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Kammergericht, 1945-1990 Headquarters of the Allied Control Council: View from the Kleistpark

The Allied Control Council or Allied Control Authority, known in the German language as the Alliierter Kontrollrat and also referred to as the Four Powers (German: Vier Mächte), was a military occupation governing body of the Allied Occupation Zones in 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 organization was based in Berlin-Schöneberg.



Preparations for the postwar occupation of Germany began in the Allied camp during the second half of 1944, following the beginning of Allied penetration into Germany. Most of the planning was carried out by the European Advisory Commission (EAC) established in early 1944. Already on January 3, 1944, the Working Security Committee in the EAC concluded that

It is recognized that, in view of the chaotic conditions to be anticipated in Germany, whether a capitulation occurs before invasion or after invasion and consequent establishment of military government, an initial period of military government in Germany is inevitable and should be provided for.[1]

It further recommended the creation of a tripartire US, Soviet and British organ to conduct German affairs following the surrender of the Third Reich. The British representative at the EAC, William Strang, 1st Baron Strang, was undecided on whether a total control of Germany by Allied troops was the most desirable end, and at the first EAC meeting on January 14, 1944, suggested to consider alternatives between total and partial occupation of Germany, as was the case following the First World War, when Allied rule was established over the Rhineland. His main argument in favor of total occupation was that this will prevent the reliance on former Nazis in maintaining order within Germany and will make the lessons of defeat more visible to the German population, as well as enable the Allied governments to carry out punitive policies in Germany, such as tranferring some territories to Poland. The main arguments against total occupation were that it would create an untold burden on Allied economies, would prolong the suffering of the German population and would drive it into new revengist ideologies. However, his final conclusion was that a total occupation would serve the best solution, at least at the initial phase.[2] In August 1944, the US government established the United States Group to the Control Council for Germany, which served as a liaison group within the EAC foe planning the future occupation of Germany. The actual chairman of this group was Brig. Gen. Cornelius W. Wickersham.

As the German collapse was approaching, Lord Strang became convinced that Germany was about to undergo a total collapse, in which case a total occupation and control becomes inevitable. He even proposed a draft declaration to be issued by the Allied governments in case there will remain no political authority in Germany due to chaotic conditions.[3] For a brief period, this prospect was feared by some Allied representatives.

After the death of Adolf Hitler on April 30, 1945, 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 von Krosigk. This government was not recognised by the Allies, and Dönitz and the other members were arrested on 23 May by British forces.

The German Instrument of Surrender used by Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force at Rheims, was modeled on the one used a few days earlier to allow the German forces in Italy to surrender.[4] 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" argument.[5] 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 June 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 of 1945), 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 of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 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 effect the annexation of Germany. [US Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series, No. 1520.][6]

Allied control council.ogg
News broadcast from 1945 about the control council

This imposition was in line with Article 4 of the Instrument of Surrender that had been included so that the EAC document, or something similar, could be imposed on the Germans after the military surrender. Article 4 stated that "This act of military surrender is without prejudice to, and will be superseded by any general instrument of surrender imposed by, or on behalf of the United Nations and applicable to GERMANY and the German armed forces as a whole."[7] 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.

An additional agreement was signed on September 20, 1945 and further elaborated the powers of the Control Council.[8]

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 14 November 1944 in London[9] based on the work of the European Advisory Commission. 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 in Germany, like the other Allied Control Commissions and Councils which were established by the Allies over every defeated Axis power, was to deal with the central administration of the country, an idea that hardly materialised in the case of Germany, 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.


Removing an 'Adolf Hitler Street' sign, part of denazification

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.[10] 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 of the Army Dwight Eisenhower for the United States, and General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny for France.

In the following time, the Control Council issued a substantial number of laws, directives, orders, and proclamations. They dealt with the abolition of Nazi laws and organisations, demilitarisation, denazification, but also with such comparatively pedestrian matters as telephone tariffs and the combat of venereal diseases. On many issues the council was unable to impose its resolutions, as real power lay in the hands of the separate Allied governments and their military governors, and the council issued recommendations that did not have the force of law. On September 20, 1945, the council issued Directive no. 10, which divided the various official acts of the Control Council into five categories (texts in quotation marks are direct quotations from the said above directive):[11]

  • Proclamations - "to announce matters or acts of special importance to the occupying power or to the German people, or to both".
  • Laws - "on matters of general application, unless they expressly provide otherwise".
  • Orders - "when the Control Council has requirement to impose on Germany and when laws are not used".
  • Directives - "to communicate policy or administrative decisions of the Control Council".
  • Instructions - "when the Control Council wishes to impose requirements direct upon a particular authority".

Directive no. 11 of the same day made the work of the council more orderly by establishin English, French, Russian and German as the official languages of the council, and by establishing an official gazette to publish the council's official acts.[12]

Law no. 1 of the Control Council (also enacted on September 20, 1945) repealed all laws enacted under the Third Reich.[13] This established the legal basis for the council's work.

Directive no. 51 (April 29, 1947), repealing Directive no. 10, simplified the council's legislative work by reducing the categories of legislative acts to Proclamations, Laws and Orders.[14]

War criminals

Directive no. 9 (August 30, 1945) charged the legal division of the council with the responsibility to formulate policies to carry out the provisions of the London Agreement on the prosecution of German war criminals, signed in London on August 8 of the same year.[15] Shortly after the commencement of the Nurnberg Trial, the council enacted Law no. 10 (December 20, 1945), which authorized every occupying power to have its own legal system to try war criminals and to conduct such trials independently og the International Military Tribunal then sitting at Nurnberg.[16] Law no. 10 resulted from disagreements arising among the Allied governments regarding formulating common policy regarding war criminals and marked the beginning of the decline in inter-Allied cooperation to that effect. Following the conclusion of the Nurnberg Trial of Major War Criminals in October 1946, inter-Allied cooperation on war crimes totally collapsed. On October 12, 1946, the council issued Directive no. 38, which, while trying to impose some common rules, allowed the four occupation governments discretion as to treatment of persons suspected of war crimes arrested by them, including the right to grant amnesty.[17]

Dissolution of the German army and government agencies

Order no. 1 of August 30, 1945 prohibited the wearing of uniform of the German army, which now ceased to exist.[18]

An order dated September 10, ordered the recall of all German government agents and/or diplomatic representatives from the countries to which they were assigned.[19] Another order of the same day established procedure for disseminating information to the press on the council's work, ordering that a press release be issued following every meeting of the council.[20]

Directive no. 18 (November 12, 1945) provided for the dissolution of all German army units, all within a time limit to be decided upon.[21] This directive reflects the policy taken by the western Allied governments of using German military units for their own logistical purposes, a move objected by the Soviet government. The complete dissolution of all German military units and military training was provided for in Law no. 8 (November 30, 1945), which became effective on December 1, 1945.[22]

Restoration of order into German hands

Law no. 4 (October 30, 1945) reestablished the German court system according to German legislation enacted prior to Hitler's rise to power.[23]

Directive no. 16 (November 6, 1945) provided for the equipment of the German police forces with light weapons to combat crime, while the carrying of automatic rifles was prohibited except with special Allied permission. [24]

Law no. 21 (March 30, 1946) provided for the establishment of labor courts to resolve labor disputes within the German population. These courts were to be run by German judges.[25]

Gradually, the Allied governments relaxed their control over German political life, and on June 3, 1946, the Political Directorate of the Control Council recommended to hold municipal elections in the city of Berlin in October of the same year.[26] On August 3, 1946, the council approved a new provisional constitution for Greater Berlin metropolitan area.[27] Another reform relating to Berlin took place on August 22, 1946, as the council approved a reform plan for the police of Greater Berlin, which assigned four assistants to the Berlin Chief of Police, each to overlook police work in each of the four occupation zones in that metropolitan area.[28]

Denazification and eradication of militarism

Law no. 2 (October 10, 1945) provided for the total dissolution of the National Socialist Party, and its revival was totally prohibited.[29] As part of the denazification policy, Directive no. 23 (December 17, 1945) prohibited any athletic activities that was being done as part of military or para-military training, prohibition to be effective as of January 1, 1946.[30]

Directive no. 24 (January 12, 1946) established a set of comprehensive criteria for the removal from public office those "who have been more than nominal participants in its (Nazi Party) activities" and provided for their removal from any civil service or work in civil organization, labor unions, industry, education or the press and any work other than simple labor. The category of persons to which the directive applied were those who held significant positions in the Nazi Party or those who joined prior to 1937, the time when membership became compulsory for German citizens.[31]

In order to eradicate the influence of Nazi literature on the German population, Order no. 4 (May 13, 1946) prohibited the publication and dissemination of Nazi or militarist literature and demanded to hand over any existing such literature to the Allied authorities.[32]

Law no. 31 (July 1, 1946) prohibited the German police authorities to conduct any surveillance of political activities by German citizens in the various occupation zones.[33]

Some reforms were symbolic in nature. Law no. 46 (February 25, 1947) abolished for good the State of Prussia as an administrative unit within Germany, citing past militarism associated with that name as the cause for the change. Part of the former territory of Prussia no longer was even populated by Germans, as it became part of Poland, while the rest of the territory of Prussia was divided among other German Länder.[34]

Law no. 57 (August 30, 1947) dissolved all German insurance companies that were connected with the German Labor Front, established on May 1, 1933.[35]

Expulsion of German speaking minorities residing outside Germany

One major issue dealt with by the Control Council was the decision made at the Potsdam Conference regarding the forced removal of German minorities from Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland to the four occupation zones of Germany. on November 20, 1945, the council approved a plan to that effect, to be completed by July 1946.[36]

Other issues

On September 10, 1945 the council issued an appeal to the separate Allied military governors, requesting them to relax trade regulations between the four occupation zones, but this was only a recommendation, as each Allied government maintained the real power on such matters.[37]

On September 17, the council issued recommendations to the four occupying powers to establish tracing bureaus to assist displaced persons.[38]

On September 20, the council issued an order prohibiting fraternization between Allied military personnel and the German population, effective from October 1, except in cases of marriage or when a military governor decided to billet his soldiers with a German family.[39]

Law no. 5 (October 30, 1945) created the German External Property Commission, which was authorized to confiscate any German assets outside of Germany until the Control Council decided how to dispose of it in the interests of peace.[40] The composition of that commission was decided in Directive no. 21 (November 20, 1945).[41]

Law no. 7 (November 30, 1945) regulated the distribution of electricity and gas in the various occupation zones.[42]

Law no. 9 (the same day) provided for the confiscation of all assets owned by the IG Farben conglomerate.[43]

Law no. 32 (July 10, 1946) permitted the German local authorities to employ women in manual labor, this due to the shortage in manpower.[44] Supplement to Directive no. 14 (September 13, 1946) equalized the wages of female and minor workers with male workers.[45]

Law no. 49 (March 20, 1947) abrogated the German law of 1933 which governed relations between the German government and the German Evangelical Church, while keeping the independence of that church in internal matters.[46] Law no. 62 (February 20, 1948) repealed all Nazi laws regulating the activities of churches in Germany.[47]

Deterioration in inter-Allied cooperation within the council

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. Already in September 1946, disagreement arose regarding the distribution of coal for industry in the four occupation zones, and the Soviet representative in the council withdrew his support of the plan agreed upon by the governments of the United States, England and France.[48] Against Soviet protests, the two English-speaking 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 Deutsche Mark, 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 Potsdam Agreement, that obviously the Western powers were not interested in further regular four-power control of Germany, and that under such circumstances the Control Council had no purpose anymore. On 20 March 1948, Marshal Vasily Sokolovsky, the Soviet representative, walked out of the meeting of the Council, never to return.

After the breakdown

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 operations of the Four-Power Authorities, namely the management of the Spandau Prison where persons convicted at the Nuremberg Trials were held until 1987, and the Berlin Air Safety Center.

The Western powers instituted the Allied High Commission by September 1949 which remained in operation until 1955. In Eastern Germany, the Soviet administration with its representative of the ACC was the highest authority, later this position was converted to a High Commissioner as well, until the German Democratic Republic gained sovereignty.

Germany remained under nominal military occupation until 15 March 1991, when the final ratification of the Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany (signed on 12 September 1990) was lodged with the German Government. This, as the final peace treaty, was signed by the four powers and the two German governments restored German sovereignty. It also meant the official end of the Allied Control Council, insofar as it still existed at all.

The Kammergericht building

Kammergericht, seat of the court 1913-45 and since 1997

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 31 December 1990. 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 military 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 the departure of Soviet troops in August 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

Sources of laws of the Allied Control Council

  • Allied Control Authority Germany, Enactments and Approved Papers, 9 volumes (Berlin, 1946-1948), covering the period 1945-1948


  1. ^ Memorandum of the Working Security Committe, January 3, 1944, Foreign Relations of the United States 1944, vol. I, p. 102
  2. ^ Foreign Relations of the United States 1944, vol. I, pp. 141-144
  3. ^ Memorandum by Lord Strang, March 30, 1945, Foreign Relations of the United States 1945, vol. III, pp. 208-209
  4. ^ Ziemke, Earl F. (1990). The U.S. Army in the Occupation of Germany 1944-1946. Washington, D. C.: Center of Military History United States Army. pp. 256. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 75-619027.   First Printed 1975-CMH Pub 30-6
  5. ^ The U.S. Army in the Occupation of Germany 1944-1946. pp. 109.  
  6. ^ Declaration Regarding the Defeat of Germany
  7. ^ Earl F. Ziemke References CHAPTER XV:The Victory Sealed Page 258
  8. ^ text in Department of State Bulletin, October 7, 1945, pp. 515-521
  9. ^ Scanned original document at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
  10. ^ text in Allied Control Authority Germany, Enactmentd and Approved Papers of the Control Council and Coordinating Committee, 1945, vol. I p. 44
  11. ^ text in Ibid, pp. 95-96
  12. ^ text in Ibid, pp. 97-98
  13. ^ text in Ibid, pp. 101-104
  14. ^ Ibid, vol. VII, pp. 27-29
  15. ^ text in Ibid, vol. I, p. 45
  16. ^ Ibid, pp. 306-311
  17. ^ Ibid, vol. V, pp. 12-48
  18. ^ text in Ibid, p. 47
  19. ^ text in Ibid, p. 49
  20. ^ text in Ibid, pp. 54-55
  21. ^ text in Ibid, pp. 188-190
  22. ^ Ibid, pp. 223-224
  23. ^ text in Ibid, pp. 173-175
  24. ^ text in Ibid, pp. 182-183
  25. ^ text in Allied Control Authority Germany, Enactments and Approved Papers, vol. III, pp. 51-55
  26. ^ Ibid, p. 170
  27. ^ text in Ibid, vol. IV, pp. 32-47
  28. ^ Ibid, pp. 70-72
  29. ^ text in Ibid, vol. I, pp. 131-132
  30. ^ Ibid, pp. 304-305
  31. ^ text in Allied Control Authority Germany, Enactments and Approved Papers, vol. II, Jan.-Feb. 1946, pp. 16-44
  32. ^ Allied Control Authority Germany, Enactments and Approved Papers, vol. III, pp. 131-132
  33. ^ text in Ibid, vol. IV, pp. 1-2
  34. ^ Ibid, vol. VI, pp. 28-29
  35. ^ Ibid, vol. VIII, pp. 1-5
  36. ^ text in Ibid, vol. I, pp. 199-201
  37. ^ text in Ibid, p. 56
  38. ^ text in Ibid, pp. 57-61
  39. ^ text in Ibid, p. 65
  40. ^ text in Ibid, pp. 176-180
  41. ^ Ibid, p. 198
  42. ^ Ibid, pp. 221-222
  43. ^ Ibid, pp. 225-226
  44. ^ Ibid, vol IV, p. 9
  45. ^ Ibid, p. 98
  46. ^ Ibid, vol. VI, p. 58
  47. ^ Ibid, vol. IX, pp. 1-2
  48. ^ Enactments and Approved Papers, vol. IV, pp. 115-118

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