The Morgenthau Plan behind the scenes

well_chuffed, Going Postal
Assistant Secretary, U.S. Treasury, Harry Dexter White (left) and John Maynard Keynes, honorary advisor to the U.K. Treasury at the inaugural meeting of the International Monetary Fund’s Board of Governors in Savannah, Georgia, U.S., March 8, 1946
International Monetary Fund [Public domain]

Having written about the Morgenthau Plan, I finally found my book that detailed all the behind the scenes machinations involved in producing the Plan. It is not a pretty sight seeing as many of those involved were either spying for the Soviets or so far on their side they might as well have been. from a cast of quite a few, most of the planners drawing up the Morgenthau Plan were actually Soviet agents.

At the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, Roosevelt produced his unconditional surrender slogan. This was contentious because it gave the Germans no leeway. At the Quebec 2 Conference in September 1944 FDR and Churchill gave their blessing to the Morgenthau Plan. General Marshall was not in favour and neither were Cordell Hull (Secretary of State) and Henry Stimson (Secretary of War). They thought that it would lead to the Germans digging their heels and fighting even more to the end than expected.

Churchill was effectively bribed into accepting it, a six and half billion dollar loan was the carrot at a time when the UK was on its uppers. At the time Winston said if he had to choose between the German people and the British people, he would choose the British, this is rather different when compared to the last few decades of the UK Government’s actions. Stalin was very much in favour of punishing the Germans, no plan could go too far for him. It should be pointed out here that the plan was the product of the US Treasury and it would seem more usual for this to be in the realm of the US State Department and the Military. Morgenthau and Harry Dexter White fought tenaciously against the more moderate State and War Department ideas of what should happen to Germany.

The source I am using says rather cryptically that Harry Dexter White had discovered that plans were afoot elsewhere in the government (the State and War Departments) to impose a moderate peace in Europe. The Germans would have to de-Nazify but would eventually be accepted back into the family of nations. There was also a draft of a US Army handbook suggesting relatively humane treatment for the German population. This was not something Stalin wanted to hear and so his agents and fellow travellers set about creating a much more severe kind of outcome and forcing sever changes in the draft handbook.

Morgenthau and White decided they needed a plan that pushed Germany back into an agrarian society with little or no industry. The kind of thing Stalin would’ve been happy with. The team that created the plan were, for the most part, Soviet agents, two of whom defected to China later on.

What were the ideas and suggestions this team entertained, some of which were a bit too much even for Morgenthau. Not all of these ideas made it into the plan.

One idea was to shoot large numbers of Germans when they surrendered. Stalin, at the Teheran Conference, had already suggested a figure of 50,000 and nobody was sure if he was joking or not, he wasn’t. This seemed a bit vague so the next suggestion was to create a list of Germans to be shot. Nobody was too sure how to create the list so it was suggested that the names are yet to be determined. One colleague said that it was a good idea but if it was to be done, it would need to be done quickly or nothing would happen. There had been similar ideas after the first world war but the delay was too long and there were no shootings.

It was also unclear if these people were to be shot on sight or by firing squads. None of this seemed to have much to do with the Treasury so Morgenthau had misgivings and White struck it from the agenda.

The next suggestion was to use the defeated Germans as slave labour in a variation on the reparations idea. This forced labour was to go to the Soviet Union and this was in fact in the settlement agreed at Yalta. The slaves would not only include Germans but any anti-communist Russians as well. We are all aware of what happened to those poor unfortunates, in fact any Russians who had been captured by the Germans were at best thrown into the Gulags if not just shot on sight.

The slave labour idea was shot down by Supreme Court Justice Jackson, later to be at the Nuremburg Trials, when he pointed out this would be a war crime. It didn’t save those Russian prisoners the Germans had not bumped off yet, they were returned to Stalin with US and British soldiers under orders to shoot to kill any who resisted. This was Operation Keelhaul and may well be the subject of another article. For obvious reasons this did not receive lots of publicity when it happened. Some of these prisoners were not even Russian when the war started, their homes were acquired by the Russians during the war. The deed was hidden under a proposed prisoner exchange and it was only signed by the US and Soviet military. Most others denied all knowledge of it. Surprised Blair didn’t think of something like that so he could deny all responsibility for some of his military adventures.

The redrawing of national borders was another concern. This mainly affected Germany and Poland though former Axis powers Rumania and Hungary would also be involved. The big part was the eastern half of Poland was to go to Russia and Poland would be given a similar amount of territory that had been Germany and this is what happened. What remained of Germany would be chopped up into three, five or even more chunks. Eventually Germany was divided into four military occupation zones.

Since the Nazis had indoctrinated the children there were proposals to remove German children from their parents and bring them up as wards of court to be cared for by ex US, English and Russian Army Officers. In this way they could be taught the true meaning of democracy. Sounds like a paedo’s charter to me, wherever there are vulnerable children, the paedos worm their way in.

The de-industrialisation of Germany was to be selective, any industry that could be turned to war production was to be dismantled and shipped off to the victors. The major players in this were the French and the Russians. Eventually this was stopped and Germany was allowed to at least stand still, the Russians had become the enemy and an agrarian Germany was going to allow Russia a free hand in Western Europe.

By the time FDR had approved the Morgenthau Plan, Henry Stimson the US Secretary of War was horrified by what he saw. He went to FDR and pointed out what he saw as the errors in the Plan. Once these things were pointed out, FDR was also horrified and could not understand how he had approved the thing. This was the start of curtailing the excesses. It does beg the question was FDR simply overworked (he was ill by this time) and did Morgenthau and White try to conceal the more vindictive parts of the Plan. Probably both would be my guess.

However, the Plan was watered down and eventually overtaken by the Marshall Plan, more of which in another article.

© well_chuffed 2020

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