Posts Tagged ‘Potsdam conference’

Allied Control Council governs Germany

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Originally headquartered in the Kammergericht building in Berlin http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berlins-kammergericht-appellate-court/, 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. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/two-plus-four-treaty 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 http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

Schloss Cecilienhof – Cecilienhof Palace

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Schloss Cecilienhof became international known as the site of the Potsdam Conference in 1945. Prior to the end of World War II, the palace had served as the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm, his wife, Duchess Cecilie von Mecklenburg-Schwerin and their six children. Located southwest of Berlin, Germany, the English Tudor-style building resembles a Grand English Country Manor with its half-timbered walls, bricks and many chimneys. With a total of 176 rooms, Cecilienhof is considerably larger than it seems.

Schloss Cecilienhof - Cecilienhof Palace

Schloss Cecilienhof – Cecilienhof Palace

Schloss Cecilienhof’s Pre-1945 History

The castle was the last palace to be built by the Hohenzollern, a dynasty that ruled Prussia and Germany for 500 years. The German Emperor Wilhelm II had Schloss Cecilienhof built for his eldest son, Crown Prince Wilhelm. Construction began in 1914 and was completed in 1917. After only one happy year together in their new home, the royal couple remained separated for the rest of their lives. Even before the revolution of 1918, the Crown Prince rarely found time to be with his family. The Duchess and her six children continued to live at the palace from time to time until 1920 when Schloss Cecilienhof was confiscated. The royal couple’s two oldest sons, Wilhelm and Louis Ferdinand, remained at castle to attend public school in Potsdam. But when the Red Army drew close to Berlin in February of 1945, the Duchess and all of her children fled without being able to salvage many of their possessions. At the end of World War II, the Soviets seized Cecilienhof, which was located within the Soviet Zone of Germany. http://www.bibelotslondon.co.uk/shop/4586332944/wilhelm-hohenzollern-german-crown-prince-in-exile-signed-photo-1927/10537631

Schloss Cecilienhof and the Potsdam Conference

From July 17 to August 2, 1945, US President Harry S. Truman, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and General Secretary of the Communist Party’s Central Committee Joseph Stalin convened at the Schloss Cecilienhof to decide the future of Germany. The three Allied powers decided to meet at the palace because the capital itself was too heavily damaged.

Prior to the Potsdam Conference, thirty-six rooms and the Great Hall were renovated and furnished with furniture from other Potsdam palaces. The Hohenzollern’s furniture had been removed by the Soviets and stored elsewhere. Cecilie’s music salon and writing room, Wilhelm’s smoking room, library and breakfast room as well as the Great Hall (where the Potsdam Agreement was signed) were among the rooms that were renovated and used during the Potsdam Conference. The various delegations were housed in the suburb of Potsdam-Babelsberg.

The Great Hall at Schloss Cecilienhof where the Potsdam Agreement was signed

The Great Hall at Schloss Cecilienhof where the Potsdam Agreement was signed

Schloss Cecilienhof’s Post-1945 History

After the Potsdam Conference had ended, Soviet troops used the palace as a clubhouse for a while. Later, Schloss Cecilienhof was handed over to the state of Brandenburg. In 1952, a memorial for the Conference was set up in the former private chambers of Crown Prince Wilhelm and Duchess Cecilie. The East German government used the palace for state receptions and other important meetings. In 1960, part of the castle was turned into a hotel. Today, part of Schloss Cecilienhof still serves as a museum. The hotel is temporarily closed for renovations and expects to reopen in 2018.

Since 1990, Schloss Cecilienhof is part of the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

 

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 http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

 

 

 

Potsdam Agreement

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

The Potsdam Agreement contains the details of the tripartite military occupation and reconstruction of Germany and the European Theatre following World War II. It was signed on this day in history in 1945. Shortly after midnight on 2 August 1945, the representatives of the three victorious WWII Allies, Clement Attlee (Great Britain), Harry S. Truman (United States), and Joseph Stalin (USSR) signed the Potsdam Agreement at Schloss Cecilienhof in Potsdam. The castle is located about 16 miles southwest of Berlin.

Potsdam Conference

The Big Three:
Clement Attlee, Harry S. Truman, Joseph Stalin

Relative to Germany, the Potsdam Agreement addressed mainly the “5D’s”: Denazification, Demilitarization, Democratization, Decentralization, and Disassemblement.
– DENAZIFICATION – eradication of the National Socialist Party and Nazi institutions to eliminate all Nazi influence. War criminals to be brought to swift justice.
– DEMILITARIZATION – disarmament and demilitarization of Germany and the elimination of all German industries that could be used for military production.
– DEMOCRATIZATION – formation of political parties and trade unions, freedom of speech, press, and religion.
– DECENRALIZATION – elimination of a concentration of powers by decentralizing the political structure.
– DISMANTLING – Reduction or destruction of all civilian heavy-industry with war-potential, such as shipbuilding, machine production, and chemical factories. Restructuring of German economy towards agriculture and light-industry. It was further agreed that reparations to the USSR should come from the Soviet zone of Germany; reparations to the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries to come from the Western Zones. In addition, it was agreed that the USSR would be entitled to 10% of the industrial capacity (industrial capital equipment and industries) of the western zones. Dismantling was stopped in West Germany in 1951. In East Germany disassemblement continued.

The Potsdam Agreement was superseded by the “Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany”, which was signed on 12 September 1990, following reunification.

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 http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.