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)

No one can intelligently decide what to do—in any practical situation—without having clear ideas about what he wants to accomplish. The means to be used depend upon the purposes that are to be realized. What, then, are the results that we want to bring about if we can or as far as we can do so, by our treatment of Germany after the war?

Most Americans would probably agree that there are six things that we should chiefly wish to accomplish:

  1. To prevent Germany from starting another war.
  2. To render justice to the countries in Europe that Germany has invaded, looted, and devastated.
  3. To bring about the economic recovery of Europe as rapidly as possible hat is, the renewal of the production of useful goods and of international trade, upon which the prosperity of all countries and the full employment of labor largely depend.
  4. To punish Germans responsible for Germany’s aggression and for illegal or inhumane acts against civilians or members of the military forces of the United Nations.
  5. To assist Germany to become a country that is free and democratic—that is, one in which freedom of speech, of political action., and of worship are guaranteed, and in which the majority of the people have power to choose their lawmakers and other officials in free elections.
  6. To convert Germany into a peaceful, law-abiding, and cooperative member of the community of nations.

There are differences of opinion as to which of these desirable results are most important to accomplish—except that nearly everyone agrees that the first is the most important of all. And it must be kept in mind that, in practice, these purposes may to some extent conflict. The measures which would help to accomplish some of them fully may be obstacles to our accomplishing some of the others. Where this is the case, it is necessary to decide which of them is to be given preference.

We will now, therefore, consider various suggestions that have been made as to the ways in which we and our Allies might help to accomplish these six purposes.

Next section: Preventing Future German Aggression