Document:Genesis of the Morgenthau Plan
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 Plan caused immediate controversy. Hearing that it had been initialled at Quebec, Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War, made bitter comments about the Semites in his unpublished private diary.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 divisions.'
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 war minister 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.'
Clever forgeries, 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 propagandists and the total truth of 1944-1945. David Irving, London, June 1985
- 1 The people involved
- 2 The Bitter atmosphere
- 3 Morgenthau visits Europe
- 4 Morgenthau meets Eisenhower
- 5 The meeting with Churchill
- 6 Morgenthau's other meetings in England
- 7 Morgenthau returns to Washington
- 8 Roosevelt appoints a cabinet committee on Germany
- 9 Harry Dexter White drafts the plan
- 10 List of men to liquidate
- 11 'Biased by Semitic grievences'
- 12 The conference at Quebec, September 1944
- 13 Churchill, Roosevelt initial the Morgenthau plan
- 14 'Semitism gone wild'
- 15 The end of the conference
- 16 The US policy directive issued
- 17 A bath of hate
- 18 References
The people involved
CHERWELL,(1886-1957) faddish, 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.
The Bitter atmosphere
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 Eisenhower, they could temporarily assign zones in Germany to the smaller nations with old scores to settle.
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 war minister 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 transport."
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.'
Morgenthau meets Eisenhower
They could not have picked a worse day for their visit. Hitler'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 a 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.'
The meeting with Churchill
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 is through.'
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 British Empire.'
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.' 
Morgenthau's other meetings in England
Turning his back on the unpleasant truth of Britain's bankruptcy, Mr Churchill had literally flown, taking 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 Eden hesitatingly admitted 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 Germany; to dismember her so that she could never again disrupt Europe.
'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 debtor nation.'
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 Germany. Germany 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, Churchill agreed.
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 Germany.'
Morgenthau 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 imprisonment. 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 problem.
Later that day, Stimson and Morgenthau both lunched with the president. The war minister 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..'
Roosevelt 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 this date.
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.'
Harry Dexter 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 each other 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.'
List of men to liquidate
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 yesterday 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 reconstruction 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 expected - absolute 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|[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 without trial.'
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:
- that he asserted his predilection for feeding the Germans from soup kitchens instead of anything heavier, and
- 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 could see.'
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 there.
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.
'Biased by Semitic grievences'
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 war minister 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.'
The conference at Quebec, September 1944
At Quebec both Churchill and Roosevelt were ill men. Churchill was kept going only with M&B sulphonamide-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 K diary, 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 equipment a 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 Singapore back.'
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 opposed. All 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 be '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 administer,' 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 tête-à-tête 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 alcohol.
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.
Churchill, 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 afterwards.)
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 stories.'
'Well,' Churchill 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 anew.
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 dictated rather 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 time.
'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.'
'Semitism gone wild'
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 approved it.
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.'
The end of the conference
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 general topics.
'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-à-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 business.'
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 Marine minister James Forrestal and revealed the plan to him.
The US 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 authorities.'
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 hate
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. Nov 19.'
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 permit.'
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 forcible dismemberment.'
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. Marine minister 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 lynch law, 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.'
- U.S. Dept of State record of visit by Dr Nahum Goldmann, September 13, 1944: US embassy files, London, 710 Arab-Jewish relations.
- Diaries of Mackenzie King, H.H. Arnold; Leahy, etc.
- 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.