Bohlen Collection

Bohlen Minutes
top secret

Subject: Treatment of Germany.

The President opened the meeting by stating that it was his understanding that political matters affecting Germany would be discussed today. He said that they would not cover the map of the world and discuss Dakar or Indochina, but confine themselves to the political aspects of the future treatment of Germany. He said that the first question was that of the zones of occupation, which he understood had been agreed upon in the European Advisory Commission. He said there was one question still open and that was the desire of France to have a zone of occupation and French participation in the control machinery for Germany. He emphasized that the question of zones did not relate to the permanent treatment of Germany.

The President then handed a map1 of the agreed tripartite zones to Marshal Stalin, pointing out that although these zones had been agreed upon in the European Advisory Commission they had not yet been signed by the three governments.

Marshal Stalin said that in the discussion of Germany he would like to include the following points:

The question of dismemberment of Germany. He said that at Tehran they had exchanged views on this subject and later at Moscow he had talked this subject over with the Prime Minister. From these informal exchanges of views he had gathered that all were in favor of dismemberment, but nothing had been decided as to the manner of [Page 612] dismemberment. He said he wished to know first as to whether the President or Prime Minister still adhered to the principle of dismemberment.
Marshal Stalin inquired whether the three governments proposed to set up a German government or not and if there was a definite decision on dismemberment whether or not the three governments would set up separate governments for the various parts of Germany.
Marshal Stalin inquired as to how the principle of unconditional surrender would operate in regard to Germany; for example, if Hitler should agree to surrender unconditionally, would we deal with his government?
Marshal Stalin said his last point dealt with the question of reparations.

The President replied that, as he understood it, the permanent treatment of Germany might grow out of the question of the zones of occupation, although the two were not directly connected.

Marshal Stalin replied that what he wished to find out here was whether or not it was the joint intention to dismember Germany or not. He said that at Tehran, when the question had been discussed, the President had proposed the division of Germany into five parts. The Prime Minister, after some hesitation, had suggested the division of Germany into two parts with a separation of Prussia from the southern part of Germany. He said that he had associated himself with the views of the President, but the discussion at Tehran had only been an exchange of views. He added that at Moscow with the Prime Minister they had discussed the possibility of dividing Germany into two parts with Prussia on the one hand and Bavaria and Austria on the other, with the Ruhr and Westphalia under international control. He said that he thought that this plan was feasible but that no decision had been taken since the President was not there. He inquired whether the time had not come to make a decision on the dismemberment of Germany.

The Prime Minister stated that the British Government agreed in principle to dismemberment but he felt that the actual method and a final decision as to the manner of dismemberment was too complicated to be done here in four or five days. He said it would require elaborate searchings by experienced statesmen on the historical, political, economic and sociological aspects of the problem and prolonged study by a subcommittee. He added that the informal talks at Tehran and Moscow had been very general in character and had not been intended to lay down any precise plan. In fact, he added, if he were asked to state here how Germany should be divided he would not be in a position to answer, and for this reason he couldn’t commit himself to any definite plan for the dismemberment of Germany. The Prime Minister said, however, that personally he felt that the isolation of Prussia and the elimination of her might from Germany would remove the arch evil—the German war potential would be

[Page [Map 3]] [Page []] [Page 613]

greatly diminished. He added that a south German state with perhaps a government in Vienna might indicate the line of great division of Germany. He said that we are agreed that Germany should lose certain territories conquered by the Red Army which would form part of the Polish settlement, but he added that the question of the Rhine valley and the industrial areas of the Ruhr and Saar capable of producing armaments had not yet been decided; should they go to one country, or should they be independent, or part of Germany, or should they come under the trusteeship of the world organization which would delegate certain large powers to see to it that these areas were not used to threaten the peace of the world. All this, the Prime Minister said, required careful study, and the British Government had not yet any fixed ideas on the subject. Furthermore, he said, no decision had been reached on the question as to whether Prussia after being isolated from the rest of Germany should be further divided internally. He said that we might set up machinery which would examine the best method of studying the question. Such a body could report to the three governments before any final decision is reached. He said we are well prepared for the immediate future, both as to thought and plans concerning the surrender of Germany. All that was required was a final agreement on zones of occupation and the question of a zone for France.

Marshal Stalin replied that it wasn’t clear to him as to the surrender. Suppose, for example, a German group had declared that they had overthrown Hitler and accepted unconditional surrender. Would the three governments then deal with such a group as with Badoglio in Italy?

The Prime Minister replied that in that case we would present the terms of surrender, but if Hitler or Himmler should offer to surrender unconditionally the answer was clear—we would not negotiate under any circumstances with any war criminals and then the war would go on. He added it was more probable they would be killed or in hiding, but another group of Germans might indicate their willingness to accept unconditional surrender. In such a case the three Allies would immediately consult together as to whether they could deal with this group, and if so terms of unconditional surrender would immediately be submitted; if not, war would continue and we would occupy the entire country under a military government.

Marshal Stalin inquired whether the three Allies should bring up dismemberment at the time of the presentation of the terms of unconditional surrender. In fact, he added, would it not be wise to add a clause to these terms saying that Germany would be dismembered, without going into any details?

The Prime Minister said he did not feel there was any need to discuss with any German any question about their future—that unconditional [Page 614] surrender gave us the right to determine the future of Germany which could perhaps best be done at the second stage after unconditional surrender. He said that we reserve under these terms all rights over the lives, property and activities of the Germans.

Marshal Stalin said that he did not think that the question of dismemberment was an additional question, but one of the most important.

The Prime Minister replied that it was extremely important, but that it was not necessary to discuss it with the Germans but only among ourselves.

Marshal Stalin replied that he agreed with this view but felt a decision should be made now.

The Prime Minister replied that there was not sufficient time, as it was a problem that required careful study.

The President then said that it seemed to him that they were both talking about the same thing, and what Marshal Stalin meant was should we not agree in principle here and now on the principle of dismemberment of Germany. He said personally, as stated by him at Tehran, that he was in favor of dismemberment of Germany. He recalled that forty years ago, when he had been in Germany, the concept of the Reich had not really been known then, and any community dealt with the provincial government. For example, if in Bavaria you dealt with the Bavarian government and if in Hesse-Darmstadt you dealt with that government. In the last twenty years, however, everything has become centralized in Berlin. He added that he still thought the division of Germany into five states or seven states was a good idea.

The Prime Minister interrupted to say “or less”, to which the President agreed.

The Prime Minister remarked that there was no need, in his opinion, to inform the Germans of our future policy—that they must surrender unconditionally and then await our decision. He said we are dealing with the fate of eighty million people and that required more than eighty minutes to consider. He said it might not be fully determined until a month or so after our troops occupy Germany.2

The President said he thought the Prime Minister was talking about the question of dismemberment. In his view he said he thought it would be a great mistake to have any public discussion of the dismemberment of Germany as he would certainly receive as many plans as there had been German states in the past. He suggested that the Conference ask the three Foreign Ministers to submit a recommendation as to the best method for the study of plans to dismember Germany and to report within twenty-four hours.3

[Page 615]

The Prime Minister said the British Government was prepared to accept now the principle of dismemberment of Germany and to set up suitable machinery to determine the best method to carry this out, but he couldn’t agree to any specific method here.

Marshal Stalin said he wished to put a question in order to ascertain exactly what the intentions of the three governments are. He said events in Germany were moving toward catastrophe for the German people and that German defeats would increase in magnitude since the Allies of the Soviet Union intend to launch an important offensive very soon on the Western Front. In addition, he said that Germany was threatened with internal collapse because of the lack of bread and coal with the loss of Silesia and the potential destruction of the Ruhr. He said that such rapid developments made it imperative that the three governments not fall behind events but be ready to deal with the question when the German collapse occurred. He said he fully understood the Prime Minister’s difficulties in setting out a detailed plan, and he felt therefore that the President’s suggestion might be acceptable: namely, (1) agreement in principle that Germany should be dismembered; (2) to charge a commission of the Foreign Ministers to work out the details; and, (3) to add to the surrender terms a clause stating that Germany would be dismembered without giving any details. He said he thought this latter point was important as it would definitely inform the group in power who would accept surrender unconditionally, whether generals or others, that the intention of the Allies is to dismember Germany. This group by their signature would then bind the German people to this clause. He said he thought it was very risky to follow the plan of the Prime Minister and say nothing to the German people about dismemberment by the Allies. The advantage of saying it in advance would facilitate acceptance by the whole German people of what was in store for them.

The Prime Minister then read the text of Article 12 of the surrender terms agreed on by the European Advisory Commission, in which he pointed out that the Allied governments have full power and authority over the future of Germany.4

The President said that he shared Marshal Stalin’s idea of the advisability of informing the German people at the time of surrender of what was in store for them.

The Prime Minister said that the psychological effect on the Germans might stiffen their resistance.

Both The President and Marshal Stalin said there was no question of making the decision public, and Marshal Stalin added that as far as he knew the surrender terms which Italy had accepted had not yet been made public.

[Page 616]

The Prime Minister said he would find it difficult to go further than to give the assent of the British to the principle of dismemberment and the setting up of machinery to study the best method of putting it into effect.

It was agreed that the three Foreign Ministers should consider Article 12 of the surrender terms instrument in order to ascertain the best method of bringing in a reference to the intention to dismember Germany.

The President then said that the question of the French zone remained to be decided. He said that he had understood from Marshal Stalin that the French definitely did not wish to annex outright the German territory up to the Rhine.

Marshal Stalin replied that this was not the case, since during the visit of General DeGaulle the French had made it quite plain that they intended to annex permanently the territory up to the Rhine.

The Prime Minister said that he did not feel it possible to discuss possible frontiers as they were considering only the zones of temporary military occupation. He added that he was for giving the French a definite zone which could come out of the British and possibly the American zones and that all he sought here was that the Soviet Government would agree that the British and American Governments should have the right to work out with the French a zone of occupation. He added that this zone would not in any way affect the proposed Soviet zone.

Marshal Stalin inquired whether or not the granting of a zone to France would not serve as a precedent to other states.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the occupation of Germany might be a long one and that the British Government was not sure that it could bear the burden alone for an extended period and that the French might be able to be of real assistance in this matter.

Marshal Stalin said that if the French were given a zone, would not that change the Tripartite control of Germany to a four-nation control.

The Prime Minister replied that the British Government expected that if France were given a zone they would, of course, participate in the control machinery, but that in regard to other nations that might assist in the occupation, such as Belgium or Holland, there would be no question of a specific zone and thus no part in the participation of the control machinery [sic].

Marshal Stalin stated that he thought it would bring up many complications if we should have four nations instead of three participating in the determination of German matters. He thought that some method might be evolved whereby England might let the French, Belgians and Dutch assist in the occupation but without the right to [Page 617] participate in the Three Power decisions for Germany. He said that if this was accepted the Soviet Government might desire to ask other states to help in the occupation of the Soviet zone without any right to participate in the decisions of the control commission.

The Prime Minister replied that he felt that this brought up the whole question of the future role of France in Europe and that he personally felt that France should play a very important role. He pointed out that France had had a long experience in dealing with the Germans, that they were the largest naval power, and could be of great help in the administration of Germany. He went on to say that Great Britain did not wish to bear the whole weight of an attack by Germany in the future and for this reason they would like to see France strong and in possession of a large army. He said it was problematical how long the United States forces would be able to stay in Europe, and therefore, it was essential that France be relied upon to assist in the long term control of Germany.

The President replied that he did not believe that American troops would stay in Europe much more than two years. He went on to say that he felt that he could obtain support in Congress and throughout the country for any reasonable measures designed to safeguard the future peace, but he did not believe that this would extend to the maintenance of an appreciable American force in Europe.

The Prime Minister said that he felt that France should have a large army since it was the only ally that Great Britain had in the West, whereas the Soviet Union in addition to their own powerful military establishment could count on the support of the Poles.

Marshal Stalin said he fully appreciated the necessity of a strong France, which had recently signed a treaty of alliance with the Soviet Union.5 He added that he had discussed this matter with Daladier before the war and recently in Moscow with General De-Gaulle.

The President then remarked that he felt that France should be given a zone, but that he personally felt that it would be a mistake to bring other nations into the general question of the control of Germany.

Marshal Stalin observed that if France was given the right to participate in the control machinery for Germany, it would be difficult to refuse other nations. He repeated that he wished to see France a strong power but that he could not destroy the truth, which was that France had contributed little to this war and had opened the gate to the enemy. In his opinion, he said, the control commission for Germany should be run by those who have stood firmly against Germany and have made the greatest sacrifices in bringing victory. [Page 618] He did not believe that France should belong on the list of such powers, but that it should be limited to the three nations represented here.

The Prime Minister replied that every nation had had their difficulties in the beginning of the war and had made mistakes. He said that France had gone down before the attacks of the new German tank and air units and while it was true that France had not been much help in the war, she still remained the nearest neighbor of Germany and of great importance to Great Britain. He agreed that it would be inconvenient to add France to the present group of major allies, but he felt that British public opinion would not understand why France was being excluded from a problem which was of such direct concern to her. He observed that the destiny of great nations was not decided by the temporary state of their technical apparatus. He said that sooner or later we would have to take France in. He mentioned, however, that he had been against the participation of France in the present conference, which he understood was the opinion of the President and had gathered here was also that of Marshal Stalin. He concluded by saying that we must provide for France in the future to stand guard on the left hand of Germany otherwise Great Britain might again be confronted with the specter of Germany on the Channel at the Channel ports.

Marshal Stalin repeated that he would not like to see France as a participant in the control machinery for Germany, although he had no objection to their being given a zone within the British and American zones.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the control commission will be an extraordinary body under the orders of the governments concerned and that there was no reason to fear that basic policy in regard to Germany would be made by this commission.6

The President pointed out at this point that France was in fact a full member of the European Advisory Commission which was the only Allied body, apart from this Conference, which was considering the German problem.

The President said that he favored the acceptance of the French request for a zone, but that he agreed with Marshal Stalin that France should not take part in the control machinery, otherwise other nations would demand participation. He went on to say, for example, that as a result of the deliberate German destruction of the dikes that large sections of Dutch farm land had been inundated by salt water and that it would be necessary to give the Dutch farmers compensation for a temporary period from German territory. He said that he [Page 619] understood that it would be at least five years before the flooded lands would be suitable for cultivation. If this was done, and he personally felt that it should be done, the Dutch might well claim a voice in the control machinery for Germany.7

Mr. Eden then pointed out that there was no question of any zones for any other power except France, but that France would not accept a zone of occupation within the British and American zones without participation in the control commission.

Marshal Stalin remarked that Great Britain could speak for France in the control commission.

The Prime Minister supported Mr. Eden’s theories and said that if France got a zone they must be given representation in the control commission, otherwise, the question of the administration of the French zone and its relation to the other zones would be impossible of solution. He again pointed out that the control commission would be a subordinate body similar to the European Advisory Council.

Marshal Stalin said that the control machinery for Germany would not be an advisory body but would be actively engaged every day in the administration of Germany. He added that he felt French participation would serve as a precedent for others.

The Prime Minister then suggested that the three Foreign Ministers be asked to study the question in relation to [of the relationship of?] the French zone to the control commission.

Mr. Molotov said that the European Advisory Commission had already worked out a definite agreement on a tripartite administration of Germany.8

Mr. Eden replied that there was no intention of reversing that decision but that he felt as a practical matter the question of the relationship of the French zone to that of the control commission should be considered.

In reply to a question from Mr. Molotov, The Prime Minister repeated that there was no intention of giving the Belgians or Dutch a zone.

Mr. Eden repeated that the case of France was different and that they would not accept a zone subordinate to British control.

Marshal Stalin then said that he felt that there was agreement on the fact that France should be given a zone but should not be given participation in the control commission. The three Foreign Ministers should study the question of the relationship of the French zone to that of the commission.

Marshal Stalin then said that he would like to discuss the question of German reparations.

[Page 620]

The President said that in regard to reparations there was first of all the question of the desires and needs of principal allies and then subsequently that of the smaller countries, such as Belgium, Holland, Norway, etc. He said he would like to bring up the question of the Russian desires in regard to the utilization of German manpower.9

Marshal Stalin replied that they had a plan for reparations in kind but were not ready yet to present any plan in regard to German manpower. He then said that Mr. Maisky would present the Soviet plan.

Mr. Maisky then outlined the Soviet plan for reparations for Germany. He said that the Soviet plan for reparations in kind envisaged two categories: (1) the removal from the national wealth of Germany of plants, machine tools, rolling stock, etc. to be completed within a period of two years after the end of hostilities, (2) yearly payments in kind to last for ten years. He said that in order to restore Soviet economy which had suffered so much from German aggression, and to safeguard the future security of Europe, it would be necessary to reduce German heavy industry by 80%. By heavy industry he meant iron and steel, electrical power and chemical industries. Specialized industry useful only for military purposes should be 100% removed. In this category would fall all aviation factories, synthetic oil refineries, etc. He said that the Soviet Government felt that with 20% of her heavy industry Germany would be in position to cover the economic needs of the country. He said the list of goods to be delivered during the 10 year period could be definitely fixed later on. He further proposed that in the interests of the orderly execution of the reparations plan and for the security of Europe there should be an Anglo-Soviet-American control over German economy which would last beyond the period of the reparations payment. All German enterprises which could be utilized for war purposes should be placed under international control with representatives of the Three Powers sitting on the boards of such enterprises. Mr. Maisky went on to say that in the calculation of losses as a result of German aggression the figures had been so astronomical that a selection and the establishment of a system of priorities for compensation had been necessary. He said that even direct material losses, such as public and private property, factories, plants, railroads, houses, institutions, confiscation of materials, etc. had been so large that no reparations could cover their loss. For this reason, priorities had been established according to indices, (1) the proportional contribution of any one nation to the winning of the war, (2) the material losses suffered by each nation. He said that those countries which had made the highest contribution to the war and had suffered the [Page 621] highest material losses would come into the first category and all others would fall into the second. Mr. Maisky proposed that there should be set up a special reparations committee of the three governments to sit in Moscow. He concluded that the total reparations shown in withdrawals and yearly payments in kind which the Soviets required would reach a total of ten billion dollars.

The Prime Minister stated that he recalled very well the end of the last war and that although he did not participate in the peace settlement he had been very fully informed of the discussions. He remembered well that there had been only two billion pounds extracted from Germany in the form of reparations by the Allies after the last war and that even this would not have been possible had not the United States given Germany credits. He said, for example, that they had taken some old Atlantic liners from the Germans, who had immediately proceeded on credit to build new and better ships. He recognized that the suffering which the Soviet Union had undergone in this war had been greater than any other power, but he felt that the Soviet Union would get nowhere near the sum which Mr. Maisky had mentioned from Germany. He said that at the end of the last war the Allies had also indulged themselves with fantastic figures of reparations but that these had turned out to be a myth. He said that the British Isles had also suffered in this war and that the British Government had disposed of the bulk of its assets abroad despite the generous help of Lend-Lease. He said that the British Isles had to export goods in order to import food, since they were dependent on imports for one-half of their food supply. He said that there would be no victorious country so burdened in an economic sense as Great Britain and that, therefore, if he could see any benefit to Great Britain in large reparations from Germany he would favor such a course but he very much doubted whether this was feasible. He added that other countries, such as Belgium, Holland and Norway also had claims against Germany. He said he was haunted by the specter of a starving Germany which would present a serious problem for the Allies since we could either say “It serves them right” or endeavor to help them. In the latter case, who would pay for the help. The Prime Minister concluded that if you wished a horse to pull a wagon that you would at least have to give it fodder.

Marshal Stalin observed that that was right, but care should be taken to see that the horse did not turn around and kick you.

The President remarked that he had also been through the last war and that he remembered very vividly that the United States had lost a great deal of money. He said that we had lent over ten billion dollars to Germany and that this time we would not repeat our past mistakes. He said that in the United States after the last war the German property that had been sequestered during the war had been [Page 622] turned back to the German owners, but that this time he would seek the necessary legislation to retain for the United States all German property in America. He said that the Germans had no capital, factories, or other equipment that the United States needed but that he did not wish to have to contemplate the necessity of helping the Germans to keep from starving. He said, however, that he would willingly support any claims for Soviet reparations since he felt that the German standard of living should not be higher than that of the Soviet Union. He added that just as we expected to help Great Britain expand her export trade, we would also help the Soviet Union retain the reparations in kind which she required, as well as German manpower to reconstruct the devastated regions, but he felt that the Germans should be allowed to live in order that they might not become a burden on the world. The President concluded, however, that despite his desire to see the devastated areas in all countries, in the Soviet Union, in Great Britain, in France, and elsewhere, restored, he felt that reparations could not possibly cover the needs. He concluded that he was in favor of extracting the maximum in reparations from Germany but not to the extent that the people would starve.

Mr. Maisky then stated that while he appreciated the Prime Minister’s points concerning the experiences after the last war in the matter of reparations, he felt that the failure in this respect had been due not to the fact that the reparations had been too heavy but to the transfer problem which was the rock on which the reparations policy was founded. He said that he must add that the financial policies of the United States and Great Britain contributed to the German refusal to pay. He said that the Germans had never paid more than one-quarter of the total reparations figure and had received a great deal more in credits and loans. Mr. Maisky stated that the purpose of reparations in kind was to avoid the problem of transfer. He pointed out that the amount desired by the Soviet Union was equal only to 10% of the present United States budget and equal to about six months’ of the British expenditures in the war. The Soviet demands for German reparations equaled about 1 times the United States budget in peace and about 2½ times the British budget. He said, of course, there was no intention to force Germany into starvation but he pointed out that he did not feel that the Germans had a right to a higher standard of living than that of Central Europe. He said Germany can develop her light industry and agriculture and that since the Germans would have no military expenditures there was no reason why Germany could not give a modest but decent standard of living to her people.

[Page 623]

The Prime Minister said that the question of reparations should be examined by a sub-commission and that this commission should consider the claims of other countries who bore the facts of Nazi aggression as well.

The President said that in his opinion the commission should be confined to the representatives of the Three Powers, to which Stalin agreed.

The Prime Minister said that he was in agreement, that in the first instance the representatives of the three major powers should consider the question.

Marshal Stalin said he felt that the commission could accomplish nothing unless it was given general directives from this Conference. He said he felt that the commission composed of the representatives of the three principal Allies must work on the basis that these Powers had contributed most to the common victory and should be given priority in the matter of reparations. He said that although the United States did not need machine tools she might well need raw materials which she could receive from Germany. He mentioned that the United States would take over German property in the United States as a part of her share.

The President expressed agreement with this view.

Marshal Stalin continued that in calculating German capabilities, Germany’s post-war resources should be also taken into consideration. Then all factories and farms would work not for war but for peace. He repeated that the Three Powers who had made the most sacrifices and had been the organizers of victory should have first claim on reparations. He stated that he did not include France among these powers since she had suffered less than Belgium, Yugoslavia, or Poland.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the Allies had done a great deal of the damage in France.

Marshal Stalin replied that France could not expect to get reparations from the Allies. He said that he respected France but that he could not ignore the truth and that at the present moment France only had eight divisions in the war, Yugoslavia twelve and the Lublin Government of the Poles thirteen.

It was then agreed that the question of the main directives to a commission on reparations which would sit in Moscow would be referred to the Foreign Ministers who would report back to the Conference. It was agreed that the next meeting would be 4:00 p. m. tomorrow, February 6, and that the questions of Dumbarton Oaks and Poland would be considered.

  1. A reproduction of this map faces p. 612.
  2. It appears that the first note of Hopkins, post, p. 633, was passed to the President at about this point. See this portion of the Matthews minutes, post, p. 626.
  3. For a facsimile of a note on this point which Stettinius passed to Roosevelt, see Stettinius, p. 125.
  4. For the text of the draft surrender terms, see ante, pp. 113118.
  5. For the text in translation of this Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance, signed at Moscow December 10, 1944, see Department of State Bulletin, January 7, 1945, vol. xii, pp. 39–40.
  6. It appears that the second note of Hopkins, post, p. 634, was passed to the President at about this point. See this portion of the Matthews minutes, post, p. 629.
  7. Perhaps the third note of Hopkins, post, p. 634, was passed to the President at about this point.
  8. See ante, pp. 124127.
  9. Perhaps the fourth note of Hopkins, post, p. 634, was passed to the President at about this point.