740.00119 Control (Germany)/6–1345

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

No. 476

Sir: I have the honor to transmit for your information a copy of a memorandum prepared by Major Harold Zink on the basis of a visit to a number of Military Government detachments in Bavaria. Major Zink represented the Political Division on a survey party sent out under the joint auspices of the US Group CC and SHAEF to observe the operation of Military Government in Bavaria, especially on the Regierungsbezirk and Land levels.

The survey party, headed by Mr. Lewis Douglas and Major General O. P. Echols, had excellent facilities placed at its disposal and received the fullest cooperation from the Military Government detachments in the field. It spent eight days, with morning, afternoon, and evening sessions on the survey and discussed Military Government problems with approximately one hundred officers, both in group meetings and in individual conferences.

Upon the conclusion of its fieldwork the survey party reported directly to Lt. General L. D. Clay, Commanding General of the US Group CC and Deputy Chief of Staff of SHAEF. It recommended that Military Government be freed from tactical interference below the Army level at the earliest possible time, that experts be sent to make a detailed study of the financial situation, that a commission be sent to Bavaria to oversee and coordinate the denazification program, and that greater effort should be made to acquaint the Military Government detachments with American policies in regard to various aspects of Military Government.

I believe that the attached memorandum may serve to furnish considerable information on a number of problems now confronting Military Government which are of concern to the Department.

Respectfully yours,

Robert Murphy

Extracts From a Memorandum From Major Harold Zink to Donald R. Heath, Reporting on a Survey of Military Government in Bavaria, 27 May–3 June 1945

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Generally speaking the party encountered a most cooperative attitude. Some reference was made to the time consumed in receiving Congressional parties, with the implication that visitors in general [Page 946] were becoming a nuisance, but the reception accorded this particular party was such that it seemed that the visit was welcomed as being of real assistance. A certain reticence on the part of the Military Government detachments was noticeable; thus when the offer was made by Mr. Douglas of the loan of specialists from the US Group CC to assist the detachments in meeting their problems, little or no response was forthcoming, despite the reiterated pleas for additional personnel.

2. General. The general impression made by the several Military Government detachments in Bavaria was favorable; indeed it was my own feeling in the light of contact with the personnel of the detachments in the past that they are doing a remarkably good job, having recovered more than could be reasonably expected from the low morale occasioned by the long delay in using their services and other factors. The level of the various detachments varies somewhat as is to be expected, with the RB52 detachment at Augsburg perhaps least effective and the Land detachment at Munich probably the outstanding group. More than the variation among the various detachments is the degree of difference among the members of a single detachment. Some of the individual members impressed the survey party on the basis of their grasp of the problems they are charged with handling, their able leadership, their sound judgment, and their general personal qualities. Others, on the other hand, seemed to have a very slight idea of what they were trying to do, lacked force, and in general seemed inadequate. It is obviously difficult and unfair to judge on the basis of the comparatively brief contact which the survey party had, but some strengthening of the detachments is probably desirable. On the whole, the members of the detachments have little knowledge of German institutions and culture beyond what they have acquired during their training and that is not especially impressive. It would be very valuable if some members at least could possess such background, but the supply of such persons is not large anywhere and particularly limited in the Army. It would be unrealistic to expect any considerable change in this particular, though it might be feasible to see what could be done about securing a single officer with such background for the larger detachments. Col. Chamberlain of the US Group CC, who is at present assisting the Munich Stadtkreis detachment in meeting a more or less acute public safety problem, remarked on the difficulty of proceeding without knowledge of the general political picture in Bavaria over a period of ten years or more and asked for the names of Germans who could be relied on for such information. If we have no officers of our own available with such knowledge, such sources will have to be depended on, but a few experts in our own services to check any such [Page 947] information would be exceedingly valuable. Most of the detachments are distinctly understaffed at least for this initial period when so much is required in the way of organization and additional personnel would be helpful. Some headway is being made in meeting this lack by attaching surplus officers from tactical units to the detachments.

The detachments in the Third Army are confronted with a partial failure on the part of the tactical units to recognize the role of Military Government. The result is that tactical commanders, even down to company level, go so far as to remove Bürgermeisters or order the appointment of German officials. The new directive53 setting up technical channels for Military Government below the Army level, if put into effect shortly, should correct this situation. The Seventh Army is already distinctly Military Government conscious, offers full cooperation to Military Government detachments, and has already put the above directive into effect.

3. Establishment of German Governmental Machinery. It is probable that Military Government has proceeded more rapidly than was generally expected. At least in many quarters there was an opinion that the operations of Military Government, insofar as they involved setting up German governmental agencies, would be limited to the Landkreise and Stadtkreise during the first few months. However, a few weeks saw the Regierungsbezirk coming into the foreground more or less everywhere and at present the Land Bavaria is in the process of being organized. The opinion has been expressed that due caution should be used in going ahead too rapidly. Moreover, some have interpreted the recent activity in the direction of establishing RB and Land governmental machinery as dictated more by the impatience of Military Government personnel than by actual necessity or prudence. It was the unanimous judgment of the survey party that there is real justification for setting up the German governmental system as far as the Land level, at least to the extent that machinery for handling food, finance, transportation, and probably health, welfare, labor, education, and public safety is concerned. Both food and finance are very serious problems which cannot possibly be handled with any degree of adequacy on the Kreis level. The survey party found that the initial steps in setting up RB governments are being undertaken throughout Bavaria. A Minister President has been named for Land Bavaria54 together with a Food Director; it is expected that heads of the ministries of Interior, Finance, Education and Religious Affairs, and Economics will be chosen shortly—in the meantime the Minister President is handling the affairs of some of these. A Vice Regierungspräsident has been named at Regensburg [Page 948] and a Regierungspräsident at Ansbach; at Augsburg such a selection was expected within a few days. A great deal remains to be done before any effective German governmental machinery on the RB and Land levels can be expected. Virtually all of the key administrative posts remain to be filled, since their former occupants were Nazis and hence are not available. A certain number of lower and intermediate civil servants are either already functioning or available, but much remains to be done before anything like full staffs can be operating with vetted personnel. The survey party had the opportunity of talking to the Minister President and Food Director of Land Bavaria, the Regierungspräsident of Ansbach, and the Oberbürgermeister of Regensburg. It is obviously difficult to appraise officials on the basis of such contacts, even when a common language is used; the use of an interpreter adds considerably to the hazard. In general these German officials are advanced in age and consequently lack the vigor and resilience that are to be expected at an earlier age. It may be wondered how they will stand up under the terrifically difficult problems which they will be called upon to handle. Yet it is almost inevitable that men of this age group be selected because of the contamination of younger men with Nazi associations. Several of these German officials at least seemed more than a little in the toils of the spirit of German bureaucracy and hence were inclined to think in terms of the past rather than of future requirements. This is unfortunate and will complicate the successful operation of the Military Government program, but it is certainly not surprising. Whether Germans of younger age and less traditional and restricted outlook can be found even after every avenue has been explored is a big question. The present selections are probably as satisfactory as can be expected under the initial circumstances.

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5. Political Problems. … In no case did we receive any more than passing reference to political problems. It may be that the detachments are not sufficiently conscious of the local situation and that political problems actually are pressing. Our contacts were not such that we were in a position to judge, though we certainly gained the impression that most of the officers had reasonably good local knowledge. In Augsburg it was stated that some local political organizations asked to be permitted to recommend persons for office. They were told that they could not be recognized as parties, but that any lists of names they furnished would be received and indeed welcomed. Such lists were supplied. It was reported that in a few instances political groups had to be informed that no meeting could be permitted at this stage. But there was no indication of any urgency in this field. It should be stressed that the situation is developing rapidly and that such problems may become acute before long. Here [Page 949] again the lack of familiarity on the part of Military Government officers of German political history is a handicap. In those instances where a detachment has an officer responsible for political intelligence there was little evidence that much was being done. Usually such an officer has several other duties which receive his major attention. There seems to be real need to establish some sort of political reporting which will be available to the Military Government officers. At present they do not receive reports even from G–255 and OSS. It does not seem probable in the opinion of the survey party that the detachments themselves can be relied on for any organized system of political reporting. In this connection it may be noted that the Catholic hierarchy seems to be distinctly fearful of leftwing activity and tends to lump Social Democrats, Communists, etc. into a single category. The Catholic bishop of Regensburg was outspoken in denunciation of all of these groups and expressed the fear that they would become potent because of the strict policy followed by the United States in contrast to that of the USSR; he remarked on the influence of the Russian broadcasts reporting on the higher food ration, the opening of amusements, the more friendly treatment accorded Germans, etc. in Berlin.

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  1. Regierungsbezirk.
  2. Reference here is apparently to the directive reported on in despatch 456, June 3, from Murphy, p. 942.
  3. Fritz Schaeffer.
  4. Intelligence Section.