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

No. 545

Sir: I have the honor to present herewith a report on the present status of the project for assembling and exploiting the records of the [Page 1114] German Foreign Office at the Castle at Marburg. This report is based on observations made by Mr. Perry Laukhuff83 during the course of a visit to Marburg on June 26, 1945.

The actual site of the collection center which was chosen at an earlier date by Mr. Brewster Morris and others of my staff is Marburg Castle. This fine stone structure is, except for the relative inaccessibility of its location, quite suitable for the purpose of storing and making available any large collection of archives. It has, as a matter of fact, been used to house various German collections of archives for the past one hundred years. The fact of its location high above the town of Marburg from which it can be reached by only two steep narrow and winding roads has made somewhat more difficult the removal thence of such a large volume of archives as have been involved in the present operation. This difficulty has been reasonably well overcome however.

The mass of documents now in the castle is believed to comprise between eighty and ninety percent of the Foreign Office records. It includes practically all of the records, except for the most secret ones, up to the year 1943. Records subsequent to the year 1943 have in some cases been destroyed and in other cases scattered to various points in Germany from which it is our intention to obtain their removal to Marburg as soon as practicable. Most of the records now at Marburg were, as explained in my top secret despatch number 327 of May 1, 1945,84 uncovered in the area of the Harz Mountains in Thuringia.

In volume the collection is estimated to amount to some 425 tons and it may be more descriptive to state that the documents arrived at the castle in 237 trucks. The greater part of the papers have been uncrated and are stacked in six or seven very large rooms in the form of the packages in which they were wrapped before being evacuated from the Foreign Office. Some comparatively small part of the archives became unwrapped in one way or another and are in a completely confused and disordered state. A small part of the packages contain documents which were partly burned during air raids on Berlin.

Although each package carries a number, the crates did not arrive in any orderly sequence and furthermore the key to the numbering system has never been found. Consequently, the Department’s representative, Mr. Gardner Carpenter, who was at first our only representative at Marburg, was faced with the staggering task of sorting many thousands of bundles of documents by subject matter. Up to the present time, the British and American group working on the [Page 1115] documents have managed to arrange in some order by subject matter approximately half of the assembled archives and are carrying forward this work as rapidly as possible. Wooden shelves have had to be built to accommodate the documents.

At the same time as the process of sorting and arranging the documents is carried forward, progress is also being made in picking out some of the more important and more recent documents for microfilming by two RAF microfilm units. These units are capable of microfilming possibly 1500 pages a day on the average and it has been estimated by one of the British representatives at Marburg that the process of microfilming only the more important documents will go on at this rate for more than a year.

Mr. Carpenter has recently been joined by Mr. Krumpelmann. At the present time the British staff, aside from the crews of the RAF units, consists of Colonel R. C. Thomson, Captain Frame and Lt. Forward, all representing the British Foreign Office. As I set forth in my telegram number 33 of June 22, 9 a.m.,85 I believe it is very desirable and important that our staff at Marburg be increased by the addition of three or four competent investigators if this work is to be pushed forward with satisfactory rapidity. Arrangements are now being made for two investigators from the OSS to go to Marburg to work on documents particularly connected with Far Eastern affairs. Their reports will be made to me as well as to the OSS, and I believe the arrangement will be of considerable assistance to us.

In view of the great size of the collection and the importance of having continuity of supervision over an extended period of time, I desire to renew the recommendation which was contained in my telegram from Paris number 2813 of May 19, 11 p.m., suggesting the appointment of a full time American archivist, to have general supervision over the arranging and maintenance of the archives and to facilitate their investigation by visiting research workers.

The State Department and Foreign Office representatives at Marburg now have working under their supervision five minor employees of the German Foreign Office headed by Consul Achilles, who have been of very great assistance in the work of sorting and arranging the records. They have been carefully observed and supervised and Mr. Carpenter is confident that they do not constitute any danger to the collection. The Department’s observations in this regard as set forth in its telegram number 2398 of May 29, 8 p.m.,85 are being borne in mind. With reference to this same telegram, the arrest of Baron von Griesheim and Wilhelm Nagorka was immediately ordered. Subsequent careful interrogation and investigation by the 12th Army Group Counter Intelligence has lead to the conclusion that Baron von [Page 1116] Griesheim is not the same person as the Abwehr Major Baron von Griesheim mentioned in the Department’s telegram. The archivist von Griesheim appears to be an unobjectionable person and my office has accordingly requested his release and return to Marburg.

The American and British staff at the castle are assisted also by fifteen Italian prisoners who do the heavy work of moving the records.

Mr. Laukhuff himself had so much difficulty in obtaining admission to the castle twice in the course of his brief visit that he is convinced that the military arrangements for guarding the premises are entirely adequate!

No account of the work which has been accomplished at Marburg would be complete without more than passing reference to Mr. Carpenter. He has been indefatigable and unremitting in his labors on a task with which he had to cope absolutely unaided for some time. He has displayed ingenuity and initiative in dealing with this task under physical conditions which were at all times difficult and which were complicated by the constant shifting of military units attached in Marburg, upon whom he was dependent for food and assistance of all kinds. The burden of administrative detail has been very great in addition to the primary responsibility for receiving, storing and assorting the immense volume of records. I cannot commend him too heartily for his services in this period, during which he was for a variety of reasons deprived of all assistance and direction from other members of the CIOS teams sent out by the Department. For some time past he has had the invaluable cooperation of Colonel Thomson and I am glad to say that the project is functioning very smoothly, if informally, as a joint American-British project.

Respectfully yours,

Robert Murphy
  1. General Reporting Officer of United States Group, Control Council for Germany.
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