THIS VOLUME reproduces in full the 22-page Morgenthau Plan for the first time. This is just the editor’s Introduction].
It also prints a selection of key British and American documents relating to the plan, although the story is still incomplete: many parts of the British foreign office files relating to it are still closed to public inspection, an exception to the general thirty-year rule.
The Morgenthau Plan, more formally known as the Treasury Plan for the Treatment of Germany, was devised by Assistant Treasury Secretary Harry Dexter White and Secretary Henry R. Morgenthau Jr. in the summer of 1944. Morgenthau had just visited the battlefields of Normandy and spoken with General Dwight D Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, then arrived in Britain for talks with Mr Winston Churchill, the British prime minister and his advisers.
While important elements of the Plan, including the subtle re-education of the Germans by their own refugees and the dismantling of German heavy industry to aid British exports, were indeed put into effect, in the directive 1067 which the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff finally issued to Eisenhower, the main parts of the Morgenthau Plan, including orders to liquidate entire classes of suspected Nazi war criminals upon simple identification, and to leave the German nation to ‘stew in its own juice,’ were not formally implemented.
The Morgenthau Plan would have led to the death by starvation and pestilence of ten million Germans in the first two years after the war, in addition to the one million who had been killed in the saturation bombing and the three million killed in the enforced expulsion from Germany’s eastern territories.