Planning for Integration in Europe

On the basis of the Korean experience the Department of the Army adopted the policy of ending segregation in all troop units. To unsegregate then was to integrate. Integration itself was therefore not really a new policy but rather a method of executing already formulated policy.

4. Initial Reactions

In the summer of 1951 the Department of Defense sent Dr. Eli Ginzberg, Columbia University professor and sometime Army consultant on manpower, to Europe to inform the senior officers in Heidelberg of the integration progress made elsewhere and to consult with them on the preparation of a similar program in Europe. Upon his arrival, Dr. Ginzberg encountered doubt that integration in the United States and Far East had been successful. Even if true, integration would not advance beyond the planning stage in Europe, and if implemented, it would probably be unsuccessful. Some officers were not aware of the progress made by integration elsewhere; they thus reflected the Army's success in having kept the program classified.1 This lack of awareness of the Army's policies was not surprising because a similar situation had existed in Korea. Generally, neither officers nor enlisted men understood the new policy on the use of Negro troops. Most men tended to think that Department of the Army policy was whatever they had experienced in their own unit—i.e., segregation or mixing.2

1. Incl to ltr, Dr. Eli Ginzberg to Lt Col E. J. Barta, USAREUR Hist Div, 26 Oct 55, rept, n.d., same to same. In USAREUR Hist Div Cen file (1955).
2. ORO Study, pp. 401-09.

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The reaction to the Army's plan to extend integration to Europe was favorable at Seventh Army headquarters. Lt. Gen. Manton S. Eddy, then Commanding General, Seventh Army, had indicated as early as January 1951 that most of his Negro units were unsatisfactory. He attributed his operational problems to segregation. General Eddy therefore favored integration as the only solution to a potentially dangerous situation. Without minimizing the difficulties, he believed that integration was desirable not only from the viewpoint of easing the accomplishment of his training mission, but in terms of over-all American military efficiency and world leadership.3 In the fall of 1951 Gen. J. Lawton Collins, U.S. Army Chief of Staff, discussed the question of racial integration in combat units with Army officials in Heidelberg. After General Collins returned to Washington, the Department of the Army requested the command to submit its plan for integration.4

5. The Original Plan

In the middle of December 1951 the European Command submitted to the Department of the Army a staff study containing the original plan for the integration of Negro and white personnel into combat units. The study on the implementation of a racial integration program emphasized the following points:

a. The Basic Assumptions. The command defined a certain number of conditions within which a prospective integration program was to function: Implementation of the program was to be only on Department of the Army order; the combat effectiveness of existing combat units would be maintained during the phasing of the integration program; integrated Negroes would be expected to maintain the same standards of performance as white troops; the Negro proportion in integrated units was to be approximately 10 percent; inactivated Negro combat units were to be replaced by similar units consisting of integrated personnel; the need for organizational structure changes before the completion of the integration program was anticipated; only Negro combat units of all components would be inactivated; and planning prior to implementation was to be classified.5

b. Proposal for Inactivating Negro Units. The original headquarters plan envisioned the integration of combat units only. Smoke generating units were specifically excluded. The Negro combat units first planned for inactivation were the 370th, 371st, and 373d Armored

3. (1) Incl to ltr, Dr. E. Ginsberg, to Lt Col E. J. Barta, 26 Oct 55, cited above. (2) Seventh Army Comd Rept, 1951, p. 24.
4. Extract from cable DA-88688, 4 Dec 51. In USAREUR G1 Mil Pers Br Integration file, Item 1.
5. EUCOM ltr, CINCEUR to COFSA, 14 Dec 51, sub: Racial Integration in Combat Units. Copy in USAREUR G1 Mil Per Br Integration file, Item 2.

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Infantry Battalions; the 93d, 547th, and 1279 Engineer Combat Battalions; the 16th Field Artillery Battalion; the 46th Antiaircraft Artillery (Automatic Weapons) Battalion; the 3d Battalion of the 22d Infantry Regiment; the 29th Heavy Tank Battalion; the 17th and 511th Engineer Bridge Companies; and the 552d Engineer Ponton Bridge Company. The Department of the Army was to determine which of the above units were to be inactivated and was to designate the new units to be activated. Combat units not having a history as a Negro component would retain their present designations, and racial integration in these would be accomplished by personnel transfers. To maintain combat effectiveness, integration was to proceed on a unit-by-unit basis over a 6-month period.

c. The Screening Board Idea. In order to insure the selection of qualified Negro officers and noncommissioned officers (E-7's, E-6's, and E-5's) for integration into combat units, screening boards were to be established to be manned by field grade officers of the combat arms. Each Negro officer and noncommissioned officer was to be personally interviewed and tested to determine his fitness for combat assignment. Those passing the screening board examinations were to be utilized in filling current vacancies in white combat units and in new units to be activated in place of inactivated Negro units. Negro personnel were to constitute 10 percent of the authorized strength of each unit. Reassigned Negro personnel were to be integrated into existing organizations on an individual basis, with at least 50 percent of Negro enlisted men in Grades E-7, E-6 and E-5 to be retained in combat units. Those failing the screening board reviews (and hence not assigned to combat units) were to be either reassigned to service units to fill existing vacancies or returned to the United States for reassignment if more than three years of service in the command had been completed. Temporary overstrength was to be authorized for some combat and service units to permit overlapping in cases where Negro officers and noncommissioned officers were replacing white personnel.7

d. Projected Personnel Transfers. Negroes assigned to combat units in the command in December 1951 included 183 officers, 30 warrant officers, 1,285 enlisted men in the top three grades, and 7,308 men below E-5. Integration would distribute these personnel in the following way:8

6. Ibid.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid.

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  Total Offs WO's E-5 to E-7 EM
Total 8,806 183 30 1,285 7,308
1. To be retained in combat units to fill current vacancies 7,933 100 20 505 7,308
2. For transfer to service units to fill existing vacancies 435 50 5 380 --
3. Temporary overstrength in combat or service units 228 23 5 200 --
4. To be reassigned to the United States (more than three years overseas service) 210 10 -- 200 --

e. Public Relations Planning. The public information aspect of the proposed integration program was a very important consideration. Properly presented, both to the public and Negro soldiers, the discontinuance of Negro combat units would be accepted as a logical, reasonable action. However, if an incorrect impression of the motive behind this action was imparted, the Department of the Army might be subjected to criticism and Congressional pressure. Consequently, before implementation of the integration plan the Public Information Division was to prepare a press release announcing the change in policy. In addition the Troop Information and Education Division was to prepare an orientation lecture to be given to troops on the same subject.9

6. Departmental Objections

The plan for integration in Europe met with specific Department of the Army objections.

a. Screening Boards Disapproved. The proposal to establish screening boards to test and evaluate the fitness of Negro officers and certain noncommissioned officers for retention in combat units was disapproved by the Department of the Army. Although the combat effectiveness of integrated units would have to remain unimpaired, the appearance of selected Negroes before boards prior to integration would undoubtedly be the source of many legitimate complaints of discrimination. Moreover, such a screening process could not be a continuing procedure since most of the Negroes in combat units would ultimately have to be taken directly from the replacement stream without any special selection system. Therefore, all Negro personnel would have to be assigned to integrated units without screening. The standards for performance of duty in any,

9. Ibid.

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integrated outfit necessarily would be equally applicable to all members of the units regardless of race.10

b. Inactivation of Negro Units on Request. The inactivation of Negro units as such was also disapproved. However, requests for the inactivation of individual Negro units actually rendered surplus to the command through reassignment of personnel would be approved. In most instances the necessary changes might be effected by redesignating units and removing racial identifying symbols. The inactivation of units solely because of their Negro history, therefore, was not contemplated by the Army.11

c. Extension of Integration to Service Units. General Collins informed the command that its integration plan would be extended to service units. Integration of these units would have to be either simultaneous with or subsequent to that in the combat units. This process was to take place according to the command's discretion, and over whatever period of time that might be required. The Army anticipated a 1- to 2-year period to complete integration in the command's service units.12

d. Publicity Blackout. The Department of the Army saw no need for publicizing the projected integration program. Far from precluding adverse reaction, releasing special publicity would invite criticism. The Army wanted the program to proceed quietly and as a routine matter without fanfare or publicity because this was the procedure followed in Korea with no adverse reaction.13

7. The Plan Approved

With these exceptions and modifications, the Department of the Army approved the plan for integration in Europe without stipulating a date for implementation of the program. General T. T. Handy, Commander in Chief, European Command (CINCEUR), indicated the command's readiness to implement the plan about l April 1952. Army approval followed.14

10. Ltr, COFSA to CINCEUR, 15 Feb 52. Copy in USAREUR G1 Mil Pers Br Integration file, Item 3.
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid.
13. Ibid.
14. (1) Ibid. (2) Cable S-3533, CINCEUR to COFSA, 22 Mar 52. (3) Cable DA-904459, COFSA to CINCEUR, 24 Mar 52. Both in USAREUR SGS 291.2 (1952).

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