* war and social upheaval: World War II -- aftermath in Germany : occupation scenes

World War II Occupation of Germany: Occupation Zones

Figure 1.--This British press photo was captioned, "Mushroom 'Utility Huts for German D.P.s: 'Misery and despondencu is their lot." -- German refugees from the Russian Zone who have fled into the British Zone for succour, are attended to entirely by the Germans who house and feed them while they wait.for distribution to different parts of the British sector. Although the amenities are of the poorest, they say that they are better off than before. Men, womem, children (40 a time) sleep huddled together on straw, inside the mushroom shaped 'utility huts' made of three-ply wood, with a single hole in the roof for air. Although this is only the transit camp , just to put up the refugees for 24 hours, these people spent here alrefy 14 days waiting fot transport. They receive gruel, and one 'solid' meal a day (black bread, butter, sausage, and jam)." This photograph taken at Uelz-en Transit Camp in the British Zone on October 25, 1945.

The Allied/Soviet occupation zones were set at Yalta before the Western Allies crossed the Rhine (January 1945). Roosevelt and Churchill wanted an occupation zone for France which since D-Day has rejoined the war against NAZI Germany. Stalin at first opposed this maintaining that they had no played an impprtant role in the war. Eventually he gave in as long as the French zome came out of the area in the southwest allocated to America and Britain. The Soviet Zone was largely agricultural areas in the east, including areas which they transferred to Poland. The Western Allies go most of the heavily industrialized areas, especially the heavilg damaged Ruhr. Roosevelt had wanted northern Germany, but largely because of the way the armies were arranged on D-Day, America got the south and Britain the north. The campaign after Yalta developed differently than anticipated. The Rhine proved to be unlike the West Wall aless than firmidable barrier and German forcesone the Rhine was wasenetrated no longer stiffly resisted. In cotrast the German forces in the East continued a dogged fight against ovewealming odds. [Goebbels] Eventually the Western Allies combined their zone. France at first resisted, but eventually joined the Americans and British. At first the borders were porous and refugees could move between the zones. The Soviets insisted that most of the ethnic Germans poring into Germany from the East were accomodated in the Western zones. The plan as for the food producing Soviet easter zone to help feed the industrialized Allied western zones. With the breakdown of Four-Power Occupation and the onset of the Cold war, this never occurred.

Soviet Eastern Zone

Red Army soldiers as they poured into the Reich committed numerous rapes of German women in the first days of occupation. The rape of German women in Berlin was especially horific. This was rape on a massive scale and included children and elderly women. [Naimark] Large numbers of pregnacies resulted. There were also many aborions and suisides. We are not sure how the women involved viewed the resulting children. After the first days of occupation Red Army brought their soldiers under control. Looting continued for some time. An early priority of the Soviet occupation, as it was of the Western occupation, was to comb Germany for NAZI military technology and experts and intact factories. Trophy brigades were given this assignment. The Government persued a policy of reparations which included shipping whole factories to Russia. Soviet occupation forces were not supplied like the Western forces and there was much more living off the land. [Dulles] Trading arrangements and bater deals during the occupation were heavily waited in the Soviets favor durig the occupation era. After Stalin died (1953) and the Soviets began the de-Stalinization process with the 20th Party Congress, East German Communisyts began to complain to the Soviets that there policies were adversely affecting the DDR state and were in part responsible for people fleeing to the West. From 1945-1954, the Soviet forces based in Germany were titled the Group of Soviet Occupation Troops. From 1954-1989, they were designated the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany and from 1989-1994 they were known as the Western Group of Troops. The Soviets set up the German Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR), often referred to as East Germany (1949). The DDR was controlled by the Communist Party and governed until the fall of the Berlin Wallb(1989) brought about the collapse of the Communist state (1990). The GDR was proclaimed in the Soviet sector of Berlin (October 7, 1949). The Soviets announced they granted full sovereigty (1954), although Soviet troops remained in strength. The DDR joined the Warsaw Pact.

Allied Western Zones

The Western occupation was a huge success. In a decade German was transformed from the most terrifying totalitarian power on earth to a democratic nation, fully compatable with the other Western democracies. Over time the attitudes of both the Germans and Western occupiers changed. It is not altogether clear just what caused the change on the part of the Germans. The character of the Western occupiers and their goals certainly affected German attitudes. The efficency of free market capitalism was another factor. The nature of the Soviets may have been an especially important factor. The Western Allies initially had three separate occupation zones. The first planrs were for a British and an American zone, but plans were changed to accomodate a French zone. There were some differences in the three Western zones, but faced with Soviet pressure the Western Allies eventually combined their zones. The most immediate problem was food. About 60 the population of Germany were in the French, British, and American zones. Before the War, only about 40 percent of the food was produced in the west and the War damage had significantly impaired food production.


Dulles, Allen W. "That was then: Allen W. Dulles on the occupation of Germany" Foreign Affairs (November/December 2003).

Goebbels, Joseph. High Trevor-Roper, ed and intro. Final Entries 1945: The Diaries of Joseph Goebbels (Avon: New York, 1978), 453p. Goebbels who deciced to remain in Berlin with Hitler was scandalized and goes on an on about this in his final daiary pages. He and Hitler assumed the Rhine would be a formidable brrier, but once crossed, organized resistance in the est essentially collpsed. Not only did many of not most of the the Wehrmacht soldiers not want to fight, but the lack of fuel and Allied airporer meant that Model's Army Group B and other formations were essentially inmobile. And civilians wanted the soldiers to surrender so that their towns and cities would not be leveled. Goebbels vowed that when the Reich revoved, the 'trators' would pay.

Naimark, Norman M. The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945-1949.


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Created: 7:30 PM 9/1/2016
Last updated: 7:31 PM 9/1/2016