Secret Anti-Communist Agitation in Post-War Germany

Collection of 13 U.S. Army Intelligence Reports

Mannheim: Detachment M‑16, First Military Government Battalion, January 1947 – January 1948. Thirteen reports, bound by month, covering all months of 1947 and January 1948. Almost every page labeled restricted” or confidential” [1], with most signed by the reporting Major (with original signatures). Occasional manuscript corrections. Bound at top with a two-hole punched clip binding, the mimeograph leaves measure 8 x 10.25 inches or 8 x 13 inches. Pagination varies, averaging roughly 175 pages per monthly report (for a total of roughly 2,275 densely filled typewritten pages). All in English. 

Condition is generally very good, with a few reports showing edge-wear and old creases; some text lightly fading – but all legible.

Allow us to paint a picture. Germany surrendered on May 9, 1945. In the post-World War II era, Germany was divided into sectors for each of the Allies and the Soviet Union. Large swaths of western Germany came under control of the United States Acting Military Government. These intelligence reports are from the U.S. Military in the chaotic period of January 1947-January 1948. A time prior to the Marshall Plan (April 3, 1948) and prior to the existence of East Germany (October 7, 1949).

Ground Zero for the Cold War

Western occupied Germany became ground zero” for the Cold War. Both the Soviet Union and the United States engaged in active propaganda campaigns within Germany. These reports, marked restricted” or confidential” on almost every page, are an extensive (roughly 2,275 pages) insight into intelligence gathering in Germany by the United States.

The breadth of subject matter spans social, political and economic themes, touching on the U.S. Army’s efforts to restore Mannheim’s infrastructure, public safety, and the physical health of German citizens. Only roughly 5% of the reports address denazification proceedings and the ongoing presence of former National Socialists within all walks of German life.

America’s True Concern? Communism.

Approximately 50% of the report contents are about the Communist Party of German (i.e. the KPD or KP) and the communist inclinations of labor unions. Information gathering on the KPD was extensive – for example, an April 1947 report on the potential SED-KPD merger (a merger of two left leaning political parties) was addressed in 43 pages with many speeches transcribed verbatim into English – which, of course, could only occur if the meetings were infiltrated by stenographers or recorded by the U.S. Military.

There are extensive sections on the labor strike capabilities of communist labor organizations and unions. Detailed statistics on political parties: their membership, funds on hand, number of members and specific lists of individuals in positions of authority within the KPD. Further, the U.S. Military gathered information on the number of handbills distributed and posters hung for each political party. The more conservative political parties were also spied on, especially as regards to their efforts to gain ground among the leftist workers”. Communist newspaper reports were summarized; statistics gathered on all trade unions, and party affiliations of labor negotiators were documented. The U.S. Military also kept track of the whereabouts of KPD leaders and reported to Washington translations of draft shop agreements” of German labor unions.

The U.S. gathered this intelligence from public sources, such as print and radio media – but also infiltrated political parties with spies. Frequently the reports will cite according to a KP source”. 

Surprising Conclusions

We draw some surprising conclusions from these reports.

The reports suggest in post-war Germany, the United States:

  • opposed the re-unification of Germany as early as July 1947;
  • censored print and radio communication of the KPD within western Germany;
  • may have shuttered German factories that were deemed infiltrated by KPD labor organizers;
  • was concerned by public perception gaining hold that (1) the Marshall plan was designed to keep Germany separated in two countries; and (2) that the Marshall plan was itself a form of socialism imposed by the United States.

Those positions are supported, in part, by the following extracts:

Highlights from the Reports

From July 1947:

[T]he Russians have not yet introduced their free Soviet democracy in Eastern Europe. There the so-called people’s democracy” is the order of the day. With this democracy” some non-communist parties are allowed to exist provided that they do not oppose the communist leadership in the democratic people’s block”… [T]here is no doubt that the ultimate objective is the same everywhere… the establishment of the free Soviet democracy” under which people have the right to elect the representatives of the only existing party, the KP.

The author explains that civilians in the Western sectors are only fighting for the German unity” But, and this is quite interesting, U.S. Military Intelligence as early as July 1947 opposed a re-united Germany:

[a] united Germany means a centralized Germany with a government in the Russian sector of Berlin where it can be controlled and directed by the SED, that camouflaged communist party which was created to delude the working class with a pretended socialist democracy of German coinage.

The intelligence reports clearly indicate active involvement of the United States in Germany’s political system to oppress and discredit the communist party. From August 1947 under a paragraph heading: Measures against the KPD Press.”:

The American measures against the Communist press in Bremen as well as the withdrawal of the press license from Emil Karlebach have caused a strong feeling of uneasiness among the Communists. They fear that these are not individual cases but the beginning of an anti-Communistic campaign on the part of the U.S. Military Government.

A sentiment of censorship takes hold. From a report within the KPD that is relayed by Military Intelligence in October 1947: The freedom of press is restricted in the US-Zone as far as Communists are concerned. Press licenses are withdrawn from Communists, and if they want to speak through the radio, it is hard for them to get an O.K.’ ”

KPD Leadership was convinced that the intent of the Marshall Plan was to divide Germany in two.

In a paragraph heading of KPD vs. Marshall Plan”, the August 1947 report discusses that the local KPD leader Willy Grimm asserts that the actual intent of the Marshall plan is the cleavage of Germany”.

The report then states that the KPD is careful to craft their statements to avoid prohibition of its newspaper [by the Americans]”. The U.S. Military was very concerned by Willy Grimm, as the reports transcribe dozens of his speeches verbatim into English.

The reports acknowledge that the majority of Germans desire a unified Germany and it’s clear that the United States is attempting to suppress any statements that would indicate a US support for permanent division of Germany.

By August 1947, the reports grow increasingly concerned by Growing anti-American Attitude among Labor Leaders”. Due to a lack of paper supplies, the KP newspaper circulation was reduced. Further, the United States supported the distribution of Anti-Communist literature and Anti-Communist education classes.

Were German factories with primarily KPD labor unions targeted for dismantling by the U.S. Government? It appears so.

From October 1947, The dismantling plan [i.e. forced closure of factories]… has not much changed the aspect of that issue so important for Germany… The most important [plant] in Mannheim, the Hommel-Werke, is a KPD dominated plant, and the development may follow the line of other Bi-zone factories having a similar political composition.”

U.S. Censorship of Communist Leaders.

From November 1947: “[A] radio message of the president of the Land Committee, Willy Grimm, was not permitted because the American control officer did not find it o.k.’. A recent radio message, the subject of which also was to be Willy Grimm, likewise was prohibited.” The reason for the censorship: criticism of the Truman doctrine and the Marshall plan.

By November 1947, the reports raise concern that the Marshall plan is being received as a U.S. form of socialism.

Further, in November 1947 as to a possible reunification of Germany as one country: We must watch closely the activities of the KPD-SED aiming at unity’.

January 1948: The confidence in American publications by news and radio has dwindled to almost nothing… What is needed most now is: Steadfastness, no promises at all if one cannot keep them 100%, and a clear putting forth in print what the USA has done up to now for Germany (so that everybody may see what would have happened if USA had not done what she has). The less talk about communism, the better; the more acted, as democrats should not, the best.”

This statement stands in stark contrast to statements from earlier in the reports. From March 1947: The attitude of the American and British foreign ministers is highly appreciated… It is regarded as a sign that the US has the good will to give Germany a peace under which she will be able to survive and to recover whereas the Russian claims are interpreted as one of many attempts to frustrate any early peace regulation in order to profit politically by the growing distress in Germany.”

Related Research

For related research on this topic please see Carolyn Eisenberg’s Working-Class Politics and the Cold War: American Intervention in the German Labor Movements, 1945–49”. Diplomatic History, Fall 1983. Vol. 7, No. 4.

As Eisenberg describes the landscape: American Policymakers… worried that left-wing organizations would eventually come under Soviet control, upsetting the balance of power’ that the policymakers deemed vital to the peace. Given these apprehensions, U.S. officials undertook a far-reaching campaign to gain control of German labor.”

She concludes: The Americans…acted preemptively to limit the choices available to the Germans and to ensure that the dreams of a radical unified labor movement would remain unrealized.” (Emphasis added).


These U.S. Military Intelligence Reports document the active involvement of the United States in Germany’s politics after World War II and are especially interesting for the study of the history of the formation of East Germany.

Scarcity: Presumably these documents exist at the National Archives or within Pentagon records, however we were not able to locate any record of them in OCLC WorldCat or otherwise.

[1] Under Executive Order 13526 signed by President Barack Obama in December 2009, classified documents 50 years or older are generally deemed declassified. Further, on November 10, 1994, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12937 that declassified, in bulk, the vast majority of all documents relating to World War II and the later occupation of Germany.


In stock

Stock Code: 1094A20 Collection:


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