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)

Many who agree that in some way Germany must, for a long time, be made incapable of going to war again, also think that something can be done to decrease the likelihood that she will be inclined to do so. To accomplish this they propose the elimination of the groups chiefly responsible for this war. These would, of course, include the Nazi leaders; but, as we have seen, Hitler was at first the tool of two small but powerful groups who were the real originators end planners of the war; and it was they who, made his success possible. If the power of these groups is not destroyed in Germany, the elimination of the Nazi party, it is said, will accomplish little; they, or others of the same type, will again secretly plan for another war, and will find new tools when they are ready to use them. The first of these groups (as we have also seen) was made up of professional army officers. Most of these came from the class called “Junkers” by the Germans—the families which owned large landed estates, mainly east of the Elbe—who had for generations controlled the army, and often the government. The members of this class have been the permanent source and the most persistent and effective promoters of the militaristic spirit in Germany. The other group, which for political purposes was closely allied with the Junkers, was made up of a small number of men who controlled the steel, coal, electrical, and chemical industries.

Since it was in these groups that the war spirit had its chief source, one thing that must be done after this war—it is argued—is to destroy that source. The great landed estates, it is maintained, must be taken away from the Junkers, be broken up into small farms, and given to the peasants. The concentration of the control of industry in a few hands, with the political power that goes with that control, must be ended, at first by placing the management of the big plants under a commission of the United Nations, and later—if or when a democratic government is set up in Germany—by letting the German people decide for themselves what the future ownership and management of their great industries shall be. These two measures, it is believed, would probably be welcomed by the majority of Germans; and their effect would be to give much greater political power to those elements in the German population which are opposed to militarism and desire a democratic form of government.

Next section: Justice to Germany’s Victims