Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Dismemberment of Germany, Part 1: Churchill-Morgenthau

So as I was surfing through Wikipedia last week (if this blog had a drinking game, you would be asked to take a shot right now), I came across the page for the Yalta Conference. As a particularly savvy (or so I'd like to think) World War II buff, I thought I'd known exactly how the plan for the division of Europe happened; Stalin rooks Roosevelt, Churchill fumes, film at 11.

The truth ends up being a tad bit more complicated than that.

Yalta was a series of committee meetings. And out of those committee meetings some unusual plans were hatched. Check out these four partition plans by the "Committee for the Dismemberment of Germany" (wow, that's an evocative name, no?)

Listen, I'm a sucker for maps. Moreover, I'm a HUGE sucker for alt.history maps. What would the next 70 years of European history have been like under these plans? (I'm conflating the Churchill and Morgenthau plans because they were basically two versions of the same idea: conquer, divide, and cripple the new German states by dividing it along a north-south axis).

Churchill/Morgenthau: The old bulldog got his way, and Stalin seethed. A demilitarized, deindustralized, and denazified triad of German states emerged from the conquered Nazi regime. North Germany would take the brunt of the deindustrialization. Allied troops smashed machines, dismantled factories and enforced population movement out of the cities and into the countryside in a bizarre cross between Ludditism and Soviet forced collectivism. The Southern state, a mix of Bavarian, Austrian, and Hungarian ethnicities, floundered under the burden of two official languages and multiple cultures, much like the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. But, unlike North Germany, it was entirely more cosmopolitan and urban since it had less industrial backbone to break.

Throughout the 50s North Germany remained a poor backward state, its economy and culture even more moribund than grey and drab Great Britain post-war and post-Empire. Post-war America, however, thrived. Wholly American-owned corporations invested carefully in North Germany, using North German labor for rock-bottom prices. The raw materials of the Ruhr remained, even if the Nazi factories had been razed. Cheap food, harvested by the superior American agricultural technology of United Grain, flooded European and Middle Eastern shops and ports, leaving Germany relying on UN food aid and airlifts.

It was under Khrushchev that the Soviets began plants agents provocateur of the First Chief Directorate in the mines, factories and collective farms of North Germany. Taking the form of friendly industrial and agricultural "advisors" (which were allowed under the post-war Churchill-Morgenthau Agreement concocted at Yalta), they infiltrated the trade unions (also explicitly allowed under the Agreement, although they were not permitted to form political parties) and fed Communist dogma to the workers. By New Years' Day, 1959, the time had come for the coup. The American/British puppet North German Provisional Parliament was overthrown; Berlin mayor Herbert Frahm, a Resistance hero and avowed socialist, became the President of the new North German Democratic Republic. The Soviets now had a client state 90 miles from Paris. The early 60s would see crisis after crisis in President Nixon's first term, including a disastrous American-British-French invasion of Luxembourg and the infamous Frankfurt Missile Crisis.

Meanwhile, South Germany thrived. Unburdened by the enforced deindustrialization of the North, it became a cultural center, rebuilding its schools, hospitals, and cultural attractions to great effect. As such, South Germany became a meeting ground for spies from both sides of Churchill's "Iron Wall." But South Germany was also becoming the playground of the rapidly growing jet-set. Vienna was attracting prominent modern artists, becoming an artistic center for Europe as it was at the fin de si├Ęcle. When a young British rock 'n' roll combo wanted to have a taste of the decadence of the continent, they came to Vienna and played in its famed red light district.

I'm only taking this alternate history up to 1963, as I'm feeling like it would end up going very much like our timeline after this. North Germany remains Communist up until the present day even after the fall of the Soviet Union, just like Cuba. Sort of a "DDR Forever" kind of thing. And South Germany would probably start receiving the American investment that was lost under Willy Brandt, and turn into a combination of 1960s Las Vegas, pre-fall Saigon, and modern Amsterdam.

Coming Soon: Part 2, the Roosevelt Plan, or Westphalia II: or, Back in the old H.R.E.


  1. I love this post. I remember reading about the early plans to deindustrialise the country. Somebody eventually pointed out that an agrarian Germany would only be able to support a much lower population. So either they would have had to let millions of Germans refugee it to other countries, or let them die. Good thing the Marshall plan came along.

    The Roosevelt Plan would involve more moving parts. One thing that's interesting about Churchill's plan is that it reflects the north/south divide that was actually more pronounced than the east/west. Check out this Strange Maps link: I know that Bavarian dialect is much closer to Austrian than Berlin.

    Also, when I was in Dresden this April, I found out that the German auto industry used to be centered in Saxony. It moved to Bavaria because of Communism. Each of the states of Germany really has a different character.

    1. In all seriousness, if you'd like me to hand the baton to you for Part 2 of this post? I'm more than happy to. Collaborative blog, and all that. :)