>A controversial plan for post-war Germany


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At the Second Quebec Conference in the middle ofSeptember 1944, President Roosevelt and the US Secretary of the Treasury HenryMorgenthau tried to persuade Winston Churchill and the British delegation on a radicalplan for post-war Germany.

The militaristic, Prussian tradition would bedestroyed once and for all, ensuring that Germany could never again threatenthe peace in Europe and the world. Part of this would be achieved by destroyingthe integrity of Prussia – dividing it between Germany, Poland and Russia.

The next stage of the plan was far more ambitious. Germanywould be:

·        partitionedinto two independent states – north and south (admittedly, not so verydifferent from what happened upon partition between east and west Germany);

·        annexationor internationalisation of the industrial areas of the Saar, Ruhr and UpperSilesia;

·        allheavy industry in the remaining territory of Germany to be dismantled ordestroyed.

The aim was to return the bulk of Germany to apre-industrial past, or, as the memorandum of theconference put it, “converting Germany into a country primarilyagricultural and pastoral in its character”.

The plan was never put into effect. The combinationof practicalities (it was estimated that if fully implemented it would haveresulted in the death of 25 million Germans unable to support themselves in apurely agricultural economy) and realpolitik (a strong West Germany became alynchpin to the USA’s Cold War strategy).

U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull and U.S.Secretary of War Henry Stimson firmly opposedthe policy as did Anthony Eden (at the time Foreign Secretary). In itsplace came the Marshall Plan, which had almost the exact opposite intention andresult to the Morgenthau Plan and saw Germany quickly resume its position asone of the world’s leading industrial and manufacturing nations. 

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