Allied-occupied Germany

Allied-occupied Germany
German Realm
Deutsches Reich
Military occupation

1945–49 / 1990

The C-Pennant

Occupation zone borders and territories regarding former Nazi Germany. Areas in Beige indicate territories east of the Oder-Neisse line, that were attached to Poland and the USSR, as well as the detached Saar protectorate. Berlin is the multinational area within the Soviet zone.
Capital Berlin (de jure)

Frankfurt (American zone)
Bad Oeynhausen (British zone)
Baden-Baden (French zone)
East Berlin (Soviet zone)

Political structure Military occupation
Governors (1945)
 - UK zone FM Montgomery
 - French zone Gen. Lattre de Tassigny
 - US zone GA Eisenhower
 - Soviet zone Marshal G.K. Zhukov
Historical era Cold War
 - Surrender 8 May 1945
 - Allied Control Council 5 July 1945 1945
 - Saar protectorate 15 December 1947 (joined the Fed. Rep. of Germany on 1 January 1957)
 - Federal Republic of Germany 23 May 1949
 - German Democratic Republic 7 October 1949 (joined the Fed. Rep. of Germany on 3 October 1990) 1949
 - Final Settlement¹ 12 September 1990
Currency Reichsmark and Rentenmark (1945–48)
Deutsche Mark (West)
(Trizone and Western sectors of Berlin, 1948–49)
Deutsche Mark (East)
(Soviet zone and sector of Berlin, 1948–49)
Mark of the Saar
(Protectorate of the Saar, 1947–48)
Franc of the Saar
(Protectorate of the Saar, 1948–59)
Preceded by Succeeded by
Flensburg Government
West Germany
East Germany
Saar (protectorate)
West Berlin
East Berlin
¹ Reunification of Germany took place on October 3, 1990.
Occupied Berlin.svg
The four sectors of Allied occupation in Berlin

The Allied powers who defeated Nazi Germany in World War II divided the country west of the Oder-Neisse line into four occupation zones for administrative purposes during 1945–49. In the closing weeks of fighting in Europe, US forces had pushed beyond the previously agreed boundaries for the future zones of occupation, in some places by as much as 200 miles. The line of contact between Soviet and US forces at the end of hostilities was temporary. After two months in which they had held areas that had been assigned to the Soviet zone, US forces withdrew in the first days of July 1945.[1] Some have concluded that this was a crucial move that persuaded the Soviet Union to allow US, British, and French forces into their predesignated zones in Berlin, which occurred at roughly the same time (July 1945), although the need for intelligence gathering (see Operation Paperclip) may also have been a factor.


The Zones of Occupation

 Map of the Allied zones of occupation in post-war Germany, as well as the line of US forward positions on V-E Day. The south-western part of the Soviet occupation zone, close to a third of its overall area was west of the U.S. forward positions on V-E day.
The Allied zones of occupation in post-war Germany, highlighting the Soviet zone (red), the inner German border (black line) and the zone from which British and American troops withdrew in July 1945 (purple). The provincial boundaries are those of pre-Nazi Weimar Germany, before the present Länder (federal states).

American Zone of Occupation

The American zone consisted of Bavaria and Hesse in Southern Germany, and the northern portions of the present-day German state of Baden-Württemberg. The ports of Bremen (on the lower Weser River) and Bremerhaven (at the Weser estuary of the North Sea) were also placed under American control because of the American request to have certain toeholds in Northern Germany. The headquarters of the American military government was the former IG Farben Building in Frankfurt am Main.

Beginning in May 1945, many American combat troops in Germany were sent back to the United States based on their Advanced Service Rating Scores. Some of the experienced officers and non-commissioned officers were selected to be sent to the Pacific Theater of Operations, but most of those who had served the longest in combat were discharged from the U.S. Army upon their return home. Following the surrender (by acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration) of the Japanese Empire in mid-August 1945, a higher percentage of soldiers and airmen were granted their discharges.

British Zone of Occupation

After liberating Holland, Canadian forces joined the British in taking northern Germany. After taking northern Germany, Canada withdrew, leaving north Germany to the British. In July 1945, when the British forces withdrew from all German territories they had conquered that were to be occupied by another allie, the British military government ceded some smaller sections of their zone to the Soviet Zone, specifically the Hanoverian Amt Neuhaus and some Brunswickian exclaves and fringes (e.g. County of Blankenburg). Within its zone the British military government reconstituted the traditional German state of Hamburg (but in borders drawn by the Nazis in 1937) and established the new states of Schleswig-Holstein (formed in 1946 from the Prussian province of the same name), Lower Saxony (a merger of the reconstituted Free States of Brunswick, Oldenburg and Schaumburg-Lippe with the Prussian province of Hanover in 1946) and North Rhine-Westphalia (a merger of the reconstituted Free State of Lippe and the northern part of the Prussian provinces of the Rhineland and Westphalia in 1946–47). In 1947 by a redeployment the reconstituted traditional German state of Bremen became an exclave of the US Zone of Occupation within the British zone. The military government, officially Control Commission for Germany – British Element, headquartered in Bad Oeynhausen.

Much of the British Zone was once part of the Kingdom of Hanover. Hanover was in a personal union with Britain from 1714 to 1837.

French Zone of Occupation

Initially, despite being one of the Allied powers, the French were not to be granted an occupation zone due to concerns over the great historical animosity between France and Germany, as well as the relatively more minor role played by the French within the alliance. However, throughout the war, Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French forces, continuously argued for France's role in the post-war world; eventually, both the British and the Americans, each having recognized the role of which the French played (as an Allied power) in the whole of The Second World War, agreed to cede relatively small portions of their respective zones to France. This arrangement resulted in the French zone consisting of two non-contiguous areas along the border with France creating a quadripoint with the US zone on the Rhine. The headquarters of the French military government was in Baden-Baden.

The Saargebiet, an economically important area due to its rich coal deposits, was enlarged and in 1947 turned into the Saar protectorate. It was a nominally independent state, but its economy was integrated into the French economy.

Soviet Zone of Occupation

Pink: portions of Germany east of the Oder-Neisse line attached to Poland (except for the northern portion of East Prussia and an adjoining area around Memel, which were joined directly to the Soviet Union.) Red: the Soviet occupation zone of Germany, later the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).
The Supreme Commanders on June 5, 1945 in Berlin: Bernard Montgomery, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Georgy Zhukov and Jean de Lattre de Tassigny.

The Soviet occupation zone incorporated Thuringia, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The Soviet Military Administration in Germany was headquartered in Berlin-Karlshorst.


While located wholly within the Soviet zone, because of its symbolic importance as the nation's capital and seat of the former Nazi government, the city of Berlin was jointly occupied by the Allied powers and subdivided into four sectors. Berlin was not considered to be part of the Soviet zone.

Governance and the emergence of two German states

The original Allied plan to govern Germany as a single unit through the Allied Control Council broke down in 1946–1947 due to growing tensions between the West and the Soviet Union, and was never fully implemented. In practice, each of the four occupying powers wielded government authority in their respective zones and carried out different policies toward the population and local and state governments there. A uniform administration of the western zones evolved, known first as the Bizone (the American and British zones merged as of 1 January 1947) and later the Trizone (after inclusion of the French zone). The complete breakdown of east-west allied cooperation and joint administration in Germany became clear with the Soviet imposition of the Berlin Blockade that was enforced from June 1948 to May 1949. The three western zones were merged to form the Federal Republic of Germany in May 1949, and the Soviets followed suit in October 1949 with the establishment of the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

In the west, the occupation officially continued until 5 May 1955, when the General Treaty ("German: Deutschlandvertrag") entered into force. However, upon the creation of the Federal Republic in May 1949, the military governors were replaced by civilian high commissioners, whose powers lay somewhere between those of a governor and those of an ambassador. When the Deutschlandvertrag became law, the occupation officially ended, the western occupation zones ceased to exist, and the high commissioners were replaced by normal ambassadors.

A similar situation occurred in East Germany. The GDR was founded on 7 October 1949. On 10 October, the Soviet Military Administration in Germany was replaced by the Soviet Control Commission, although limited sovereignty was not granted to the GDR government until 11 November 1949. After the death of Joseph Stalin in March 1953, the Soviet Control Commission was replaced with the office of the Soviet High Commissioner on 28 May 1953. This office was abolished (and replaced by an ambassador) and (general) sovereignty was granted to the GDR, when the Soviet Union concluded a state treaty (Staatsvertrag) with the GDR on 20 September 1955.

Despite the grants of general sovereignty to both German states in 1955, full and unrestricted sovereignty under international law was not enjoyed by any German government until after the reunification of Germany in October 1990. In fact, the provisions of the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, also known as the "Two-plus-Four Treaty," granting full sovereignty to Germany did not become law until 15 March 1991, after all of the participating nations had ratified the treaty.

A 1956 plebiscite ended the French administration of the Saar protectorate within the former French occupation zone and it joined the Federal Republic as the Saarland on 1 January 1957.

Officially, the city of Berlin was not part of either state and continued to be under Allied occupation until the reunification of Germany in October 1990. For administrative purposes, the three western sectors of Berlin were merged into the entity of West Berlin. The Soviet sector became known as East Berlin and while not recognized by the Western powers as a part of East Germany, GDR declared it its capital (Hauptstadt der DDR).

The German territory east of the Oder-Neisse line (Pomerania, Neumark, Silesia and East Prussia) was attached to Poland and the Soviet Union. The northern portion of East Prussia became the newly-formed Kaliningrad Oblast, a part of the Russian SFSR, with a small portion, Memelland, joined to the Lithuanian SSR.

All territory annexed by Germany during the war (from France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Yugoslavia, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Lithuania) was returned to those countries or annexed by the Soviet Union.

Occupation policy

US warning against "fraternization" with images of concentration camp victims.

In order to impress the German people with the Allied opinion of them,[citation needed] a strict non-fraternization policy was adhered to by General Eisenhower and the War Department. However, thanks to pressure from the State Department and individual US congressmen[citation needed] this policy was lifted in stages. In June 1945 the prohibition against speaking with German children was made less strict. In July it became possible to speak to German adults in certain circumstances. In September the whole policy was completely dropped in Austria and Germany. However due to the large numbers of POWs being held in processing centers throughout Germany, the western allied powers - not the Soviets - used armed units of Feldgendarmerie to maintain control and camp discipline. In July 1946, they became the last Wehrmacht military units to surrender their arms to the western powers.

By December 1945 over 100,000 German civilians were interned as security threats and for possible trial and sentencing as members of criminal organizations.

The food situation in occupied Germany was initially very dire. By the spring of 1946 the official ration in the American zone was no more than 1275 calories per day, with some areas probably receiving as little as 700. In the British zone the food situation was dire, as found during a visit by the British (and Jewish) publisher Victor Gollancz in October and November 1946. In Düsseldorf the normal 28-day allocation should have been 1,548 calories including 10kg of bread, but as there was limited grain the bread ration was only 8.5 kg. However as there was only sufficient bread for about 50% of this “called up” ration, the total deficiency was about 50%, not 15% as stated in a ministerial reply in the British Parliament on 11 December. So only about 770 calories would have been supplied, and he said the German winter ration would be 1,000 calories as the recent increase was “largely mythical”. His book includes photos taken on the visit and critical letters and newspaper articles by him published in several British newspapers; The Times, The Daily Herald, The Manchester Guardian etc. [2]

Some U.S. soldiers took advantage of the desperate food situation by exploiting their ample supply of food and cigarettes (the currency of the black market) as what became known as frau bait (The New York Times, 25 June 1945). Some Americans still felt the girls were the enemy, but used them for sex nevertheless.[3]

The often destitute mothers of the resulting children usually received no child support. In the earliest stages of the occupation, U.S. soldiers were not allowed to pay maintenance for a child they admitted having fathered, since to do so was considered "aiding the enemy". Marriages between white U.S. soldiers and Austrian women were not permitted until January 1946, and with German women until December 1946.[3]

The children of black American soldiers, commonly called Negermischlinge ("Negro half-breeds"), comprising about three percent of the total number of children fathered by GIs, were particularly disadvantaged because of their inability to conceal the foreign identity of their father. Black soldiers were reluctant to admit to fathering Negermischlinge since this would invite reprisals,[citation needed] and even in the cases where a soldier was willing to take responsibility he was prohibited from doing so by the U.S. Army which until 1948 prohibited interracial marriages.[4] The mothers of Negermischlinge would often face particularly harsh ostracization.

Between 1950 and 1955 the Allied High Commission for Germany prohibited "proceedings to establish paternity or liability for maintenance of children."[4] Even after the lifting of the ban West German courts had little power over American soldiers.

In general, the British authorities were less strict than the Americans about fraternization, and the French and Soviets more.

While Allied servicemen were ordered to obey local laws while in Germany, soldiers could not be prosecuted by German courts for crimes committed against German citizens except as authorized by the occupation authorities. Invariably, when a soldier was accused of criminal behavior the occupation authorities preferred to handle the matter within the military justice system. This sometimes led to harsher punishments than would have been available under German law - in particular, U.S. servicemen could be executed if court-martialed and convicted of rape.[citation needed] See United States v. Private First Class John A. Bennett, 7 C.M.A. 97, 21 C.M.R. 223 (1956).


Rumors of Nazi plans for insurgency, related to the Nazi Werwolf plan, and successful Nazi deception about plans to withdraw forces to its Alpine Redoubt and to use the redoubt as a base from which to conduct guerrilla warfare, affected the last Allied war advances into Germany and influenced Allied occupation plans. It has been estimated that zero Allied deaths can be reliably attributed to any Nazi insurgency.[5]

Expulsion policy

The Potsdam conference, where the victorious Allies drew up plans for the future of Germany, noted in article XIII of the Potsdam Agreement on 1 August 1945 that "the transfer to Germany of German populations (...) in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary will have to be undertaken"; "wild expulsion" was already going on.

Hungary, which had been allied with Germany and where no expulsions had as yet taken place and in addition population was opposed to an expulsion of the German minority, tried to resist this, but in the end had to yield to the pressure exerted mainly by the Soviet Union but also by the Allied Control Council.[6] Of the millions expelled from former eastern territories of Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and elsewhere, when they were not used for forced labor, over a period of years they were sent to the occupation zones of UK, USA, and USSR, who agreed in the Potsdam Agreement to absorb the post-war expellees into their zones, where many remained in refugee camps for a long time.

France was not invited to the Potsdam Conference. As a result, it took its own liberties to approve some decisions of the Potsdam Agreements and to dismiss others. As to the question of the post-war expellees, France maintained the position that it did not approve post-war expulsions and that therefore it was not responsible to accommodate and nourish the destitute expellees in its zone. Whilst the few war-related refugees, who had reached the area to become the French zone before July 1945, were taken care of, the French military government for Germany refused to absorb post-war expellees deported from the East into its zone. In December 1946, the French military government for Germany absorbed into its zone German refugees from Denmark, where 250,000 Germans had found a refuge from the Soviets by sea vessels between February and May 1945.[7] These clearly were war-related refugees from the eastern parts of Germany however, and not post-war expellees.

Military governors and commissioners

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American Zone

Military governors
  1. 8 May 1945 – 10 November 1945 Dwight D. Eisenhower
  2. 11 November 1945 – 25 November 1945 George S. Patton (acting)
  3. 26 November 1945 – 5 January 1947 Joseph T. McNarney
  4. 6 January 1947 – 14 May 1949 Lucius D. Clay
  5. 15 May 1949 – 1 September 1949 Clarence R. Huebner (acting)
High commissioners
  1. 2 September 1949 – 1 August 1952 John J. McCloy
  2. 1 August 1952 – 11 December 1952 Walter J. Donnelly
  3. 11 December 1952 – 10 February 1953 Samuel Reber (acting)
  4. 10 February 1953 – 5 May 1955 James Bryant Conant

British Zone

Military governors
  1. 22 May 1945 – 30 April 1946 Sir Bernard Law Montgomery
  2. 1 May 1946 – 31 October 1947 William Sholto Douglas
  3. 1 November 1947 – 21 September 1949 Sir Brian Hubert Robertson
High commissioners
  1. 21 September 1949 – 24 June 1950 Sir Brian Hubert Robertson
  2. 24 June 1950 – 29 September 1953 Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick
  3. 29 September 1953 – 5 May 1955 Sir Frederick Hoyer Millar

French Zone

Military commander
May 1945 – July 1945 Jean de Lattre de Tassigny
Military governor
July 1945 – 21 September 1949 Marie Pierre Kœnig
High commissioner
21 September 1949 – 5 May 1955 André François-Poncet

Soviet Zone

Military commander
April 1945 – 9 June 1945 Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov
Military governors
  1. 9 June 1945 – 10 April 1946 Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov
  2. 10 April 1946 – 29 March 1949 Vasily Danilovich Sokolovsky
  3. 29 March 1949 – 10 October 1949 Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov
Chairman of the Soviet Control Commission
10 October 1949 – 28 May 1953 Vasily Ivanoivich Chuikov
High commissioners
  1. 28 May 1953 – 16 July 1954 Vladimir Semyonovich Semyonov
  2. 16 July 1954 – 20 September 1955 Georgy Maksimovich Pushkin

See also


  1. ^ What Is to Be Done? TIME Magazine, July 9, 1945
  2. ^ Gollancz, Victor (1947). In Darkest Germany. Victor Gollancz, London. p. 116, 125-6. 
  3. ^ a b Perry Biddiscombe: Dangerous Liaisons: The Anti-Fraternization Movement in the U.S. Occupation Zones of Germany and Austria, 1945–1948, Journal of Social History 34.3 (2001) 611–647
  4. ^ a b Children of the Enemy by Mary Wiltenburg and Marc Widmann, Der Spiegel, 2007-01-02
  5. ^ Benjamin, Daniel (2003-08-29). "Condi's Phony History". Slate magazine. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  6. ^ The Expulsion of the ‘German’ Communities from Eastern Europe at the End of the Second World War Steffen Prauser and Arfon Rees, European University Institute, Florence, Department of history and civilization
  7. ^ Report of the Central Archive of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate on the absorption of German refugees[dead link]

External links

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