Truman Papers

No. 856
Report by the Subcommittee on German Political Questions1

Proposed Agreement on the Political and Economic2 Principles To Govern the Treatment of Germany in the Initial Control Period

Political Principles

In accordance with the Agreement on Control Machinery in Germany,3 supreme authority in Germany is exercised, on instructions from their respective Governments, by the Commanders-in-Chief of the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the French Republic, each in his own zone of occupation, and also jointly, in matters affecting Germany as a whole, in their capacity as members of the Control Council.
The purposes of the occupation of Germany by which the Control Council shall be guided are:
The complete disarmament and demilitarization of Germany and the elimination or control of all German industry that could be used for military production. To these ends:— [Page 785]
All German land, naval and air forces, the S. S., S.A., S.D. and Gestapo, with all their organizations, staffs and institutions, including the General Staff, the Officers’ Corps, Reserve Corps, military schools, war veterans’ organizations and all other military and quasi-military organizations, together with all clubs and associations which serve to keep alive the military tradition in Germany, shall be completely and finally abolished in such manner as permanently to prevent the revival or reorganization of German militarism and Nazism;
All arms, ammunition and implements of war and all specialized facilities for their production shall be held at the disposal of the Allies or destroyed. The maintenance and production of all aircraft and all arms, ammunition and implements of war shall be prevented;
To convince the German people that they have suffered a total military defeat and that they cannot escape responsibility for what they have brought upon themselves, since their own ruthless warfare and the fanatical Nazi resistance have destroyed German economy and made chaos and suffering inevitable.
To destroy the National Socialist Party and its affiliated and supervised organizations, to dissolve all Nazi institutions, to ensure that they are not revived in any form, and to prevent all Nazi and militaristic activity or propaganda.
To prepare for the eventual reconstruction of German political life on a democratic basis and for eventual peaceful cooperation in international life by Germany.
All Nazi laws which provided the basis of the Hitler regime or established discriminations on grounds of race, creed, or political opinion shall be abolished. No such discriminations, whether legal, administrative or otherwise, shall be tolerated.4
War criminals and those who have participated in planning or carrying out Nazi enterprises involving or resulting in atrocities or war crimes shall be arrested and brought to judgment. Nazi leaders, influential Nazi supporters and high officials of Nazi organizations and institutions and any other persons dangerous to the occupation or its objectives shall be arrested and interned.
All members of the Nazi Party who have been more than nominal participants in its activities and all other persons hostile to Allied purposes shall be removed from public and semi-public office, and from positions of responsibility in important private undertakings. [Page 786] Such persons shall be replaced by persons who, by their political and moral qualities, are deemed capable of assisting in developing genuine democratic institutions in Germany.
German education shall be so controlled as completely to eliminate Nazi and militarist doctrines and to make possible the successful development of democratic ideas.
The judicial system will be reorganized in accordance with the principles of democracy, of justice under law, and of equal rights for all citizens without distinction of race, nationality or religion.5
The administration of affairs in Germany should be directed towards the decentralization of the political structure and the development of local responsibility. To this end:
local self-government shall be restored throughout Germany on democratic principles and in particular through elective councils as rapidly as is consistent with military security and the purposes of military occupation;
all democratic political parties with rights of assembly and of public discussion shall be allowed and encouraged throughout Germany;
representative and elective principles shall be introduced into regional, provincial and state (Land) administration as rapidly as may be justified by the successful application of these principles in local self-government;
for the time being no central German government shall be established.6
Subject to the necessity for maintaining military security, freedom of speech, press and religion shall be permitted, and religious institutions shall be respected. Subject likewise to the maintenance of military security, the formation of free trade unions shall be permitted.
  1. Although not attached to the minutes of the Second Meeting of the Foreign Ministers, July 19 (ante, p. 102), this paper is clearly the text submitted to that meeting. The source copy bears the following manuscript notation by Truman: “Agreed”.
  2. Despite this word in the heading, only political principles are dealt with in the document.
  3. i. e., the agreement signed at London, November 14, 1944, as amended by an agreement signed at London, May 1, 1945. For texts, see Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 3070; United States Treaties and Other International Agreements, vol. 5, pt. 2, p. 2062. Text of the agreement of November 14, 1944, also in Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, p. 124.
  4. There is the following information on this paragraph in a personal letter from James W. Riddleberger, Chief of the Division of Central European Affairs, to Henry P. Leverich and David Harris, Acting Chief and Assistant Chief, respectively, of that Division, dated at Potsdam, July 21, 1945 (file No. 740.00119 (Potsdam)/7–2145): “There was a hot debate on paragraph 3 as Vyshinski wished to abolish all laws passed under Hitler. We were finally able to talk him out of it, so the paragraph remains practically as drafted originally.”
  5. In the letter cited in the preceding footnote, Riddleberger wrote as follows concerning this paragraph: “Paragraph 7 is new and was inserted at the request of Vyshinski who felt that some mention should be made of the judicial system.”
  6. In the letter cited in footnote 4, ante, Riddleberger wrote as follows concerning this paragraph: “There was a long discussion on paragraph 8, which you will see has been somewhat modified from our original draft [document No. 852]. The British were inclined to drag their feet on the question of elections, and the Russians did not seem to be overly enthusiastic. However, I think we have put this matter in a way which will enable us to go ahead at a local level and will commit the other two governments in principle at least to the same idea.”