740.00119 Control (Germany)/9–1245: Telegram

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

506. On General Clay’s initiative, after discussion with me, a plan whose details will be made public in the near future has been prepared in US Group CC and approved by General Clay for the holding of a series of elections in Germany next winter and spring. This plan calls for the holding of elections in all of the Gemeinde in the American zone in January next for the selection of councillors (Gemeinderaete). Councillors will similarly be elected in each Landkreis in March next while Stadtkreis council elections will be held during May 1945 [1946]. The plan leaves the exact day of the month on which elections should be held to the discretion of the Military Government [Page 962] detachment commander concerned. He must also certify that the proposed election is consistent with military security.

In the period intervening between now and January, election legislation and machinery will be provided by new local government codes now in process of being drafted in each land. Registration of the electors will be based on the present system of police registration.

This plan for holding Gemeinde elections next January has met with opposition from some experts on the grounds that the German people will not yet be ready for such widespread elections at that time and that the dead of winter is an unsuitable time at which to ascertain the political sentiments of the population. Clay has insistently argued for the earlier date and I have concurred, in view of the positive terms of the Potsdam Declaration87 regarding restoration of local self-government and elective principles as rapidly as is consistent with the purposes of military occupation and the fact that the mid-winter elections will concern only the small, and in the main rural, communities in our zone where food and shelter are less of a problem. There is also the practical experience in Military Government that in order to get action and thinking on projects of this sort promptly under way it is sometimes well to set the target date too early.

This measure has not yet been discussed with representatives of the other occupying powers but will be brought up informally in the Political Directorate. It is contemplated as a purely American measure. I shall keep the Department informed of further developments in this matter, and would appreciate its suggestion.88

  1. See section III, paragraph 9 of the Report on the Tripartite Conference of Berlin, printed in Conference of Berlin (Potsdam), vol. ii, p. 1503.
  2. Subsequently, on September 20, a Military Government directive was issued, designed to implement the election plan by specifying the pertinent provisions regarding the elections which were to be inserted into new local government codes to be prepared by German Land authorities subject to the approval of Military Government officials. Copies of the directive were enclosed with despatch 1196, October 26, from Berlin (740.00119 Control (Germany)/10–2645). The main portion of the directive is printed in James K. Pollock and James H. Meisel, (eds.), Germany Under Occupation (Ann Arbor, 1947), p. 139.