740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–1745

No. 1022
The Secretary of War (Stimson) to the President1

top secret

Memorandum for the President

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dismemberment of germany

In speaking of Germany, I refer of course, to that part of the country which it is intended will eventually return to her sovereignty. I would be disposed to grant to Poland some areas on her western boundaries which would tend to compensate her for the territory to be ceded to Russia. I feel however, that the burden is upon Russia to show that suitable provisions will be made to care for the millions of Germans now in those areas. We must make it clear that they cannot be shunted to American responsibility. I would not be disposed to grant sovereignty to France over all the left bank of the Rhine, although certain provisions respecting fortifications and military installations in this area in favor of France would be desirable. No final conclusions on this subject will, I imagine, be reached without consultation with the French.

I would not go further in the dismemberment of Germany, as I believe in modern times it will require the full resources of the remaining area to make possible any reasonable recovery.

As a part of the demilitarization of Germany I would suggest that a thorough study be made by the experts of the three Powers, and submitted to the three governments, of the practicability of a plan for the international ownership and control of the products and resources of the Ruhr and the Saar. I would not approve either a wholesale destruction of these resources or a territorial annexation of the area by either another country or a condominium of countries.

I have just heard the proposal that the Ruhr and the Rhineland should be severed from Germany, and placed as a protectorate under the management of France, Belgium, and Holland.3 I understand that the proposed severance from Germany is to be complete, except for a customs Verein.

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The reasons why I fear any such attempted remedy of the problems which we are facing in the Ruhr, are as follows:

1. It at once takes out of the heart of Germany many millions of people of complete German race, and severs them from all political ties with the remainder of Germany. The proposed severance is the most drastic kind of dismemberment, far worse than any severance involving territory where there are mixed nationalities.4 It is likely to cause the most violent political reactions and the political revolutionary attitude and activity known as irredentism.

The history of Europe during the past one hundred and fifty years proved the correctness of the theory of racial self-determination put forward by the Allied Powers at the close of the last World War. During that period we have constantly seen the evolution of homogeneous racial groups and the dissolution of heterogeneous groups. The development of Italy from 1859 to 1870 was an example of the first kind of trend toward racial amalgamation; the dissolution of Austria–Hungary was a prominent example of the severance of badly combined national groups. The mistake after the last war was not the emphasis on self-determination, but the failure to deal properly with economic realities.

2. The proposed severance of the Ruhr would, I believe, be a mistake not only in ethnic and political matters but also in the economic field. The cutting of the political and economic ties between Germany and the severed provinces will impair the capacity of both the areas to sustain a reasonable peacetime economy. A protectorate of a foreign race and nationality, will not lead to an effective operation. In the light of the great need for production throughout the European area this let down would be a serious blow to any prompt rehabilitation of Europe. Moreover, by reason of the inability of the remaining portion of Germany to obtain the economic benefit of the Ruhr and Rhineland, great impairment of the economy of the remaining portion will result. Europe as a whole will inevitably suffer.

3. I believe that the severing of the Ruhr from the main portion of Germany will tend to drive the industries which formerly were dependent upon the Ruhr and the Rhineland to look to eastern Germany and Poland. I think there would be a strong tendency to drive Germany toward the east in her economic affiliations and outlook. I do not think that is in the interests of either western Europe or the United States.

The objections I have stated to the proposed severance of the Ruhr would not inhere in even the most drastic kind of international control to prevent the production of war munitions. The study I have proposed would disclose the advantages and disadvantages of the international control which I have suggested.

It is this road rather than the road of political severance I believe we should follow.

Henry L Stimson
  1. Submitted to Byrnes for transmittal to Truman (see document No. 849). For Stimson’s oral comments to Byrnes on this subject, see document No. 849, footnote 3.
  2. For the other sections of this memorandum, see the enclosure to document No. 849.
  3. See document No. 1021.
  4. The last four words are in manuscript, replacing “only a part of the population is severed from its homeland.”