The sacking of Germany after her unconditional surrender will go down in history as one of the most monstrous acts of modern times. Its excess beggars description and its magnitude defy condemnation.” — Ralph F. Keeling, Gruesome Harvest, 1947.
Ralph Franklin Keeling of the Institute of American Economics didn’t mince his words:
When we arrived the Germans were strongly anti-Communist; they have since started fleeing our zone and entering the Russian where they are welcomed into the Communist Party and even into the Red Army, in whose ranks they may someday be able to get their revenge on us.
Mainstream media air-brushes the scale of Allied looting of defeated Germany. The same media daily recycles the ‘plundered Nazi gold’ fable neglecting to point out the Germans were denying the plundering victors of German art treasures.
Elegance and class in Hitler’s Reich equalled that of Paris.
Innovation and engineering excellence in Hitler’s Germany were world class.
Reich achievements were never matched for decades afterwards.
Standards of living in Hitler’s Germany were incomparable.
The quality of life in the Reich was high.
Germans during the Reich lived an enviable life.
Life in the Reich was superlative.
Elegance and fashion in the Reich were world class.
Reich lifestyle was unmatched.
Compared to the depression in the UK, US, and USSR the Reich flourished.
Breakfast on the ice in Berlin, 1936
Upon its conquest Germany’s wealth was first to be liberated. Every house and every apartment was entered, searched, and stripped of everything valuable and moveable, jewelry, silverware, and works of art, clothing, household appliances, and money. Stores, shops and warehouses were ransacked. Farms were deprived of their farm animals, machinery, seed stocks, fodder, wine, food stocks. Telephones were removed, telegraph equipment dismantled. Cars, trucks, even fire engines were seized. The Americans, Russian and British troops found themselves knee-deep in the remnants of a standard of living that most could only dream about.
William H. G. Stoneman Foreign Correspondent, Chicago Daily News, May 1945:
Millions of dollars’ worth of rare things varying from intricate Zeiss lenses to butter and cheese and costly automobiles are being destroyed because the Army has not organized a system of recovery of valuable enemy material.”
The term ‘recovery’ is a euphemism for looting. He went on to describe, scattered everywhere, millions of dollars’ worth of plundered goods. The troops simply could not carry everything that they could steal so they vandalized it and left it to rot. It is estimated that the value of looted properties by the allied armies ran into hundreds of millions of dollars and “deprived the German civilian population the comforts and necessities so sorely needed.”
In a display of breathtaking chutzpah the Soviets complained that,
American officials have stolen equipment from plants in a zone earmarked for shipment to Russia and sold it to foreign countries at a profit.
Chicago Sunday Tribune, which back then was a great deal more honest than media today, was damning:
No effective steps were taken to discourage looting by the invading armies during the war. It was tolerated under such euphemism as ‘souvenir collecting.’
Over 200 German art masterpieces were looted by the American armed forces and are still held under lock and key in the United States. The British were equally piratical:
The British seem to be everywhere when there is any scientific or industrial information to be gleaned.
Hand-in-hand with the plundering of Germany was the removal of its means to trade: The production of shipbuilding, manufacture and operation of aircraft, ball and taper roller bearings, all heavy machine tools, heavy materials, aluminum, magnesium, beryllium, vanadium, radioactive materials, hydrogen peroxide, synthetic oils, gasoline, ammonia, ceased.
Ralph F. Keeling:
German science has been destroyed, and with it German ability to compete commercially with the war victors.
He goes on to say:
We even managed to kidnap a large number from the western Russian zone when we retired to let the Russians take over. As a consequence we now have at our disposal hundreds of German scientists who no doubt constitute one of our most profitable acquisitions taken from the fallen Reich.
Assistant Secretary of State, William L. Clayton, on June 1945 was equally candid:
We intend to secure the full disclosure of all existing German technology and invention for the benefit of the United Nations (sic).
America’s pre-war isolationist policies came to an end. By 1945 Winston Churchill, the unelected premier of a bankrupt Britain, had placed much of the British Empire’s assets with Wall Street’s pawnbrokers. Bloated on war plunder, a now expansionist United States was to build on its ill-gotten gains for the next 75 years.
Nick Cook, Aerospace Consultant for Jane’s Defence Weekly wrote in the Daily Mail August 19, 2001:
A lot of the (American) expertise on anti-gravity dated from decades earlier, and National Socialist Germany in particular. Much of what formed the basis of the Skunk Works’ (Lockheed) projects came from the German technology and expertise plundered by the Allies at the end of the Second World War. Germany was a treasure trove of desirable technology, covering everything from weaponry to electronics to textiles and medicine.
Briton Ian Fleming, who was later to write the James Bond novels, set up what was virtually a private army tasked with ‘tech-plunder’. However, the British were ill prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that faced them. The more resourceful (rapacious) Americans simply removed the paperwork for hundreds of thousands of patents and shipped them home. According to the US Office of Technical Services, the body set up to ensure that German technology was rapidly moved into American industry, the documents contained a wealth of material which “very likely contained practically all the scientific, industrial and military secrets of National Socialist Germany.”
Under the term ‘reparations’ millions of German peoples were transported to the Soviet gulags to be used as slave labor. For the large part these unfortunates, women and children included, were sealed in American made rolling stock and transported across a railway infrastructure built on slave labor using Western made materials.
Ralph Keeling says:
At Potsdam, Russia was apportioned the lion’s share of reparations. She was to receive her own zone (East Germany/East Berlin) plus 25% from other zones.
The value of Germany’s bombed and battered plant was put at between 5 and 10 billion dollars; half of it was in the Russian zone and was now the Soviet Union’s ‘by right of conquest’. It was agreed that 40% of it could be removed to the USSR. Three hundred and ten plants were dismantled and accordingly removed.
Off they went:
Six shiploads carrying the physical assets of the Deschmag Shipyard, Germany’s largest shipbuilding company. Twenty car loads of machinery and tools valued at $5,000,000, representing half of Germany’s largest ball-bearing plant, the Gendorf Amorgana Chemical works valued at $10,000,000, and the vast Daimler-Benz underground aircraft engine plant.
According to Reparations Commissioner, Edwin W. Pauley:
the United States had earmarked 144 plants for removal to Russia. Many of Germany’s greatest producers of civilian goods were dismantled and shipped eastwards. Among them were the two largest factories, the largest sugar refineries, the largest grain processing mills in Europe, the great Bemberg silk mills famous for their hosiery and lingerie, and the Zeiss Optical works at Jena. All secondary rail lines were torn up and all electric locomotives removed. Two hundred key plants were placed under direct Russian control, with the German work force of 1,300,000 on subsistence wages, the profits going to the USSR.
Russia is as keen to get as much loot as possible to help make her Five Year Plan successful, and ultimately to absorb the Reich into the Soviet Union.