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1946-09-10 Byrnes Sets US Policy for Germany.ogv
1946 newsreel

"Restatement of Policy on Germany" is a famous speech by James F. Byrnes, the United States Secretary of State, held in Stuttgart on September 6, 1946.

Also known as the "Speech of hope" it set the tone of future U.S. policy as it repudiated the Morgenthau Plan economic policies and with its message of a change to a policy of economic reconstruction gave the Germans hope for the future.

The Western powers' worst fear by now was that the poverty and hunger would drive the Germans to Communism. General Lucius Clay stated "There is no choice between being a communist on 1,500 calories a day and a believer in democracy on a thousand".

The speech was also seen as a first firm stand against the Soviet Union as it stated the intention of the United States to maintain a military presence in Europe indefinitely. But the heart of the message was as Byrnes stated a month later "The nub of our program was to win the German people . . . it was a battle between us and Russia over minds. . . ."

On the question of territorial integrity of Germany it was stated that "the United States will not support any encroachment on territory which is indisputably German or any division of Germany which is not genuinely desired by the people concerned. So far as the United States is aware the people of the Ruhr area and the Rhineland desire to remain united with the rest of Germany. And the United States is not going to oppose their desire."

Byrnes also questioned the Polish and Soviet claims to all German territory east of the Oder-Neisse line, an area comprising roughly 25% of pre-war (1937) Germany. The territory had been handed over for Polish and Soviet administration at the Potsdam conference, the border was to be determined at the peace conference (which did not take place until 1990), although with the area cleansed of most of its ethnic German population over the years 1945-50 it de-facto became Polish and Soviet territory. "The United States will support revision of these frontiers in Poland's favor. However, the extent of the area to be ceded to Poland must be determined when the final settlement is agreed upon".

A stated exception to U.S. support for self determination was the support given in the speech to the French claim to the Saarland.

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