INDECISION IN GERMANY, 1945-1947
AMERICAN POLICYMAKERS were slow to realize how much Europe's survival depended on German recovery. Germany, the heartland of Europe, almost bled to death while the Allies fought over its future. And the clumsy and incremental process by which U.S. officials arrived at a policy for Germany suggests none of the purposeful action that one might expect of a world power bent upon empire- building in Europe.
From the very first, American planning in Germany was pulled in two directions. On the one hand, wartime planners wished to disarm and neutralize the former Reich. Germany would be stripped of heavy industry, if not actually pastoralized, and shorn of large tracts of territory, if not fully partitioned. On the other hand, the American multilateral program called for the reconstruction of German industry and its integration into the West European economy. The conflict between these tendencies was never quite resolved before early 1947. Even after European recovery had clearly assumed precedence over German disarmament in American policy, Washington faced stiff resistance to its plans in Germany from other interested powers, East and West.
The United States had fought in two world wars to preclude German hegemony over Europe. In later years, Americans would have difficulty remembering the revulsion that they had felt toward Germany in 1945 following the Nazis' savage persecution and slaughter of captive populations. In cooperation with other nations, American officials resolved to punish war criminals and stamp out every vestige of Nazi power and influence.