Posts Tagged ‘Allied Control Council’

Allied High Commission governs Germany

Monday, October 17th, 2016


The Allied High Commission (Alliierte Hohe Kommission) was a form of Allied military rule following World War II. It was established on 21 September 1949 by the three Western Allies (The United States, Great Britain and France) and superseded the Allied Control Council

Purpose of the Allied High Commission

The function of the Allied High Commission in Germany was to regulate and, if necessary, intervene in areas of military, economic, and foreign policy matters of the newly established Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).

Creation of the Allied High Commission

On 9 May 1945, Germany unconditionally surrendered to the four allies: The United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. The four allies assumed responsibility for the government of Germany via the Allied Control Council. Each power occupied a specific zone of Germany. Berlin, located entirely within the Soviet Zone, was to be governed by an Allied Kommandatura

The four Allies attempted to formulate a common administrative policy for Germany, but the divergent interests among the occupying powers made their efforts futile. In 1946, British forces agreed to an American proposal to merge their two zones to create a bizone for economic reasons. The bizone was established on 1 January 1947, and in June, a plan to include the French Zone was agreed upon. The Soviets blockaded West Berlin. In return, the Western powers counter-blockaded the Soviet zone and organized an airlift to keep West Berlin supplied. The Soviet Union finally lifted the blockade in May 1949, but Berlin remained divided into three Western and one Eastern sectors until the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Meanwhile, a German government was set up in the Western zones. In April 1949 the United States, Great Britain and France published a new occupation statute of Germany governing their respective zones. It guaranteed self-government to the new West German State, with certain restrictions. West Germany’s constitution went into effect in May 1949. In September, the Occupation Statute went into effect, and the Allied High Commission replaced the Allied Control Council in September 1949. images/government publications/pdfs/germany-allied-control-zone-government-publications.pdf

The High Commission took its seat at the Hotel Petersberg became active as of 21 September 1949. It ceased to function under the terms of the Treaties of Paris on 5 May 1955.


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, “Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of

Allied Kommandatura governs Berlin

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

The Allied Kommandatura (Allierter Kontrolrat) – a military government council of four victorious powers – governed post-World War II Berlin. The Kommandatura subordinated to the Allied Control Council and was located at Kaiserswerther Str. 16-18 in Berlin’s district of Dahlem.

Former Allied Kommandatura, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2016, www.

Former Allied Kommandatura, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2016,

Creation of the Allied Kommandatura

Soviet forces captured Berlin in April 1945, taking control of the entire city. American and British forces did not enter Berlin until July. During the intervening weeks, the Soviets had plundered the city and removed most of the city’s industrial infrastructure, livestock and farm products. Although U.S. Colonel Frank L. Howley was initially tasked with the preparation of a plan for quadripartite governance of the city in situations when unanimity could not be obtained, Washington later stipulated that quadripartite governance was to be unanimous in all instances.

How the Allied Kommandatura operated

The first official business meeting of the Allied Kommandatura took place on 11 July 1945. Based on a coin toss, the Russians commandant chaired this first meeting. The Americans and British followed, along with the French after about three months. Translators stood behind each commandant. When the American commandant spoke, the French commandant’s interpreter translated the words into French. The Soviet commandant’s interpreter translated the French into Russian because he didn’t speak English. Initially, chairmanship at the meetings changed every two weeks, later monthly. The position of the flagpoles rotated in accordance with chairmanship.

What put the Soviets in the Kommandatura’s saddle?

The task of the Kommandatura was to determine which issues needed to be addressed and to issue orders accordingly. During the Kommandatura’s three-year active existence (1945-1948). the commandants signed nearly 1300 quadripartite orders. The very first order issued put the Soviets firmly in the saddle because it reinforced all preexisting Russian regulations that had been put into place throughout the city before the Western Allies had arrived. Thereafter, anytime the Western Allies protested a Russian action, the Soviets responded by stating that they were simply abiding by some statute that had already been in place prior to the arrival of the Americans, British, and French.

The end of the Allied Kommandatura

As time passed, meetings became more and more cantankerous. Issues would be debated for weeks and months. Then, without quadripartite approval, the Soviets issued Order No. 20 in their sector. At the next Kommandatura meeting on 16 June 1948, the French commandant and chair, General Jean Ganeval, proposed rescission of that order so that the fourteen points could be discussed separately. The Soviets refused. Near midnight, after over thirteen hours of heated discussion, the American commandant, Colonel Howley, asked to be excused due to a heavy schedule the following day. Chairman Ganeval granted permission, and Howley left his deputy in charge. The Soviet delegation, however, took offense and walked out, just as they had walked out of the Allied Control Council three months earlier.

Commemorative plaque at the former Allied Kommandatura site, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2016,

Commemorative plaque at the former Allied Kommandatura site, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2016,

Today’s Use of Allied Kommandatura building

Built between 1926 and 1927 as an administrative building for public fire and insurance carriers, the building continued to be used as Kommandatura headquarters until 15 March 1991 when the Two-Plus-Four-Treaty took effect. Since 1994, the building serves as the office of the President of the Free University of Berlin.


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, “Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of

Berlin Blockade and the Cold War

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Until the Berlin Blockade began in 1948, the United States had no intention of occupying West Berlin beyond the establishment of a new West German government in 1949. But the subsequent Berlin Blockade and ensuing Cold War kept the U.S. in West Berlin until 1994.

An important omission in the Potsdam Agreement

In the summer of 1945, in the aftermath of World War II, the three victorious powers (the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union) signed the Potsdam Agreement. This document laid down the legal framework for the occupation of Germany and re-affirmed rules previously hammered out at the Yalta Conference. Specifically, the Potsdam Agreement addressed the terms of the military occupation, division, territorial changes, reparations and reconstruction of Germany. Accordingly, Germany was divided into three zones. Berlin, the capital, was also divided into three sectors, despite the fact that the city was located 100 miles inside Soviet occupation territory. Three air corridors from West Germany to West Berlin had been negotiated in the Potsdam Agreement, but rail, road and water access were never discussed. This omission was to be the basis for endless frustration.

Quadripartite administration of Germany and Berlin

The Allies established the Allied Control Council to execute resolutions concerning Germany and the Allied Kommandatura to implement resolutions concerning Berlin. When France joined the Allies as the fourth occupation power, its territories of Germany and Berlin were carved from the American and British occupation zones and sectors. The four Allies agreed to govern their respective zone and sector as they deemed fit, but unanimous agreement would be required in matters that concerned all of Germany or all of Berlin.

Events leading up to the Berlin Blockade

By 1948, the relationship between the four powers had gone sour. The three western powers wanted to help rebuilt Germany to stabilize the European continent, with the hope that it would prevent Communism from spreading. The Soviets preferred a weak Germany and an unstable continent, with the hope that it would provide fertile ground for the spread of Communism. It did not take long before the Soviets regretted having agreed to share the city of Berlin with the Western Allies. Now they wanted nothing more than for the three western powers to get out of West Berlin. Quadripartite control became unworkable. On 20 March 1948, the Allied Control Council met for the last time. On 16 June 1948, the Allied Kommandatura assembled for the last time. The Soviet delegation walked out for good.

After the Soviets had left the table, the three Western Allies made decisions concerning their occupation territories without Soviet input. On 21 June 1948, the Western Allies introduced a new currency in the western zones and sectors. They introduced the Deutsche Mark. The Soviets, who had not been consulted, objected vehemently. On 22 June 1948, the Soviets also introduced their own new currency in the eastern zone.

From Berlin Blockade to Berlin Airlift

On 24 June 1948, The Soviets blocked all rail, road and water connections between West Germany and West Berlin. They offered to lift the blockade only if the Western Allies agreed to withdraw the Deutsche Mark from West Berlin. The Western Allies refused. The Soviets stopped supplying agricultural goods to West Berlin and cut off the electricity generated in the Soviet zone and relied upon by the three western zones of Berlin. There was only enough food to last for 35 days and enough coal to last for 45 days.

With surface traffic between West Germany and West Berlin severed and in the absence of negotiated ground access rights to the city, the only remaining possibility was to try to supply West Berlin from the air. On June 26, 1948, American military commander Lucius D. Clay had the first planes in the air. The Berlin Airlift began and the Cold War heated up. The Berlin Blockade lasted from 24 June 1948 to 12 May 1949.


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, “Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of

Allied Control Council governs Germany

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Originally headquartered in the Kammergericht building in Berlin, the Allied Control Council (Allierter Kontrolrat) was in operation for only three years – 1945 to 1948. The following year, it morphed into the Allied High Commission (Allierte Hohe Kommission), which met at the Hotel Petersberg, near Bonn, Germany. The Allied Control Council was disbanded when the final peace treaty of 1990 restored full sovereignty to the reunified Germany.

Location of the Allied Control Council between 1945 and 1948. Today, Berlin's Kammergericht is housed again in the building, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

Location of the Allied Control Council between 1945 and 1948. Today, Berlin’s Kammergericht is again housed in the building, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

Creation of the Allied Control Council

Preparations for the postwar occupation and administration of German affairs following the surrender of the Third Reich began during the second half of 1944. The European Advisory Commission – formed in 1943 – did most of the planning. It recommended shared-power administration. Therefore, following Adolf Hitler’s death in 1945 and Germany’s unconditional surrender, the Allies signed a four-power document that created the Allied Control Council. The Allied Control Council’s initial members were Marshal Georgy Zhukov (Soviet Union), General Dwight D. Eisenhower (United States), Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (Great Britain) and General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny (France).

Potsdam Conference of 1945

The European Advisory Commission was dissolved at the Potsdam Conference. Germany was officially divided into four military occupation zones: American, British, French and Soviet. It was agreed that each occupying power would govern its zone. It was also agreed that all four Allies would jointly rule on all matters affecting Germany as a whole. A representative from each of the four powers would sit on the Allied Control Council.

Allied Occupation Zones of Germany (British, French, American and Soviet) - 1945 to 1990

Allied Occupation Zones of Germany (British, French, American and Soviet) – 1945 to 1990

Purpose of the Allied Control Council

During its three-year existence the Allied Control Council issued a substantial number of proclamations, laws, orders, directives and instructions. These dealt in large part with the abolition of Nazi laws and organizations, demilitarization and denazification.

Breakdown of the Allied Control Council

As time passed, the quadripartite meetings got more and more cantankerous. Relations between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union deteriorated, as did their cooperation in the administration of occupied Germany. On 20 March 1948, the Soviet representative on the Allied Control Council, Vasily Sokolovsky, walked out of the meeting and never returned. Since the Council was required to reach unanimous agreement on all decisions that pertained to the whole of Germany, Sokolovsky’s action effectively shut down the Council. Soon thereafter, the Soviet blockaded West Berlin. The three Western Allies countered with the Berlin Airlift. A Cold War between East and West ensued that continued until the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Post-Allied Control Council Operations

Although the Allied Control Council effectively ceased all activity in 1948, it was not formally dissolved. The only four-power operations to continue were the management of the Berlin-Spandau Prison and that of the Berlin Air Safety Center. 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, also known as the Two Plus Four Treaty (Vertrag ueber die abschliessende Regelung in Bezug auf Deutschland or Zwei-Plus-Vier-Vertrag) was signed in 1990. As part of the treaty, the Allied Control Council was officially disbanded.


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

Berlin’s Kammergericht – Appellate Court

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Most tourists visiting Berlin for the first time head for the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the Radio Tower and a few other historic sites. A much less known gem is the 100-year-old Kammergericht (appellate court) in Berlin’s District of Schoeneberg. By the way, only Berlin’s Court of Appeals is known as the Kammergericht. All other German appellate courts are called Oberlandesgericht (High Court of Appeals).

Berlin's Kammergericht in the Heinrich-von-Kleist Park, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

Berlin’s Kammergericht in the Heinrich-von-Kleist Park, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015

History of the Kammergericht

Berlin’s Kammergericht is the oldest German court and the highest court of Berlin. It was established by the Electors of Brandenburg and first mentioned in 1468. Originally, it functioned as an arm of the royal court, but in 1735 it became an independent institution. At that time the Kammergericht moved into the Kollegienhaus in central Berlin, now the Jewish Museum. (also read In the early 1900s, the court’s space requirements increased dramatically, and the Kammergericht moved into its own building in the Heinrich-von-Kleist Park in the district of Schoeneberg. It first opened its doors in 1913.

All About Berlin’s Kammergericht – Appellate Court

As a result of the division of Berlin following World War II, the city ended up with two appellate courts. While East Berlin’s Kammergericht remained in the Heinrich-von-Kleist Park, West Berlin’s appellate court moved to the district of Charlottenburg in 1949. In 1961, East Berlin abolished its Court of Appeals altogether. Following German reunification, the Kammergericht returned to the site in the Heinrich-von-Kleist Park in 1992 and, once again, serves the entire city.

Division of Berlin into four sectors (1945 to 1990)

Division of Berlin into four sectors (1945 to 1990)

Features of Berlin’s Kammergericht building

Constructed from sandstone and basalt, the Kammergericht is a 5-story building with over 500 rooms. Its entrance faces the Heinrich-von-Kleist Park. Two stately colonnades frame the edifice. The imposing entrance hall extends through all floors. The building’s interior is richly decorated, each floor in a different color. Sculptures decorate the stairwells.

Interim Uses of the Kammergericht building

–During the Nazi period, the Volksgerichtshof (Peoples’ Court) was housed in this building, and it became the site of the show trials against the conspirators in the failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler on 20 July 1944.

–Between 1945 and 1948, the building served as the headquarters of the Allied Control Council (Allierter Kontrollrat). The four Allied powers met in this building to discuss issues concerning the four German Occupation Zones. After the Soviets stomped out of the Control Council in 1948, the Allies no longer met.

–In September of 1971, ambassadors of the four Allies signed the Four Power Agreement on Berlin (Viermaechte-Abkommen ueber Berlin) in the building’s chambers.

–Until 1990, the Allied Air Safety Center (Allierte Luftsicherheitszentrale) was housed in this building.


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.