740.00119 Control (Germany)/4–1445: Telegram
The Ambassador in France (Caffery) to the Secretary of State
[Received April 15—11 a.m.]
1881. From Murphy. Following summarizes impressions obtained by Heath and Morris32 from week’s tour of occupied Germany bounded by Frankfurt, Kassel and Cologne areas.
The most serious current Military Government problem is that of displaced persons who are being collected and housed in many improvised camps in some cases under hardly tolerable conditions. Army’s main concern has understandably been with offensive operations but it is beginning to solve urgent transportation problem involving repatriation of west European nationals. Providing sufficient transportation can be arranged and our troops meet Russian forces in near future thus permitting direct transfer of Russian nationals I believe this problem can be solved relatively quickly. Meanwhile it keeps Military Government personnel and even some combat troops from undertaking other important tasks. The serious political and humanitarian implications of this acute problem are receiving the urgent attention of the Allied High Command. We may however expect some vigorous complaint from the Russians and possibly other Allies over present treatment of their displaced nationals. Incidentally Russians are by far the most difficult to handle in view of their greater tendencies towards looting of and violence towards Germans. For this and other practical administrative reasons I believe our military authorities have taken the only course in, wherever possible, concentrating and temporarily virtually confining displaced persons.
The second serious situation is that Military Government detachments are badly undermanned; averaging probably only half minimum strength they have insufficient facilities and inferior standing vis-à-vis the combat and supply units. For months SHAEF’s Civil Affairs [Page 936] Division has tried without success to obtain sufficient personnel. With the termination of hostilities this situation should be remedied. Meanwhile existing Military Government detachments are contending manfully with their tasks and achieving fair success.
One minor problem facing certain detachments is that of occasional looting and vandalism not only by displaced persons but by troops despite the army and divisional orders that have been issued. I do not want to exaggerate these regrettable occurrences which are but a small incident of the total picture and undoubtedly a purely temporary phenomenon of the hostilities.
The destruction by aerial bombardment in the large cities such as Cologne and Kassel can scarcely be exaggerated. Nevertheless a percentage of the population continues to live in the large cities. Smaller cities which were bypassed or speedily captured present fewer or even no scars of war. The countryside generally presents an entirely peaceful picture with farmers engaged in spring plowing and cultivating. The population’s general attitude is that the war is undoubtedly lost but contrary to some newspaper reports German people are not cringing but bear the difficulties of their present existence with rugged spirit.
In spite of Himmler’s33 propaganda for the werewolves34 there were only one or two reports of apparent Nazi underground activity in the area visited. Many Germans have accepted active and advisory positions in Military Government without much immediate fear of reprisals. Nevertheless we must shortly provide more adequate protection for them. Otherwise Nazi underground will find many easy targets.
There was no evidence of real political organization apart from the Nazis in the sections visited.
In the Aachen District an experienced Social Democrat has just been named Acting Regierungs President and is trying to see to it that people are put into essential occupations and fed at least until new crops appear in his district. In Frankfurt Acting Bürgermeister Holbach a former Frankfurter Zeitung news editor is supported by an advisory council representing the Catholic and Protestant churches, the Communist Social Democratic and Center Parties, a Jew and representatives of I G Farben and Metallgesellschaft concerns. This council was the idea of the local American Military Government officer. An urgent need there and elsewhere is to proceed from a purely local (Land and Stadtkreis) to at least a district Regierungsbezirk Administration since certain localities have surpluses of food or other [Page 937] essential supplies while in others dangerous shortages might quickly develop.
In general the picture is one of establishing preliminary control and denazification. There must be quantitative and qualitative additions to Military Government staff before really adequate control can be established. [Murphy.]
- Brewster H. Morris, Secretary of Mission on the staff of the United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy).↩
- Heinrich Himmler, Chief of the German Elite Guard (SS) and of the Secret State Police (Gestapo), also Minister of the Interior.↩
- Secret underground organizations planned by certain Nazi leaders for opposition to the occupying powers.↩