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Allied Control Council

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The Control Council headquarters
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The Control Council headquarters

The Allied Control Council or Allied Control Authority, known in German as the Alliierter Kontrollrat, was a military occupation governing body of Germany after the end of World War II in Europe; the members were the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. France was later added with a vote but had no duties. The Allied Control Council was based in Berlin-Schöneberg.

Contents

Creation

After the death of Adolf Hitler, Karl Dönitz became president of Germany in accordance with Hitler's last political testament. He authorised the signing, at Rheims, of the unconditional surrender of all German forces, which took effect on 8 May 1945, and tried to establish a government under Chancellor von Krosigk. This government was not recognised by the Allies, however, and Dönitz and the other members were arrested on 23 May by British forces.

The surrender document used by SHAEF at Rheims, was modelled on the one used a few days earlier to allow the German forces in Italy to surrenderTemplate:Ref. They did not use the one which had been drafted for the surrender of Germany by the "European Advisory Commission" (EAC). This created a legal problem for the Allies, because although the German armed forces had surrendered unconditionally, the civilian German government had not been included in the surrender. This was considered a very important issue, given that Hitler had used the surrender of the civilian government, but not of the military, in 1918, to create the "stab in the back" argumentTemplate:Ref. The Allies understandably did not want to give any future hostile German regime any kind of legal argument to resurrect an old quarrel. Eventually they decided not to recognise Dönitz, but to sign a four power document instead, creating the Allied Control Council. On 5 July 1945, in Berlin, the supreme commanders of the four occupying powers signed a common Declaration Regarding the Defeat of Germany (the so-called Berlin Declaration), which formally abolished any German governance over the nation:

The Governments of the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United Kingdom, and the Provisional Government of the French Republic, hereby assume supreme authority with respect to Germany, including all the powers possessed by the German Government, the High Command and any state, municipal, or local government or authority. The assumption, for the purposes stated above, of the said authority and powers does not affect the annexation of Germany. [US Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series, No. 1520.]

In reality, of course, all German central civilian authority had ceased to exist with the death of Hitler and the fall of Berlin at the latest. These parts of the Berlin declaration, therefore, merely formalised the de facto status and placed the Allied military rule over Germany on a solid legal basis.

The actual exertion of power was carried out according to the model first laid out in the "Agreement on Control Machinery in Germany" that had been signed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union on 25 November 1944 in London. Germany was divided into three zones of occupation, an American, a British, and a Soviet one, and each zone was ruled by the Commander-in-Chief of the respective occupational forces. (Later a French zone was added.) "Matters that affect Germany as a whole," however, would have to be decided jointly by all three Commanders-in-Chief, who for this purpose would form a single organ of control. This authority was called the Control Council.

The purpose of the Allied Control Council was to deal with the German central administration, an idea that hardly materialised as that administration totally broke down with the end of the war, and to assure that the military administration was carried out with a certain uniformity throughout all of Germany. The Potsdam Agreement of 2 August 1945 further specified the tasks of the Control Council.

Operation

On 30 August 1945 the Control Council constituted itself and issued its first proclamation, which informed the German people of the Council's existence and asserted that the commands and directives issued by the Commanders-in-Chief in their respective zones were not affected by the establishment of the Council. The initial members of the Control Council were as follows: Marshal Georgy Zhukov for the Soviet Union, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery for the United Kingdom, General Dwight Eisenhower for the United States, and General Jean Joseph-Marie Gabriel Lattre de Tassigny for France.

In the following time, the Allied Control Council issued a substantial number of laws, directives, orders, and proclamations. They dealt with the abolishment of Nazi laws and organisations, demilitarisation, denazification, but also with such comparatively pedestrian matters as telephone tariffs or the combat of venereal diseases. However, relations between the Western Allies (especially the United States and the United Kingdom) and the Soviet Union quickly deteriorated, and so did their cooperation in the administration of occupied Germany. Against Soviet protests, the two Anglo-Saxon powers pushed for a heightened economic collaboration between the different zones, and on 1 January 1947 the British and American zones merged to form the Bizone. Over the course of 1947 and early 1948, they began to prepare the currency reform that would introduce the Deutschmark, and ultimately the creation of an independent West German state. When the Soviets learnt about this, they claimed that such plans were in violation of the Postdam Agreement, that obviously the Western powers were not interested in regular four-power control of Germany anymore, and that under such circumstances the Control Council had no purpose anymore. On 20 March 1948, Marshal Sokolovsky, the Soviet representative, walked out of the meeting of the Council, never to attend one again.

As the Control Council could only act with the agreement of all four members, this move basically shut down the institution, while the Cold War reached an early high point during the Soviet blockade of Berlin. The Allied Control Council was not formally dissolved, but ceased all activity except the operation of the Spandau Prison where persons convicted at the Nuremberg Trials were held until 1987.

Germany remained under nominal military occupation until 12 September 1990, when the Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany, the final peace treaty, was signed by the four powers and the two German governments, restoring German sovereignty. This meant the official end of the Allied Control Council, insofar as it still existed at all.

The building

During its short active life, the Allied Control Council was housed in and operated from the former building of the Kammergericht, the supreme court of the state of Prussia, which is situated in Berlin's Schöneberg borough in the American sector. The building itself had suffered some battle damage, losing a central tower, but had remained mostly usable. After the cessation of most Council activity in 1948, all occupying powers quickly withdrew from the building to their respective sectors of the city, leaving the facility cold, empty and dark.

Only one four-power organisation, the Berlin Air Safety Center (BASC), remained in the building from 1945 until the fall of the wall in 1989. As a symbol of the BASC's continued presence, the four national flags of the occupying powers still flew over the large front doors every day. The only other signs of occupancy were the few, sparse office lights that emanated from a small corner room of the building — the BASC Operations Room — in the evenings. Of the 550 rooms in the building, the BASC office complex and guards' quarters occupied fewer than forty.

Because of the BASC's presence, the building remained closely guarded by United States Embassy guards, with access granted only to select members of the four powers. This led to mysterious legends and ghost stories about the eerie, dark facility with its grand, granite statuary overlooking the beautiful park.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, and after the Soviet troops left Berlin in 1994, the building was returned to the German government. In 1997, its erstwhile occupant, the Kammergericht, moved in. It now functions as the supreme court of the state of Berlin.

See also

Bibliography

  • "The U.S. Army in the Occupation of Germany 1944-1946" (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/other/us-army_germany_1944-46_index.htm); by Earl F. Ziemke. Center of Military History United States Army Washington, D. C., 1990; Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 75-619027; First Printed 1975-CMH Pub 30-6

Notes

  1. Template:Note "The U.S. Army in the Occupation of Germany 1944-1946" See Bibliography page 256
  2. Template:Note "The U.S. Army in the Occupation of Germany 1944-1946" See Bibliography page 109

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