October 18, 2003


THE PRESENT SITUATION IN GERMANY (Digest of a meeting with Allen W. Dulles at the Council on Foreign Relations, December 3, 1945)

Germany today is a problem of extraordinary complexity. For two and one-half years the country has been a political and economic void in which discipline was well-maintained. There is no dangerous underground operating there now although some newspapers in the United States played up such a story. The German leaders, of course, could not admit defeat and today the attitude of the people is not so much a feeling of shame and guilt as one of having been let down by their leaders.

Economically and industrially, Germany has scraped the bottom of the barrel, and there are few shops with anything to sell. As soon as you attempt to get Germany to tick and to make arrangements for a government, the lack of men becomes apparent at once. Most men of the caliber required suffer a political taint. When we discover someone whose ability and politics are alike acceptable, we usually find as we did in one case that the man has been living abroad for the past ten years and is hopelessly out of touch with the local situation. We have already found out that you can't run railroads without taking in some Party members. [...]

In the zone being turned over to Poland there is a good deal of buck passing. It is difficult to say what is going on, but in general the Russians are acting little better than thugs. They have wiped out all the liquid assets. No food cards are issued to Germans, who are forced to travel on foot into the Russian zone, often more dead than alive. An iron curtain has descended over the fate of these people and very likely conditions are truly terrible. The promises at Yalta to the contrary, probably 8 to 10 million people are being enslaved. Unquestionably Germany should be punished. In this instance, however, I think there will remain a legacy of bitterness which will not bode well for the future.

I have already said that the problem of Germany very nearly defies a successful solution. The question is: What can we do? The first step is to get together in dealing with what is at bottom a common problem. Next, we must find people we can use. We might use the churches which did not knuckle under to Hitler, although it is questionable in the minds of some people whether churches should get into politics. We might also consider the survivors of the affair of July 20* and see what material the trade unions can furnish. Finally, we can screen the prisoners of war.

The women will not be much help to us, although in theory they could be. A saying now current in Germany is that today most of the able-bodied men are women. Hitler had an enormous hold over them and Eva Braun's existence appeared to be unknown to most of them. They are extremely bitter. Altogether the problem deserves very careful study.

I think it may well become necessary for us to change the form of our occupation. Thus far there has been very little disturbance or misbehavior on the part of our troops. I think we ought to use small, highly mechanized units and put our reliance on planes. These forces I would quarter outside of the cities, lest their presence create a talking point for German propaganda against the occupation.

Trying to arrive at figures in order to set up a standard of living in Germany is a difficult and almost hopeless problem, and one perhaps beyond the ingenuity of man. And yet we must somehow find a solution.

Germany ought to be put to work for the benefit of Europe and particularly for the benefit of those countries plundered by the Nazis. If we do not find some work for the Germans and if we do not solve the refugee problem, the Germans will have their revenge in one form or another though it takes a hundred years.

Puts paid to the canard that we didn't realize the Soviets would betray their promises until much later.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 18, 2003 6:23 PM

I can't believe how appropriate this and other posts on your website today are to current events. And Voltaire said "history doesn't repeat itself, people do." What is the differaance? Post on!

Posted by: genecis at October 18, 2003 7:02 PM

If we do not find some work for the Germans and if we do not solve the refugee problem, the Germans will have their revenge in one form or another though it takes a hundred years.

Or, 55 or so. I think it's called the "European Union" or something.

Posted by: at October 18, 2003 7:31 PM


What does France getting revenge on Germany by creating the EU have to do with what you quoted? The EU is going to do far more damage to Europe than to the US.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at October 18, 2003 7:50 PM

Notice the phrase "iron curtain has descended"? Two or three years before Churchill's Independence, Mo. speech. Interesting.

Posted by: at October 18, 2003 8:22 PM

Given the losses suffered by Russia, their surly attitude towards Germans is understandable.

It's somewhat ironic that East Germany came to be seen as the best of the Soviet holdings.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 18, 2003 9:11 PM

That was me (the first anonymous, not the second), sorry.

I presumed the quote was referring to the surrounding European nations, rather than the US. Now that I look at it again, it may well be referring to the US. Which does make me take the whole thing a bit less seriously.

Posted by: Timothy at October 18, 2003 9:22 PM