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Kammergericht, 1945-1990 Headquarters of the Allied Control Council: View from the Kleistpark
The Allied Control Council or Allied Control Authority, known in the German language as the Alliierter Kontrollrat and also referred to as the Four Powers (German: Vier Mächte), was a military occupation governing body of the Allied Occupation Zones in Germany after the end of World War II in Europe. The members were the United Statesmarker, the United Kingdommarker, and the Soviet Unionmarker. Francemarker was later added with a vote, but had no duties. The organization was based in Berlin-Schönebergmarker.

Creation

After the death of Adolf Hitler, Karl Dönitz became president of Germany in accordance with Hitler's last political testament. He authorised the signing, at Rheimsmarker, of the unconditional surrender of all German forces, which took effect on 8 May 1945, and tried to establish a government under von Krosigk. This government was not recognised by the Allies, and Dönitz and the other members were arrested on 23 May by British forces.

The German Instrument of Surrender used by Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force at Rheims, was modeled on the one used a few days earlier to allow the German forces in Italy to surrender. They did not use the one which had been drafted for the surrender of Germany by the "European Advisory Commission" (EAC). This created a legal problem for the Allies, because although the German armed forces had surrendered unconditionally, the civilian German government had not been included in the surrender. This was considered a very important issue, given that Hitler had used the surrender of the civilian government, but not of the military, in 1918, to create the "stab in the back" argument. The Allies understandably did not want to give any future hostile German regime any kind of legal argument to resurrect an old quarrel. Eventually they decided not to recognise Dönitz, but to sign a four power document instead, creating the Allied Control Council. On 5 June 1945, in Berlinmarker, the supreme commanders of the four occupying powers signed a common Declaration Regarding the Defeat of Germany (the so-called Berlin Declaration of 1945), which formally abolished any German governance over the nation:

News broadcast from 1945 about the control council
This imposition was in line with Article 4 of the Instrument of Surrender that had been included so that the EAC document, or something similar, could be imposed on the Germans after the military surrender. Article 4 stated that "This act of military surrender is without prejudice to, and will be superseded by any general instrument of surrender imposed by, or on behalf of the United Nations and applicable to GERMANY and the German armed forces as a whole." In reality, of course, all German central civilian authority had ceased to exist with the death of Hitler and the fall of Berlin at the latest. These parts of the Berlin declaration, therefore, merely formalised the de facto status and placed the Allied military rule over Germany on a solid legal basis.

An additional agreement was signed on September 20, 1945 and further elaborated the powers of the Control Council.

The actual exertion of power was carried out according to the model first laid out in the "Agreement on Control Machinery in Germany" that had been signed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union on 14 November 1944 in Londonmarker based on the work of the European Advisory Commission. Germany was divided into three zones of occupation, an American, a British, and a Soviet one, and each zone was ruled by the Commander-in-Chief of the respective occupational forces. (Later a French zone was added.) "Matters that affect Germany as a whole," however, would have to be decided jointly by all three Commanders-in-Chief, who for this purpose would form a single organ of control. This authority was called the Control Council.

The purpose of the Allied Control Council in Germany, like the other Allied Control Commissions and Councils which were established by the Allies over every defeated Axis power, was to deal with the central administration of the country, an idea that hardly materialised in the case of Germany, as that administration totally broke down with the end of the war, and to assure that the military administration was carried out with a certain uniformity throughout all of Germany. The Potsdam Agreement of 2 August 1945 further specified the tasks of the Control Council.

Operation

30 August 1945 the Control Council constituted itself and issued its first proclamation, which informed the German people of the Council's existence and asserted that the commands and directives issued by the Commanders-in-Chief in their respective zones were not affected by the establishment of the Council. The initial members of the Control Council were as follows: Marshal Georgy Zhukov for the Soviet Union, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery for the United Kingdom, General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower for the United States, and General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny for France.

In the following time, the Control Council issued a substantial number of laws, directives, orders, and proclamations. They dealt with the abolition of Nazi laws and organisations, demilitarisation, denazification, but also with such comparatively pedestrian matters as telephone tariffs and the combat of venereal diseases. However, relations between the Western Allies (especially the United States and the United Kingdom) and the Soviet Union quickly deteriorated, and so did their cooperation in the administration of occupied Germany. Against Soviet protests, the two English-speaking powers pushed for a heightened economic collaboration between the different zones, and on 1 January 1947 the British and American zones merged to form the Bizone. Over the course of 1947 and early 1948, they began to prepare the currency reform that would introduce the Deutsche Mark, and ultimately the creation of an independent West German state. When the Soviets learnt about this, they claimed that such plans were in violation of the Potsdam Agreement, that obviously the Western powers were not interested in further regular four-power control of Germany, and that under such circumstances the Control Council had no purpose anymore. On 20 March 1948, Marshal Vasily Sokolovsky, the Soviet representative, walked out of the meeting of the Council, never to return.

After the breakdown

As the Control Council could only act with the agreement of all four members, this move basically shut down the institution, while the Cold War reached an early high point during the Soviet blockade of Berlin. The Allied Control Council was not formally dissolved, but ceased all activity except the operations of the Four-Power Authorities, namely the management of the Spandau Prisonmarker where persons convicted at the Nuremberg Trialsmarker were held until 1987, and the Berlin Air Safety Center.

The Western powers instituted the Allied High Commission by September 1949 which remained in operation until 1955. In Eastern Germany, the Soviet administration with its representative of the ACC was the highest authority, later this position was converted to a High Commissioner as well, until the German Democratic Republicmarker gained sovereignty.

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 (signed on 12 September 1990) was lodged with the German Government. This, as the final peace treaty, was signed by the four powers and the two German governments restored German sovereignty. It also meant the official end of the Allied Control Council, insofar as it still existed at all.

The Kammergericht building

Kammergericht, seat of the court 1913-45 and since 1997
its short active life, the Allied Control Council was housed in and operated from the former building of the Kammergerichtmarker, the supreme court of the state of Prussia, which is situated in Berlin's Schönebergmarker borough in the American sector.The building itself had suffered some battle damage, losing a central tower, but had remained mostly usable. After the cessation of most Council activity in 1948, all occupying powers quickly withdrew from the building to their respective sectors of the city, leaving the facility cold, empty and dark.

Only one four-power organisation, the Berlin Air Safety Center (BASC), remained in the building from 1945 until the 31 December 1990. As a symbol of the BASC's continued presence, the four national flags of the occupying powers still flew over the large front doors every day. The only other signs of occupancy were the few, sparse office lights that emanated from a small corner room of the building—the BASC Operations Room—in the evenings. Of the 550 rooms in the building, the BASC office complex and guards' quarters occupied fewer than forty.

Because of the BASC's presence, the building remained closely guarded by United States military guards, with access granted only to select members of the four powers. This led to mysterious legends and ghost stories about the eerie, dark facility with its grand, granite statuary overlooking the beautiful park.

After the fall of the Berlin Wallmarker, and the departure of Soviet troops in August in 1994, the building was returned to the German government. In 1997, its erstwhile occupant, the Kammergerichtmarker, moved in. It now functions as the supreme court of the state of Berlinmarker.

See also



References

  1. First Printed 1975-CMH Pub 30-6
  2. Earl F. Ziemke References CHAPTER XV:The Victory Sealed Page 258
  3. text in Department of State Bulletin, October 7, 1945, pp. 515-521
  4. Scanned original document at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum


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