Posts Tagged ‘Allied High Commission’

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 It was established on 21 September 1949 by the three Western Allies (The United States, Great Britain and France) and superseded the Allied Control Council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

Hotel Petersberg – Germany’s Camp David

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

The stately Hotel Petersberg is located on a mountaintop by the same name in Germany’s Siebengebirge across the river from the city of Bonn. It was the German equivalent of Camp David prior to Germany’s reunification. The hotel, with a long and colorful history, is open to the public. Since 1990 the 5-Star hotel is operated by the Steigenberger chain under the name “Steigenberger Grand Hotel Petersberg.” Although still owned by the government, nowadays it rarely serves as Germany’s Bundesgaestehaus (Federal Guesthouse).

Aerial view of the Steigenberger Grand Hotel Petersberg complex.

Aerial view of the Steigenberger Grand Hotel Petersberg complex.

Pre-World War II History of Hotel Petersberg

Joseph Ludwig Mertens, a Cologne merchant, purchased the picturesque mountaintop area in 1834 and constructed his summer residence on the Petersberg. In 1892, following Mertens’ death, the brothers Paul and Joseph Nelles aquired the property, upgraded it and turned it into an elegant hotel. Among the first dignitaries to stay at the now stylish hotel were Prussian empress Victoria and Swedish Queen Sophie. But despite the noble clientele, the hotel proved unprofitable. And in 1912, Ferdinand Muelhens, owner of the 4711 Eau de Cologne company, acquired it at a foreclosure sale. Following extensive improvements he reopened it as a spa hotel two years later. Although by then financially successful, the hotel was forced to close its doors when World War I broke out and remained closed for the next six years. Following additional remodelling in the 1920s the hotel reopened once more, only to close again at the beginning of World War II.

Post-World-War II History of Hotel Petersberg

In 1945, American Forces confiscated the hotel on the Petersberg and turned it into troop quarters. Shortly thereafter, they handed it to the British Royal Engineers who, in turn, relinquished it to Belgian occupying forces to serve as a recuperation center.

In 1949, following another remodel to accommodate 340 offices, the Allied High Commision (Allierte Hohe Kommission) moved in. It was here that the Petersberg Agreement (Petersberger Abkommen) was signed on 22 November 1949. was a treaty between the occupying forces of the United States, Great Britain, France and the Federal Republic of Germany, a the first major step toward West German sovereignty. In June 1952, the Allied High Commission moved to another location. The property reverted to its owners, the Muelhens family, who turned the buildings into a hotel once again to be operated by the Breidenbacher Hof, a luxory hotel in Duesseldorf. Since 1954, the hotel bears the name “Hotel Petersberg.”

Recent History of Hotel Petersberg

In 1954 the German Federal government rented the newly remodelled Hotel Petersberg to serve as a guesthouse for visiting dignitaries, which included Etheopian emperor Haile Selassi and British Queen Elizabeth II. Still unprofitable, the hotel closed again in 1969 and slowly deteriorated until 1973 when Soviet Union’s leader, Leonid Brezhnev, requested to stay at the Hotel Petersberg. Despite a partial restoration to host the Soviet head of state, the hotel soon closed again.

Current use of the Hotel Petersberg

The German Federal Government needed a place in which to host visiting dignitaries. The close proximity of Hotel Petersberg to Bonn, the post-war capital, and its idyllic and secure setting helped to make it the top choice. And in 1979, the German Federal government purchased the 270-acre piece of real estate for 18.5 million Deutsche Marks. After spending an additional 137 million Marks on extensive reconstruction, the Hotel Petersberg reopened in 1990. This time, the Steigenberger hotel chain became the operators. Over the next ten years, most heads of state with diplomatic relations to Germany have stayed at the Hotel Petersberg.

Inside the rotunda of the Steigenberger Grand Hotel Petersberg.

Inside the rotunda of the Steigenberger Grand Hotel Petersberg.

In 1999, following German reunification, government offices moved from Bonn to Berlin, and the Hotel Petersberg was now too far away to continue to serve as a Bundesgaestehaus. Although the German government occasionally still rents it for its guests, Schloss Meseberg, 40 miles north of Berlin, has become Germany’s official guesthouse.


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.