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That Was Then: Allen W. Dulles on the Occupation of Germany [Excerpt]


Digest of a meeting with Allen W. Dulles at the Council on Foreign Relations, December 3, 1945

Germany today is a problem of extraordinary complexity. For two and one-half years the country has been a political and economic void in which discipline was well-maintained. There is no dangerous underground operating there now although some newspapers in the United States played up such a story. The German leaders, of course, could not admit defeat and today the attitude of the people is not so much a feeling of shame and guilt as one of having been let down by their leaders.

Economically and industrially, Germany has scraped the bottom of the barrel, and there are few shops with anything to sell. As soon as you attempt to get Germany to tick and to make arrangements for a government, the lack of men becomes apparent at once. Most men of the caliber required suffer a political taint. When we discover someone whose ability and politics are alike acceptable, we usually find as we did in one case that the man has been living abroad for the past ten years and is hopelessly out of touch with the local situation. We have already found out that you can't run railroads without taking in some Party members.

Labels are always arbitrary and sometimes they effectively mask what lies underneath. For example, citizens A, B, C, and D who didn't care about politics one way or the other were told they had to join the Nazi Party in order to make up the proper quota in the factory in which they worked. The consequences of refusal being what they were, they joined the Party. I know of one instance where two brothers tossed a coin to see which one would join the SS. I mention these things not because I think any substantial number of Germans were opposed to the Party but rather to point out how misleading and decisive a label can

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