Morgenthau Plan

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The (1944) U.S. "Morgenthau Plan" showing the planned partitioning of Germany into a North State, a South State, and an International zone. Areas in grey are areas intended for annexation by France, Poland and the U.S.S.R.

The Morgenthau Plan was named after the Jewish Secretary of the USA Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., who drew it up in 1944. It was a plan for the occupation and dismemberment of Germany, as planned during the Tehran Conference, after the Second World War that advocated various extremely harsh measures.

The plan

The 1941 book Germany Must Perish! has been argued to have directly influenced the Morgenthau Plan.[1]

A somewhat modified version of the Morgenthau Plan was approved by Roosevelt and Churchill included the statement: :"This programme is for eliminating the war-making industries in the Ruhr and in the Saar and proposes converting Germany into a country primarily agricultural and pastoral in its character."[2]

Another supporter of the plan was the influential Bernard Baruch, a Jewish adviser of Allied leaders during both the First and Second World Wars, and who had drafted the harshly punitive economic clauses of the Versailles Treaty after the First World War. Baruch threatened to the end the careers of those in Washington who stood in the way of the Morgenthau Plan.[3][4]

Morgenthau claimed that it was Eisenhower who instilled in him the idea of a harsh treatment of the Germans, although Eisenhower would later deny this, or plead loss of memory. Another supporter was Frederick Lindemann, a German-born Jew and Churchill's close friend, economic, strategic and scientific adviser. Motivations for the plan included general resentment against the entire German people without regard to individual guilt, to permanently destroy Germany as a major power, and to economically help Britain, which was bankrupt due to their war.[2]

For example the book The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence of American Postwar Policy has argued that the plan and the post-war harsh measures were partly the work of Soviet infiltrators, such as the Jewish Harry Dexter White (who worked closely with Morgenthau in the Treasury Department) with goals such as weakening and dividing the Western countries and increasing support for Communism in Germany and elsewhere. Similarly, other argued Communist infiltrators influenced policies during this time period are argued to have had similar goals.

David Irving wrote: "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. [...] liquidate entire classes of suspected Nazi war criminals upon simple identification, and to leave the German nation to 'stew in its own juice,' [...] Dr Joseph Goebbels, National Socialist 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.A. 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 divisions.'".[2]

Partial implementation

While the Morgenthau plan was formally rejected, following adverse publicity, very harsh measures were nevertheless implemented in occupied Germany, which have been argued to have caused large-scale German deaths in the first years after the war. See: Claimed mass killings of Germans by the WWII Allies.

On May 10, 1945, Truman signed the U.S. occupation Directive JCS 1067. Morgenthau told his staff that it was a big day for the Treasury, and that he hoped that "someone doesn't recognize it as the Morgenthau Plan."[5] The Directive for over two years instructed the U.S. occupation forces to "take no steps looking toward the economic rehabilitation of Germany".[6]

In occupied Germany, Morgenthau left a direct legacy through the USA Office of Military Government, where they were commonly called the "Morgenthau boys". These were U.S.A. Treasury officials whom General Dwight D. Eisenhower had "loaned" to the Army of occupation. These people ensured that JCS 1067 was interpreted as strictly as possible. They were most active in the first crucial months of the occupation, but continued their activities for almost two years following the resignation of Morgenthau in mid-1945 and that some time later also of their leader Colonel Bernard Bernstein, who was the repository of the Morgenthau spirit in the army of occupation".[7] In July 1947 JCS 1067 was replaced by JCS 1779 which instead stressed that "An orderly, prosperous Europe requires the economic contributions of a stable and productive West Germany."

In November 1945, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Military Governor of the U.S.A. Occupation Zone, approved the distribution of 1000 free copies of a book by Morgenthau on the plan to American military officials in occupied Germany. Historian Stephen Ambrose draws the conclusion that, despite Eisenhower's later claims that the act was not an endorsement of the Morgenthau plan, Eisenhower both approved of the plan and had previously given Morgenthau at least some of his ideas on how Germany should be treated.[8]

The revisionist Anthony Kubek has written that "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 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 autumn 1945 a new drift in American policy was evident, and it eventually led to the formal repudiation of the directive in July 1947. Until it was officially revoked, however, the lower administrative echelons had to enforce its harsh provisions. [...]

"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 delayed – and 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 revival."[9]


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. - Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson.[2]
We have got to be tough with Germany and I mean the German people, not just the Nazis [sic]. 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. - Franklin D. Roosevelt.[2]
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. - Dwight D. Eisenhower.[2]
Senate Internal Security sub-committee and Elizabeth Bentley, a courier between Harry Dexter White and Soviet agents:[9]
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 Soviets 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 the Allies.
Mr. Morris: You say that Harry Dexter White worked on that?
Miss Bentley: And on our instructions he pushed hard.

See also

External links


Article archives


  1. The Morgenthau Plan and Kaufman’s 'Germany Must Perish!': A Comparison
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 The Morgenthau Plan
  3. Reflections on German and American Foreign Policy, 1933-1945
  4. Defending the Defenseless
  5. Beschloss, The Conquerors, pg. 233.
  6. Pas de Pagaille! Time magazine, Jul. 28, 1947.
  7. Petrov, Vladimir, Money and conquest; Allied occupation currencies in World War II, Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, 1967, p.228-9
  8. Ambrose, Stephen, Eisenhower: Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect (1893-1952), Simon and Schuster, New York, 1983, p.422. ISBN: 978-0671440695
  9. 9.0 9.1 The Morgenthau Plan and the Problem of Policy Perversion