EARLY POST-WAR BORDER OPERATIONS
1945 - 1946
(U) Control of the Frontier in the Early Days of the Occupation
(U) Concurrent with the ratification of the German surrender, on 9 May 1945 Occupational Plan ECLIPSE was implemented in the American Zone in Germany. ECLIPSE prescribed the planning and preparation for the immediate occupation of Germany upon its fall or surrender to the Allied Forces. According to a revised version of the plan issued on 24 April. 1945, Third US Army was assigned the general mission of occupying the German state (Land) of Bavaria (known as the US Eastern Military District), which comprised most of the area fronting on the eastern frontier of Germany. Land Hesse, which bordered on the Soviet Occupation Zone, was a different matter and was temporarily under the control of Seventh Army. It was this initial occupation of Bavaria and the setting up of frontier control posts that set the stage for the continuous presence of US Army units on the eastern borders that continues to the present.l
(U) Although portions of ECLIPSE had been partially implemented as the US Army occupied different portions of Germany, VE Day brought the official termination of Operational Plan OVERLORD, and the full ECLIPSE plan was to be implemented immediately. ECLIPSE called for the Third Army to advance to the German border and seal it off. Actually, this was not necessary, since by VE Day Third Army's XII Corps had already advanced into Czechoslovakia and had to be instructed to withdraw to Bavaria and secure the frontier by 1 July. In the first months of the occupation, troops were plentiful and literally everything of value was guarded or controlled. Third Army sealed off the frontier by establishing defended roadblocks covering all main avenues of approach leading into the US Zone from the east, southeast, and northeast; erected signposts well in advance of the roadblocks that stated: "In compliance with the terms of surrender, German military personnel are forbidden to pass beyond this line"; and halted all Allied and German troops in order to deny them entrance through the line. A minimum number of highways were selected as "Authorized Frontier Crossing Points," while other roads and footpaths were closed with physical barriers. These initial border control stations often were manned by a noncommissioned officer and a few soldiers, and thus were easily circumvented by the hundreds of thousands of refugees and German soldiers passing into the US Zone in order to escape from the Soviet Zone and Czechoslovakia. In an attempt to strengthen control of the frontier, most of the US units experimented with foot and motorized patrols both at the border and in some depth behind the border. These were more successful in detecting
border crossings. In addition, aerial reconnaissance flights were used regularly to patrol the border.2
(U) There is an essential difference between current border operations and the situation of 1945. With certain exceptions noted below, the primary purpose of border control during that period was to keep people out of the US Occupation Zone. On 22 May 1945 the representatives of the Allied Supreme Headquarters met at Leipzig with Soviet Army representatives and concluded an agreement on a "Plan for the Delivery through the Army Lines of Former Prisoners of War and Civilians Liberated by the Red Army and the Allied Forces." The agreement called for the establishment of reception-delivery points on either side of the boundary between the respective armed forces that would facilitate the movement of refugees and former German soldiers back to their original points of departure. The problem was that almost immediately the flow became increasingly one way from east to west, thus creating tremendous logistic problems for the American forces in the care and feeding of POWs and displaced persons. This problem was particularly difficult in that many of the refugees attempting to flee from the east into the American Zone were Jews hoping to relocate eventually to Palestine or elsewhere (usually in the United States). US policy afforded them exceptional treatment.3
(U) The solution to this problem was addressed in US Military Government Law 161. First promulgated in March 1945, the law was in response to a State Department request that the American forces control the border of the US Zone. The law, amended prior to its implementation, provided for the establishment of a "prohibited frontier zone" -- whose depth was never precisely defined -- along which Army commanders would post signs and erect barriers as well as conduct patrols in order to seize violators. One provision stated that except as authorized by the Military Government, no person was to cross the frontiers of Germany. In order to implement the amended law, the pertinent paragraphs of the Counter Intelligence Directive for Germany were revised and a security control system instituted. The initial purpose of the law, as well as the State Department policy, was to seal off Germany as a security measure to prevent the escape of German intelligence personnel and other wanted persons, primarily former Nazi officials. Special Counter Intelligence Corps Border (sometimes referred to as Frontier Security) Control Teams assisted the troops on guard duty and interrogated suspected persons and illegal border crossers. This effort was diluted-in October 1945, however, when these teams had to be eliminated due to critical shortages of personnel. As a consequence, Counter Intelligence Corps
detachments assigned to units responsible for areas having frontiers and borders were charged with the duties of the Border Control Teams. The law was amended again on 1 December 1945 in an effort to tighten up control of the border. Only Allied military and civilian personnel with proper travel orders, displaced persons and POWs under escort, and people living on the frontier issued special passes could cross the zonal boundaries.4
(U) From the very beginning of the occupation there were problems of border control on both the Soviet and British zonal boundaries as ,well as the 'international borders, particularly on the Czechoslovak border. To compound the problem, there were practically no authorized means of travel between the Soviet and US Zones. This not only inhibited the return of displaced persons to their homes, but made liaison between the two forces very difficult. In the case of the British, border control problems arose mostly from a very different philosophy on interzonal travel. The British were more liberal in granting interzonal passes and often felt free to issue passes for the US Zone. US Zone authorities usually apprehended travelers with such passes and returned them to the British Zone. With the Russians the problems were much more difficult. Although the British were occasionally guilty of passing burdensome refugees and displaced persons into the ,US Zone in order to avoid caring for them, the Russians did it on a massive scale. They would often grant passes to large bodies of refugees and when the American border guards turned them away, would refuse to allow them to return to the Soviet Zone. After wandering around in this no-man's land between border posts for awhile, most groups managed to find a way to sneak into the US Zone either with the aid of a smuggling ring or in some instances by having Soviet soldiers show them gaps in the American coverage of the border. Still another factor in this anarchic situation was the introduction of border incidents by the Soviet soldiers. Initially, they simply fired weapons into the US Zone; however, this dangerous, but fairly harmless, sport was followed by incursions of small groups of Soviet soldiers for looting and kidnapping expeditions. And in some instances, unfortunately, American soldiers were guilty of crossing into the Soviet Zone for the same purposes. The Czechoslovak border was the scene of illegal crossings the Suedeten Germans being "encouraged" to immigrate to Germany.5
(U) As tensions grew, arguments arose as to exactly where the zonal borders and frontiers were and who was intruding in whose zone. The London Protocol between the Allied Governments, signed on 12 September 1944, had declared that international frontiers would return
to their 31 December 1937 lines of demarcation, and Germany would be divided into three occupation zones. Each of the three Allied powers -- the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom -- was to have a zone of occupation that would be established along historical and political boundaries. The US Occupation Zone was to consist of the German states of Bavaria, "Greater Hesse," and "Wuerttemberg Baden" -- as they were referred to in that period. At the Crimean (Yalta) Conference in February 1945, it was decided that France would become a member of the Allied Control Council and be given an occupation zone. The United States subsequently gave up a significant portion of Wuerttemberg-Baden and the British contributed the Saar and the Palatinate in order that the French might have an area to occupy. In order to more effectively seal off the US Zone, the US forces had contemplated drawing an inner-German boundary and establishing a prohibited frontier zone around the US Zone. The border was surveyed, road and rail entries were indicated on map overlays, and the best locations for control posts were determined by the end of June 1945. However, this broad prohibited zone was never declared due to the magnitude of problems such a massive relocation of the population and disruption of farming and small business that would have been caused by its implementation. On 23 November 1945 the EUCOM Chief of Staff made a final decision against designating a "prohibited frontier zone," but did call for ;he maintenance of effective control of travel across zonal boundaries.6
(U) Under the 2 August 1945 Potsdam Agreement, Germany was to be administered as an economic unit. However, the Russians immediately began taking reparations out of eastern Germany, while the United States began pumping relief supplies into western Germany. The greater personal freedom and economic opportunity available in the West induced 1.6 million Germans in the Soviet Zone to cross into the western zones between October 1945 and June 1946, leading to a curious reversal of roles, with the Russians demanding that the zonal border be closed to all except authorized traffic. By November 1945 agreements covering military travel between the zones -- with an agreement on travel to and from Berlin being the notable exception -had been reached among all four occupying powers. This was followed in December 1945 by the establishment in Berlin of a combined Travel Security Board. Composed of representatives of the United States-, Great Britain, and France, the board coordinated travel security policy and set up stringent regulations on procedures and necessary paperwork for travel by military personnel and civilians into and out of Germany. The three participants adopted similar regulations for travel between the British, French, and US Zones. However, these
regulatory solutions were not adequate to stem the tide of refugees and displaced persons that flooded into the western zones in the face of a rapidly diminishing pool of manpower available to control and patrol the borders. Regardless, the Soviet Union convinced the Allied Control Council ,to close all zonal borders on 30 June 1946. Thereafter all persons had to obtain an interzonal pass to visit another zone. The regulations and border control elements were circumvented regularly, often with the connivance of US servicemen for humanitarian and other reasons. One favorite ploy was to pass women over the zonal border dressed as soldiers -- a disguise that rarely fooled anyone.7
(U) Structure and Stationing
(U) As might be readily imagined, it is difficult to identify precisely which units had specific responsibility for guarding and controlling which portions of the inner-German and Czechoslovak borders. Prior to and after the declaration of VE Day, a fluid situation resulted in various units guarding whichever borders or boundaries happened to be in their areas of operations. Essentially, these were combat troops providing area security or guarding the border. A Fifteenth Army study, conducted in November 1944, had recommended establishing specialized "Frontier Command" troops and Fifteenth Army did establish the Frontier Command on 15 April 1945 for the purpose of controlling the movement of personnel across the western German border. The Frontier Command troops successfully demonstrated the feasibility of temporarily using combat troops to occupy various border posts and set up road blocks, and using mobile motorized patrols to patrol the frontier along a lateral road network. The use of fully-trained, police-style soldiers on the eastern borders was not to come about until the establishment of the US Constabulary in July 1946. In the interim, small mobile forces from the infantry divisions were used to maintain security in outlying districts of the divisions` areas of operations. First formally proposed by the Third Army on 12 July 1945, and subsequently approved by Twelfth Army Group, the reorganization of all in-theater infantry divisions along these lines was never carried out, but many divisions effected local reorganizations that created such mobile forces, and they were often used for border duty.8
(U) In mid-1945 most of the border areas of concern to this study were controlled by Third Army, which was responsible for the Eastern Military District of the US Zone of Occupation. Seventh Army was responsible for the Western Military District, which also had exten-
Source: Mission Accomplished, 3d Army Hist, p. 22. UNCLAS
sive border responsibilities, but the only portion of interest was its northeastern boundary that ran along the inner-German border. As mentioned previously, the situation was very fluid, and it would serve no useful purpose to document the monthly -- in some instances, weekly -changes in units securing the borders. A "snapshot'.' of the situation in the fall of 1945, when many of the units had settled in for awhile, would show that the Third Army controlled the eastern border with elements of the 1st, 9th, and 102d Infantry Divisions and the 4th Armored Division. The portion of Seventh Army's area of responsibility that bordered on the Soviet Zone of Occupation was controlled by the 3d Infantry Division. (See MAP 1 for the areas of responsibility for the different divisions.)9
(U) A major change in the organizational structure of the US Zone of Occupation occurred on 31 March 1946 when the Third Army Area was merged with the Seventh Army Area (the Eastern and Western Military District designations had been changed on 2 January 1946) under Third Army's command, with Seventh Army being inactivated. Third Army moved its headquarters from Bad Toelz to Heidelberg, the former location of the Seventh Army headquarters. By late spring the return of troops to the United States had occurred so fast that only three units were controlling the borders. The 1st and 3d Infantry Divisions were responsible for the eastern and northern borders of the American Occupation Zone (see MAP 2). These units continued to be responsible for area and border security until the US Constabulary assumed the mission on 1 July 1946.10
(U) Land Border Police
(U)The Grenzpolizei (national border police service) had been abolished upon entry US forces into Germany due to their Nazification and infiltration by the SS. Initially, border control duties were carried out by US tactical units of the Eastern and Western Military Districts assisted by the reorganized German rural police. As large-scale redeployment got under way in the summer of 1945, it was clear that the American soldiers would not be able to effectively seal off the borders. It was US policy that there would not be a national border police service, but a Land or state border police service could be organized when the commanding generals of the military districts thought it was appropriate. In July 1945 US Forces, European Theater (USFET) envisioned that the state border police would be subordinate to the Land government and would cooperate closely with both the military government and the occupying military forces. Under normal conditions, local dispositions of border police would be boor-
Source: Mission Accomplished, 3d Army Hist, p. 23. UNCLAS.
dinated by responsible tactical commanders with the military government Public Safety Officers; however; in emergencies the area commander would be authorized to assume direct control of the border police. It would be modeled on the abolished Grenzpolizei, use their facilities, and police the borders of its Land that also formed an international boundary. Border police functions would be to enforce immigration and emigration laws and regulations, regulate travel across the international boundaries of Germany, assist customs officials in the prevention and detection of smuggling, and enforce any travel restrictions which might be imposed between the US Zone and other parts of Germany.
(U) Since former German border police authorities and personnel were largely ineligible due to the denazification program, it became the responsibility of the military government Land Public Safety Officers and their staffs to thoroughly screen and -reorganize the new Land border police services. Under their supervision, the Minister Presidents of Bavaria and Greater Hesse appointed directors of border police services who would function under their respective Ministers of the Interior. Since Land Wuerttemberg-Baden, as it existed then, did not have an international border, it used a special detail of 400 members of its rural police to carry out its interzonal border control responsibilities. By November 1945 recruiting for the new border police forces was well under way and beginning in December special eight-week courses were held at Utting in Bavaria and at Marburg in Greater Hesse. All border police were uniformed (most wore the standard dark blue police uniform) and armed with US carbines and pistols in accordance with the US Military Government's Directive Number 16.11
(U) The Land border police services assumed their duties as scheduled on 15 March 1946, and immediately began assisting the tactical units with border patrolling and manning check points. Although their initial strength was much less than the planned total of 4,000 envisioned for the three Laender, by April their strength was as follows: 1,820 for Bavaria including 550 customs police), 350 for Wuerttemberg-Baden, and 680 for Greater Hesse. By May their total strength had risen to 3,723, which included approximately 1,000 who were carrying out customs police duties. A later strength figure in July 1946, when they came under Constabulary control, lists them as having 3,057, which probably does not include the approximately 1,000 customs personnel and if combined with that figure gives them roughly the 4,000 strength level envisioned in the planning phase.12
(U) Although transportation and communications facilities were still inadequate, initially the morale and efficiency of the border
police were high. Shortly after they assumed their duties, favorable reports about improvements in border security were received from many quarters. It should be noted that their authority was limited solely to German civilians, and they were not allowed to stop or apprehend military or civilian violators attached to the Allied armies. Thus; they were extremely effective against German violators of the border (e.g., border violations fell 50 percent between the months of April and May 1946) and in implementing restrictions dictated by Military Government Law Number 161 (in May they seized over 552,000 Marks and confiscated 119 letters). However, they were less effective against members of the Allied forces since they were only allowed to explain where authorized crossing points were and to report those individuals who chose to ignore them to the responsible US headquarters. Their relations with the Allied forces from the British and French Zones were good, particularly after the signing of an agreement on 10 April 1946 between the British and American authorities granting German nationals freedom of travel between their two zones and the subsequent easing of restrictions in travel between the French and American Zones. This growing trend toward the resumption of normal travel and trade between the American, British, and French Zones was not as successfully implemented on the Soviet Zonal border or the Czechoslovak frontier. In a number of instances the situation became so tense that the Land border police were fired upon from the other side of the borders.
(U) As a consequence, an Office of Military Government for Germany (US) -- OMGUS -- directive, issued on 10 May 1946, prohibited the border police from being armed within a 1-kilometer strip on any zonal boundary that was guarded by military personnel of Allied forces. The purpose of the directive was to eliminate shooting incidents between the Land border police and Allied personnel -- especially Russians. Two methods of implementing the directive were used. In Land Greater Hesse, the border police continued to bear arms but simply did not patrol within the 1-kilometer strip, while in Bavaria the border police patrolled the 1-kilometer strip unarmed. In Greater Hesse the 1-kilometer strip was not receiving adequate protection or surveillance, while in Bavaria the police were helpless to apprehend illegal border crossers and smugglers. Aside from the fact that they could not cope with the lawless elements, the police units lost much of their prestige, and several members resigned for this reason. It was clear that the disarming of the border police was producing undesirable conditions that far outweighed the slight reduction in shooting incidents.
(U) In September 1946 Third Army proposed that the Land border police be rearmed within the 1-kilometer zone. In addition to causing a severe decrease in the effectiveness of the border police, the disarming policy was causing US Army units to dissipate their strength by requiring them to fill this gap in security coverage. Although the military government initially disapproved this request, it did amend the original order to allow village police forces located in the one kilometer strip to be armed in order to provide protection to their residents. Finally, the order was rescinded on 1 February 1947, and the Land border police were authorized to bear arms anywhere within their area of jurisdiction.13
page created 23 July 2002
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