A plan for the treatment of Germany after World War II
drawn up in 1944 by
the influential US secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr.
advisor Harry D. White
The plan was extremely harsh, based on the view that all Germans were by
nature aggressive and militant, a nature that could only be deterred by
completely destroying the German industry and converting the nation into
an agrarian society.
- Germany was to be divided into three parts, two of which
were to form separate nations and a third, encompassing the highly
industrialized Ruhr region, that would be governed internationally.
- All industry was to be dismantled and mines to be closed
- Reparation was to be made in the form of forced labor by Germans.
- Higher education was to cease for a considerable period of time,
until a complete reorganization of education could be organized.
- Lists of war criminals and members of Nazi organizations were to
be drawn up and people on those lists executed without trial
It is likely that the plan, had it been fully implemented, would have led to
millions of deaths by starvation; even without it, most Germans lived in
permanent hunger for years.
Morgenthau, in coalition with Lord Cherwell, an advisor of the
British Prime Minister Churchill, pushed the
plan at a summit in Quebec on September 15th 1944, and Churchill
and President Roosevelt both initially agreed
to the plan - Churchill most likely because he wanted certain American
concessions that Morgenthau had control over.
However, both Roosevelt and Churchill backed off after details of
the plan were leaked to the press, leading to strong negative
publicity. Three years later, with the formulation of the Marshall Plan,
the Morgenthau plan was reversed 100 percent. Before that, however, it worked as a great morale boost for Germany's
troops, "as good as ten new divisions", Joseph Goebbels
put it. And of course, it has been a favourite topic of
neo nazis and antisemitists ever since, used to retroactively justify Hitler's view of the Jews as aggressors and enemies of the German people.
On Morgenthau's part, the plan was obviously motivated by bitterness and
hatred over the German treatment of Jews, but also by a naively romantic
view of agrarian life. However, it was revealed in 1953 that his advisor
White, who had had a large part in devising and promoting the plan, was
part of a network of communist spies, and had most likely
deliberately designed the plan to make Germany an easy prey for Russian