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)

Dealing with Germany after the war presents a problem of intense interest and of great practical importance to Americans. The six purposes that many of us would probably agree upon as desirable features of our future policy toward Germany appear to contradict each other. Adopting means to accomplish one may make it difficult to accomplish another. Yet each desired result seems in itself good. Here is stuff for lively and useful discussion. Many Americans think they know what was done about Germany after the last war, and why what was done didn’t prevent this war. But a large number possess only fragmentary facts from which they often reason unrealistically.

This pamphlet gives you a concise account of critical provisions in the Versailles Treaty, of the extent to which these provisions were enforced, and of why Germany started World War II. Here again is stuff for discussion: What could have been done about Germany after the last war that wasn’t done?

You have in this pamphlet material which is superbly organized for practical use by a discussion or forum leader. The spread at the opening indicates the major subjects to be found in the text:

  • What was done after the last war?
  • What do we want to accomplish after this war?
  • What means have been proposed to achieve the desired results?
  • How far can action by the United Nations achieve these results?

The main questions about Germany are referred to in the final section of the text. As an aid to the discussion, these are repeated with a little elaboration

  1. What should be our principal aim in our treatment o f Germany after her defeat? To prevent future German aggression? To secure justice to Germany’s victims? To hasten the economic recovery, of Europe? To punish German war criminals? To transform Germany into a free and democratic country? To get Germany to become a peaceful and law-abiding nation?
  2. Will defeat of itself cause such a change in the Germans that they will become a peaceful and friendly nation?—Will defeat change German ideas and feelings about war? Shall we assume there will be no such change for many years after the war? Will the United Nations be obliged to take special steps to prevent Germany from starting another war?
  3. What are the best means of making it impossible for Germany to start another war?—To enforce the complete disarmament of Germany? For how long? To establish a collective system that will prevent aggression by any nation? To split Germany up into a number of small, independent countries? To eliminate the promoters of wars in Germany—the officer corps and the Junkers?
  4. Will the measures necessary to prevent future German aggression conflict with other aims of ours? (See 1 above.) With which of the other five purposes? What things can the United Nations do in securing justice for Germany’s victims? In hastening economic recovery in Europe? In punishing war criminals? In changing Germany into a free and peaceful nation? By what means should the United Nations try to accomplish these aims?
  5. After the war should the United States continue to cooperate with present Allies in Europe to help to accomplish, so far as possible, any or all of the six purposes? Will it be to the advantage of the United States to do so? Why?


Practical Suggestions

This pamphlet is well organized for a forum or discussion leader’s purposes. It provides basic material for a lecture, and yet offers interesting and concise reference reading for members of an informal discussion group.

If it so happens that you have access to a library, you will find the brief bibliography on page up to date and representative of various points of view.

Don’t forget to refer to EM 1, GI Roundtable: Guide for Discussion Leaders for suggestions about forum and discussion techniques.

Charts are effective devices for presenting facts or ideas to groups, large or small. It does not matter whether such charts are crudely or artistically made, but they must be legible from the back of the room.

For a meeting on “What to do about Germany” two charts are suggested

  1. A chart that lists the five features of the Versailles Treaty most resented by the Germans: reparations, military occupation, forced disarmament, “war guilt,” and loss of territories.
  2. A chart listing the “six purposes.” These purposes should be briefly rephrased as is done under the first of the main questions given to you.

Suggestions for Further Reading

The Hidden Enemy: The German Threat to Post-War Peace. By Heinz Pol. Published by Julian Messner, 8 West 40th Street, New York 18, N. Y. (1943).

The Problem of Germany. By the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Published by Oxford University Press, 114 Fifth Avenue, New York, N. Y. (1943).

Listen, Hans. By Dorothy Thompson. Published by Houghton Mifflin Co., 2 Park Street, Boston 7, Mass. (1943.).

The Black Record of Germany—Past, Present, and Future? By Lord Robert G. Vansittart. Published by Avon Book Co., 432 Fourth Avenue, New York, N. Y. (1944).

What Shall We Do With Germany? By Bernadotte E. Schmitt, No. 38 of Public Policy Pamphlets, published by University of Chicago Press, 5750 Ellis Avenue, Hyde Park Station, Chicago, Ill. (1943).

Germany after Hitler. By Paul Hagen. Published by Farrar and Rinehart, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, N. Y. (1944).

School for Barbarians. By Erika Mann. Published by Modern Age Books, Inc. (1938). Out of print, but perhaps obtainable in libraries.

Germany. By Hiram Motherwell. No. J of, Reference Pamphlets, published by Western Reserve University Press, Cleveland 6, Ohio.

“What Should Germany Pay?” An article in Fortune, vol. 29, February 1944.

“What Future for Germany?” An article by Vera M. Dean in Foreign Policy Reports, v61. 18, February 1, 1943, published by the Foreign Policy Association, 22 East 38th Street, New York, N. Y.