Allied attacks against German manpower have proceeded along three main fronts: enslavement, denazification, and physical incapacitation through undernourishment. Our present discussion will take up the first two of these, with starvation postponed for special treatment.

President Roosevelt on October 21, 1944, promised that “the German people are not going to be enslaved, because the United Nations do not traffic in human slavery.” In the preceding month of Quebec, however, he had used strong pressure to obtain Mr. Churchill’s acceptance of the Morgenthau Plan which called for “forced German labor outside Germany.” Pravda writer Boris Izakov wrote that when in the following February at Yalta the proposal was advanced to force German workers to rebuild war-damaged areas, “President Roosevelt called this a healthy idea.”[1] It was at this meeting that Mr. Roosevelt pressed the Morgenthau Plan and won Mr. Stalin’s ominously ready acceptance.

Although at Potsdam it was solemnly promised again that “It is not the intention of the Allies to . . . enslave the German people,” thousands of Germans had already been marched eastward into Russia’s yawning slave camps. More that a month earlier, on June 29, 1945, the following had been published: “German prisoners in Russian hands are estimated to number from four to five millions. When Berlin and Breslau surrendered, the long grey-green columns of prisoners were marched east. . . downcast and fearful. . . toward huge depots near Leningrad, Moscow, Minsk, Stalingrad, Kiev, Kharkov, and Sevastopol. All fit men had to march some 22 miles a day. Those physically handicapped went in handcarts or carts pulled by spare beasts. . . They will be made to rebuild the Russian towns and villages which they destroyed. They will not return home until the work is completed.”[2]

It has long been an open secret that Russia maintains under the direction of the NKVD (secret police) a vast army of Russian slaves, varying in number form 10-20 millions, mainly recruited as “political unreliables.”[3] The presence and importance of this huge slave force explains, among other things, the profitability and frequency of Soviet Russia’s many “purges”: they are primarily a device for rounding up prisoners for enslavement. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Soviet Union should jump at the opportunity to enslave millions of defeated enemy civilians and soldiers and, to avoid special criticism, induce her allies to do likewise. When it was learned that the Soviets were impressing German civilian personnel for service in factories being removed to Russia, Britain and the United States protested. In reply the Russians produced a proclamation signed by Gen.

Eisenhower a year earlier requiring that German authorities must carry out any measures of restitution, reinstatement, restoration, reparations, reconstruction, relief or rehabilitation as the Allied representatives might prescribe, to accomplish which the Germans must “provide such transporation, plant equipment and materials of all kinds, labor, personnel, specialists, and other services for use in Germany or elsewhere as the Allied representatives may direct.” Since the document did not require four-nation agreement, the Russians are permitted by it to act unilaterally. After it was produced, Britain and the United States had to withdraw their protests.

A few crippled and ailing Germans who have survived the ordeal have been returned from the Russian slave camps to Berlin where American correspondents have obtained first hand accounts of what is happening. German Red Cross girls went at 9 a.m. on the morning of September 10, 1946, to meet a 20-car trainload of returning forced laborers. As the sealed cars were opened by the armed guards who had been riding on top, the girls were greeted with thin, scabby-faced men in rags begging for water or hysterically calling for help in removing the dead. A professional nurse told the story:
“They had been in the train almost a week traveling about 60 miles from Frankfurt-on-Oder. There had been deaths from starvation, not from starvation just during the ride, but from the hardships of the trip after months of malnutrition in Russian labor camps. Almost all of the 800 or 900 in the train were sick or crippled. You might say they were all invalids. With 40 to 50 packed in each of those little boxcars, the sick had to sleep beside the dead on their homeward journey. I did not count them but I am sure we removed more than 25 corpses. Others had to be taken to hospitals. I asked several of the men whether the Russian guards or doctors had done anything on the trip to care for the sick. They said ‘No.’ “I met only one alert, healthy man in the lot and I have seen him since. He was just a kid of 17. The boy told me that prisoners leaving Russian camps for Germany are searched to prevent any from smuggling mail for their comrades. Therefore; when one of them has been diagnosed as a hopeless invalid, in anticipation of discharge he will memorize the names and addresses of relatives to whom he can report for his fellow prisoners. He said only prisoners in special favor are able to mail postcards to their nearest of kin. This kid of 17 had memorized 80 names and addresses in Berlin of relatives of his prison friends. He found the buildings at most of the addresses in rubble, with the present whereabouts of the former occupants unknown, but he visited all 80 addresses in his first six days in Berlin.”[4]

The daily diet in Russian slave camps is soup and lectures on the glories of Communism and the evils of western democracy. The slightest disobedience is penalized by such heavy work that a third of the culprits die within three weeks from exhaustion. A tenth of the slaves died during the first year, according to those who have returned.[5]

If prisoners released by the Russians as unfit for further forced labor happen to recuperate, they are re-impressed and sent back for more.[6] Moreover, able bodied Germans we have released who have returned to their former homes in the Russian zone are arrested by the Russians and sent to the Soviet Union for enslavement, on the pretext that they have been rendered “politically unreliable” through exposure to British or American influences.[7] Refusal of released prisoners to return to the Russian zone has created a major problem, which France has attempted to meet by permitting the men to remain in France as a special class of citizens.

When the war ended, we enjoyed a decided advantage over the Russians in German esteem. Aware of the barbarities of the NKVD’s treatment of slaves, German soldiers did their best to avoid falling into the hands of the Red armies, preferring instead to surrender to the British or Americans. German prisoners who were to be turned over to the Russians often committed suicide or tried to incapacitate themselves by slashing their bodies with knives, razors, or bits of glass.[8] Persistent reports coming from Russia, however, tell of large numbers of German prisoners joining the Red Army, after indoctrination in Communism, and justify the fear that ultimately the huge German prison army in Russia may be successfully converted into a potent military force which may someday be turned against the West. [9]

France, according to the International Red Cross, had 680,000 former German soldiers slaving for her in August, 1946. 475,000 of their number had been captured by the United States and later turned over to the French for forced labor.[10] French treatment of her slave subjects is revolting to the civilized conscience. In an article entitled, “We Should Not Resemble Them,” FIGARO reveals:
“In certain camps for German prisoners of war . . . living skeletons may be seen, almost like those in German concentration camps, and deaths from undernourishment are numerous. We learn that prisoners have been savagely and systematically beaten and that some have been employed in removing mines without protection equipment so that they have been condemned to die sooner or later. “People, of course, will point to the Gestapo tortures, the gas chambers and the mountains of human bodies found in the internment camps in Germany. But these horrors should not become the theme of sports competition in which we endeavor to outdo the Nazis. . . We have to judge the enemy, but we have a duty not to resemble him.”[11]

Gathering his facts from numerous reliable sources, Louis Clair writes in THE PROGRESSIVE of “the horrible conditions in the French camps of German POW’s.” He says: “In a camp in the Sarthe district for 20,000 prisoners, inmates receive 900 calories a day; thus 12 die every day in the hospital. Four to five thousand are unable to work at all any more. Recently trains with new prisoners arrived in the camp: several prisoners had died during the trip, several others had tried to stay alive by eating coal that had been lying in the freight train by which they came. “In an Orleans camp, the commander received 16 francs a day per head or prisoner to buy food, but he spent only nine francs, so that the prisoners were starving. In the Charentes district, 2,500 of the 12,000 camp inmates are sick. A young French soldier writes to a friend just returned from a Nazi camp: “‘I watch those who made you suffer so much, dying of hunger, sleeping on cold cement floors, in no way protected from rain and wind. I see kids of 19, who beg me to give them certificates that they are healthy enough to join the French Foreign Legion. . . . Yes, I who hated them so much, today can only feel pity for them.’

“A witness reports on the camp in Langres: ‘I have seen them beaten with rifle butts and kicked with feet in the streets of the town because they broke down of overwork. Two or three of them die of exhaustion every week.’ “In another camp near Langres, 700 prisoners slowly die of hunger; they have hardly any blankets and not enough straw to sleep on; there is a typhoid epidemic in the camp which has already spread to the neighboring village. In another camp prisoners receive only one meal a day but are expected to continue working. Elsewhere so many have died recently that the cemetery space was exhausted and another cemetery had to be built. “In a camp where prisoners work an the removal of mines, regular food supplies arrive only every second day so that ‘prisoners make themselves a soup of grass and some stolen vegetables.’ All prisoners of this camp have contracted tuberculosis. Here and elsewhere treatment differs in no respect from the Nazi SS brutality. Many cases have been reported where men have been so horribly beaten that their limbs were broken. In one camp, men were awakened during the night, crawled out of their barracks and then shot ‘because of attempted escape.’ “There are written affidavits proving that in certain camps commanding officers sold on the black market all the supplies that had been provided by American Army authorities; there are other affidavits stating that prisoners were forced to take off their shoes and run the gauntlet. And so on, and so on . . . These are the facts.”[12]

After we had delivered the first 320,000 prisoners, the French returned 2,474 of them to us, claiming that we had given them weaklings. Correspondents described them as “a beggar army of pale, thin men clad in vermine infested tatters.” All were pronounced unfit for work – three-fourths of them on account of malnutrition – and 19 per cent had to be hospitalized. Associated Press photographer Henry Griffin, who had taken pictures of the corpses piled in all German concentration camps, including Buchenwald and Dachau, said of the men: “The only difference I can see between these men and those corpses is that here they are still breathing.”[13]

Asked to investigate, the Red Cross reported the prisoners were receiving inhuman treatment. Upon our threat to stop further transfers the French protested that they must have more prisoners or suffer heavy financial loss. It then came out that the French Government was hiring the men out to French employers for which it collected regular union wages, an average of 150 francs per day per man. Out of this, the government paid each prisoner 10 francs, and stood their daily cost of upkeep of perhaps another 40 francs, leaving a daily net profit of 100 francs per slave. In the aggregate the French Government thus stood to make a profit of over 50 billion francs a year from its German slaves!” [14] No wonder it became upset when we threatened to stop handing them over. When we resumed deliveries, we took pains to make sure that the prisoners were in satisfactory physical condition. The men would be lined up and examined, their mouths opened and inspected, their chest thumped, their joints tried, their eyes, ear and teeth looked over, as if they were horses being offered for sale. GI’s
witnessing this spectacle were overheard to remark: “Gee! I hope we don’t ever lose a war.”

In the summer of 1946 a hopeful development which may bring an end to the slave traffic in France put in its appearance. It began when prisoners newly arrived from American POW camps not only refused to work in French coal mines but persuaded prisoners already there to follow their example.[15] A month later some of the prisoners were freed and then hired to work at full union wages, frankly as a measure to increase output.[16] The experience proves that in
this modern world at least men when free produce more abundantly and profitably than when enslaved.

On December, 5, 1946, it was announced that the American Government had requested the repatriation by October 1, 1947, of the 674,000 German POW’s it had turned over to France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxemburg. France had agreed to release its 620,000 of this number but gave no definite pledge of when they would be freed. The French Government also disclosed that the United States, in a Dec. 21, 1945, memorandum, expressly stipulated that the Germans captured by the American Army and handed over to France were chattels to be used indefinitely for forced labor as part of France’s war reparations from Germany. Meanwhile reports continued to pour into the press that conditions in the French slave camps remained as bad or worse than before – starvation diets, little protection from the elements or disease, in filthy, vermin-infested quarters.

Great Britain in August, 1946, according to the International Red Cross, had 460,000 German prisoners slaving for her,[17] and as in the case of France bringing in a handsome profit to the War Office. Upon embarking from our ports the prisoners were given to understand that they were being sent home; when they learned upon arrival in British or French ports that they were to be worked indefinitely as slaves, they became sullen. As one British officer said, “It takes us several weeks to bring them around where they will work hard.”[18] A British contractor employing German slaves for skilled work is reported to have remarked: “When you see how well they do things and how awful our own Ministry of Works – we call the Ministry the O.C., short for organized chaos – messes things up, it makes you wonder how we ever won the war.”[19] Among other projects, the prisoners were forced to build in Kensington Gardens a British victory celebration camp to house 24,000 empire troops who marched in the Empire’s Victory Day parade. One foreman remarked: “I guess the Jerries are preparing to celebrate their own downfall. It does seem as though that is laying it on a bit thick.”[20] The British Government nets over $250,000,000 annually from its slaves. The Government, which frankly calls itself the “owner” of the prisoners, hires the men out to any employer needing men, charging the going rates of pay for such work – usually $15 to $20 per week. It pays the slaves from 10 cents to 20 cents a day, depending on the character of the work required, plus such “amenities” as slaves customarily received in the former days of slavery in the form of clothing, food, and shelter.[21] The prisoners are never paid in cash, but are given credits, either in the form of vouchers for camp post exchange items or credits against the time when they will be liberated. In March 1946, 140,000 prisoners were working on farms, for which the Government collected $14 a week per prisoner, 24,000 on housing and bomb damage clearance, 22,000 on railroads, mostly as section hands, the balance at odd jobs, such as digging weeds out of the Thames river or serving as menials for GI brides awaiting shipment to America.[22] According to revelations by members of the British House of Commons, about 130,000 former German officers and men were held during the winter of 1945-46 in British camps in Belgium under conditions British officers have described as: “Not much better than Belsen.” The prisoners lived through the winter in tents and slept on the bare ground under one blanket each. They say they are underfed and beaten and kicked by the guards. Many have no underclothes or boots.[23]

In the summer of 1946 an increasing number of prisoners were escaping from British slave camps with British civilian aid. Accounts of the chases by military police are reminiscent of pre-Civil War pursuits of fleeing negro fugitives.[24] By mid-September public indignation had risen to such a pitch that the British War Office announced that plans were under way to release 15,000 slaves per month, with preference given those displaying “genuine democratic” convictions. Army officers and important Nazis would not be repatriated under the plan. However, promises were made to improve conditions in the camps.[25]

The official International Red Cross report in August 1946 showed that our own government, through its military branch in the German zone, was exacting forced labor from 284,000 captives, 140,000 of them in the occupation zone, 100,000 in France, 30,000 in Italy, and 14,000 in Belgium.[26]
Slave holdings of other countries, as reported by the Red Cross, were: Yugoslavia 80,000; Belgium 48,000; Czechoslovakia 45,000; Luxemburg 4,000; Holland 1,300.[27]

Keeping these millions of Germans away from their families is a direct attack against the German home and family, and in this respect serves only Communism. Still the tie that binds the men to their loved ones has remained strong. A dispatch from Geneva tells a touching story. “Hundreds of tons of parcels shipped by German war prisoners in United States camps to relatives in the Reich via the International Red Cross during the last three years are congesting warehouses here. The Geneva organization is unable to forward them because no central Red Cross is permitted in Germany. Other hundreds of tons are being held in New York pending a solution. “‘The contents of the packages tell a pitiful story,’ said Col. T. F. Wessels, provost marshall at U.S. army headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. They contain chiefly wooden toys laboriously made by hand by the prisoners to send to their children, and even hand made shoes for their wives and mothers. Many German captives refrained from smoking and sent their cigarette allowances and candy. Many sent books about American life.”[28]

An attempt is made by British officials to justify the enslavement on the grounds that the men are prisoners of war, and that as such they can be forced to work under the Geneva Convention rules. It is said that the war is not yet legally ended, that the prisoners are still soldiers of the German Government, and that when they return to Germany it will be the responsibility of the German Government to give them their pay accumulated as soldiers and prisoners. This argument rests on the assumption that there is a German government. But they also argue that repatriation of the prisoners cannot take place, as called for by the Geneva Convention as soon as hostilities are over, because there has been no armistice or peace treaty signed with Germany, and that none can be signed at present, because there is no German Government. By similar double-talk they justify feeding the prisoners rations well below army standards on the pretext that the Geneva Convention which requires standard army rations has expired with World War II; yet, when press representatives ask to examine the prison camps, the British loudly refuse, with the excuse that the Geneva Convention bars such visits to prisoner-of-war camps.[29]

The International Red Cross, the highest authority on the subject, roundly condemns the slave system. As related from Geneva:
“The United States, Britain, and France, nearly a year after peace, are violating International Red Cross agreements they solemnly signed in 1929. “Investigation at Geneva headquarters today disclosed that the transfer of German war prisoners captured by the American army to French and British authorities for forced labor is nowhere permitted in the statutes of the International Red Cross, which is the highest authority on the subject in the world. “Although thousands of the former German soldiers are being used in the hazardous work of clearing mine fields, sweeping sea mines, destroying surplus ammunition and razing shattered buildings, the Geneva Convention expressly forbids employing prisoners ‘in any dangerous labor or in the transport of any material used in warfare.’ “Russia refused to attend the 1929 conference of the International Red Cross and Japan never ratified that convention, so neither Moscow nor Tokyo was bound by the provisions regulating war prisoners. “‘The American delivery of German prisoners to the French and British for forced labor already is being cited by the Russians as justification for them to retain German army captives for as long as they are able to work,’ an International Red Cross official admitted. ‘The bartering of captured enemy soldiers by the victors throws the world back to the dark ages – when feudal barons raided adjoining duchies to replenish their human live stock.'”[30]

A Red Cross observer condemns the enslavement in these words:
“It is an iniquitous system and an evil precedent because it is wide open for abuses with difficulty in establishing responsibility. German soldiers were not common law convicts – they were drafted to fight in a national army on patriotic grounds and could not refuse military service any more than the Americans could. It is manifestly unjust to buy and sell them for political reasons as the African Negroes were a century ago.”[31]

It must be emphasized, moreover, that many of the slaves were never German soldiers. Many were civilian Germans held in America during the war, including seamen picked up before we entered the war, former legal residents of the United States, and persons brought here by force from Latin America for having pro-German sentiments. Even anti-Nazi Germans who have voluntarily returned to Germany from America to help the military government rebuild the destroyed countries and to help families and friends in dire need have been nabbed for enslavement.[32]

In sharp contrast with our treatment of German war prisoners was German treatment of American war prisoners. Allan Wood, war front correspondent of the London Express, in summarizing German treatment of their prisoners said: “The most amazing thing about the atrocities in this war is that there have been so few of them. I have come up against few instances where the Germans have not treated prisoners according to the rules, and respected the Red Cross.”[33]
Lieutenant Newton L. Marguiles, Assistant Judge Advocate of Jefferson Barracks, said in St. Louis, Mo., April 27, 1945:
“The Germans even in their greatest moments of despair obeyed the Convention in most respects. True it is that there were front line atrocities – passions run high up there – but they were incidents, not practices; and maladministration of their American prison camps was very uncommon.”[34] Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall, on Jan. 5, 1945, wrote to the National Commander of the American Legion: “Our treatment of them” (prisoners of war) “is governed by the Geneva convention which, among other provisions, requires them to be furnished rations equal in quality and quantity to those of American troops at base camps in this country. This is done as a matter of treaty obligation and our soldiers in German hands receive generally reciprocal treatment.”[35] The American Red Cross in 1945 reported officially that “99 per cent of the American prisoners of war in Germany have survived and are on their way home.”

German treatment of Russian war prisoners was on a par with Russian treatment of German war prisoners. Since Russia had not signed the Geneva Convention, neither it nor Germany was bound by its provisions. And it must be remembered that the atrocities in German concentration camps did not involve war prisoners, but people supposed to be German, people who now proudly admit, those who have survived, that they were members of the German underground, saboteurs, doing their best to obstruct and defeat the German war effort. The treatment they received, while deplorable and inhuman in the extreme, is on a par with Russian treatment of her political prisoners. If one is to be condemned, so must the other, if there is to be justice. Otherwise, we are guilty of rank discrimination, condemning a crime committed by one, condoning or overlooking it when committed by another. If we really fought this war to stop such things, the war will not be over until the inmates of the Russian slave camps are also liberated. If we fought a half trillion dollar war to free those in German camps only, but not to free those in Russian camps, an explanation is due. In any case, we must ask ourselves what we would do if we should go to war with, let us say, Russia, and were beset from within by an “underground” movement of sabotaging Communist fifth-columnists. An attempt has been made to justify enslavement of the common man of Germany on the ground that the Nazi government exacted forced labor from foreign workers. It is true that the Reich had millions of imported workers, but it is also true that, except for special cases such as war prisoners coming under the Geneva Convention, they were for the most part paid and fed well.

Dr. James K. Pollock, for 14 months with AMG [American Military Government], said of Germany’s “forced laborers”: “I think some of the persons found themselves better off than at any time in their lives before.”[36] A mass of evidence proves that this is true and that Allied war propaganda to the contrary was greatly exaggerated. Besides, there can be no justification for punishing the average citizen of any country for the sins of its political leaders. In July, 1946, Max H. Forester, chief of AMG’s coal and mining division when asked, “What did the Germans do to get efficient production for forced labor that we are not able to do with Germans working the mines?” replied: “They fed their help and fed them well.”[37] The American Federation of Labor in the summer of 1946 came out strongly against the slave system as a fundamental threat to free labor all over the world. Calling attention to tariff laws which specifically forbid the importation from foreign countries of goods produced wholly or in part by convict, forced, indentured, or any other form of involuntary labor,[38] AF of L spokesman Herbert Thatcher warned in a radio address that the slave labor system may grind down trade and production to a level that can lead to another war. Conditions of slave labor in Britain, France, and Russia, he said, “menace world peace and they destroy world trade.” – “Therefore, the American Federation of Labor,” he concluded, “calls upon the United States government to propose to the United Nations that all member nations renounce the use of forced labor and agree to bar the products of forced labor from world trade.”[39]

Upon his return from the Nuernberg trial Justice Jackson, who had served as U.S. chief prosecutor, reported to President Truman that German industrialists and financiers could be tried “on such specific charges as the use of slave labor.” He went on to say:
“We negotiated and concluded an agreement with the four dominant powers of the earth which for the first time made explicit and unambiguous what was theretofore, as the tribunal has declared, implicit in international law, namely, that . . . to enslave or deport civilian populations is an international crime and that for the commission of such crimes individuals are responsible.”[40]

Willis Smith of Raleigh, N. C., President of the American Bar Association, in defending the Nuernberg convictions said:
“The time has come when men who order criminal things to be done should themselves be declared criminals. Since when are murder and deportations and slave labor not crimes?”[41]


Germany under Hitler was ruled by the single National Socialist German Workers party, with all other parties outlawed. The system in this respect was similar to that of the Communists of Russia who since the 1917 coup d’etat have enforced a one party system upon the Russian people and treated all dissident political opinions as treason. Rejecting parliamentarism, the Nazis followed what they called the leadership principle. The chief leader or “Fuehrer” exercised supreme authority; under him descending layers of subordinate leaders spread out fan-wise through all branches of society to bring the entire German nation under centralized party control.

After it took over, leaders in all walks of life found it necessary or expedient to join the party or one or more of its affiliated organizations. Among its 7,500,000 members were nearly all government workers, professional men, scientists, technicians, professors, teachers, writers, and businessmen inducted as “führers” of business and compelled under heavy penalties, such as confiscation of property, to conform to party policies and mandates. White collar workers, craftsmen, and technicians had to fall in line to be eligible for promotion. Membership expanded rapidly during the war and the period of high tension immediately preceding. Party and nation became so closely identified that to join was to display patriotism; to refuse, to invite penalization for disloyalty. In short, almost everybody in Germany with brains, skills, and managerial ability belonged to the Nazi party, or one of its affiliated organizations and obeyed its orders. By placing sole blame for the war on Germany and therefore the Nazi party, by declaring the war to be one of aggression, and by outlawing aggression as a crime against humanity, Germany’s conquerors have condemned the Nazi party, its affiliates, and its millions of members as criminal. The punishment meted out at Potsdam, if carried out to the letter, would mean the virtual liquidation of Germany’s middle and upper classes. The blanket incrimination rests upon an infirm base, as revealed in the Potsdam denazification decrees. In one breath they order that all “discrimination on grounds of . . . political opinion shall be abolished”; yet in the next breath they permanently dissolve the Nazi party and its affiliated organizations and institutions, ban propagation of Nazi political opinion, without identifying it in particular, and call for severe punishment of all Nazis simply for being Nazis.

Potsdam commands that “Nazi leaders, influential Nazi supporters and high officials of Nazi organizations and institutions . . . shall be arrested and interned” and that all lesser Nazis “shall be removed from public and semi-public office and former positions of responsibility in private undertakings.” In attempting to carry out these unusual edicts, which were looked upon as a purge order “to throw the rascals out,” the American military government issued “Law Number Eight” to denazify business and various mandatory removal edicts, the exact provisions of which were military secrets, to purge government of all Nazis. Approximately 3,000,000 German men were affected in our zone out of a total population of 16,682,000. Our occupation authorities jailed 75,000 and earmarked another 80,000 unreturned war prisoners for internment for being important Nazis; ousted more than 100,000 from public office; and denuded business of managerial and technical talent by firing and demoting hundreds of thousands of others.[42] In other words, we set out to ruin the lives and reputations of three million men in our zone alone because, as they see it, they made a “political mistake.” In consequence, the Germans are afraid to identify themselves with any political party or to express any political views, for fear of being punished later on, just as the Nazis are being punished now.

Most important of all, the zone and its people have been denied the economic benefits which would accrue if these men were permitted to do the work which they alone by talent, training, and experience are capable of performing. Putting the zone’s most productive men in pick and shovel gangs and filling their places with incapables has been one of the chief contributing causes to the zone’s economic paralysis. Our occupation authorities have been confronted with two opposing mandates which often set them to working at cross purposes. They were ordered at Potsdam to secure enough production to supply the needs of the occupation forces and the “displaced persons,” with enough left over “to enable the German people to subsist without external assistance.” In the attempt to carry out this mandate some of our zonal authorities, for example, might be out scouring the zone with scanty success for trained personnel to run the undermanned railway system. But at the same time, some of our other authorities, attempting to enforce the denazification decrees, would be out ahead of the others nabbing and jailing trainmen and locomotive engineers, because they had been Nazis. Administration of the denazification decrees proved to be a task of forbidding magnitude. The limited AMG personnel found it impossible to get the three million Nazis properly registered, their questionnaires filled out and tabulated, and proper files set up. Nor could individual trials and hearings for so many be properly conducted, especially when each error added to the rising tide of German indignation.

Fearing organized resistance, we carried out in Gestapo fashion one of the greatest mass raids in history. Striking at daybreak without warning, our troops halted every vehicle in our zone, checked the papers of civilians and soldiers, and swept through every German house from cellar to attic. Although the German populace had supposedly been under the influence and domination of criminals and criminal organizations for a dozen years, according to the men in charge “the search showed less crime than perhaps would be uncovered in a similar action over a comparable area in the United States.”[43]
A few months of experience proved to us that in the denazification program we had taken hold of a very hot iron, impossible to hold, yet difficult to drop. We therefore tossed it to the Germans for them to handle. The law turning the job of denazification in our zone over to the Germans was largely formulated by one Heinrich Schmitt, a corpulent Communist Quisling serving under AMG as Bavarian Denazification Minister. The execution of the law was also partly placed in his hands.[44] This sort of thing is a logical outgrowth of the program which automatically places political responsibility on former political neutrals or active anti-Nazis, including Communists, who, with Communist Russia signing the Potsdam Declaration, must be accepted as “democratic.”

The law is designed to permit some Nazis, otherwise condemned, to prove their innocence or pay the penalties and be restored to citizenship. It sets up five catgories of war criminals and potentially dangerous persons, namely:
1) Major offenders,
2) offenders broadly described as Nazi activists, militarists,and profiteers,
3) lesser offenders,
4) followers, constituting the broad membership of the party and affiliates, and
5) persons exonerated after a tribunal finds them innocent.

Penalties for those in the first category range from death or life imprisonment to imprisonment for five or more years with or without hard labor. Those in the second category may be imprisoned for a period up to ten years. Those in lower categories are subject to a variety of “sanctions,” including loss of citizenship and the right to vote, debarment from public office, loss of personal rights such as the privilege to own an automobile, demotion in position with heavy cut in compensation, discharge from position, confiscation of property, and employment only at ordinary labor. [45] To make matters easier, we granted an amnesty to all Nazis in our zone under 27 years of age who had no special charges against them. The action readmitted to citizenship about a million men who, as General Clay put it, had become Nazis before they were old enough to know what they were doing. He failed to explain why the same consideration might not apply to most of the older men as well. At any rate, the action was accompanied by a statement to the effect that it was the desire of the military govemment “to offer encourgement to the youth of Germany to understand and develop a democratic way of life.”[46] Unfortunately, most of those pardoned under the blanket order were in France, Britain, Belgium, Holland, Russia or elsewhere for indefinite terms performing forced labor in the manner of convicts.

Within a few months left wing critics again began to complain that the elaborate German court system which had been set up to adjudicate the million remaining cases was far too lenient, that it was permitting Hitler’s Hordes to creep back. In November 1946, Lt. Gen. Lucius D. Clay expressed concern over the leniency being shown Nazis in German courts. Setting a 60 day deadline before which the Germans must prove they had developed “the will to do this job which is not present today,” he warned that the military government was ready to take back the job of denazification unless the German courts tightened up. The day before the following Christmas, Gen. McNarney proclaimed a general amnesty for approximately 800,000 “little Nazis” in the U.S. zone. Included were minor Nazis whose incomes during the calendar years 1943 and 1945 were less than 3,000 marks and whose taxable property in 1945 did not exceed 20,000 marks. Nevertheless, in the autumn of 1946 the Allied Control Council’s Coordinating Committee passed general denazification laws for the whole of Germany patterned after the American zonal law, with enforcement, however, left entirely to each zonal authority.[47] This loophole permits the other occupation governments to continue to denazify as they see fit, which thus far has been with greater reasonableness and leniency than have been exercised in the American zone where enforcement, in other words, has been far more rigid and drastic than elsewhere. At Stuttgart Mr. Byrnes was able to boast that denazification in the American zone had been completed.

Less than four weeks later, the Nuernberg tribunal handed down its momentous decision. Out of 22 arch-Nazis the Allied court, which certainly cannot be accused of judicial neutrality or leniency, and which tried the cases on four all-embracing counts, gave the death penalty to only 12, life imprisonment to three, prison terms ranging from 10 to 20 years to four, and acquitted three. If three of the very highest Nazis were free of all guilt, and four others were only partly guilty, the broad party membership could not be seriously guilty at all. This means that the denazification decrees which condemn all Nazis without trial are thoroughly unjust. The Nuernberg proceedings themselves have been roundly condemned for violating basic principles of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence, particularly for condemning on the basis of ex-post facto law, for placing partisan judges on the bench, and for excluding evidence that would reflect on the victorious powers. But the verdict handed down at Potsdam was still worse, for there a blanket verdict of guilty was pronounced, without even a pretense of trial, evidence, or testimony. Under the present denazification laws, all Nazis are still guilty, unless they can prove themselves innocent in the face of procedure which permits violation of the accepted rules of evidence.[48]

The Nuernberg tribunal also tried various Nazi organizations to determine whether or not they and their members were criminal. The SS, Gestapo, SD – elite guard, secret police, and security police – and the higher brackets of the Nazi leadership corps were adjudged criminal organizations. This means that for acquittal, some 400,000 members must prove they were forced to join or knew nothing of the criminality. Punishment ranges to the death penalty. On the other hand, the SA – original storm troopers – was dismissed as not linked with conspiracy to wage aggressive war, and the General Staff, High Command, and Brown Shirts were found not guilty. Certainly, then, the broad masses of the German people could not be guilty, and should not be punished. The denazification program in general and the Nuernberg trial in particular violates our traditional ideas of justice; on the contrary, they embody the Nazi and Communist concept of jurisprudence – the liquidation of ideological opponents.

As Barron’s weekly says:
“. . . the punishment is being meted out one-sidedly to the vanquished. After all, except that they did not commit the same spectacular atrocities on the spot, the Russians did just about the same things in Poland that the Nazis did. Thus a combination of excusably fanatic Nazi-haters and purposeful fellow-travelers has provided a Roman holiday by exploiting our legitimate desire for a new international law. “In the eyes of the world we have adopted the Communist view of justice.”[49]

Even worse, we have permitted Communists, whose worst doctrines and those of the Nazis are identical, to continue to preach and agitate and even to work their way into key positions in our military govemment. When we first arrived the Germans were strongly anti-Communist; they have since started fleeing our zone and entering the Russian where they are welcomed into the Communist party and even into the Red Army, in whose ranks they may someday be able to get their revenge against us.

Denazification in the Russian zone has been far more enlightened and less economically disruptive. The strong men of the Kremlin could hardly take seriously the condemnation of all Nazis as criminals when they know full well that their own party, which rules Russia much as the Nazi party ruled Germany and which demands the same blind obedience of its members, is guilty of every act for which we so strongly condemn the Nazis: wars of aggression against peaceful neighbors, wars of nerves, confiscation of property of whole classes without compensation to the owners, violation of treaties and agreements, hostility toward religion, concentration camp atrocities, slave labor, looting and abusing conquered countries, the use of fifth columns and Quislings, one-party rule by terror with the aid of civilian informers and a brutal secret police system, stifling of human rights and individual liberties of all kinds, and even the aim to conquer the world.

The Russians know this and so do the Germans. When we condone the one and condemn the other we become ridiculous in the eyes of both. The attitude of the Kremlin toward denazification was expressed years ago and probably has not changed since. Russia in partnership with Hitler had just attacked, defeated, and partitioned Poland and Hitler had proposed that since the issue which had started the war had been settled, all the belligerents should stop fighting and call a general disarmament conference. Britain and France had declined with the terse remark that they would fight on for the “extermination of Hitlerism.” The Kremlin scoffed. Its reaction, which is probably still its inner conviction, was reported by the Associated Press from highly censored Moscow (Oct 9, 1939), as follows:
“Soviet Russia threw her weight behind Adolph Hitler’s peace gestures today in an editorial in the government newspaper Izvestia, accusing Great Britain and France of ‘returning to the middle ages’ for waging war to ‘exterminate Hitlerism.’ “Izvestia asserted British-French arguments that the war must be prolonged to crush Hitlerism ‘makes us return to the gloomy middle ages when devastating religious wars were carried on to exterminate heretics and people of different religions.’ The paper asserted: “‘It is impossible to exterminate any idea or any opinion by fire and sword. “‘One may respect or hate Hitlerism or any other system of political opinion. That is a matter of taste. But to begin a war for the ‘extermination of Hitlerism’ means to admit to criminal silliness in policy.'”

Potsdam’s decrees calling for the “extermination of Hitlerism” have been highly useful to the Kremlin, however, for they have provided a basis for the liquidation of the German “bourgeoisie” and therefore set the stage for ultimate communization. The necessary expropriation of property has been accomplished through confiscation of the holdings of Nazis, absentee fugitives, “war profiteers,” and other classes of synthetic criminals. But once a nominal Nazi in the Russian zone has been dispossessed he is offered a chance to redeem himself. He is given his job back if he works satisfactorily for six months with clean-up crews. Denazification is thus linked to “Aufbau” or reconstruction.[50] Minor offenders have been tried in German courts and penitent Nazis are invited to join the Communist party.[51] According to Reuters, German military officers have been taken into the Red army by invitation. When the officers cross the zonal frontiers they are nominally “arrested,” placed in quarantine camps, and invited to enlist. Upon acceptance, they are given preferential treatment. In other words, the union of the Red and Nazi armies has begun.[52] In her zone, Russia is taking full advantage of the many points of similarity between her own system and that of the Nazis under Hitler. Some Germans are remarking that “Communism is nothing but National Socialism under a different name.”[53] While we continue to pound away at the evils of Nazism, which we apparently consider as something unique, Russia, which our army men have been ordered not to criticize, matches up these evils to those of her own system and thereby facilitates the desired transformation from the one to the other. By eliminating the “bourgeoisie” in our zone we have played into the Kremlin’s hands, for the action has removed the principle barrier to the establishment of the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” and ultimate absorption of the zone into the Soviet Union – the Kremlin’s own United Nations. Our entire denazification procedure has been highly satisfactory to Moscow, for the greater the chaos, despair, and disgust we create, and the greater the resentment of the German people becomes, the stronger becomes the grip of Communism, and the closer we come to losing everything for which we fought the war.

Reference Notes:

[1] Associated Press, Moscow, March 31, 1945.
[2] Quoted in Congressional Record, March 29, 1946, p. 2864.
[3] Cf. David Dallin, The Real Soviet Russia (Yale University Press, 1944), Chapter XI, “Forced Labor.”
[4] Hal Foust, Berlin, Sept. 17, 1946, Chicago Tribune Press Service.
[5] Hal Foust, Berlin, Aug. 11, 1946, Chicago Tribune Press Service.
[6] Hal Foust, Berlin, Aug. 19, 1946, Chicago Tribune Press Service.
[7] Hal Foust, Berlin, June 5, 1946, Chicago Tribune Press Service.
[8] Associated Press, Stockholm, Nov. 30, 1945.
[9] Chicago Tribune Press Service, Geneva, Switzerland, Sept. 15, 1946.
[10] John Thompson, Geneva, Switzerland, Aug. 24, 1946, Chicago Tribune Press Service.
[11] The Progressive, Jan. 14, 1946, p. 4.
[12] Louis Clair, The Progressive, Jan. 14, 1946.
[13] Congressional Record, Dec. 11, 1945, p. A-5816.
[14] Henry Wales, Paris, March 12, 1946, Chicago Tribune Press Service.
[15] Chicago Tribune Press Service, Lille, France, July 6, 1946.
[16] John Thompson, Geneva, Aug. 18, 1946, Chicago Tribune Press Service.
[17] John Thompson, Geneva, Aug. 24, 1946, Chicago Tribune Press Service.
[18] Arthur Veysey, London, May 28, 1946, Chicago Tribune Press Service.
[19] Arthur Veysey, London, May 8, 1946, Chicago Tribune Press Service.
[20] Same as No. 19.
[21] Same as No. 18.
[22] Ward Walker, London, March 7, 1946, Chicago Tribune Press Service.
[23] Chicago Tribune Press Service, London, May 19, 1946.
[24] Chicago Tribune Press Service, London, Aug. 27, 1946, and The Chicago Sun, Aug. 27, 1946 (London AP dispatch). [25] John Wilhelm, London, Sept. 12, 1946, The Chicago Sun, London Bureau.
[26] Same as No. 10.
[27] Same as No. 10.
[28] Chicago Tribune Press Service, Geneva, Switzerland, May 30, 1946.
[29] Same as No. 18.
[30] Henry Wales, Geneva. Switzerland, April 13, 1946, Chicago Tribune Press Service.
[31] Same as No. 30.
[32] Chicago Daily Tribune, March 14, 1946.
[33] Cf. The Progressive, Feb. 4, 1945, p. 1.
[34] Vital Speeches, May 15, 1946. p. 480.
[35] National Legionaire, Feb. 1945.
[36] James M. Haswell, Washington, Aug. 27, 1946, Chicago Daily News, Washington Bureau.
[37] Hal Foust, Berlin, July 23, 1946, Chicago Tribune Press Service.
[38] Cf. Charles Manley, Washington, D.C., Aug. 18, 1946, Chicago Daily Tribune of same date.
[39] Chicago Tribune Press Service, Washington, Aug. 24, 1946.
[40] Associated Press, Washington, D.C., Oct. 15, 1946.
[41] The Chicago Sun, Oct. 11, 1946, p. 3.
[42] Lt. Gen. Lucius Clay, as reported by Hal Foust, Berlin, April 24, 1946, and Chicago Tribune Press Service. [43] Associated Press, Frankfurt on the Main, July 23, 1945.
[44] Edward P. Morgan, Berlin, Feb. 7, 1946, and April 9, 1946, Chicago Daily News Foreign Service.
[45] Edward P. Morgan, Berlin, March 5, 1946, Chicago Daily News Foreign Service.
[46] The Chicago Sun, Stuttgart, Germany, July 2, 1946 (United Press).
[47] Associated Press, Berlin, Oct. 14, 1946.
[48] Chicago Tribune Press Service, Berlin, Oct. 24, 1946.
[49] Barron’s, Oct. 7, 1946.
[50] Edward P. Morgan, Berlin, Mar. 27, 1946, Chicago Daily News Foreign Service.
[51] Associated Press, Berlin, Jan. 30, 1946.
[52] Hal Foust, Berlin, June 5, 1946, Chicago Tribune Press Service.
[53] Edd Johnson, Berlin, Mar. 29, 1946, Chicago Sun Foreign Service.

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