OMGUS Finance Division Investigations and Interrogations, 1945-1949

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NARA M1923. OMGUS Finance Division Records Regarding Investigations and Interrogations, 1945–1949. These records include bank investigation reports relating to the financing of the German war effort and German financial institutions, interrogations of Nazi financiers, and related records of the Office of the Finance Division and Finance Advisor in the Office of Military Government, U.S. Zone (OMGUS) in post-war Germany, 1945–1949.

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Background

The following background information is taken directly from the descriptive pamphlet published by NARA for this title, M1923.*

The origin of the Office of the Finance Adviser and its predecessor, the Finance Division, can be traced to February 14, 1944, when the reorganization of the Civil Affairs Division of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) created a German Country Section with a finance division as one of its component parts. Six months later, European Theater of Operations United States Army (ETOUSA) established the United States Group Control Council for Germany (USGCC). The rapid growth in staff and in activities due to the changing military situation in Europe, however, required further redefinition of finance functions and responsibilities, and on November 25, 1944, Finance became one of the 12 independent divisions set up within USGCC.

At this early stage, the Finance Division concentrated on planning for the denazification of German finance, discovery and control of German foreign exchange assets (Project “Safehaven”), freezing and blocking of property, decentralization of German financial agencies and institutions, elimination of discriminatory laws and practices, and acquisition of financial intelligence. Decentralization of banks and other financial institutions was necessary to sever the close ties of those institutions with the giant German industrial concerns, an association that had been vital to the German war effort.

Following the surrender of Germany on May 8, 1945, the Division financially disarmed and denazified Germany through the decentralization and restructuring of the German financial system. It assumed full responsibility for policy formation, administration, and control, and facilitated financial transactions involving U.S. occupation forces. With regard to property, the Division prevented certain specified transactions, and controlled, administered, and accounted for tangible property required to be deposited with the Military Government (MG) under MG Law No. 53. This included foreign exchange assets, such as jewelry, precious metals, coins and stamps, securities, and foreign currencies.

The Division undertook investigations based both on captured German records and on interrogations of German officials. These investigations sought to locate German assets concealed abroad in “safehavens” secured through secret arrangements between the Nazis and German industrialists that would fund party operations in case of the defeat of Germany. The Division continued to block and freeze those assets in order to prevent their possible use in funding underground Nazi activities from within postwar Germany.

The reorganization of the military government included a redistribution of functions based on Military Government proclamations. To implement the reorganization, the Finance Division was dissolved effective March 1, 1948. Established were, among others, an Office of the Finance Adviser (OMGUS) (OFA) and a Property Division (OMGUS). The OFA retained from the former Finance Division the power of review regarding policy changes and proposals; the interpretation of those multipartite agreements, programs, and policies with implications for subjects other than finance; and the review of policies requiring Länder implementation. Responsibilities for foreign exchange, the blocking and freezing of property, and external assets were transferred to the Property Division (OMGUS). The Finance Adviser provided advice regarding monetary and financial policies and procedures, represented OMGUS in Allied Control Authority and other multipartite negotiations, and was the U.S. member of the Allied Banking Commission.

On April 7, 1949, the Finance Division was reestablished. The transition from military to civilian occupation administration was initiated by the Presidential appointment of the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany (HICOG), who assumed his duties on September 2, 1949. On September 3, 1949, the functions, personnel, equipment, and records of both the OFA and the Finance Division were transferred to the newly created Finance Division in the Office of Economic Affairs of the High Commission for Germany (HICOG), which assumed responsibility for the field of finance. The transition was completed by September 21, 1949, the same day of the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany. OMGUS was formally abolished on December 5, 1949. Most of the OMGUS records, including the records of the Finance Division, were retired to an Army record center in Kansas City until they were accessioned into the National Archives in the early 1960s.

Document types

Records Regarding Bank Investigations, 1945–1949, is arranged alphabetically by subject and consists primarily of memorandums, letters, cables, reports, exhibits, newspaper clippings, and civil censorship intercepts on the financing of the German war effort and German financial institutions. The records include reports on Nazi gold, the use of Swiss banks, and links between German and Swiss banks, inclusive of Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Golddiskontbank, Dresdner Bank, and Reichs-Kredit-Gesellschaft. The investigations contain information regarding Aryanization, bank operations outside of Germany, industrial ties, liquidation proposals, and the restitution of Hungarian property.

Records Relating to Interrogations of Nazi Financiers, 1946–1947, is arranged alphabetically by subject and consists of interrogation reports and transcripts, exhibits, and questionnaires. Names included are Bernhard Berghaus, Alois Alzheimer, August von Finck, Eduard Hilgard, Kurt Schmitt, and Franz Schwede-Coburg. Also among these records are files relating to Carlowitz & Company and Japanese firms operating in Germany.

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Source

The images are digitized from eight rolls of microfilm publication M1923, which reproduced bank investigation reports, interrogations of Nazi financiers, and related records of the Office of the Finance Division and Finance Advisor in the Office of Military Government, U.S. Zone (Germany) (OMGUS), during the period 1945–1949. These records are part of Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, Record Group (RG) 260. The table of contents for each roll of microfilm is provided on pages 5-7 of the descriptive pamphlet.

*Some of the information on this description page is taken directly from the NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1923, published in 2008, and prepared by Cynara Robinson. A PDF version may be viewed or downloaded here.

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