SHAEF's New Missions

Displaced Persons

One of the familiar human products of war is the refugee, the resident of a combat zone set adrift either by anticipated or actual destruction of his home and means of livelihood. An object of pity as an individual, in the mass he becomes a menace, clogs roads, imposes potentially ruinous burdens on already strained civilian services, and spreads panic. The British and French had some experience with refugees in the 1940 campaign, and it had become accepted Allied doctrine that the Germans were exceptionally adept at exploiting these unfortunates for tactical and even strategic advantage.

To the traditional picture of the refugee, the war had by 1944 added another figure, the displaced person (DP). A refugee was almost always a citizen of the country in which he was encountered and usually no great distance from home. If he was a potential threat, he was at least a transitory one. In liberated territory the local authorities could be expected to take care of him, and in enemy territory they would be compelled to do so. The DP was a different and more complex species altogether. He and his fellows had only two characteristics in common: they would all be citizens of one of the United Nations (by definition, enemy aliens no matter where they were found could not qualify), and they would all be outside their national boundaries at the time of liberation. They were certain in large numbers to be Russians and Poles with some Yugoslavs and Greeks, and inside Germany would be French, Belgians, and Dutch. They were the result of the vast transfer of population that Germany had begun in early 1942 to provide labor for its war industry, farms, and military construction. An Allied agency had estimated that as of October 1943 there were 21 million displaced persons in Europe, mainly in Germany or in territory annexed by the Reich.1 To the DPs could be added an indeterminate but large number of what would later come to be called RAMPS (recovered Allied military personnel): prisoners of war of all nationalities, many of whom had been held in Germany since the early campaigns of the war and, if they were soldiers of defeated nations, used as common labor.

Even at a distance and in the abstract, the DPs constituted a towering problem for SHAEF. Allied propaganda had played heavily on the plight of the so-called slave laborers, making their liberation and rehabilitation major United Nations war aims. Persuaded by their own propaganda, which in fact proved all too true, the military planners assumed that the DPs' first desire at the moment they realized they were free would be to get away from their German masters and, if possible, get out of Germany. The human flood thus unloosed would vastly overshadow the refugee


problems of the British and French in 1940. Furthermore, the DPs could not be left for the Germans to control. As victims of nazism and as United Nations citizens, they would become SHAEF's responsibility. Initially, they would have to be prevented from hopelessly clogging the armies' routes of advance and communications; secondly, they would have to be cared for with some solicitude; finally, they would have to be returned to their homes. The interval between the first and the last stage might be a long one since it would be determined by the state of the war, the condition of the European transportation systems, and in some instances by the people themselves, not all of whom would be able or willing to return to their home countries.

The DPs, moreover, could not be ignored even briefly or in the heat of battle, for they might harbor among them a danger to human life, both military and civilian, that was potentially greater than the war itself-the virus-like micro-organism Rickettsia. A benign parasite of the body louse, Rickettsia, when it passes from the feces of a louse into a human body through a bite or opening in the skin, causes typhus, the most feared epidemic disease in Europe since the bubonic plague. Napoleon's army in Russia reportedly suffered more losses from typhus than from combat. During and after World War I, an estimated three million persons died from the disease in the Balkans and the Ukraine. In World War II, a thousand cases had been registered in Naples by early 1944. Always serious and frequently fatal, typhus is endemic in parts of eastern Europe. When war breaks out it begins to spread; humans carrying the louse, host of the disease, provide its transportation. The Germans encountered it in their eastern campaigns, and it was known to have come into Germany with forced laborers and transports to concentration camps.2

The U.S. government had established the US Typhus Commission in December 1942 to study the disease and devise methods of control.3 By early 1944, DDT had been proven highly effective against the louse, hence indirectly also against the disease; however, it had to be applied individually and more than once, since it killed the insect but did not affect the eggs. In a reasonably static population, DDT could in a short time practically wipe out the disease; in a mass eruption and uncontrolled migration of people, carriers might still spread it from one end of Europe to the other in a few weeks.

"Displaced Persons" appeared for the first time as a separate branch of the G-5 in the reorganization of 1 May 1944. (In the Standard Policy and Procedure the designation "DP" was still regarded as a synonym for refugee, and pertinent duties were divided among the civil affairs detachments in the field, the provost marshal, and the local police.) 4  Although nobody then knew what the DPs' full impact on military government would be, the branch from the beginning was one of two reserved for a senior US officer (Supply being the other). On 13 May, General Gullion became branch chief.5


of man's noblest relic of his past, and what fire and pillage once had done, the bombers and artillery of World War II could do a thousand times more completely. In its conception alone, Operation OVERLORD-a massive armed sweep, with tactical and strategic air support, across northern France and the Low Countries and into Germany as deep as might be necessary to bring down nazism-made a strong bid to break all previous records for destructiveness. The war thus far had not been quite as devastating as anticipated. The art, particularly the architecture, of Italy was in great danger, but the war there was on nowhere near the scale contemplated for northwest Europe. In their early campaigns, the Germans had won rather easily; consequently, they had been careful to spare valuable art and buildings even in the East. After all, among their topmost leaders were several admirers and collectors of art. To the Americans and the British the protection of art and historical monuments had been an entirely peripheral consideration until they landed in Sicily and Italy in the summer of 1943.

The Italian campaign, however, had revealed the military commanders to be distinctly unwilling to risk tactical advantage or the lives or welfare of their troops to protect cultural intangibles. Neither could civilians, in the midst of a life-or-death ideological struggle, easily urge soldiers in battle to respect the shrines. Nevertheless, knowledgeable individuals and groups both inside and outside the government were deeply concerned with at least preventing needless destruction. In early 1943, the American Defense-Harvard Group and the Committee on Protection of Cultural Treasures in War Areas of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) had begun preparing inventories of European cultural monuments, museums, and private collections. They received valuable assistance from the Frick Art Reference Library, where the staff was already engaged in producing cultural maps and atlases. By spring 1944, the ACLS committee was able to furnish for Army publication detailed maps showing the locations of cultural monuments in continental Europe, information on looted art objects, and instructions for salvage and protection of art work to be included in civil affairs handbooks.6

Inside the government, justice Harlan F. Stone of the US Supreme Court had asked the President, on 8 December 1942, to create an organization for the protection and conservation of works of art, monuments, and records in Europe; and in the spring of 1943 the US government had proposed establishing an Allied agency for such purposes to the British and the Russians. In August 1943 the President had appointed Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts chairman of an interdepartmental committee to be known as the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in Europe. The Roberts Commission, as it quickly came to be known, took in hand the vast job of assessing in detail the extent of German and other Axis appropriation of cultural property and acted as the Army's channel to museums and universities for information and for personnel.7

By early 1943 the War Department, too, had recognized the desirability of protecting European art and monuments from war damage. On 1 April General Wickersham, Director of the School of Military


Government, writing to the Acting Director, Civil Affairs Division, recommended commissioning several art experts and, after they had taken the course at Charlottesville, attaching one or two as advisers to each theater commander's staff. In July, Hilldring had reported to McCloy that the directive for the Sicilian landing contained a reference to the preservation of historic monuments and that Eisenhower had been given two experts as staff advisers and had been supplied with all the material the ACLS Committee on Protection of Cultural Treasures in War Areas had so far completed. By the fall of 1943, the protection of art treasures "to the fullest extent consistent with military operations" had become established War Department policy; and in April 1944, Col. Henry C. Newton, an architect in civilian life, was brought into the Civil Affairs Division to set up procedures for putting the War Department policy and the work for the civilian groups into effect.8

Overseas, the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Subcommission (MF A&A ) had readily found a place in civil affairs, first in AMGOT and later, on the COSSAC staff. Determining its functions, however, was a more difficult matter, one which would never be completely settled. Within civil affairs, MFA&A was an anomaly in that it was basically less concerned with the affairs of civilians than with the actions of its own troops.

In Sicily and Italy and as projected in COSSAC's Standard Policy and Procedure, the MFA&A mission was to protect historic buildings and art work against wanton damage and looting but to do so without encroaching on the troop commander's overriding concerns where the outcome of a battle or his troops' lives and welfare in or out of combat were at stake. A line between avoidable and unavoidable damage was impossible to draw since each case could ultimately be judged only by one man, the commander on the spot. Consequently, beyond what could be accomplished by advice and persuasion, MFA&A on its own authority could do little in the way of active protection. Most often it could not begin to function until after the most crucial time had passed. Although even then, no doubt, much could often still be done to prevent further damage, the MFA&A role tended to become less that of a guardian than of an insurance adjustor assessing the loss, looking for what was salvageable, and attempting to forestall unwarranted claims. Late in December 1943, shortly before he left the Mediterranean, Eisenhower had undertaken to strengthen the preventive and protective aspect of MFA&A by directing higher commanders to determine the locations of historic monuments ahead of and behind their lines and to keep in mind and impress on their subordinates that the term "military necessity" did not embrace military or personal convenience.9 Although he required only compliance with the spirit of the directive, Eisenhower ordered separately on the same day that no building listed as a work of art in the zone handbooks on Italy was to be used for military purposes without his or the 15 Army Group commander's permission in each case.10

MFA&A in SHAEF, after a somewhat uncertain start in COSSAC (the first American art expert to arrive was sent down to Shrivenham to be a librarian because he did not possess enough military rank), began its existence with two modest


advantages: it was better situated within the military chain of command, at least theoretically, than it had been in the Mediterranean where, with the rest of civil affairs, it was completely separate; and it could assume from the outset that the tenor of Eisenhower's December directive for Italy would also apply in northern Europe. In January, Professor Geoffrey Webb, Slade Professor of Fine Arts at Cambridge University, became the semiofficial MFA&A adviser to the Supreme Commander pending his confirmation as civilian adviser and subsequent appointment as lieutenant colonel and section chief. The MFA&A functions that he proposed were to protect monuments and art work from avoidable loss or damage, prevent their deterioration after combat, and collect evidence on German looting or desecration. The civil affairs instructions for OVERLORD, issued in February, confirmed these duties and added requirements for protecting Allied governments from false claims and Allied troops from slanderous accusations. To execute its missions, MFA&A was to have four officers attached to each army, one at army headquarters and three with the frontline troops. The chief would further maintain a pool of eight officers at SHAEF. Since experience had demonstrated that without some weight of rank MFA&A officers were helpless, the chief was to be a lieutenant colonel and the other officers majors. To avoid immobility, which had long beset MFA&A in the Mediterranean, the section would have three jeeps and a truck of its own.11

Compared with the setup in the Mediterranean, the MFA&A organization proposed for SHAEF appeared almost ideal. As such, unfortunately, it was also to prove unattainable even within the elaborate SHAEF structure. Military organizations do not easily assimilate highly specialized, autonomous functions; consequently, for MFA&A within the military chain the question was still not what was desirable but rather what was feasible. This situation was true both in personnel and in organization. The argument that MFA&A officers needed the prestige of rank could not prevail against the Army's reluctance to grant field grade commissions to art specialists with no military experience; therefore, what MFA&A received were captains and lieutenants. While Professor Webb awaited his own confirmation as civilian adviser, which did not come until 1 April, MFA&A led a shadow existence within G-5, SHAEF; and the German and French country units in the Special Staff at Shrivenham set up their own MFA&A subsections which, as Webb at one point complained, scarcely seemed aware that a policy-making section existed in G-5.12 In the 1 May 1944 G-5 reorganization, MFA&A suffered the ultimate indignity: it did not appear in the organization chart at all. The omission was not remedied until nearly a month later when a place was made for it in the Operations Branch.

For a time in April, MFA&A in northwest Europe even seemed about to be reduced to the impotence it had experienced during the early months in Italy. When the Governmental Affairs Branch, Special Staff, recommended issuing a letter and a general order similar to those Eisenhower had put out in Italy in December 1943, G-5 Operations objected on the ground that existing civil affairs instructions pro-


vided ample protection for art and monuments.13

Although, as the end of the planning period approached, MF A&A had still not found a secure position in the command structure, it did at the last minute find strong support at least for its purpose. Over all objections, Webb had insisted that an order on art and monuments from the Supreme Commander, not merely instructions to civil affairs officers, was necessary in northwestern Europe where initially the British and American troops would be fighting on friendly territory. In May, Colonel Newton of the Civil Affairs Division, at the time the War Department's candidate ultimately to become military chief of SHAEF's MFA&A, visited the theater. Although Newton did not get the appointment, he took a strong and somewhat influential interest in assuring MFA&A's effectiveness and supported Webb's stand. Moreover, on 15 February, US bombers in Italy had unloaded six hundred tons of bombs on the monastery at Monte Cassino, one of the oldest and most venerated historical structures in Europe. The Allied command considered military necessity proven beyond question, but the prospect of more such instances in the future pointed up the need for a firm policy. On 26 May, Eisenhower addressed a letter to the army group, naval, and air commanders for OVERLORD. In it he made every commander responsible for protecting and respecting the historical monuments and cultural centers "which symbolize to the world all we are fighting for." Where success of the military operation would be prejudiced, as at Cassino, military necessity would prevail even if it meant the destruction of some honored site. But in the many instances where damage and destruction could not be justified, commanders would be responsible for preserving objects of historical and cultural significance.14 In the second week of June, SHAEF dispatched official lists of monuments together with atlases to the army groups for distribution down to the divisions.

A Directive for Germany

Although planning for Germany was excluded from the COSSAC's range of civil affairs competence, Morgan's staff had been aware that a sharp division between the end of the military phase of OVERLORD-RANKIN and the beginning of the occupation proper would not be possible. In December 1043, Lumley had detailed Lt. Col. Sir T. St. Vincent Troubridge to study the German administrative system and determine how it could be adapted to the initiation of military government in Germany. Completed in January 1944 and thereafter referred to as Slash 100, taken from its file number, the Troubridge study looked at the transition from war to occupation as a process rather than as a single event conditional on the German surrender.15 From Slash 100, SHAEF derived both the requirement for and the limits of its participation in the occupation of Germany. These aspects were expressed in terms of three phases: a military phase of complete military government either set up before


the German final collapse or necessitated by chaotic conditions in Germany after the surrender; a transitional middle phase in which the military command would pass its authority to a control commission; and a final phase in which the occupation would assume permanent form.16 On this basis the Supreme Commander could assume that he would have a military government mission in Germany before the surrender and for an indeterminate period thereafter.

The Supreme Commander could assume that he had a mission but not much more. Responsibility for launching the occupation would probably be his, but its nature and purposes were almost totally unknown. The second and third phases, as Slash 100 pointed out, depended on political decisions which had not yet been made. This deficiency loomed large as soon as G-5 moved into the planning for the first phase. On 10 February, Smith laid the problem before the CCAC (Combined Civil Affairs Committee). SHAEF, he said, was beginning to plan for military government in Germany, recognizing that its direct concern was only with the first phase, but such SHAEF decisions could affect the whole occupation machinery. Therefore, the first phase policies ought to be attuned from the start to those of the other two phases. To accomplish this, SHAEF needed political and economic guidelines. 17

Smith did not know it, but he had asked the impossible. There was no agency that could give him what he wanted nor would there be one for the duration of SHAEF's existence. The first impulse in the CCAC was to put Smith off with an assurance that the major policy decisions could be expected from the European Advisory Commission (EAC) in due time.18 To do so, however, would have amounted to CCAC's abdicating its function as the source of combined civil affairs policy as far as Germany was concerned. Furthermore, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff had independently arrived at an estimate of the way the occupation would be imposed on Germany that coincided with the SHAEF view derived from Slash 100; consequently, as far as the US staff was concerned, Smith's request was highly pertinent.19 The JCS, therefore, agreed that SHAEF would most likely have to establish military government in Germany and maintain it for what "could be considerable length of time" after the capitulation. Hilldring sent this information to Smith on 22 February.20

However, as Supreme Commander, Eisenhower was under the CCS not the JCS, and his instructions would have to come through the CCS in order to be valid. In the CCAC, the British members proposed, not unexpectedly but nevertheless disquietingly for the Americans, that the questions Smith had raised be referred to the CCAC (L) , which could secure opinions directly from the EAC.21 Thereafter, for both the British and the Americans the issue became one of supplying an adequate answer to Smith without prejudicing either Washington's or London's claim to be the fountainhead of occupation policy. In a meeting on 9 March, Hilldring advanced


the thought that the EAC, as a negotiating body for the governments, would not be much help as a source for informal judgments and advice; he stated that the Civil Affairs Division (CAD) was already well along in drafting basic directives for Germany which ought soon to be expanded into detailed directives. Four days later the British representatives suggested issuing an interim directive to take effect before the EAC completed its work, the details being left to the CCAC (L).22

In a meeting on 19 March, McCloy asserted that the military could not wait for the EAC to act. A military directive would have to be prepared beforehand and the necessity for it would have to be made clear to the British and Soviet governments. Hilldring added that, as a matter of fact, the CAD had completed a draft of a basic directive which it would submit for British approval and for expansion in detail by the CCAC (L). Alarmed at the broad hint in McCloy's remarks that the Americans were ready to ignore the EAC entirely, the British conceded that since the Russians probably had their own prepared directives for fringe areas such as Estonia and East Prussia, the Americans and British could probably do the same, "having in mind the recommendations being put forward by the US and U.K. representatives on the EAC." 23 Having reached an agreement, which as usual was open to disparate interpretation, the CCAC finally sent a reply to Smith telling him a directive for Germany was being prepared. 24

Another six weeks passed before the directive reached Eisenhower by special air courier on 28 April as "CCS 551," because it first had to be transmitted to London for British review and approval. At British insistence the scope was limited specifically to the period before the German defeat or surrender to avoid infringing on the competence of the London-based EAC. In the meantime, working parties in the CCAC had prepared supplementary political, financial, and economic and relief guides.

The basic directive was Eisenhower's charter to establish military government in whatever parts of Germany his forces occupied. As Supreme Commander he would have the supreme executive, legislative, and judicial authority which he could delegate as necessary to his subordinate commanders. Military government administration, however, would be identical throughout the occupied parts of Germany.25

A political guide, sent with the directive, stated that military government was to be "firm . . . at the same time just and humane with regard to the civilian population as far as consistent with strict military requirements." The purposes were to be to assist continuing military operations, to destroy nazism and fascism, to maintain law and order, and to restore normal conditions in the population as soon as possible.26

Financial and economic; and relief guides reached SHAEF on 31 May. The first provided for tight control of German banking and currency and for the introduction of Allied military marks as occupation currency. The Allied military marks were to be used in Germany by the US, British, and Soviet forces, each country redeeming


them in its national currency for its own troops. The Germans would continue to use the Reichsmark and would only be able to exchange Allied military marks for Reichsmarks.

The US Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington had made plates for the Allied military marks earlier in the year and had begun printing for all three governments when the Soviet Union demanded it be given duplicate plates from which to do its own printing. The Soviet government had explained, with almost disarming candor, that it wanted to do its own printing to be sure of having a constant supply of marks available. Neither the Americans nor the British had openly raised the obvious objection to putting duplicate plates in Soviet hands, namely, the lack of control over the amounts printed; but the British had argued against relinquishing the plates on the ground that the whole issue might be discredited because of the unlikelihood of the Russians' being able to produce identical notes even from duplicate plates, which in fact proved fortunately true. For both the British and the Americans, however, the real dilemma was whether or not they wanted to see a separate Soviet occupation currency introduced into Germany, a move which the Russians threatened to make if they were not given the plates. To avoid such a development and its implications for projected Allied unity in the occupation, the duplicate plates had been made and sent.27

The economic and relief guide combined two marginally related subjects in one paper. The economic part gave Eisenhower full control over German industrial production which he was instructed to use to orient German industry toward helping the war against Japan, to convert industry not needed against Japan to peacetime production, to make goods available for restitution and reparations, and to integrate the German economy into the European and world economies. With regard to relief, the guide specified that critical German shortages were to be alleviated only to the minimum extent necessary to prevent disease and unrest. Excess German food and other commodities were to be used for relief in liberated countries.28  After he received the guide, Eisenhower pointed out that it assumed a surplus in Germany but made no provision in the event the assumption proved wrong. The CCAC then revised the guide and empowered him to plan for relief in Germany on the same scale as in liberated countries, except that if supplies proved inadequate, Germany as the enemy country would receive the lesser share.29

Although the directive and the guides categorically disclaimed any purpose beyond providing Eisenhower with a basis for conducting military government in areas he might occupy before the surrender, they were obviously conceived as being readily convertible to final policy statements. They were firm, even severe, on specifics but on the whole remarkably moderate. Although the elimination of nazism and of the German ability to make war were assumed, the mission would be to restore normal conditions and to recreate a peaceable Germany. The authors had learned Colonel Hunt's lessons well, but The Hunt Report


had been absorbed only into Army doctrine, not into United States high policy. Elsewhere, specifically in the White House, other lessons were being drawn from the two world wars.

Eisenhower and Smith had been troubled since the inception of SHAEF by the unconditional surrender formula. In April, when Under Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., visited London, they asked for a clarification, an announcement of principles on which the treatment of defeated Germany would be based, in order to "create a mood of acceptance of unconditional surrender in the German Army." They proposed a political directive similar in tenor to CCS 551 then being drafted in the CCAC, one that would differentiate between the crimes of nazism and militarism and the German people's desire for a tolerable future.30  Stettinius took the request to the President who declared himself open-minded but inquired how Eisenhower imagined he could back up any promise to the Germans that they would be treated humanely when he would have to be speaking also for the Russians, the Norwegians, and all the other peoples who had suffered in the war and would not be inclined "to be soft." 31 Actually, the President had a month before flatly rejected a similar proposal from the JCS.32 He had said then: "The trouble is that the reasoning . . . presupposes reconstituting a German state which would give active co-operation apparently at once to peace in Europe. A somewhat long study and personal experience in and out of Germany leads me to believe that the Germany philosophy cannot be changed by decree, law, or military order. The change in German philosophy must be evolutionary and may take two generations. To assume otherwise is to assume, of necessity, a period of quiet followed by a third world war."  33




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