Mr. Donald Heath, Chargé in the Office of the United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy), to the Secretary of State

No. 2058

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No, 1713, dated January 21, 1946,40 and to previous reports on the meetings of the Laenderrat in Stuttgart and to enclose a copy of a memorandum dated February [Page 664] 541 reporting the meeting of General Clay with the three Ministers-President of the U.S. Zone on February 5. There is also enclosed a copy of the telegram41 from the Regional Government Coordinating Office to General Clay reporting the varied activities of the Laenderrat at this meeting. This telegram gives an indication of the nature and scope of the matters considered at this session of the Laenderrat.

My representative to the Regional Government Coordinating Office at Stuttgart reports that that organization has now pretty well crystallized as one of the most important links in our whole Military Government chain in Germany. I quote the following comments that Mr. Brewster H. Morris makes in this regard:

“The organization stage of the Laenderrat and its supervisory organization, the Regional Government Coordinating Office, may be regarded as past. This combination of German and American offices has developed into a vital and useful link in the chain of Military Government command and administration in the American occupation zone.

“By far the greater part of the work of the Laenderrat is now accomplished in the numerous Committees and Sub-Committees which have been established in various functional fields, particularly economic. At the moment, 13 Committees and 18 Sub-Committees are in operation. These are primarily bodies, representing the three Laender of the zone, for the discussion of problems of common interest in the particular field. OMGUS and other appropriate American authorities are invited to appear and outline policy, answer questions, et cetera. In accordance with the current stage of overall policy, in which operations are being turned over to the Germans, the usual practice is to outline American policy to the Germans in rather general terms, inviting them to work out detailed operation plans, which are then, of course, carefully checked to ensure that they meet the full requirements of Allied and American objectives.

“The work of the Laenderrat has grown to such an extent that at the last monthly meeting of the Minister Presidents (held the first Tuesday in each month) there were more than 70 subjects on the agenda. As a result, the monthly meeting—which may properly be described as the meeting of the Laenderrat itself—has become largely an official meeting to which the work of the Committees and Sub-Committees during the preceding month is presented for brief discussion and transmission to the American authorities for approval or other action, and at which recent decisions of Military Government may be discussed by the Minister Presidents. In other words, the practical relation of the Committees and Sub-Committees to the Laenderrat itself resembles that of the various Directorates of the Allied Control Council to the Council and its Coordinating Committee.

“At the same time, the Laenderrat has worked out, mainly on its own initiative, a practical and efficient machinery for organizing and regulating the work of the Committees, and preparing for the monthly Laenderrat meeting. The latter is as follows. A few days before the meeting, the Secretary General of the Laenderrat goes over the [Page 665] agenda with the permanent representatives of the Land Minister Presidents who are on duty at the Laenderrat, following which these representatives proceed to their Land capitals to discuss the agenda with their Minister Presidents. The latter thus have an opportunity of studying with their local functional Ministers and other advisers any particular question included in the agenda of the coming Laenderrat meeting. Thus while the agenda may be large and the meeting consist largely of giving official approval to Committee decisions and other matters to be referred to Military Government, the monthly meeting may and does also include serious discussions by the Minister Presidents of topical controversial issues, for reference to the American authorities or to the Laenderrat Committees.

“The Regional Government Coordinating Office has been set up as the American body which supervises the work of the Laenderrat and its Committees. Dr. James K. Pollock, a member of the staff of OMGUS and Professor from the University of Michigan, deserves great credit for the able manner in which he has organized this body, and at the same time influenced the whole development and practice of the Laenderrat. The Coordinating Office is intentionally a small one. Apart from Dr. Pollock and the administrative staff, it consists of a small group of Americans who supervise the work of the individual Laenderrat Committees. In the main they act as a sort of “chaperone” to see that the Committee functions properly, encouraging the Germans to think and plan for themselves (always within the framework of our objectives), holding back over-zealous OMGUS officials who try to do too much themselves, and acting when necessary as interpreters for the OMGUS officials who so often speak no German. Among other things, it is obvious that a tremendous saving in American personnel and time has been made possible by funneling so much through the Laenderrat and the Coordinating Office which was formerly taken care of by the Military Government Detachments acting in each Land separately, and then forwarded in writing to or from the higher authorities at OMGUS. In this connection, the Committee method of discussion and planning not only saves much time and paper work, but also facilitates the task of turning over operations to the Germans.

“As indicated in General Clay’s directive of December 20, 194542 (a copy of which was transmitted to the Department in Ambassador Murphy’s despatch no. 1698 dated January 19 [18], 194643), the Laenderrat and Regional Government Coordinating Office have become the key link between the top American Military Government authorities in Germany and the German administrations in our zone. This link has now been established as the normal one for matters which affect more than one Land. In practice almost everything is of this nature. Among other things, the above directive pretty effectively liquidated the remaining ties between USFET G–5 (i.e. Office of Military Government for Germany (U.S. Zone)) and the Land MG detachments, though to be sure at a time when the remaining functions of the former were being gradually transferred to OMGUS.

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“A minor but not unimportant problem which has arisen as a result of adding the Laenderrat and the Coordinating Office to the MG picture is the following. German Laenderrat Committee members frequently receive instructions from OMGUS functional officials and return to their Laender, where they tell their MG functional ‘opposite numbers’ that the OMGUS authorities have told them ‘so and so’ before the Land MG detachments receive this same information from Berlin. This is of course a problem of improving coordination on the American side, i.e. particularly that between OMGUS and the three Laender detachments. The Coordinating Office is endeavoring to rectify this situation by insisting that OMGUS officials appearing before the Laenderrat Committees should weigh their words carefully, by suggesting that any new policy or other instructions which they give the Germans here should at the same time or beforehand be communicated to the Land detachments, by outlining Laenderrat developments every week to special liaison officers from the detachments to the Coordinating Office, and by transmitting to the Land detachment functional offices prompt summaries of Committee meetings of the Laenderrat.

“On the whole, I believe, the Laenderrat and Coordinating Office have developed well with a view to meeting the requirements of the present situation. The basic elements of a zonal administration have been established, without however, impairing the administrative independence of the Laender or implying the formal setting up of a zonal administration. This is particularly true in the field of Food and Agriculture, in which there is a permanent and relatively large working staff under the Laenderrat, and in which we have probably gone furthest in turning over operating responsibility to the Germans. Thus nothing has been done which would compromise the development of central Reich Ministries or accentuate the present zonal boundaries. In fact, the Laenderrat and Coordinating Office are spending more and more time in seeking to encourage inter-zonal trade. For example, a first meeting (see Ambassador Murphy’s despatch no. 2024 of February 19, 194644) has just been held of top German officials from the American and British zones, which may become the basis for the development of German machinery to facilitate trade between the two zones—in the absence of central machinery at Berlin. This first meeting is being followed up by one at which the top German administrative officials will meet with their functional advisers in the fields of Economics, Food and Agriculture. It seems likely that similar meetings may soon be held with German officials from the other zones.

“The future of the Laenderrat and the Coordinating Office, if and when central Reich Ministries are set up in accordance with the Potsdam Agreement,45 cannot be predicted with certainty. It would appear, however, that the present organization in Stuttgart may continue at that time to play an important role in the overall picture.”

Respectfully yours,

Donald R. Heath
  1. Not printed.
  2. Enclosure not printed.
  3. Enclosure not printed.
  4. Printed in James K. Pollock and James H. Meisel (eds.), Germany Under Occupation (Ann Arbor, Michigan, George Wahr Publishing Co., 1947), p. 128.
  5. Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. iii, p. 1029. This despatch reported on the meeting of the Laenderrat which took place December 4, 1945.
  6. Not printed.
  7. See paragraph 9 (IV) of Section II of The Potsdam Protocol, Foreign Relations, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, vol. ii, pp. 1478, 1483.