; and that one or more of the members of that commission be placed in charge of its execution for so long as the United States government may be involved in the responsibility. An OWI representative, I think, might usefully participate in the deliberations of [Page 488] the commission; though we shall pass out of existence before the execution of the program has much more than begun.

Bearing on a more immediate problem, I enclose a memorandum1 on the coordination of propaganda, the principle of which has been approved by the State and War Departments.

Very respectfully,

Elmer Davis
  1. Not attached to the original covering letter in Department of State files.