Published Date

July 1, 1944

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

From GI Roundtable 10: What Shall Be Done about Germany after the War? (1944)

The more quickly the industries of Europe as a whole are restored to full production and the sooner normal trade between countries is resumed, the sooner will prosperity return to Europe and to all parts of the world. Germany has the greatest productive capacity of any European country except, probably, Russia. For a time this capacity will be much reduced as a result of the war. But many think it desirable, in the interest of the general renewal of industry and trade, that Germany be permitted and assisted to recover her power of production as much and as fast as possible. Even her ability to pay reparations will depend upon this. A poor and unproductive Germany means that other countries will be poorer, too; for the other countries need manufactured goods and raw materials that Germany can supply, and need the German market for their own products.

On the other hand, it is felt by some people that a rapid and complete recovery of German industry will be dangerous to the security of other countries. One of the surest ways, they say, of making it impossible for her to start another war, is to prevent her from rebuilding her industries on any large scale; for military power depends on industrial power. If she again becomes the foremost country on the European continent in the number, size, equipment, and output of her plants, she will also surpass all her neighbors in the means of waging war.

There is here a seeming conflict between two purposes, both of which we should, if possible, wish to accomplish—economic recovery and military security. But it may be possible to accomplish both of them, if we can prevent Germany from manufacturing instruments of war while leaving her free to develop all her other industries to the limit of her ability—and if we make sure that the armed forces which would quickly be brought into action against her, if she should attempt any future aggression, will always be overwhelmingly more powerful than any forces which she could bring into the field.

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