740.00119 Control (Germany)/12–145: Telegram

The United States Political Adviser for Germany ( Murphy ) to the Secretary of State

1154. 1. At thirteenth meeting Control Council held yesterday, Russian member presiding, Field Marshal Montgomery made a vigorous rejoinder to Russian memorandum on the existence in the British zone of German armed units (see my No. 1066, November 21, 11 a.m., and despatch No. 1376 of November 2245). Matter was disposed of amicably, however, as a result of comparatively moderate and conciliatory attitude adopted by Zhukov at the meeting.

2. Montgomery’s statement acknowledged existence of German military administrative staffs which he asserted assisted in the work of disbandment which would otherwise have to be done by British personnel. Montgomery referred to US-British agreement under SHAEF.46 Combined Command to treat German units as “disarmed enemy forces” rather than as “prisoners of war” who would be technically [Page 855] entitled to the continued application of the Geneva Convention. He decided that none of the German administrative staffs were operational but were maintained under British control. With regard to ex-enemy forces in British zone, other than Germans, Montgomery said he would gladly have rid himself of the Hungarians but that their repatriation had been held up by Russian refusal to grant transit across their zone in Austria. As to sources of information besides press reports which could hardly be accepted as foundation for Zhukov’s serious charges, Montgomery mentioned that he was, of course, aware that he had granted facilities to some fifty Russian liaison officers. He had seen some of their reports which were misleading on other matters, and if these officers were responsible for Zhukov’s accusations, he could only say that they had abused the warm hospitality accorded them in the British zone, Montgomery expressed acceptance of Zhukov’s proposal for an investigating commission providing (a) that it visit all four zones and (b) that this commission be succeeded immediately by others which would concern themselves with all matters affecting the administration of Germany in which the Control Council can properly take an interest.

In replying, Zhukov expressed his high personal esteem for Montgomery and stated that in bringing forward for discussion German military developments in the British zone, he was concerned only in asserting the Control Council’s responsibility under the Potsdam Agreement for the complete demilitarization of Germany. He pointed out that Montgomery had not denied the existence of German staff units, even though they were for administrative purposes. He did not entertain any suspicion that the Field Marshal wished to wage war on Russia but he was simply insisting on the disarmament of the Germans. As regards his sources of information, Zhukov said that it is difficult these days to hide anything from eye witnesses. He thought that a series of subsequent commissions of inquiry as suggested by Montgomery would be unnecessary and that the questions which they might deal with could be properly discussed in the Control Council when the need arises.

US member (General McNarney47) indicated that Montgomery had failed to carry out the Potsdam instructions and should have begun by disbanding the top German military organizations. He requested an explanation of Montgomery’s preference for this method and of the reasons which prevented a more expeditious means of dealing with the German armed forces. McNarney thought that the proposed series of commissions would create an undesirable organization [Page 856] for investigation and believed they should be strictly limited to matters of major importance concerning the central administration of Germany.

On McNarney’s proposal, it was agreed (a) the British delegation should submit to the Coordinating Committee a complete account of all German military organizations in British zone, (b) should likewise present its plan for disbandment of these forces, including time tables and (c) the other delegations should also be called upon to furnish similar information.

3. Control Council adopted report providing for the establishment of the three air zones west of Berlin48 (see my No. 1126, November 28, 8 p.m., paragraph 749). Air Directorate will be charged with the details necessary to establish these zones as soon as possible. With respect to the other proposed zones, namely from Berlin to Warsaw, Praha and Copenhagen, respectively, Zhukov gave the assurance that these other corridors across the Russian zone will be opened in due course and he said it was his desire that they should be made available as soon as possible. As regards the air corridors west of Berlin, he inquired whether it could be understood that Russian planes could also use them and he said that he would like to have landing rights at Allied terminal or intermediate ports for Russian service teams. Montgomery said he was prepared to grant the Russians all facilities for this purpose and “hospitality of the air”. US member subscribed to Montgomery’s proposal and these questions were referred to the Air Directorate for study.50

4. Control Council adopted with minor amendments, laws on (a) prohibition of military training,51 (b) rationing of electricity and gas52 and (c) seizure of I.G. Farbenindustrie property.53 Directive on de-Nazification was accepted in principle but in view of certain [Page 857] suggested small changes will be referred to Coordinating Committee for final approval and signature. Since minor amendments were likewise proposed in law on punishment of war criminals, this law will be sent back to Legal Directorate and following completion of the necessary work will be submitted to the respective Commanders in Chief for signature.

Repeated to London as 159, Moscow as 90.

  1. Latter not found in Department files.
  2. On April 25, 1945, the Combined Chiefs of Staff authorized SHAEF to treat members of the German Armed Forces who surrendered immediately prior to or after the cessation of hostilities as disarmed enemy forces rather than as prisoners of war. This authorization was granted as the result of a SHAEF recommendation of March 10.
  3. Gen. Joseph T. McNarney had succeeded General Eisenhower as Commander of U.S. Forces in Europe, and U.S. member of the Control Council in November 1945.
  4. For text of the report, see p. 1581.
  5. Not printed; it dealt with the 23d meeting of the Coordinating Committee and reported the adoption by that body of the Air Directorate’s report. During the discussions, the Soviet member opposed the creation of the four eastern corridors. He stated since these went beyond limits of Soviet Zone, permission would require governmental decision and that he was informing his Govt, concerning latter proposals. U.S. and British members declared themselves in favor of a complete freedom of transit over Germany of aircraft of occupying powers on a reciprocal basis and General Clay declared that from now on the U.S. would match restriction with restriction. (740.00119 Control (Germany)/11–2845)
  6. In telegram 4068, December 5, 3 p.m., from Moscow, Ambassador Harriman made the following observation on paragraph 3: “I assume that any privileges which are granted the Russians in the zones west of Berlin, including use of corridors and terminal and intermediate airport facilities, will be granted only if we have definite agreement on similar facilities from them. We have had unhappy experience in accepting general assurances such as Zhukov is quoted as having given.” (740.00119 Control (Germany)/12–545)
  7. Control Council Law No. 8, Berlin, 30 November 1945, Official Gazette of the Control Council for Germany, No. 2 (30 November 1945), p. 33.
  8. Control Council Law No. 7, Berlin, 30 November 1945, ibid., p. 32.
  9. Control Council Law No. 9, Berlin, 30 November 1945, ibid., p. 34.