THIS VOLUME reproduces in
full the 22-page Morgenthau Plan for the first time. [Not yet reproduced on this
site. This is just the editor's Introduction].
It also prints a selection
of key British and American documents relating to the plan, although the story
is still incomplete: many parts of the British foreign office files relating to
it are still closed to public inspection, an exception to the general
The Morgenthau Plan, more
formally known as the Treasury Plan for the Treatment of Germany, was devised by
Assistant Treasury Secretary Harry Dexter White and Secretary Henry R.
Morgenthau Jr. in the summer of 1944. Morgenthau had just visited the
battlefields of Normandy and spoken with General Dwight D Eisenhower, the
Supreme Allied Commander, then arrived in Britain for talks with Mr Winston
Churchill, the British prime minister and his advisers.
While important elements of
the Plan, including the subtle re-education of the Germans by their own refugees
and the dismantling of German heavy
industry to aid British
exports, were indeed put into effect, in the directive 1067 which the U.S. Joint
Chiefs of Staff finally issued to Eisenhower, the main parts of the Morgenthau
Plan, including orders to liquidate entire classes of suspected Nazi war
criminals upon simple identification, and to leave the German nation to 'stew in
its own juice,' were not formally implemented.
The Morgenthau Plan would
have led to the death by starvation and pestilence of ten million Germans in the
first two years after the war, in addition to the one million who had been
killed in the saturation bombing and the three million killed in the enforced
expulsion from Germany's eastern territories.
The Plan, enthusiastically
adopted by German-born Lord Cherwell (Professor Friedrich A. Lindemann,
Churchill's close friend, economic, strategic and scientific adviser), was
pushed through at the Quebec summit conference between Roosevelt and Churchill
on September 15, 1944.
It was part of the price
that Churchill and Cherwell were willing to pay for a broad package of American
concessions over which Morgenthau had political control including further
Lend-lease aid (Phase II) to the British Empire after the war; moreover Mr
Churchill needed his support on military issues including joint British
strategic control of the atomic bomb (the Hyde Park agreement which was signed
on September 18, 1944) and Britain's participation in the war in the Pacific. We
can only speculate about Harry Dexter White's purpose in canvassing a plan which
would have ruined the largest country in Central Europe, the last bastion that
would protect Western Europe from the Red Army in post-war years.
The memorandum endorsing the
plan's objectives was initialled (Okayed) by F.D.R. and W.C. on September 15,
The Plan caused immediate
controversy. Hearing that it had been initialled at Quebec, Henry L. Stimson,
Secretary of War (Kriegsminister), made bitter comments about the Semites in his
unpublished private diary. Anthony Eden, British foreign secretary
(1940-1945).and later prime minister, dismissed Morgenthau's and Lord Cherwell's
lobbying, in a hitherto unpublished document, as a piece of gratuitous
impertinence: 'These ex-Germans,' wrote Eden, 'seem to wish to wash away their
ancestry in a bath of hate. A.E. Nov 19.'
When details of the
Morgenthau Plan leaked to the press in America, angry British politicians
demanded to know if Churchill had indeed signed such a document.
In 1953, after the F.B.I.
levelled Soviet spy charges against the plan's co-author, Herry Dexter White,
Sir Winston Churchill sent to Lord Cherwell a letter behind which was all the
anxiety and guilt of a great man who realizes he has been duped.
* * * * *
Much still remains to be
revealed about the Morgenthau Plan. Dr Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propaganda
minister, made enough capital from it to inflict tens of thousands of extra
casualties on British and American troops in the battles that followed its
publication, and in the autumn 1944 U.S. presidential election campaign
Roosevelt's opponent Thomas Dewey lost no time in pointing this out. 'The
publishing of this Plan,' claimed Dewey, 'was as good as ten fresh German
Coming under increasing
fire, Morgenthau wrote around his fellow ministers, appealing for support.
Telephoning Henry Stimson on November 4, 1944, to 'urge him to do something,' he
found the Kriegsminister too busy cooking the official records to cleanse
Roosevelt of any implication in quite another scandal. 'He sounded more tired
than ever. Said he was tired out from working the last two weeks on Pearl Harbor
report to keep out anything that might hurt the Pres.'
prettying-up of official files after the event: this is why historians who rely
only on printed volumes are likely to be misled. For this reason, it is
important that my full dossier on the infamous Morgenthau Plan should be
published in facsimile, to enable future generations of Germans to distinguish
between the fantasies of Nazi propagan- dists and the total truth of 1944-1945.
David Irving, London, June 1985
teetotal personal adviser to Churchill from 1940; Paymaster General 1943-45,
1951-53. Had a knack of putting complicated matters in terms intelligible to
Winston. When Cherwell became Paymaster General on December 31, 1942 Oliver
Harvey aptly summed him up: 'He is a somewhat sinister figure who under the
guise of scientific adviser puts up a lot of reactionary stuff.' Henry Stimson,
asked if he knew the Prof, acidly replied: 'I'm not sure whether that means the
Professor or the Prophet. We in the War Department know him only as an old fool
who loudly proclaimed that we could never cross the Channel and also that when
the robots [V-weapons] came they could never do any damage!'
In Admiral Leahy's personal
file on 'White, Harry D.' is a document entitled, 'Publicity in regard to Harry
D. White, one time Assistant Secretary of the Treasury,' November 1953.
According to this the Attorney General had announced that on February 20, 1946
the F.B.I. gave to White House officials including Leahy a report of White's
association with Soviet agents.
Leahy noted, 'I have no
recollection of having seen or heard of such a report at any time.' His only
contact with White, in connection with Britain's request for Lend Lease, had
been at a meeting on November 18, 1944.
In June and July 1944,
Roosevelt and other leading Americans had begun dropping remarks about their
plans for Germany and the Germans. On June 7, entertaining the Polish prime
minister Mikolajczyk at the White House, Roosevelt had related with round eyes
remarks made by Stalin about his plans to 'liquidate 50,000 German officers.' In
fact when Churchill tried to persuade Stalin to adopt such a plan, to his
annoyance Stalin insisted on fair and proper trials in every case.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower
had similar views. He told British ambassador Lord Halifax on July 10, 1944,
that he felt the enemy leaders should be 'shot while trying to escape.'
Imprisonment was not enough for the 3,500 officers of the German general staff.
Lieutenant-Commander Harry C. Butcher, Eisenhower's naval aide, noted in a
secret diary: 'There was agreement that extermination could be left to nature if
the Russians had a free hand.' Why just the Russians?, inquired Eisenhowerthey
could temporarily assign zones in Germany to the smaller nations with old scores
Stimson felt that it would
be wise to allow the British to occupy Northern Germany, because that was where
much liquidation would be effected. 'I felt,' recorded the Republican
Kriegsminister obliquely in his diary, 'that repercussions would be sure to
arise which would mar the page of our history if we, whether rightly or wrongly,
seemed to be responsible.' If the Americans occupied southern Germany, it would
keep them away from Russia during the occupation period: 'Let her do the dirty
work,' he suggested to the President, 'but don't father it.'
After a discussion with
General George C Marshall on the punishment of Hitler, the Gestapo and the S.S.,
Stimson wrote in his diary, 'I found around me, particularly Morgenthau, a very
bitter atmosphere of personal resentment against the entire German people
without regard to individual guilt. of the Nazis.'
MORGENTHAU VISITS EUROPE
In July 1944 General George
C. Marshall had informed Eisenhower that Henry R. Morgenthau Jr., Secretary of
the Treasury, and a party of experts were planning a trip to investigate
currency problems in France. Eisenhower replied that there was nothing to be
learned in the little strip of land which his armies then controlled'which is
divided about equally between fighting fronts and a solid line of depots, with
two main lateral roads completely filled with double columns of motor
Privately he added that
these VIP trips were a pain in the neck. There just was not the space for
visitors: Bradley's only accommodation consisted of one trailer and a couple of
Jeeps, while Montgomery 'usually simply refuses to see unwelcome visitors.' He
could hardly have made himself plainer. But Morgenthau had Roosevelt's ear, so
Eisenhower had no choice but to humor him.
On the transatlantic flight
Morgenthau's chief assistant Harry Dexter White slipped to him a copy of the
report by the Washington interdepartmental Foreign Economic Policy Committee on
postwar policy toward Germany. It shocked Morgenthau. As drafted, it would leave
Germany more powerful in five or ten years than she had been before the war.
Colonel Bernard Bernstein, financial adviser (G-5) at Supreme Headquarters,
Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF), took Eisenhower's special train to meet
Morgenthau's party in Scotland.
Morgenthau's son was also
there when Morgenthau stepped off the C-54 at Prestwick, Scotland, on August 6
-- Eisenhower's chief of staff Bedell Smith had secured a comfortable army
appointment for him. (There was to be 'no mention whatsoever, at any time, about
his son nor photographs including his son,' Morgenthau's aide had stipulated.
On the long train journey
down to London, Bernstein expressed concern to White and Morgenthau about
SHAEF's proposed handbook for American officers in the future military
government of Germany: it was too soft, he said; little was being done to make
Germany suffer. On the contrary, SHAEF's experts seemed to be preparing for
Germany's smooth return to the family of nations. Army directives were being
prepared to occupy, 'take over and control' Civil Affairs in Germany. Evidently,
said Bernstein, the Allies were to assume responsibility for Germany's welfare,
and 'even [sic] ensure that the Germans received medical care and treatment.'
They could not have picked a
worse day for their visitHitler's counterattack against Patton and Bradley began
during the night. They lunched on August 7 at Ike's Portsmouth command post.
According to Morgenthau's version, General Eisenhower also strongly opposed any
soft line on Germany: 'The whole German population is a synthetic paranoid,' he
told the Treasury Secretary. 'And there is no reason for treating a paranoid
gently. The best cure is to let the Germans stew in their own juice.'
Ike's female assistant Kay Summersby eavesdropped and wrote in her diary
afterwards: 'Secretary Morgenthau and party for lunch. Quite concerned about
post war policies in Germany and particularly anxious that we do not establish
rates of exchange that might favour Germany.' (Morgenthau was proposing to
inflict a punitive rate of exchange on Germany, which would bankrupt her for all
time, rendering her unable to rise again and make another war.)
This prompted the Supreme
Commander to enlarge on his own views about the enemy, which he himself later
quoted as follows: 'The German people must not be allowed to escape a personal
sense of guilt.. Germany's war-making power should be eliminated.. Certain
groups should be specifically punished.. The German General Staff should be
utterly eliminated. All records destroyed and individuals scattered and rendered
powerless to operate as body.'
It was, claimed Morgenthau,
Eisenhower who instilled in him the idea of a harsh treatment of the Germans.
Eisenhower would later deny this, or plead loss of memory, but reporting this to
his own staff on August 12, Morgenthau said: 'General Eisenhower had stated, and
given the Secretary permission to repeat to others, that in his view we must
take a tough line with Germany as we must see to it that Germany was never again
in a position to unleash war upon the world.' He added, 'The Prime Minister had
indicated his general concurrence with General Eisenhower's viewpoint.' And on
August 19 he would tell President Roosevelt that Eisenhower 'is perfectly
prepared to be tough with the Germans when he first goes in.' Morgenthau said
that he had told the general, 'All the plans in G-5 are contrary to that view.'
On August 10, Churchill's diary showed a lunch appointment with Henry Morgenthau.
Churchill had longer-term
worries than the future of Germany. He had at last woken up to the long term
cost of the war to the Empire. Britain's indebtedness would soon be $3,000m; her
exports were less than one-third of their 1938 level; to maintain full
employment she must increase exports fivefold. So she must start rebuilding her
export trade now which Americans might not understand. But Britain must release
labor to rebuild her export industries. So Lend-Lease must continue even after
Hitler's defeat, though a reduction of about twenty-seven percent would appear
reasonable to the British. (, discussion FDR/WSC, September 14, in Morgenthau
diary and copy in General Hap H. Arnold diary; and. W. D. Taylor, memo on
meeting of Sir John Anderson and Sir David Waley with Morgenthau, Harry Dexter
White, August 11.)
Over lunch on August 10, they sized each other up. Churchill knew that
Morgenthau was no friend of Britain. Morgenthau flattered Roosevelt a few days
later that it was interesting 'how popular he [Roosevelt] was with the soldiers
and how unpopular Churchill was.' He described one instance to Roosevelt: 'I
told him [Roosevelt],' he wrote in his diary, 'about the difficulty of finding
someone to take me through the shelters [in the East End of London] because both
Churchill and Sir Robert Morris [?Home Secretary Mr Herbert Morrison] had been
jeered when they went through them recently, and that finally they decided on
Mrs Churchill and Lady Mountbatten.' Morgenthau amused Roosevelt's Cabinet a
week later with a description of how the prime minister 'kept referring to his
age during conversations.'
At the meeting between
Churchill and Morgenthau the small-talk was as frigid as only an interview
between a penniless debtor and his banker can be. 'Churchill,' described
Morgenthau to Roosevelt, '.. started the conversation by saying that England was
broke.. Churchill's attitude was that he was broke but not depressed about
England's future.. He is going to tell Parliament about their financial
condition at the right time after the Armistice, and that when he does that he
Churchill said that he had
heard that Morgenthau was unfriendly towards Britain.
Morgenthau denied this, was
brutally frank. Churchill must put his cards on the table. He must appoint a
committee to consider financial questions, and then tell Parliament the facts.
When told of this, Churchill
quailed at the idea. Roosevelt retorted, 'Oh, he is taking those tactics now.
More recently his attitude was that he wanted to see England through the peace.'
Still, the revelation that
Churchill had bankrupted Britain startled him. 'I had no idea,' he told
Morgenthau. 'This is very interesting,' he sneered. 'I had no idea that England
was broke. I will go over there and make a couple of talks and take over the
Morgenthau gave a similar
version of their conversation to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. 'The Prime
Minister stated,' he told Anderson on August 11, 'that he did not wish to bring
this matter into the open while our combined war effort in Europe was at its
height.' Churchill was prepared to speak to Parliament about the straitened
financial outlook, but not just yet. Morgenthau's view was that, under the
circumstances, Churchill ought to take it up directly with the President.
Reporting to Roosevelt a few
days later Morgenthau said, 'In England you can see the thing much clearer.
There are two kinds of people there: One like Eden who believes we must
cooperate with Russia, and that we must trust Russia for the peace of the
world,'at which point FDR said he belonged to the same school as Eden' -- and
there is the other school which is illustrated by the remark of Mr Churchill who
said, "What are we going to have between the white snows of Russia and the
white cliffs of Dover?"'
Churchill was beginning to
hint at the need for a strong postwar Germany, and Morgenthau did not like the
sound of that at all. Roosevelt replied that he hoped to see Churchill soon,
even though the Prime Minister was 'not his own master in some important
matters, being overridden frequently by the Foreign Office.' (Memo Robert A.
Lovett to Stimson, Aug 18, 1944: Stimson papers.)
One other topic was
discussed at No.10 Downing Street. Morgenthau shortly told Zionist leaders that
the Prime Minister had assured him that, as was well known, his sympathy was
still for Zionism and Zionist aspirations: that 'it was simply a matter of
timing as to when he would give the Jews their State in Palestine.'*
OTHER MEETINGS IN ENGLAND
Turning his back on the
unpleasant truth of Britain's bankruptcy, Mr Churchill had literally flowntaking
off late on August 10 to tour British headquarters in the Mediterranean.
Remaining in England, on
August 12 and 13 Morgenthau tried to analyse Churchill's political attitude with
U.S. Ambassador John G. Winant and Anthony Eden. In England, he again said, he
saw several groups: a pro-Soviet group around Eden, favoring harsh treatment of
Germany, including dismemberment. A second, dangerous group favoured Germany's
economic restoration as a bulwark against the Soviet Union; and a third group,
mid-way, preferring a strong Europe as a whole, aligned with Britain. Morgenthau
inquired where Churchill lay, and Edenhesitatinglyadmitted that Churchill was
probably in that third group. Winant agreed: Churchill now had 'certain
reservations' against the Soviet Union, but he could still be persuaded that it
was desirable to continue the grisly Three Power agreement reached at Teheran on
the future of Germany. Anyway, Winant was confident that Churchill would go
along with Roosevelt in any program. Morgenthau expressed to Eden his personal
concern that there were Allied officials aiming to restore Germany's economy as
quickly as possible. Eden expressed surprise as it ran counter to the Teheran
agreements. Stalin, he claimed, was determined to smash Germanyto dismember
herso that she could never again disrupt Europe.
* U.S. Dept of State record
of visit by Dr Nahum Goldmann, September 13, 1944: US embassy files, London, 710
'Eden,' noted Harry Dexter
White, 'said Roosevelt had agreed with Stalin, but Churchill was at first
reluctant to accede. He (Churchill) was willing to make Austria independent and
to take East Prussia away, but was doubtful about going beyond that.' Eden added
that after talking it over with him Churchill decided to go along with Roosevelt
and Stalin on this. Eden felt it important to pursue a tough policy on Germany,
'as nearly in accord with Russian policy toward Germany as possible,' if only to
reassure Stalin of Britain's good intentions. It was an interesting statement,
and Morgenthau asked him to repeat it. Eden obliged. 'He [Morgenthau] said [to
Eden] that in his conversation with Churchill the question of the program to be
followed upon occupation of Germany had come up and that he had gathered from
the Prime Minister's comments that he was in agreement with the view expressed
by Morgenthau, to the effect that during the early months Germany's economy
ought to be let pretty much alone and permitted to seek its own level.'
This was the origin of what
Morgenthau later called leaving the Germans to 'stew in their own juice.'
Morgenthau now talked with
Anderson alone. Until now the Chancellor had lifted the veil on Britain's
bankrupt future only slightly in Parliament, he admitted, in opening the talks
with the U.S. Treasury officials on August 11: so his coming budget message
about Britain's bleak post-war future was going to shock Parliament and people.
'Financially,' summarized one Treasury official, 'England has thrown everything
into the war effort regardless of consequences. It is well known throughout the
country that England has gone into the war on the basis of "unlimited
liability"; the consequences of such financial action, however, have not
been weighed nor understood by the country. He stated that England would emerge
from the war with high international and national prestige, but in a deplorable
financial position. The period of the war would have seen England's transition
from a position of the world's largest creditor nation to the world's largest
When Morgenthau visited him
on August 15 Eden read out to him selected extracts of the Teheran conference
between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt. namely those extracts dealing with
Germany. Roosevelt said that he wanted to discuss the partition of
GermanyGermany could be divided into three or fifteen parts, he said. Roosevelt
suggested they instruct the European Advisory Commission to report on the
problem. Stalin agreed, and since they both evidently felt strongly on it,
However, as Ambassador John
G Winant explained, the European Advisory Commission (EAC) had not taken up the
question of partition, because the Russian representative had always stalled.
Morgenthau pointed out that the Teheran directive to the EAC was evidently not
known to the State Department. 'Eden said,' according to Harry Dexter White's
memo, 'there are some groups in both the United States and in England who feared
that Communism would grow in Germany if a tough policy were pursued by the
Allies. This group believed that it was important to have a strong Germany as
protection against possible aggression by Russia. He said it was a question
whether there was a greater danger from a strong Germany or from a strong
Russia. For his part, he believed there was greater danger from a strong
RETURNS TO WASHINGTON
Morgenthau had been shocked
by the confusion he found in London as to the treatment of postwar Germany. He
made no secret of this upon his return to Washington. When he visited Cordell
Hull in Washington on August 18, the Secretary of State had to admit he had
never been told what was in the minutes of Teheran. On August 19, Roosevelt
confidently assured Morgenthau, 'Give me thirty minutes with Churchill and I can
correct this.' He added, 'We have got to be tough with Germany and I mean the
German people, not just the Nazis. You either have to castrate the German people
or you have got to treat them in such a manner so they can't go on reproducing
people who want to continue the way they have in the past.'
Morgenthau now outlined in
response what later became his infamous Plan'In his opinion serious
consideration should be given to the desirability and feasability of reducing
Germany to an agrarian economy wherein Germany would be a land of small farms,
without large-scale industrial enterprises.' . Morgenthau complained, 'Well, Mr
President, nobody is considering the question along those lines in Europe. In
England they want to build up Germany so that she can pay reparations.'
On August 21, the Secretary
of War Henry L. Stimson dictated in his own diary (now in Yale University
archives) a note that he had talked with Roosevelt's special adviser Harry L.
Hopkins on the telephone: 'He wants me to talk with Morgenthau on the subject of
Germany.' At noon on August 23, Stimson went to the White House to see the
president: 'It is the first time I have seen him since June. I succeeded in
getting through to him my views of the importance of having a decision on what
we are going to do to Germany. I came back to the Department and Secretary
Morgenthau came to lunch with me in my room. I had [John] McCloy in too.
Morgenthau told me of how he had learned in London that the division of Germany
had been agreed upon at Teheran between the three chiefs. Although the discovery
of this thing has been a most tremendous surprise to all of us, I am not sure
that the three chiefs regard it as a fait accompli and in this talk with
Morgenthau it developed that the so-called decision was of a more informal
character than I had understood from McCloy's first report to me of Morgenthau's
news a day or two ago. In the afternoon I settled down and tried to dictate my
ideas in regard to the postwar settlement with Germany.'
In this document, 'Brief for
Conference with the President on August 25,' Stimson listed 'a number of urgent
matters of American policy' including the zones of occupation, the partition of
Germany, and in particular the 'policy vs. liquidation of Hitler and his
gang". His wording was very explicit.
'Present instructions seem
inadequate beyond imprison-ment. Our officers must have the protection of
definite instructions if shooting required. If shooting required it must be
immediate; not postwar.' He also asked the question, 'How far do U.S. officers
go towards preventing lynching in advance of Law and Order?'
Meanwhile Morgenthau got at
Roosevelt first. Lunching at the White House on August 23, he sketched out
details of his plan for punishing and emasculating postwar Germany regardless of
the effect which this running sore would have on the rest of Europe. He visited
Roosevelt again early on August 25 and handed him a memorandum on the German
Later that day, Stimson and
Morgenthau both lunched with the president. The Kriegsminister took up the
question of the British and American zones of Germany and urged Roosevelt to
allow the British to occupy Northern Germany. 'I further urged the point,' he
recorded in his diary, 'that by taking south-western Germany we were in a more
congenial part of Germany and further away from the dirty work that the Russians
might be doing with the Prussians in Eastern Germany. I was inclined to think
that I had made an impression on him, but it was impossible to say. I either
then or in my former meeting pressed on him the importance of not partitioning
Germany other than the allotment of East Prussia to Russia or Poland, and Alsace
Lorraine to France and a possible allotment to Silesia to Poland, namely
trimming the outer edges of Germany. Other than those allotments I feared that a
division of Germany and a policy which would prevent her from being
industrialized would starve her excess population of 30 million people, giving
again my description of how she had grown during the period between 1870 and
1914 by virtue of her industralization..'
APPOINTS A CABINET COMMITTEE ON GERMANY
Stimson, worried that Allied
troops would shortly enter Germany without policy directives, suggested that
Roosevelt appoint a Cabinet committee. The president accepted the point, and
then they went together into Cabinet. Navy secretary Forrestal wrote a diary on
So did the Secretary of
Agriculture Claude Wickard.
Both were struck by
Roosevelt's insistance that the Germans in future live off soup-kitchens as a
punishment. Henry Stimson's diary is also explicit: 'At the very beginning of
Cabinet he brought up this last point and said that he would appoint Secretaries
Hull, Morgenthau and myself as the members of that committee..' Later Stimson
joined Morgenthau at the airport. 'I had the opportunity of a satisfactory talk
with him on matters on which we were inclined to disagree, namely the use of
over-punitive measures on Germany principally economic. I have been trying to
guard against that.'
In a subsequent 'Memorandum
of Conversation with the President,' August 25, Stimson felt that he had made
his point that the penalties should be against individuals and 'not by
destruction of the economic structure of Germany which might have serious
results in the future.' 'As to partition, the Secretary [Stimson] argued for a
lopping off of sections rather than a general partition and thought the
President was inclined to agree that Germany should be left as a self supporting
state. The President showed some interest in radical treatment of the Gestapo.'
For the last days in August
Stimson remained on his farm, maintaining scrambler telephone contact with
McCloy in Washington. 'In particular,' wrote Stimson in his diary, 'I was
working up and pressing for the point I had initiated, namely that we should
intern the entire Gestapo and perhaps the S.S. leaders and then vigorously
investigate and try them as the main instruments of Hitler's system of terrorism
in Europe. By so doing I thought we would begin at the right end, namely the
Hitler machine, and punish the people who were directly responsible for that,
carrying the line of investigation and punishment as far as possible. I found
around me, particularly Morgenthau, a very bitter atmosphere of personal
resentment against the entire German people without regard to individual guilt
and I am very much afraid that it will result in our taking mass vengeance on
the part of our people in the shape of clumsy economic action.'
WHITE DRAFTS THE PLAN
Harry Dexter White completed
the first draft of the Plan on September 1. Almost immediately the British
embassy learned what Morgenthau was up to.
On September 2, Morgenthau
retired to his country home for the Labor Day weekend, an American public
holiday. White sent the completed draft out to him there. President Roosevelt
and his wife motored over from Hyde Park to take tea with Morgenthau under the
trees of his estate at nearby Fishkill and Morgenthau showed the draft to him.
Roosevelt's thinking on
Germany was rather simplistic: no aircraft, uniforms or marching. Morgenthau had
said: 'That's very interesting, Mr President, but I don't think it goes nearly
far enough.' He wanted the Ruhr dismantled and its machinery given to the needy
neighbors; 'I realize this would put 18 or 20 million people out of work,' he
conceded airily. But it ought to guarantee the prosperity of Britain and Belgium
for twenty years. Able bodied Germans could be transported to Central Africa as
slave labor on 'some big TVA project.' TVA was the Tennessee Valley Authority
hydroelectric project which Roosevelt's new Deal had used to generate
employment. He went off at a tangent: he was thinking of re-education of the
Germans. 'You will have to create entirely new textbooks,' he said.
That Monday, September 4,
Stimson flew back to Washington and had a conference with General Marshall that
afternoon: 'Discussed with him my troubles in regard to the treatment of Germany
and the method in which we should investigate and punish the Gestapo.. It was
very interesting to find that army officers have a better respect for the law in
those matters than civilians who talk about them and are anxious to go ahead and
chop everybody's head off without trial of hearing.'
Invited to dine with
Morgenthau that evening, Stimson found there McCloy and Harry White of the
Treasury. 'We were all aware of the feeling that a sharp issue is sure to arise
over the question of the treatment of Germany. Morgenthau is, not unnaturally,
very bitter, and as he is not thoroughly trained in history or even economics it
became very apparent that he would plunge out for a treatment of Germany which I
feel sure would be unwise. But we talked the matter over with temperateness and
goodwill during the evening and that was as much as could be hoped from the
situation. We did succeed in settling with perfect agreement the question of the
currency which should be issued in Germany namely that we should issue Allied
military marks at a 10 cent value of the mark. Morgenthau had first struck for
only 5 cents, wishing to use a low rate of the mark to punish Germany.'
The Cabinet Committee on
Germany met for the first time on September 5 in Hull's office. Hull was
cautious. 'We must not lay plans for partition of Germany,' he pointed out,
'until British and Russian views are known.' Stimson found himself in a
minority. 'This proposal,' he said of Morgenthau's plan, 'will cause enormous
evils. The Germans will be permanent paupers, and the hatreds and tensions that
will develop will obscure the guilt of the Nazis, and poison the springs of
future peace.' 'My plan,' retorted Morgenthau, unabashed, 'will stop the Germans
from every trying to extend their domination by force again. Don't worry. The
rest of Europe can survive without them!'
Stimson was unconvinced.
'This plan will breed war, not prevent it!'
'It's very singular,' he
wrote to Marshall. 'I'm the man in charge of the Department which does the
killing in this way, and yet I am the only one who seems to have any mercy for
the other side.' Hull's ideas were no less extreme than Morgenthau's.
Stimson returned to his
office and dictated this note for his diary:
'As soon as I got into the
meeting it became very evident that Morgenthau had been rooting around behind
the scenes and had greased the way for his own views by conference with the
president and others. We did get through the question of the currency alright on
the lines which we had decided upon last evening. Then Hull brought up a draft
of agenda.. and as soon as we got into a discussion of these, I, to my
tremendous surprise, found that Hull was as bitter as Morgenthau against the
Germans and was ready to jump all the principles that he had been laboring for
in regard to trade for the past twelve years. He and Morgenthau wished to wreck
completely the immense Ruhr-Saar area of Germany into a second rate agricultural
land regardless of all that that area meant.. Hopkins went with them so far as
to wish to prevent the manufacture of steel.. which would pretty well sabotage
everything else. I found myself a minority of one and I labored vigorously but
entirely ineffectively against my colleagues. In all the four years that I have
been here I have not had such a difficult and unpleasant meeting although of
course there were no personalities. We all knew eachother too well for that. But
we were irreconcilably divided. At the end it was decided that Hull would send
in his memorandum to the President while we should each of us send a memorandum
of views in respect to it.'
Hull had submitted a paper
with the title, 'Suggested Recommendations on Treatment of Germany from the
Cabinet Committee for the President.' In his reply dated September 5, Stimson
utterly rejected it. 'I cannot treat as realistic the suggestion that such an
area in the present economic condition of the world can be turned into a
non-productive 'ghost territory' when it has become the center of one of the
most industrialized continents in the world, populated by peoples of energy,
vigor and progressiveness.' As for destroying the coalmines, etc, he added: 'I
cannot conceive of turning such a gift of nature into a dustheap.'
LISTS OF MEN
The British ambassador Lord
Halifax notified the Foreign Office on September 6, 1944, about all this, and
asked the poignant question: 'Whom do we shoot or hang? The feeling is that we
should not have great state trials, but proceed quickly and with despatch. The
English idea, once preferred but then withdrawn, was to give the Army lists to
liquidate on mere identification. What has happened to this idea? Besides
individuals, what categories should be shot?'.
On the same day, September
6, Roosevelt called the Committee to a sudden conference at the White House.
'After what had happened
yester- day I.. expected to be steam-rollered by the whole bunch. But the
meeting went off better than I had expected. The President.. then took up the
question of German economy, looking at me and reverting to his proposition made
at Cabinet a week or two ago that Germany could live happily and peacefully on
soup from soup kitchens if she couldn't make money for herself. He said that our
ancestors had lived successfully and happily in the absence of many luxuries
that we would now deem necessities.. As he addressed his remarks to me, I took
the chance and tried to drive in the fact that the one point that had been at
issue in our yesterday's preparatory meeting of the Committee had been the
proposition that the Ruhr and the Saar a plot of non-industrial agricultural
land.. I said I was utterly opposed to the destruction of such a great gift of
nature and that it should be used for the reconsturction of the world which
sorely needed it now.. Morgenthau had submitted through Hull a memorandum giving
his program towards Germany and it had reiterated what he had put forth
verbally, namely a complete obliteration of the industrial powers of the Ruhr..
I pointed this out and said that this was what I was opposed to. The President
apparently took my side on this but he mentioned the fact that Great Britain was
going to be in sore straits after the war and he thought that the products of
the Ruhr might be used to furnish raw material for British steel industry. I
said that I had no objection certainly to assisting Britain every way that we
could, but that this was very different from obliterating the Ruhr as had been
proposed.. I wound up by using the analogy of Charles Lamb's dissertation on
roast pig. I begged the President to remember that this was a most complicated
economic question and all that I was urging upon him was that he should not burn
down his house of the world for the purpose of getting a meal of roast pig. He
apparently caught the point.'
On September 7, Stimson
showed to General Marshall the memorandum he had written about Germany.
'[Marshall] thoroughly approved the position I have taken of temperate treatment
economically of the Saar-Ruhr area as being the only possible thing for us to
do. I also showed them the memorandum which I received from Morgenthau demanding
that the leaders of the Nazi party be shot without trial and on the basis of the
general world appreciation of their guilt, and it met with the reception that I
expectedabsolute rejection of the notion that we should not give these men a
fair trial.. But at 11:45 I heard from McCloy that Morgenthau still sticks to
his guns and has been to the president again and has demanded a re-hearing.'
Stimson began looking for
allies too. 'Dinner with Mabel [Stimson] and [Felix] Frankfurter. Frankfurter
was helpful as I knew he would be. Although a Jew like Morgenthau, he approached
this subject with perfect detachment and great helpfulness. I went over the
whole matter with him from the beginning with him, reading him Morgenthau's
views on the subject of the Ruhr and also on the subject of the trial of the
Nazis, at both of which he snorted with astonishment and disdain. He fully
backed up my views and those of my fellows in the Army,.. these men the
substance of a fair trial and that they cannot be railroaded to their death
Now, by September 9, the
full Morgenthau Plan was ready. At a meeting that day with FDR, Henry Stimson
laid into it. 'Instead of having a two hour conference with the President,'
wrote Stimson, 'as Secretary Morgenthau had asked for, our conference boiled
down to about forty-five minutes and that was taken up mainly by the President's
own discursive questions and remarks.. Morgenthau appeared with a new diatribe
on the subject of the Nazis and an enlargement of his previous papers as to how
to deal with them. Hull took no leading part as chairman but sat silent with
very little to say. The President addressed most of his remarks to me and about
the only things that I can remember were (1) that he asserted his predilection
for feeding the Germans from soup kitchens instead of anything heavier, and (2)
he wanted to be protected from the expected revolution in France. Those are the
two obsessions that he has had on his mind on this whole subject as far as I
Morgenthau's record shows
that Roosevelt said he wanted Germany partitioned into three parts. He flipped
through the pages of Morgenthau's memorandum, and kept prodding Morgenthau:
'Where is the ban on uniforms and marching?' Morgenthau reassured him it was all
At one point FDR exclaimed,
'Furthermore I believe in an agricultural Germany,' he said. This conference
behind him, Roosevelt, as Stimson later put it, 'pranced up to the meeting at
Quebec,' leaving Hull and Stimson behind. On September 12 he cabled to
Morgenthau, 'Please be in Quebec by Thursday September 14th noon.' In a
looseleaf folder Morgenthau took his Plan up to Quebec with him.
Stimson was astonished to
hear that Roosevelt had asked Morgenthau up to Quebec. 'While he has the papers
we have written on the subject with him,' Stimson recorded on September 13, 'he
has not invited any further discussion on the matter with us. Instead apparently
today he has invited Morgenthau up, or Morgenthau has got himself invited. I
cannot believe that he will follow Morgenthau's views. If he does, it will
certainly be a disaster.' And on September 14, the Kriegsminister wrote, 'It is
an outrageous thing. Here the President appoints a Committee with Hull as its
Chairman for the purpose of advising him in regard to these questions in order
that it may be done with full deliberation and, when he goes off to Quebec, he
takes the man who really represents the minority and is so biassed by his
Semitic grievances that he is really a very dangerous adviser to the President
at this time. Hull.. is left behind.'
CONFERENCE AT QUEBEC, SEPTEMBER 1944
At Quebec both Churchill and
Roosevelt were ill men. Churchill was kept going only with M&B sulphona-
mide-type drugs. Roosevelt's great brain had already deteriorated so far that at
one banquet in August he had proposed a toast to the same the Icelandic prime
minister twice in twenty minutes.
Both were putty in the hands
of evil men. Roosevelt camouflaged his withering brain with carefree bonhomie.
On September 13, he would turn to his loathsome dog Falla and command, pointing
at Morgenthau, 'say hello to your Uncle Henry.'
The two leaders reached
Quebec early on September 11. In fact Roosevelt's train had pulled into the
railroad station fifteen minutes before Churchill's train (10:15 AM), by design
rather than accident, as he confessed to the Canadian prime minister with a
candour that left Mackenzie King gasping in his diary, 'It seemed to me that the
President was rather assuming that he was in his own country.' Roosevelt was
much thinner in his body and face, had lost around thirty pounds in weight, his
eyes were drawn, his haggard face had sunless pallor, and to his shocked host
Mackenzie King he looked distinctly older and worn. The electioneering abuse on
him as 'a senile old man' had etched deeply into him.* Churchill told Mackenzie
King that it was wonderful what Canada was doing in the war, and he particularly
praised the latest financial aid given by Canada to Britain, and that he
recognized that Canada had had to cover up in a way in order to give what she
had. (Mackenzie Kiary, Sept 11, 1944).
As he told Mackenzie King at
the end of his stay, Britain would never forget how Canada had helped: 'Really,'
he said, 'we are the one debtor nation that will come out of the war.' Now
Britain had to expand her export trade and build up her industries. 'I
understand that it has to be kept secret for the present,' Churchill said,
referring to Canada's financial aid to Britain. They lunched in the Citadel and
talked about the war's personalities, about de Gaulle and Chiang-Kai-shek;
Churchill flattered F.D.R. that he was head of the strongest military power on
earth, both in the air, at sea and on the land.
Churchill looked better, and
was getting to grips with some Scotch as well as a couple of brandies. It was
hard for even the Canadian hosts to find out about Churchill's and Roosevelt's
intentions. Mackenzie King himself was tired and his eyes and body were aching
with old age. After luncheon, Mrs Roosevelt wheeled the president over in his
wheelchair to see the models Churchill had brought from England of the D-day
invasion equipmenta gift for the Hyde Park library. As Roosevelt leaned forward
to see them there were beads of perspiration on his forehead. Then he was
wheeled away for an afternoon rest. Sir John Dill took Mackenzie King aside and
told him he believed that Churchill 'enjoyed' this war. 'It is clear,' agreed
Mackenzie King, 'that it is the very breath of life to him.'
On the following day,
September 13, it began raining around noon. Morgenthau arrived at Quebec. The
problem looming over the conference was of financing the war effort. Canada was
now being asked to commit her forces for the South Pacific, but Mackenzie King
saw immense political difficulties in further Imperial wars Canadians would
never agree that their taxes should be spent fighting to protect India or
recover Burma and Singapore. Roosevelt sneered to Morgenthau that he 'knew now'
why the British wanted to join in the war in the Pacific. 'All they want is
* Diaries of Mackenzie King,
H.H. Arnold; Leahy, etc.
That evening, September 13,
FDR and Churchill stayed at the dinner table at the Citadel. At 8 pm on
September 13, Churchill dined with FDR, Morgenthau, Cherwell, and other members
of their staff. Mackenzie King left at 9 pm and he found them still sitting
there, talking at 11:30 pm. 'Churchill was immediately opposite the President,'
Mackenzie King described in his diary, 'and both of them seemed to be speaking
to the numbers assembled which included Morgenthau, Lord Cherwell, Lord
Leathers, Lord Moran and two or three others. Morgenthau arrived this afternoon.
Anthony Eden is to arrive in the morning.'
Morgenthau's papers show
that they talked about Germany. Churchill irritably said, 'What are my Cabinet
members doing discussing plans for Germany without first discussing them with
me?' FDR explained that this was why Morgenthau had come up from Washington.
Tomorrow Morgenthau would talk privately with Cherwell about it. Churchill
challenged FDR: 'Why don't we discuss Germany now?' so Roosevelt asked
Morgenthau to outline his plan. Remarkably, Churchill's first reaction was
hostile. When the Treasury Secretary embarked on the details of dismantling the
Ruhr, Churchill was shocked and interrupted him. He was flatly opposedall that
was necessary was to eliminate German arms production. Doing what Morgenthau
proposed, Churchill waspishly told Roosevelt's Treasury Secretary, who was a
Jew, would 'unnatural, un-Christian and unnecessary.' He doubted it would help
even if all Germany's former steel markets went to Britain. 'I regard the
Morgenthau Plan,' he said with heavy sarcasm, 'with as much enthusiasm as I
would handcuffing myself to a dead German.' He was truculent, even offensive,
rasping at one point to Roosevelt in particular, 'Is this what you asked me to
come all the way over here to discuss?' And at another, to the American
representatives in general: 'If you do not do something for Britain then the
British simply will have to destroy gold and do business largely within the
Empire.' The Prof glowered at his prime minister, but Admiral Leahy, the
president's chief of staff, sided with Churchill. F.D.R. kept quiet. That was
his way. He had done his footwork behind the scenes. Once, the conversation
switched to India and stayed there for an hour. Churchill was angry at FDR's
refusal to understand the administration problems faced by the British in a
subcontinent where the birth and death rates were high, and the people were
careless of poverty and ignorant of disease. 'I'll give the United States half
of India to admi- nister,' Churchill flung at F.D.R., 'and we will take the
other half. And then we'll see who does better.'
Surprised at Churchill's
hostility to the Plan, Lord Cherwell suspected that WSC had not wholly grasped
what Morgenthau was driving at. In a private tęte-ŕ-tęte the next morning
(September 14) he apologized profusely for Winston's behaviour over dinner,
promised Morgenthau that he would try to dress up the Plan in a way more
attractive to the Prime Minister.
Churchill got the message,
wrote later: 'We had much to ask from Mr Morgenthau.' When FDR and Churchill
discussed policy toward Germany later that day Churchill now declared himself in
favour of the Plan, as outlined to him by Lord Cherwell. Cherwell was instructed
to draft a memorandum for signature and give it to Churchill.
At one point Mackenzie King
asked how long the war was going to last. Churchill said he feared that it might
drag on -- the Germans might hold out in the Alps or elsewhere. 'Hitler and his
crowd know that their lives are at stake,' he said, 'so they will fight to the
bitter end. This may mean that at some time we have to take the position that
the war is really won, and that what is still going on anew is just mopping up
groups here and there.' On the question of what to do with Germany, Churchill
said that there would not be any attempt to control the country immediately by
Allied forces. The Germans would have to police their own people. 'They are a
race that loves that sort of thing,' he said. 'To be given any little authority,
once they are beaten, and to wield it over others.' He envisaged something like
centralized stations (FLAKTURME?) on towers around the different cities. If
there was any difficulty from the Germans they could be threatened with a local
bombardment. If the difficulty kept up they could be given a very effective
bombardment from the skies. 'He did not contemplate continued active fighting,'
recorded Mackenzie King after this discussion.
Churchill took a nap at the
Citadel, dreaming deeply, and arrived late for dinner. 'I have been thousands of
miles away,' he apologized. He sat opposite Roosevelt and Morgenthau. A few
hours earlier Anthony Eden, summoned by Churchill from London, had arrived at
Quebec. He sat to Roosevelt's left, worn out by the eighteen-hour flight in a
Liberator bomber. Churchill was in good spirit, the Canadian premier was pleased
to see how well he was looking, and surmised it was because of the scarcity of
Out of earshot of Churchill
and Eden, at 11:00 a.m. on September 15, Morgenthau invited Lord Cherwell and
Harry Dexter White to his room, read the Prof's draft and disliked it. It
represented 'two steps backwards,' he said. Since the last discussion, he said,
Churchill had seemed to accept the Plan, and had himself spoken promisingly of
turning Germany into an agricultural state as she had been in the last quarter
of the 19th century. Morgenthau urged them to scrap this draft, and return to
the two leaders for fresh instructions.
When Churchill met
Roosevelt, in the presence of Henry Morgenthau and Harry Dexter White, an hour
later at noon September 15, Britain's financial problems were clearly uppermost
in his own mind, rather than the future of Germany. Roosevelt read through the
draft Lend-Lease Agreement for Phase II, and approved it with a minor change.
But each time he seemed
about to sign it, he kept interrupting with a fresh anecdote -- he was in one of
his talky moods, as Morgenthau described them. Churchill was unable to contain
himself. 'What do you want me to do,' he exclaimed nervously. 'Get on my hind
legs and beg like Falla?'.
FDR enjoyed every moment of
Churchill's -- Britain's -- humiliating plight. But eventually he signed: OK,
FDR. Churchill added: WC, 15.9. (A copy of the document is also in the Forrestal
papers; and cf Leahy diary, October 19, 1944.)
It was a load off
Churchill's mind. He became quite emotional and Morgenthau saw tears in the old
man's eyes. After the signing he thanked Roosevelt effusively, and said that it
was something they were doing for both countries.
ROOSEVELT INITIAL THE MORGENTHAU PLAN
Still at this noon
conference on September 15, 1944, and feeling in generous mood, Churchill turned
to Lord Cherwell. 'Where are the minutes on this matter of the Ruhr?' he asked
the Prof. The Prof and Morgenthau had agreed to say they did not have them --
because the American, on reading Cherwell's draft, had felt the text was too
milk-and-water. ('I thought we could get Churchill to go much further,' he noted
Churchill was annoyed at
this lapse. Roosevelt humorously observed that the document was not ready
because Morgenthau had 'interspersed the previous discussion with too many dirty
interrupted impatiently, 'I'll restate it.' He did so forcefully. Then he
invited the Prof and Morgenthau to leave the room and dictate the memorandum
When the two men walked back
in, the new draft still did not suit Churchill's new temperament. 'No,' he said,
'that won't do at all.' Morgenthau's heart sank, but then he heard Churchill
add, 'It's not drastic enough. Let me show you what I want.' He asked for his
stenographer, then himself dictatedrather well, as Morgenthau thought.
'At a conference between the
President and the Prime Minister upon the best measures to prevent renewed
rearmament by Germany, it was felt that an essential feature was the future
disposition of the Ruhr and the Saar.'
Among those listening was
Eden. Eden was going white about the gills. He was hearing this for the first
'The ease,' continued
Churchill, 'with which the metallurgical, chemical and electric industries..'
'In Germany,' interposed
Roosevelt, because he had in mind the whole of Germany, and not just the Ruhr
and Saar industries.
'The ease with which the
metallurgical, chemical and electric industries in Germany can be converted from
peace to war has already been impressed upon us by bitter experience. It must
also be remembered that the Germans have devastated a large portion of the
industries of Russia and of other neighbouring Allies, and it is only in
accordance with justice that these injured countries should be entitled to
remove the machinery they require in order to repair the losses they have
suffered. The industries referred to in the Ruhr and in the Saar would therefore
be necessarily put out of action and closed down. It was felt that the two
districts should be put under somebody under the World Organization which would
supervise the dismantling of these industries and make sure that they were not
started up again by some subterfuge.
'This programme for
eliminating the war-making industries in the Ruhr and in the Saar is looking
forward to converting Germany into a country primarily agricultural and pastoral
in its character.
'The Prime Minister and the
President were in agreement upon this programme.'
Eden was horrified. He
exclaimed to Churchill, 'You can't do this. After all, you and I publicly have
said quite the opposite.'
A row broke out between the
two men. It got quite nasty. But Churchill kept arguing that this was the only
way to steal Germany's export market. 'How do you know what it is or where it
is,' snapped Eden, and Churchill testily retorted: 'Well, we will get it
wherever it is.' He took a pen and initialled the document. Roosevelt had
already done the same. 'O.K. FDR' and 'WC, 15.9.'
Copies went to London
immediately for the War Cabinet. There is no doubt about it. Typed on long green
telegram sheets, it is to be found among Eden's private papers at Birmingham
University, and Lord Cherwell's papers at Oxford university.
Copies were circulated to
the ministries in Washington as well.* On September 15 Roosevelt sent it to
Hull, prefaced by the explanation: 'After many long conversations with the Prime
Minister and Lord Cherwell, the general matter of post-war
plans regarding industries has been worked out as per the following memoranda.
This seems eminently satisfactory and I think you will approve the general idea
of not rehabilitating the Ruhr, Saar, etc.'
Knowing that Eden would
return to London before him, Churchill turned to his foreign secretary: 'Now I
hope, Anthony,' he said, you're not going to do anything about this with the War
Cabinet if you see a chance to present it. After all, the future of my people is
at stake and when I have to choose between my people and the German people, I am
going to choose my people.'
For the rest of the day Eden
sulked and brooded. Morgenthau was delighted, particularly by the unexpected
bonus that Churchill had himself dictated the infamous memorandum. He could
hardly later disavow it. Afterwards Morgenthau lunched with Lord Cherwell. That
afternoon -- it was still September 15, 1944 -- Roosevelt looked at the Combined
Chiefs of Staff map of postwar Germany and found it 'terrible,' as he told
Morgenthau. He took three colored pencils and sketched where he wanted the
British and American armies to go in Germany. He waited until the PM was in a
good humor and everything else settled, then showed the map to him. Churchill
Admiral Leahy was also
pleased with it, explaining to Morgenthau that since the British were going to
occupy the Ruhr and the Saar, they would have the odium of carrying the
Morgenthau plan out. Henry Stimson, isolated on his estate by a hurricane that
weekend, now learned of Morgenthau's triumph at Quebec. He wrote in his diary,
'On Saturday or Sunday [September 16-17] I learned from McCloy over the long
distance telephone that the President has sent a decision flatly against us in
regard to the treatment of Germany. Apparently he has gone over completely to
the Morgenthau proposition and has gotten Churchill and Lord Cherwell with them.
But the situation is a serious one and the cloud of it has hung over me pretty
heavily over the weekend. It is a terrible thing to think that the total power
of the United States and the United Kingdom in such a critical matter as this is
in the hands of two men, both of whom are similar in their impulsiveness and
their lack of systematic study.I have yet to meet a man who is not horrified
with the "Carthaginian" attitude of the Treasury. It is Semitism gone
wild for vengeance and, if it is ultimately carried out (I can't believe that it
will be) it as sure as fate will lay the seeds for another war in the next
generation. And yet these two men in a brief conference at Quebec with nobody to
advise them except "yes-men," with no Cabinet officer with the
President except Morgenthau, have taken this step and given directions for it to
be carried out.'
* Copies of this are in,
inter alia, (Dwight D Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower files, Box 152, Morgenthau
Plan.; ibid., Box 76, Morgenthau; Henry Morgenthau's book, 'Germany is Our
Problem,' New York, 1945; Cherwell papers; Foreign office, files, London;
Forrestal diary, October 20 ("Morgenthau.. handed me a copy");
Morgenthau papers, diary, pp.1454-5, September 15, 1944.
THE END OF
At noon on the sixteenth,
calling at the Citadel for a final joint meeting with Roosevelt and Churchill,
airforce commander General Arnold thought that the President looked 'very
badly.' 'He did not have the pep, power of concentration, could not make his
usual wisecracks, seemed to be thinking of something else. Closed his eyes to
rest more than usual.' (Arnold diary).
Roosevelt left that evening
for his Hyde Park estate, joined there by Churchill early on the eighteenth. On
September 18, Churchill and Roosevelt signed their secret agreement on the
atomic bomb: 'It might perhaps, after mature consideration, be used against the
Japanese;' and there was to be 'full collaboration between the United States and
the British Government' in its postwar development and commerical exploitation.
(Since neither Churchill's nor Roosevelt's successors knew of this secret
agreement, it would remain unhonoured.)
After dinner on September 19
Churchill left for Staten Island by train and boarded the Queen Mary off New
York the next morning for the return journey to England. Lord Cherwell, his
eminence grise, remained in Washington. Roosevelt was still under Morgenthau's
influence. On September 20, John McCloy told Stimson, who wrote it in his diary,
that he had heard from Halifax and Sir Alec Cadogan that the president was 'very
firm for shooting the Nazi leaders without trial.' After Quebec, the Washington
campaign against the Morgenthau Plan stepped up. McCloy showed it to Forrestal,
the Navy Secretary.
Both Stimson and Hull
carried protests to the President against it. On September 20, Morgenthau
proudly related to Secretaries Stimson and Hull how he had obtained the initials
of Roosevelt and Churchill on his Declaration. Stimson and Hull both gained the
impression that the president had not read what he had so easily initialled. On
September 22 there was a discussion between Roosevelt, Bush, Leahy and Lord
Cherwell. The last-named wrote a handwritten note. After discussion of the
atomic bomb project ("Tube Alloys") the conversation passed to more
'P[resident] said that the British Empire, in its struggle against fascism, had
got into terrible economic trouble. It was a U.S. interest to help Britain over
that trouble and see that she became once more completely solvent and able to
pay her way. In fact to put it bluntly the U.S. could not afford to see the
British Empire go bankrupt. For this reason it was essential to increase Great
Britain's exports. It had been decided at Q[uebec]though he did not know when
this would be announced or whether it would simply be allowed to leak out later
that in the interests of world security German war-making potential in the Ruhr
and the Saar would be extinguished and those regions put under international
control. In fact Germany should revert definitely to a more agricultural habit.
This would leave a gap in the export markets which the U.K. might well fill to
general advantage. It might be that some high minded people would disapprove,
but he found it hard to be high minded vis-ŕ-vis the Germans when he thought of
all they had done.'
Almost overnight, Roosevelt changed his mind. What changed it for him, was
probably the leakage of the Morgenthau Plan to the newspapers, published in
great detail on September 23 by the Wall Street Journal. Roosevelt covered his
tracks as best he could. Pulling out all the stops, Morgenthau sent a copy of
the full-length Plan round to Lord Cherwell at his Washington hotel on September
26, asking him to show it to Churchill.
But the opposition was
stiffening. To Stimson's surprise, on the 27th Roosevelt himself telephoned on
the scrambler telephone. 'He.. was evidently under the influence of the impact
of criticism which has followed his decision to follow Morgenthau's advice. The
papers have taken it up violently and almost unanimously against Morgenthau and
the President himself, and the impact has been such that he had already reached
a conclusion that he had made a false step and was trying to work out of it. He
told me that he didn't really intend to try to make Germany a purely
agricultural country but said that his underlying motive was the very
confidential one that England was broke; that something must be done to give her
more business to pull out after the war, and he evidently hoped that by
something like the Morgenthau Plan Britain might inherit Germany's Ruhr
The five biggest American
engineering unions issued a declaration on September 29 dismissing the Plan as
economically unsound and warning that it 'contained the seeds of a new war.'
Politically, the Morgenthau Plan was a disaster. Roosevelt was coming up to a
new presidential election in a few weeks' time. On October 3, lunching with
Stimson, he remarked: 'You know, Morgenthau pulled a boner. Don't let's be apart
on that. I have no intention of turning Germany into an agrarian state.' Stimson
thereupon produced a copy of the Declaration and read the appropriate lines from
it. Roosevelt listened in horror. He had no idea how he could have agreed to
such proposals. At a meeting the same day with Lord Cherwell, Harry Hopkins said
to the Prof: 'Be careful with Cordell Hull. He is very annoyed at Henry
Morgenthau's intervention in the plans for the treatment of Germany. He has no
doubt at all that you supported Morgenthau because you were anxious to get the
Lend-Lease negotiations through.'
In London, Eden angrily
rebuked Churchill for having initialled the agreement. On September 29 a Labour
Member of Parliament, Richard Stokes, challenged Eden to tell the truth about
the Morgenthau Plan.
Lord Keynes, British
economist, in Washington on Churchill's orders to ask for $6,757m to be
allocated to Lend-Lease for Britain in 1945, wrote to London with the inside
story of the leak to the newspapers. He thought the Plan might still be
implemented. But Roosevelt had already turned his back on the document. Writing
to the State Department on October 20, he made clear that he approved the
Department's economic plans. Morgenthau continued to campaign for his Plan's
acceptance. On October 20th., he lunched with Marineminister James Forrestal and
revealed the plan to him.
POLICY DIRECTIVE ISSUED
Regardless of the Quebec
document initialling the Morgenthau Plan, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff had
issued to General Eisenhower a wide interim directive on policy towards Germany,
on September 17, 1944. The Supreme Commander was to ensure that the Germans
realized they would never again be allowed to threaten world peace. 'Your
occupation and administration,' the document read, 'will be just but firm and
distant. You will strongly discourage fraternization between Allied troops and
the German officials and population.' But then more directives were issued as
appendices. A Political Directive issued on October 14 stressed the elimination
of the German officer corps. 'General Staff officers not taken into custody as
prisoners are to be arrested and held, pending receipt of further instructions
as to their disposal.'
That sounded ominous. The
appended Economic Directive circulated in October 1944 was very similar to
Morgenthau's plan. 'You shall assume such control of existing German industrial,
agricultural, utility, communication and transportation facilities, supplies and
services as are necessary for the following purposes..' and then continued,
'except for the purposes specified above, you will take no steps looking toward
the economic rehabilitation of Germany or designed to maintain or strengthen the
German economy except to the extent necessary to accomplish the purposes set out
above, the responsibility for such economic problems as price controls,
rationing, unemployment, production, reconstruction, distribution, consumption,
housing or transportation, will remain with the German people and the German
The proposed Relief
Directive was even more stark: 'You will invite the German authorities to
maintain or re-establish such health services and facilities as may be available
to them under the circumstances. In the event that disease and epidemics should
threaten the safety of allied troops or endanger or impede military occupation,
you shall take such steps as you deem necessary to protect the health of Allied
troops and to eradicate the source of the problem.'
As the barrage began against
him and his Plan, Morgenthau was bitterly critical of the British policy draft,
and sent to England a 'Memorandum on the British Draft of Policy Directive on
Germany,' dated November 1, 1944. He asked his crony Lord Cherwell to send it to
Churchill, who did so, complaining that the British War Office had evidently
prepared their very elaborate draft without any guiding principle, whereas the
American draft appeared to have been prepared since, and in the light of, the
discussions at Quebec. 'Broadly speaking our draft tells the troops to encourage
and help the Germans to restore their industry unless this interferes with the
war. The U.S. draft says that they should only be helped to restore the industry
if this assists us in prosecuting the war.' Cherwell sent this summary to
Churchill on November 5.
Churchill approved, sent a
minute to Anthony Eden on November 6: 'I do not remember ever having seen the
War Office draft and certainly Mr Morgenthau's criticisms of it seem very
cogent. This matter requires immediate reconsideration first by you and then by
the War Cabinet. WSC 6.11.1944.' Across one corner of Churchill's letter.
Anthony Eden wrote to his
permanent secretary, Sir Alexander Cadogan, on November 7, 1944: 'I don't think
I ever read any draft. At the same time I cannot see that this is any business
of Mr Morgenthau's, still less Lord Cherwell's & should like to say so.
Would you please go into the matter for me? A.E. Nov 7.'
A BATH OF
Rejoicing at the chance,
Eden's staff drafted a lengthy, rough-tongued reply to go jointly from the
Foreign Office (Eden) and the War office (Sir James Grigg) and Mr Churchill.
Eden approved the draft, writing in a handwritten memo: 'I have never read the
documents and I hope that they deserve this stalwart defence. Anyhow it is well
stated & Morgenthau's interference is a piece of gratuitous impertinence.
These ex-Germans seem to wish to wash away their ancestry in a bath of hate. A.E.
The British government
retained its logical approach to the German occupation problem. On November 20
the War Cabinet circulated the E.I.P.S. re- draft of the economic and relief
directives. Characteristic of the British attitude was the paragraph ordering
Eisenhower, after closing down the munitions factories, to 'ensure that the
other utilities are restored to full working order and that coalmines and are
maintained in working condition and in full operation so far as transport will
Mr Roosevelt's metamorphosis
was now complete. When the British Minister of State had lunch with President
Roosevelt on December 22, 1944, Roosevelt told him he was quite sure 'that it
was most unwise to attempt to come now to any long term decisions about
Germany,' since it would be folly to commit themselves to plans which might be
found to be inappropriate when they arrived. F.K. Roberts, head of the F.O.'s
Central Europe department, minuted on his copy, 'This surely marks a
considerable retreat on the part of the President from the Morgenthau Plan of
By January 1945 there still
seemed little doubt in SHAEF's mind that entire classes of German captives were
to be shot out of hand. SHAEF's views as formulated in a report of its
Psychological Warfare Division were hotly discussed in Washington. There was
little doubt why the new plan proposed to differentiate between the German
people and the members of their government, High Command, and Nazi Party on the
other. Marineminister Forrestal objected. 'The American people,' he wrote in his
diary on Janury 16, 1945, 'would not support mass murder of Germans, their
enslavement, or the industrial devastation of the country.'
Churchill continued to argue
for liquidation of the enemy leaders.
At Yalta, Admiral Leahy
noted in his diary on February 9, that 'The Prime Minister.. expressed an
opinion that the 'Great War Criminals' should be executed without formal
individual trials.' Again Stalin blocked this proposal, and Truman would later
strongly adopt the same position, that a trial was vital.
'The British,' summarized
Stimson in his diary one weekend (April 27-29) 'have to my utmost astonishment
popped out for what they call political action which is merely a euphemistic
name for lynchlaw, and they propose to execute these men without a trial..
Fortunately the Russians and the French are on our side.'
Morgenthau continued to
peddle his plan around Washington. He visited Roosevelt on the day before the
president died, and again badgered him to adopt the plan. On the day the war
ended, May 8, 1945, Morgenthau would resume his vicious campaign for the
starvation of central Europe, this time with Harry S. Truman. He telephoned
Henry Stimson, lunching at home, and complained that the Coordinating Committee
was not carrying out his 'scorched earth' policy as hard as he wanted,
particularly as related to the destruction of all oil and gasoline and the
plants for making them in Germany, and Directive 1067 that ordained this. Except
for the purpose of facilitating the occupation, JCS.1067 defined, 'you
[Eisenhower] will take no steps looking toward the economic rehabilitation of
Germany nor designed to maintain or strengthen the German economy.'
The U.S. army was protesting
this senseless order. But Morgenthau wanted his evil will performed. Stimson
privately dictated next day, 'I foresee hideous results from his influence in
the near future.' In a memorandum to Mr. Truman dated May 16, Stimson outlined
the probable consequences of such pestilence and famine in central
Europe'political revolution and Communistic infiltration.' And he added a
warning against the emotional plans to punish every German by starvation: 'The
eighty million Germans and Austrians in central Europe today necessarily swing
the balance of that continent.'
Morgenthau Plan and the Problem of Policy Perversion
presented to the Ninth International Revisionist Conference.
Prof. Anthony Kubek
THE MORGENTHAU DIARIES
consist of 900 volumes located at Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York. As a
consultant to the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, I was assigned to
examine all documents dealing with Germany, particularly ones related to the
Morgenthau Plan for the destruction of Germany following the Second World War.
The Subcommittee was interested in the role of Dr. Harry Dexter White, the main
architect of the Plan.
Secretary of the U.S.
Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr. served in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's
Cabinet from January of 1934 to July of 1945. Before Morgenthau was appointed
Secretary of the Treasury, he had lived near Roosevelt's home at Hyde Park, N.Y.
for two decades and could be counted as one of his closest and most trusted
friends. His appointment was clearly the culmination of twenty years of devotion
to, and adoration of, his neighbor on the Hudson. According to his official
biographer, Morgenthau's "first joy in life was to serve Roosevelt, whom he
loved and trusted and admired."1
The Treasury Department
under Secretary Morgenthau had many functions that went beyond anything in the
Department's history. The Morgenthau Diaries reveal that the Treasury presumed
time and time again to make foreign policy. In his Memoirs Secretary of State
Cordell Hull described it in these terms:
Emotionally upset by
Hitler's rise and his persecution of the Jews, Morgenthau often sought to
induce the President to anticipate the State Department or act contrary to our
better judgment We sometimes found him conducting negotiations with foreign
governments which were the function of the State Department. His work in
drawing up a catastrophic plan for the postwar treatment of Germany and
inducing the President to accept it without consultation with the State
Department, was an outstanding instance of this interference.2
Actually it was Dr. Harry
Dexter White, Morgenthau's principal adviser on monetary matters and finally
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, who conducted most of the important
business of the Department. The Diaries reveal that White's influence was
enormous throughout the years of World War II. Shortly after Morgenthau became
Secretary in 1934, White joined his staff as economic analyst on the
recommendation of the noted economist, Prof. Jacob Viner of the University of
Chicago. Then 42 years old, White was about to receive a doctorate in economics
from Harvard University, where he previously had taught as an instructor. He
moved up quickly in the Treasury Department, named in 1938 as Director of
Monetary Research and in the summer of 1941 acquiring an additional title as
"Assistant to the Secretary." Articulate, mustachioed, and nattily
dressed, he was a conspicuous figure in the Treasury but remained unknown to the
public until 1943, when newspaper articles identified him as the actual
architect of Secretary Morgenthau's monetary proposals for the postwar period.
The Diaries reveal White's
technique of dominating over general Treasury affairs by submitting his plans
and ideas to the Secretary, who frequently carried them directly to the
President It is very significant that Morgenthau had access to the President
more readily than any other Cabinet member. He ranked beneath the Secretary of
State in the Cabinet, but Hull complained that he often acted as though
"clothed with authority" to project himself into the field of foreign
affairs. Morgenthau, Hull felt, "did not stop with his work at the
Over the years White brought
into the Treasury a number of economic specialists with whom he worked very
closely. White and his colleagues were in a position, therefore, to exercise on
American foreign policy influence which the diaries reveal to have been
pi'ofound and unprecedented. They used their power in various ways to design and
promote the so-called Morgenthau Plan for the postwar treatment of Germany.
Their actions were not limited to the authority officially delegated to them:
their power was inherent in their access to, and influence upon, Secretary
Morgenthau and other officials, and in the opportunities they had to present or
withhold information on which the policies of their superiors might be based.
What makes this a unique chapter in American history is that Dr. White and
several of his colleagues, the actual architects of vital national policies
during those crucial years, were subsequently identified in Congressional
hearings as participants in a network of Communist espionage in the very shadow
of the Washington Monument. Two of them worked for the Chinese Communists.
Stated in its simplest
terms, the objective of the Morgenthau Plan was to de-industrialize Germany and
diminish its people to a pastoral existence once the war was won. If this could
be accomplished, the militaristic Germans would never rise again to threaten the
peace of the world. This was the justification for all the planning, but another
motive lurked behind the obvious one. The hidden motive was unmasked in a
syndicated column in the New York Herald Tribune in September 1946, more than a
year after the collapse of the Germans. The real goal of the proposed
condemnation of "all of Germany to a permanent diet of potatoes" was
the communization of the defeated nation. "The best way for the German
people to be driven into the arms of the Soviet Union," it was pointed out,
"was for the United States to stand forth as the champion of indiscriminate
and harsh misery in Germany."4
Anyone who studies the
Morgenthau Diaries can hardly fail to be deeply impressed by the tremendous
power which accumulated in the grasping hands of Dr. Harry Dexter White, who in
1953 was identified by Edgar Hoover as a Soviet agent. White assumed full
responsibility for "all matters with which the Treasury Department has to
deal having a bearing on foreign relations..."5 He and his colleagues had
Secretary Morgenthau's complete approval in the formulation of a blueprint for
the permanent elimination of Germany as a world power. The benefits which might
accrue to the Soviet Union as a result of such Treasury planning were
When members fo the Senate
Internal Security sub committee asked Elizabeth Bentley, who was a courier
between White and Soviet agents, whether she knew of a similar "Morgenthau
Plan" for the Far East, she gave the following testimony:
Miss Bentley: No. The only
Morgenthau Plan I knew anything about was the German one.
Senator Eastland: Did you
know who drew that plan?
Miss Bentley: [It was] Due
to Mr. White's influence, to push the devastation of Germany because that was
what the Russians wanted.
Senator Ferguson: That was
what the Communists wanted? Miss Bentley: Definitely, Moscow wanted them
[German factories] completely razed because then they would be of no help to
Mr. Morris: You say that
Harry Dexter White worked on that?
Miss Bentley: And on our
instructions he pushed hard.6
When J. Edgar Hoover
testified before the Subcommittee on November 17, 1953, he affirmed this
All information furnished
by Miss Bentley, which was susceptible to check has proven to be correct. She
had been subjected to the most searching of cross-examinations; her testimony
has been evaluated by juries and reviews by the courts and has been found to
Mr. Hoover continued:
Miss Bentley's account of
White's activities was later corroborated by Whittaker Chambers; and the
documents in White's own handwriting, concerning which there can be no
dispute, lend credibility to the information previously reported on White.7
Morgenthau hit the ceiling
when he got a copy of the Handbook for Military Government in Germany, which was
designed for the guidance of every American and British official upon entering
Germany. The Handbook offered a glimpse of a very different kind of occupation
that Treasury officials were hoping for. Its tone was moderate and lenient
throughout Germany was not only to be self-supporting but was to retain a
relatively high standard of living. Morgenthau wasted no time in showing the
Handbook to President Roosevelt, who immediately rejected its philosophy as too
soft. Impressed by the critical memorandum White had prepared, the President
killed the Handbook and sent a stinging memorandum to the Secretary of War,
Henry L. Stimson, and a copy of which was sent to Hull. 'This so-called Handbook
is pretty bad," Roosevelt began, and he instructed that "all
copies" be withdrawn immediately because it gave him the impression that
Germany was to be "restored just as much as The Netherlands or Belgium, and
the people of Germany brought back as quickly as possible to their pre-war
Thus both Hull and Stimson
were put on notice by the President that the State and War Departments must
develop harsher attitudes towards Germany or be bypassed in the formulation of
that policy. According to General Lucius Clay, suppression of the Handbook
eventually had a "devastating effect on the morale of American officials
responsible for disarming Germany."9
Meanwhile the State
Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff had earlier completed their own
prospectus and directive for postwar Germany. In the State document there was to
be no "large-scale and permanent impairment of all German industry."10
ICS 1067, as the military directive was numbered, was unmistakably akin in
spirit to the "soft" State Department prosepctus. Moreover, it was in
"harmony" with the Handbookóthat is to say, this draft not only
tolerated but actually encouraged friendly relations between American soldiers
and German civilians. From various inter departmental meetings with State and
War, a new version of JCS 1067 finally emerged. It completely reversed the
spirit of the original draft. It was largely the handiwork of Harry Dexter
White. It is indeed remarkable how the Treasury intervened and eventually got
the State and War Departments to alter their basic policy on postwar Germany.
In the realm of finance, of
course, the Secretary of Treasury would naturally be involved in the postwar
treatment of Germany. But Morgenthau delved deeply into matters altoghether
unrelated to economics. The Germans needed psychiatry, Morgenthau told White. He
said he was interested in "treating the mind rather than the body,"
and in planning "how to bring up the next generation of children." It
might be wise to take the whole Nazi SS group out of Germany, he thought, and
deport them to some other part of the world. "Just taking them
bodily," he told White, and he "wouldn't be afraid to make the
suggestion" even though it might be very "ruthless ... to accomplish
Regarding the punishment of
Nazi leaders, White suggested that a list of "war criminals" be
prepared and presented to American officers on the spot, who could properly
identify the guilty and shoot them on sight. Morgenthau remarked jokingly that a
good start could be made with Marshal Stalin's "list of 50,000"óa
reference to Stalin's vodka toast to Roosevelt and Churchill at the Teheran
The disposition of the Ruhr
Valley was one of the main topics discussed in one of the many Treasury
meetings. For many years the coal fields of the Ruhr had been essential to the
German economy. The British economist John Maynard Keynes had said after World
War I that the Kaiser's empire was built "more truly on coal and iron than
on blood and iron."13 Coal was the backbone of all German industry, vital
to her electric power and to her chemical, synthetic oil, and steel
industries.14 It was Morgenthau's persistent view, therefore, that the Ruhr
should be "locked up and wiped out," and he was positive that the
President was in "complete accord" on this point.
As the discussion proceeded,
White shrewdly intimated that it might be better to place the Ruhr under
international controls which would "produce reparations for twenty
years." This was a straw proposal that Morgenthau promptly rejected.
"Harry, you can't sell it to me at all," he said, "because it
would be under control only a few years and the Germans will have another
Anschluss!" The only program he would have any part of, Morgenthau
declared, was "the complete shut-down of the Ruhr." When Harold
Gaston, the Treasury public relations officer, interruped to ask whether this
meant "driving the population out," Morgenthau replied: "I don't
care what happens to the population... I would take every mine, every mill and
factory and wreck it." "Of every kind?" inquired Gaston.
"Steel, coal, everything. Just close it down," Morgenthau said.
"You wouldn't close the mines, would you?" inquired Daniel Bell, one
of the Secretary's assistants. "Sure," replied Morgenthau, and he
reiterated that the only economic activity which should remain intact was
agriculture ó and that could be placed under some type of international
control. He was for destroying Germany's economic power first, he said, and then
"we will worry about the population second."
Morgenthau seemed very
confident that the President would not waver in his support of a punitive
program for postwar Germany. Any effective plan, however, would have to be
executed within the next six months, or otherwise the Allies might suddenly
become ."soft." The best way to begin, Morgenthau advised, was to have
American engineers go to every synthetic gas factory, and dynamite them or
"open the water valves and flood them." Then let the "great
humanitarians" simply sit "back and decide about the population
afterwards." Eventually the Ruhr would resemble "some of the silver
mines in Nevada," Morgenthau said. "You mean like Sherman's march to
the sea?" asked Dan Bell. Morgenthau answered bluntly that he would make
the Ruhr a "ghost area."15
Such was the character of
Secretary Morgenthau's views on the treatment of Germany. Never in American
history had there been proposed a more vindictive program for a defeated nation.
With the Treasury exerting unprecendented influence in determining American
policy toward Germany, the fallacies of logic, evasion of issues and deliberate
disregard of essential economic relationships manifest in the above conversation
were incorporated in the postwar plan as finally adopted. Furthermore, no paper
of any importance dealing with the occupation of Germany could be released until
approved by the Treasury. The State and War Departments became virtually
subservient to the Treasury in this area, normally their responsibility.16
At a meeting in the
President's office, Morgenthau and Stimson presented their opposite views.
Stimson objected vigorously to the Treasury recommendation for the wrecking of
the Ruhr. "I am unalterably opposed to such a program," he declared,
holding it to be "wholly wrong" to deprive the people of Europe of the
products that the Ruhr could produce. 17 The Treasury Plan, if adopted, would
breed new wars, arouse sympathy for Germans in other countries, and destroy
resources needed for the general reconstruction of ravaged Europe. He urged the
President not to make a hasty decision, and to accept "for the time
being" Hull's suggestion that the controversial economic issue be left for
future discussion. 18
ree; At the Quebec summit
conference between Roosevelt and Churchill in September 1944, Morgenthau was
asked to explain his plan to the British. Churchill was horrified and "in
ree; violent language" called the plan "cruel and un-Christian."
But Morgenthau hammered on the idea that the destruction of the Ruhr would
create new markets for Britain after the war. He also promised Churchill an
American loan of $6.5 billion! Churchill "changed his mind" the next
Although foreign affairs and
military matters were discussed in depth at the Quebec Confrence, neither Hull
nor Stimson were in attendance. The Treasury Department took precedence over
State and War in negotiations regarding Germany.
The effects of Morgenthau's
victory at Quebec were quickly felt in Washington. At a luncheon with
Undersecretary of War Robert Patterson, Morgenthau brought up the Quebec
agreement. Patterson said jokingly: "To degrade Europe by making Germany an
agricultural country, isn't that offensive to you?" Morgenthau replied:
"Not in the case of Germany."20
Hull felt strongly that
Morgenthau should have been kept out of the field of general policy, and so did
Stimson. When Stimson heard of the President's endorsement of the Treasury plan
at Quebec, he quickly drafted another critical memorandum. "If I thought
that the Treasury proposals would accomplish [our agreed objective, continued
peace)," he wrote, "I would not persist in my objections. But I cannot
believe that they will make for a lasting peace. In spirit and in emphasis they
are punitive, not, in my judgment, corrective or constructive." He
It is not within the realm
of possibility that the whole nation of seventy million people, who have been
outstanding for many years in the arts and the sciences and who through their
efficiency and energy have attained one of the highest industrial levels in
Europe, can by force be required to abandon all their previous methods of
life, be reduced to a level with virtually complete control of industry and
science left to other peoples ... Enforced poverty is even worse, for it
destroys the spirit not only of the victim but debases the victor. It would be
just such a crime as the Germans themselves hoped to perpetrate upon their
victimsóit would be a crime against civilization iLself.21
Word of "Morgenthau's
coup at Quebec" leaked to the press with two results. One was that
Roosevelt, because of the adverse reaction, evidently concluded that his
Treasury Secretary had made "a serious blunder." The other was to
stiffen German resistance on the Western front. Until then there was a fair
chance that the Germans might discontinue resistance to American and British
forces while holding the Russians at bay in the East in order to avoid the
frightful fate of a Soviet occupation. This could have shortened the war by
months and could have averted the spawning of malignant communism in East
How the Treasury officials
were able to integrate basic features of their plan into the military directive,
originally prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and known as JCS 1067, is fully
disclosed in the Diaries. White saw to it that many elements of his thinking
were embodied in ICS 1067. Previous directives for guidance of American troops
upon entrance into Germany, which already had undergone six or more revisions of
a stylistic nature, were now brought more in line with the punitive thinking of
Morgenthau and White. A new directive, which called for a more complete de-nazification,
was, with some modifications, the spirit and substance of the Treasury plan. In
the two full years that ICS 1067 was the cornerstone of American policy, Germany
was punished and substantially dismantled in accord with the basic tenets of the
Morgenthau Plan. JCS 1067 forbade fraternization by American personnel with the
Germans, ordered a very strict program of de-nazification extending both to
public life and to business, prohibited American aid in any rebuilding of German
industry, and emphasized agricultural rehabilitation only.
Subsequently, JCS 1067
became a severe handicap to American efforts in Germany. It constituted what may
be called without exaggeration a heavy millstone around the neck of the American
military government. It gave only limited authority to to the United States
military government by specifically prohibiting military officials from taking
any steps to rehabilitate the German economy except to maximize agricultural
Through various channels,
White had gathered information concerning the kind of policy directives other
departments had in preparation. This he was able to achieve through a system of
"trading" which Morgenthau had initiated at his suggestion. As
Elizabeth Bentley told the Internal Security Subcommittee, 'We were so
successful getting information... largely because of Harry White's idea to
persuade Morgenthau to exchange information." Treasury officials, for
example, would send information to the Navy Department, and the Navy would
reciprocate. There were, according to Miss Bentley, at least "seven or
eight agencies" trading information with Morgenthau.22
At the Yalta Conference on
February 4, 1945, the question of postwar treatment of Germany was the most
important item on the agenda. The President's conduct suggests the powerful
effect on his thinking of White's masterplan and Morgenthau's salesmanship. On
the major points regarding Germany the President easily capitulated to the
Soviets. Stalin and Roosevelt were in general accord that the defeated Germans
should be stripped of their factories and left to take care of themselves. But
Churchill wished to preserve enough of the existing economic structure of
Germany to permit the defeated nation to recover to some degree.
In his book Beyond
Containment, William H. Chamberlain assesses Yalta as a tragedy of appeasement:
Like Munich, Yalta must be
set down as a dismal failure, practically as well as morally ... The Yalta
Agreement represented, in two of its features, the endorsement by the United
States of the principle of human slavery. One of these features was the
recognition that German labor could be used as a source of reparations ... And
the agreement that Soviet citizens who were found in the Eastern zones of
occupation should be handed over to Soviet authorities amounted, for the many
Soviet refugees who did not wish to return, to the enactment of a fugitive
After President Roosevelt
returned from Yalta, State Department officials grasped an opportunity to push
through their own program for postwar Germany. On March 10, 1945, Secretary of
State Edward Stettinius submitted for the President's consideration the draft of
a new policy directive for the military occupation of Germany. The prime movers
in this strategy were Leon Henderson, James C. Dunn, and James W. Riddleberger,
the departmental expert on German affairs. They purposely did not consult with
Treasury officials because they knew there would be major objections from them.
The March 10 memorandum was a reasonable substitute for the rigorous JCS 1067,
which was so pleasing to White and Morgenthau. It was based on the central
concept that Germany was important to the economy recovery of Europe. It
provided for joint allied control of defeated Germany, preservation of a large
part of German industry, and a "minimum standard of living" for the
German people. The memorandum had no provision for dismemberment, and Germany
was to begin "paying her own way as soon.. as possible."24
When Morgenthau saw a copy
of the State Department memorandum, he became so furious that he immediately
telephoned Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy to voice his complaints.
"It's damnable, an outrage!" he exclaimed. "Riddleberger and
these fellows are just putting this thing across ... I'm not going to take it
lying down." The State Department plan, if adopted, would have spelled
complete defeat for Morgenthau and White. "It makes me so mad,"
Morgenthau raged, "I think the President should fire Jimmy Dunn and two or
three other fellows." 25
Several days later, armed
with a memorandum drafted by White, Coe, and Glasser, he hurried to the White
House. He was disturbed to find Roosevelt's daughter, Anna, and her husband,
Maj. John Boettinger, caring for the President, "whose health by that time
was faltering to the point where mental lapses could be expected."
Roosevelt apparently no longer thought that Morgenthau had "pulled a
boner" with his destroy-Germany plan and when Boettinger commented
"You don't want the Germans to starve," the President replied
"Why not?" Morgenthau told White he was worried about Boettinger's
attitude. The question one may ask is did the Soviets know what the American
people did not knowóthat Roosevelt was close to death and liable to blackouts
at any moment?
jubilantly, however, to his "team" that the President had accepted his
plan as "a good tough document." He confided in his diary:
We have a good team, they
just can't break the team... It is very encouraging that we had the President
back us up... they tried to get him to change and they couldn'tóthe State
Department crowd. Sooner or later, the President just has to clean his house.
I mean the vicious crowd... They are Fascists at heart... 26
The State Department was
sorely disappointed that the President had rejected their March lath memorandum.
It was a severe defeat for Riddleberger, Dunn, and others who were advocating a
reasonable program for Germamy. Morgenthau felt that the new JCS document should
declare unmistakably that the State Department paper of March 10 was officially
withdrawn. White asked McCloy and General Hilldring whether everyone in the War
Department would understand that the new document "superseded" the
March 10 memorandum. McCloy assured him that everyone would be ree; duly
notified. White then asked whether it would be perfectly "clear" in
the Army that the Treasury document "took precedence over and caused the
revision of any document contrary to it." General Hilldring answered there
would be no problem here.
A cardinal point of dispute
between the Treasury and the Department of War resided in the question of the
treatment of German war criminals. Stimson advised the President to have trials
rather than the "shoot on sight" policy advocated by Morgenthau.
Stimson believed the accused should have a right to be heard and be allowed to
call witnesses to his defense.27 Another subject of controversy between the
Treasury on the one side and the State and War on the other was the question of
reparations. The Treasury believed that reprarations should be limited to
whatever the Allies could wring out of defeated Germany at the end of the war.
Morgenthau and White were dead set against the old concept of long-term
reparations payments, because such annual tribute would necessitate the
re-building of industry on a large scale in Germany. They wished to make the
Germans "pastoral" and then throw upon them the full repsonsibility
for taking care of themselves. The World War I application of
"reparations" would result in nothing more or less that the
revitalization of German industrial might. In their thinking this specter loomed
White and his colleagues
were careful not to jeopardize postwar relations with the Soviet Union. They
frequently expressed their fears of Western encirclement of Russia. They thought
that those individuals in the American government who wished to restore Germany
were motivated by the idea that a strong Reich was necessary as a "bulwark
against Russia." This attitude was certainly responsible for many of the
current difficulties between Washington and Moscow. At one of the
interdepartmental meetings a dispute developed over the question of compulsory
German labor as restitution for war damages in Russia. Treasury officials were
boldly advocating the creation of a large labor force with no external controls.
This view was challenged by War, State and other departments as treating 2 or 3
million people as slave labor. Morgenthau reminded his opponents that the whole
issue of compulsory labor had already been decided upon at Yalta. "We are
simply carrying out the Yalta agreement," he exclaimed, and anyone who is
going to protest "... is protesting against Yalta ..." It is
significant that five months previously, President Roosevelt had sent a
memorandum to Morgenthau to the effect that if "they [Russia] want German
labor, there is no reason why they should not get it in certain circumstances
and under certain conditions."28
White opined that if the
Russians needed two~ million German laborers to reconstruct their devastated
areas, he saw nothing wrong with it; it was "in the interest" of
Russia and even Germany that the labor force come from the ranks of the Gestapo,
the S.S., and the Nazi party membership. "That's not a punishment for
crime," he stated, "that's merely a part of the reparations problem in
the same way you want certain machines from Germany...29
As long as Morgenthau was
Secretary of the Treasury, White performed adroitly in his strange Svengali
role. But fundamental changes in the management of American foreign policy
occurred after Harry Truman became President. While the President was still a
Senator, he read in the newspapers about the Morgenthau Plan, and he didn't like
it. Morgenthau wanted to come to Potsdam, threatening to resign if he was not
made a member of the U.S. delegation. Truman promptly accepted his resignation.
What were the final results
of the Morgenthau Plan? What actual effect did it have on Germany? "While
the policy was never fully adopted," wrote W. Friedmann, "it had a
considerable influence upon American policy in the later stages of the war and
during the first phase of military government."30 Although President
Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill eventually recognized the folly of what
they had approved at Quebec, Morgenthau, White, and the Treasury staff saw to it
that the spirit and substance of their plan prevailed in official policy as it
was finally mirrored in the punitive directive known as JCS 1067.
In a very definite way JCS
1067 determined the main lines of U.S. policy in Germany for fully two years
after the surrender. Beginning in the fall of 1945, to be sure, a new drift in
American policy was evident, and it eventually led to the formal repudiation of
the directive in July of 1947. Until it was officially revoked, however, the
lower administrative echelons had to enforce its harsh provisions. "The
military government officers," writes Prof. Harold Zink, "were unable
to see how Germany could be reorganized without a substantial amount of
industrialization. They tried to fit the Morgenthan dictates into their economic
plans, but they ended up more or less in a state of paralysis."31
As White had certainly
anticipated, the economic condition of Germany was desperate between 1945 and
1948. The cities remained heaps of debris, and shelter was at a premium as a
relentless stream of unskilled refugees poured into the Western zones, where the
food ration of 1,500 calories per day was hardly sufficient to sustain life. As
Stimson, Riddleberger, and others had predicted, the economic prostration of
Germany now resulted in disruption of the continental trade that was essential
to the prosperity of other European nations. As long as German industrial power
was throttled, the economic recovery of Europe was delayedóand this, in time,
led to serious political complications. To nurse Europe back to health, the
Marshall Plan was devised in 1947. It repudiated, at long last, the philosophy
of the White-Morgenthau program.
The currency reforms of
June, 1948, changed the situation overnight. These long overdue measures removed
the worst restraints, and thereupon West Germany began its phenomenal economic
After all this has been
said, an implicit question haunts the historian. It is this: if the Morgenthau
Plan was indeed psychopathically anti-German, was it also consciously and
purposefully pro-Russian? The Secretary of the ree; Treasury never denied that
his plan was anti-German in both its philosophy and its projected effects, but
no one in his department ever admitted that it was also pro-Russian in the same
ways. In his book, And Call It Peace, Marshall Knappen suggested in 1947 that
the Morgenthau Plan "corresponded closely to what might be presumed to be
Russian wishes on the German question. It provided a measure of vengeance and
left no strong state in the Russian orbit."32
In document after document
the Diaries reveal Harry Dexter White's influence upon both the formative
thinking and the final decisions of Secretary Morgenthau. Innocent of higher
economics and the mysteries of international finance, the Secretary had always
leaned heavily on his team of experts for all manner of general and specific
recommendations.33 White was the field captain of that team; on the German
question he called all the major plays from the start. As a result of White's
advice, for example, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was ordered in April,
1944 to deliver to the Soviet government a duplicate set of plates for the
printing of the military occupation marks which were to be the legal currency of
postwar Germany. The ultimate product of this fantastic decision was to greatly
stimulate inflation throughout occupied Germany, and the burden of redeeming
these Soviet- made marks finally fell upon American taxpayers to a grand total
of more than a quarter of a billion dollars. 34 White followed this
recommendation with another, in May of 1944, which again anticipated the
emerging plan. This time he urged a postwar loan of 10 billion dollars to the
Remember that, in her
testimony before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee in 1952, the
confessed Communist courier Elizabeth Bentley charged that White was the inside
man who prepared the plan for Secretary Morgenthau, and "on our instruction
he pushed hard." Also, J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI charged that White was an
active agent of Soviet espionage, and despite the fact he had sent five reports
to the White House warning the President of White's activities, Truman promoted
him to a position at the United Nations. When the shocking story of White's
service as a Soviet agent was first revealed by Attorney General Herbert
Brownell in a Chicago speech, it created quite a stir of public charges and
counter-charges by then retired Harry Truman.
The concentration of
Communist sympathizers in the Treasury Department is now a matter of public
record. White eventually became Assistant Secretary. Collaborating with him were
Frank Coe, Harold Glasser, Irving Kaplan and Victor Perlo, all of whom were
identified in sworn testimony as participants in the Communist conspiracy. When
questioned by Congressional investigators, they consistently invoked the Fifth
Amemdment. In his one appearance before the House Committee on Un-American
Activities in 1948, White emphatically denied participation in any conspiracy. A
few days later he was found dead, the apparent victim of a heart attack (which
is questioned by some investigators). Notes in his handwriting were later found
among the "pumpkin papers" on Whittaker Chambers' farm.36 In a
statement before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee in 1953, Attorney
General Brownell declared White guilty of "supplying information consisting
of documents obtained by him in the course of duties as Assistant Secretary of
the U.S. Treasury, to Nathan Gregory Silvermaster..."37 Silvermaster passed
these documents on to Miss Bentley after photographing them in his basement.
When asked before two congressional committees to explain his activities,
Silvermaster invoked the Fifth Amendment.
Never before in American
history had an unelected bureaucracy of faceless, "fourth floor"
officials exercised such arbitrary power over the future of nations as did Harry
Dexter White and his associates in the Department of the Treasury under Henry
Morgenthau, Jr. What they attempted to do in their curious twisting of American
ideals, and how close they came to complete success, is demonstrated in the
Morgenthau Diaries, which I had the privilege of examining and which were
published by the Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States
Senate in 1967.
John Morton Blum, Years
of Urgency, 1938-41: From the Morgenthau Diaries (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin
Co., 1965), p. 3.
The Memoirs of Cordell
Hull (New York: Macmillan Co., 1948), VoL 1, pp. 207-208.
Ibid., 1, p. 207
Issue of September 5,
December 15, 1941,
Interlocking Subversion in Government Departments, Final Report, July 30,
1953, p. 29.
Institute of Pacific
Relations, pt 2, pp. 419-420.
in Government Departments, pt. 16, p. 1145.
August 26, 1944, Book
766, pp. 166-170. Morgenthau Diaries, Hyde Park.
Lucius Clay, Decision in
Germany (New York, Doubleday and Co.1950), p. 8.
Book 777, p. 70 et seq.
August 28, 1944, Book
767, p. 1.
September 4, 1944, Book
768, p. 104.
John Maynard Keynes, The
Economic Consequences of the Peace (New York~ Harcourt Brace and Co. 1920),
B.H. Klein, Germany's
Economic Preparations for War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1959),
p. 123. 15. September 4, 1944, Book 768, p. 104.
November 21, 1944, Book
797, pp. 256-258.
September 9, 1944, Book
771, p. 50.
Ibid.; Henry L. Stimson
and McGeorge Bundy, On Active Service in Peace and War (New York, Harper and
Row, 1948), pp. 573-574.
October 18-19, 1944, Book
783, pp. 23-39.
September 27, 1944, Book
776, p. 33.
September 15, 1944, Book
772, pp. 4-9. (Italics mine.)
Institute of Pacific
Relations, Hearings, pt. 2, p. 422.
(Chicago: Henry Regnery
Co., 1953), pp. 36-46.
March 10, 1945, Book
827-1, pp. 1-2.
March 19, 1945, Book
828-2, p. 233; March 20, 1945, Book 830, p. 24.
March 23, 1945, Book
831-2, p. 205, et seq.
September 9, 1944, Book
771, p. 50 et seq.
December 9, 1944, Book
802, pp. 241-248.
May 18, 1945, Book 847,
W. Friedmann, The Allied
Military Government of Germany (London: Stevens and Sons, Ltd., 1947), p.
Harold Zink, American
Military Government in Germany (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1947), pp.
Marshall Knappen, And
Call It Peace (University of Chicago Press, 1947), pp. 53-56.
The Secret Diary of
Harold L. Ickes: The First Thousand Days (New York: Simon and Schuster,
1953), I. 331.
For this strange story in
detail, see Transfer of Occupation Currency PlatesóEspionage Phase, Interim
Report of the Committee on Government Operations, December 15, 1953
(Washington: Government Printing Office, 1953).
May 16, 1944, Book 732,
in Governmept Departments, pt. 16.
"Deliberate policy of mass starvation"
Senator Homer E. Capeheart
of Indiana in an address before the United States Senate on February 5, 1946.
"The fact can no longer
be suppressed, namely, the fact that it has been and continues to be, the
deliberate policy of a confidential and conspirational clique within the
policy-making circles of this government to draw and quarter a nation now
reduced to abject misery.
In this process this clique,
like a pack of hyenas struggling over the bloody entrails of a corpse, and
inspired by a sadistic and fanatical hatred, are determined to destroy the
German nation and the German people, no matter what the consequences.
At Potsdam the
representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Union of Soviet
Socialist Republics solemnly signed the following declaration of principles and
"It is not the
intention of the Allies to destroy or enslave the German people."
Mr. President, the cynical
and savage repudiation of these solemn declarations which has resulted in a
major catastrophe, cannot be explained in terms of ignorance or incompetence.
This repudiation, not only of the Potsdam Declaration, but also of every law of
God and men, has been deliberately engineered with such a malevolent cunning,
and with such diabolical skill, that the American people themselves have been
caught in an international death trap.
For nine months now this
administration has been carrying on a deliberate policy of mass starvation
without any distinction between the innocent and the helpless and guilty alike.
The first issue has been and
continues to be purely humanitarian. This vicious clique within this
administration that has been responsible for the policies and practices which
have made a madhouse of central Europe has not only betrayed our American
principles, but they have betrayed the Gis who have suffered and died, and they
continue to betray the American Gis who have to continue their dirty work for
The second issue that is
involved is the effect this tragedy in Germany has already has already had on
the other European countries. Those who have been responsible for this
deliberate destruction of the German state and this criminal mass starvation of
the German people have been so zealous in their hatred that all other interests
and concerns have been subordinated to this one obsession of revenge. In order
to accomplish this it mattered not if the liberated countries in Europe suffered
and starved. To this point this clique of conspirators have addressed
themselves: "Germany is to be destroyed. What happens to other countries of
Europe in the process is of secondary importance."
(Ralph Franklin Keeling, Gruesome
Harvest: The Allies Postwar War Against the German People, Institute of
American Economics (Chicago) 1947, p. 75-76)