Morgenthau Plan

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The Morgenthau Plan was a plan for the occupation of Germany after the Second World War that advocated various extremely harsh measures. It was named after the Jewish Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr.

The plan

In 1944, Morgenthau proposed the Morgenthau Plan for postwar Germany. A somewhat modified version approved by Roosevelt and Churchill included the statement "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."[1]

Another supporter was the influential Bernard Baruch, a Jewish adviser of Allied leaders during both the First World War and the Second World War, 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.[2][3]

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 the war. The plan was formally abandoned due widespread protests, after the plan was leaked to the public.[1]

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 infiltrator influenced policies during this time period are argued to have had similar goals.

David Irving has written that "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, 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 divisions.'".[1]

The 1941 book Germany Must Perish! has been argued to have directly influenced the Morgenthau Plan.[4]

Partial implementation

While the Morgenthau plan was formally rejected, very harsh measures were despite this implemented on 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, which was in effect for over two years directed the U.S. forces of occupation to "…take no steps looking toward the economic rehabilitation of Germany".[6]

In occupied Germany, Morgenthau left a direct legacy through what in Office of Military Government, United States commonly were called "Morgenthau boys". These were U.S. Treasury officials whom General Dwight D. Eisenhower had "loaned" in 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 some time later also of their leader Colonel Bernard Bernstein, who was "the repository of the Morgenthau spirit in the army of occupation".[7] They resigned when in July 1947 JCS 1067 was replaced by JCS 1779 that instead stressed that "An orderly, prosperous Europe requires the economic contributions of a stable and productive Germany."

In November 1945, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Military Governor of the U.S. 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 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. [...]

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.[1]
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.
—Franklin Roosevelt.[1]
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.[1]
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 wasl 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 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. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 The Morgenthau Plan
  2. Reflections on German and American Foreign Policy, 1933-1945
  3. Defending the Defenseless
  4. The Morgenthau Plan and Kaufman’s ‘Germany Must Perish!’: A Comparison
  5. Beschloss, The Conquerors, pg. 233.
  6. Pas de Pagaille! Time Magazine, Jul. 28, 1947.
  7. Vladimir Petrov. Money and conquest; allied occupation currencies in World War II. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Press (1967) pg. 228-229
  8. Stephen Ambrose, Eisenhower: Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect (1893-1952), New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983, p. 422. ISBN 978-0671440695
  9. 9.0 9.1 The Morgenthau Plan and the Problem of Policy Perversion
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