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. and his 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.

Notable details:

  • 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 upon identification.
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 influences.

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