Key Facts & Summary
- An urgent call for the Western Powers on how to govern Germany after the Second World War. Some leaders preferred to partition Germany into many smaller regions, while others suggested that Germany is split into two or three sectors.
- The Allied powers came up with the Morgenthau Plan which suggested that Germany was to be occupied in four different zones. Their main task was to demilitarize Germany and to deindustrialize it so that there will be no possibility of the occurrence of a new war.
- The Americans, the British, the Soviets and the French occupied Germany by dividing it into four zones. In 1946, however, Americans preferred Germany to remain a unique and independent country.
- The Allied powers allowed Germany to have some economic and industrial recovery in the sectors that they occupied. However, the Soviets formed a socialist government supported by Moscow. The government was set up in East Germany. It did not allow for economic and industrial recovery.
A problem that the United States, Great Britain, and Soviet Russia faced after the Second World War was how to manage post-war Germany. Their opinions on this subject were divergent, as they had done for the future of Poland. At the 1943 Yalta conference, US President Franklin Roosevelt suggested dividing Germany into small pieces, a strategy to limit its future war-fighting capacity.
The Roosevelt plan would abolish the German nation and create several small autonomous nations: Hanover, Prussia, Hesse, Saxony, and Bavaria. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, who had more to fear from a resurrected Germany than Roosevelt, nodded enthusiastically.
The economic union of the American and British zones of Germany, agreed in December 1946 and effective as of January 1, 1947. This stems in part from the economic difficulties of the British zone, with a large industrial population that needed to be part of a growing US commitment to revitalizing the German economy, in part because of British and American opposition to the Soviet insistence on reparations.
Pragmatic concerns go hand in hand with the ideological struggle of the Cold War in Europe in general and in Germany in particular.
The Germans participated significantly in Bizonia’s economic administration (whose name was Ludwig Erhard) and the Economic Council, created in the spring of 1947 with representatives appointed by the Länder parliaments, was a very important springboard to creation. of the Federal Republic.
The French zone was moving away from Bizonia: France’s attitude towards reparations was much closer to that of the Soviet Union than to that of the Americans or the British. But the Cold War separated France and the USSR in such a way that the French zone joined the monetary reform of 1948, which precipitated the Berlin crisis of 1948-1949, and the establishment of the Federal Republic in 1949 by the La France.
The Iron Curtain
In Early 1946, Western Allies led by Britain and the United States- were wary that the Soviets were planning to expand their territories and must be brought under control. The annexation of parts of Poland by the Soviet Union and its anti-democratic actions in other European countries that it had seized persuaded Western leaders that there was a plan by the Soviet Union to bring Europe under total communist control.
Churchill’s was the first person to coin the term “Iron Curtain”. He used the term to describe the how the Soviet captured territories and then separated them from the outside world. This illustrated a fundamental change in the attitude of leaders from the West towards Soviet intentions. Because of this change in attitude, western leaders saw Germany as a country that could be a future ally to the Soviets.
This changed policy made the US authorities to get more involved in Germany. Notable early examples of this shifting policy included the September 1946 speech that was given by the then US Secretary of State. In his speech, he proposed to transfer the administrative functions of the military governments that were active in Germany to a single administration.
According to the United States, they had not defeated the Nazis to prevent the Germans from being repressed. None of the German’s neighbours, the Soviets or the French was ready for a more determined Germany. However, after several negotiations, the Bizonia, which was to be a shared economic zone for the United States and Great Britain, was set up in 1947.
The creation of Bizonia was a success although it had endured some difficult starts. It had a population of 40 million who were benefiting from an improved economy. The French soon joined the Bizone created by the US and Britain in 1949. This is because the Bizone was a success. What resulted was the creation of Trizonia (Trizone).
European Recovery Plan is created
In 1947, the Allies announced the establishment of the European Recovery Plan. The plan was aimed at improving Europe’s economy by injecting large-scale credit. This was going to boost trade between European nations and the United States. The US-directed that the European countries should unite to create one economy and that they should actively participate in the administration of this economic program.
To the Soviet, this European economic proposal was a way of denying them the chance to reap the benefits of their victory over fascism. The Soviets considered the proposal to be a direct threat to its communist ideology. They termed this plan a “US economic imperialism”. As a result, the Soviet Union refused to participate in the program. The Eastern European states also refused to participate in this program following the example by the Soviet Union.
Sixteen countries from the West decided to join the European Organization for Economic Co-operation in 1948. The reason for joining was to fulfill the preconditions for economic co-operation in Europe. In April 1948, the Foreign Aid Act was passed by the US Congress. It allowed for the issuance of assistance.
Within a few months, the United States started shipping aids in terms of consumer goods, industrial products, direct monetary donations and credit into the impoverished areas of Western Europe. All the infrastructure that the war had were quickly rebuilt. This resulted in the economies of the war-torn countries being repaired. The Marshal plan is credited with the revamping of the economy of West Germany.
Creation of the Deutsche Mark
An operational monetary system was established to further grow the economy. The economy of the territory under the National Socialist Government was experiencing inflation. This was due to the overabundance of the money supply that did not match the availability of goods. This led to the rise of the black market economy. To deal with this problem particularly witnessed in the big cities, and to help West Germany’s economy to grow, the Allies set up a central bank was created. The bank introduced economic reforms that led to the introduction of the Deutsche Mark.
The Western powers took the Soviets by surprise with their economic reforms. To avoid being left behind, the Soviets too quickly implemented their own monetary reform to be used in their territories including Berlin. However, by this time, the Western powers had already successfully distributed the DM in their territories within the city.
The Soviets took this action as a culmination of a Western policy aimed at undermining their efforts of building a socialist system in its area. They felt provoked hence reacted suddenly by setting up a blockade of Berlin.
In 1948 June, the Soviets set up a blockade on all road and rails that joined other areas to West Berlin. This affected shipping activities on the rivers Havel and Spree. Electricity, which was being supplied by factories in the Soviet zone, was switched off.
To counter the actions of the Soviets, the Allied Powers had to act quickly. They kicked off airlifts in order to provide the 2.5 million people living in West Berlin with everything they needed to survive. The US military governor managed to successfully coordinate air transport. As a result, 150 British planes and 230 US planes were deployed.
Thousands of tonnes of supplies were airlifted to West Berlin. These included coal and other heating fuels that the people needed for the winter. The Soviet Union underestimated the Western resolution of keeping the Trizone inhabitants alive. The Soviets lifted the blockade when they realized that their plan had failed. The Western Allies had managed to resist the Soviets without creating an armed conflict.
Although the Soviets’ blockade had come to an end, the effects it had on Berlin were lasting. In 1948, when the Soviets realized that they were not going to successfully create a socialist Germany, they withdrew from the agreement that had divided Berlin. This made the Western powers to establish a separate administration to manage their sectors.
By the end of the year, Berlin was under two municipal administrations. The Western Allies no longer perceived Berlin as the headquarter of Hitler’s Germany. Berlin became a symbol of freedom and struggle for the preservation of civic values.