OMGUS - External Assets Investigation

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NARA M1922: Records of the External Assets Investigation Section of the Property Division, OMGUS, 1945-1949

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Background

The following background information is taken directly from the descriptive pamphlet published by NARA for this title, M1922.*

The European Theater of Operations (ETOUSA) established the U.S. Group Control Council for Germany (USGCC) on August 9, 1944. The rapid growth in staff and in activities due to the changing military situation in Europe, however, required further redefinition of certain functions and responsibilities. On November 25, 1944, the Reparations, Deliveries, and Restitution; Finance; and Economic Divisions became 3 of the 12 independent divisions set up within the USGCC. The Property Control Branch evolved from the Reparations, Deliveries, and Restitution Division of the USGCC. The Branch later became part of the Economic Division and then the Finance Division.

The external assets program had its origin in the Finance Division, G-5 of the U.S. Forces, European Theater (USFET). The program was formally organized on September 12, 1945, through establishment of the Division of the Investigation of Cartels and Externals Assets (DICEA), authorized to investigate the existence and scope of German cartels, syndicates, trusts, and other concentrations of economic power. DICEA’s five main branches were, for the most part, later consolidated into the External Assets Branch in the Finance Division.

The Office of Military Government, U.S. Zone (Germany) [OMGUS] became the successor to the USGCC on October 1, 1945. OMGUS was organized into several divisions (including Finance and Economic), subdivided by branches and sections that handled specific realms of administration, oversight, and investigation. In March 1948, with the dissolution of the Economic and Finance Divisions, the Property Control and External Assets Branches were transferred to the Property Division. By the end of March 1948, however, the Property Control and External Assets Branches were merged to form the Property Control and External Assets Branch with four sections including the External Assets Investigation Section.

The External Assets Investigation Section was responsible for making all investigations within the U.S. Zone of occupation in order to develop evidence of German ownership of property outside of Germany. The Section undertook investigations based on both captured German records and interrogations of company officials and employees having knowledge relating to external German corporate assets, as well as persons having knowledge of specific individuals’ assets held outside of Germany. Investigations were also made regarding the status of corporate accounts payable and receivable, and related external claims. The reports generated from investigative actions were sent to various investigatory sections and branches within OMGUS, as well as the French, British, and Soviet representatives on the German External Property Commission, as information, and for suggested disposition and action.   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. Upon the termination of the Property Division on July 1, 1949, the property control functions with respect to the liquidation of claims devolved in the Central German Property Control Agency in Munich. Its directorate was composed of the four Land Civilian Agency Heads in the U.S. Zone. After July 1, 1949, the Military Government, through its Property Group, OMGUS, and later Property Division, HICOG, provided general supervision of the internal restitution program. 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. Civilian occupation administration under the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany continued until May 5, 1955, when HICOG was abolished. Most of the OMGUS records, including the records of the External Assets Investigation Section, were retired to an Army records center in Kansas City until they were accessioned into the National Archives in the early 1960s.  

Document types

The records reproduced in this microfilm publication consist primarily of investigative and interrogation reports, and related records compiled and produced by the External Assets Investigation Section of the Property Division. The records are organized in the following five series:

General Records Pertaining to External Assets Investigations, 1945–1949, is arranged alphabetically by subject. This series consists primarily of affidavits, cables, correspondence, financial documents, interrogations, military government forms, memorandums, and reports regarding investigations of German external assets. The investigations pertain to leading German industrial firms such as Robert Bosch GmbH; I.G. Farben; Siemens-Halske AG; Vereinigte Stahlwerke AG; and Otto Wolff Co. Also included are investigations of German banks regarding external assets and investigations of prominent individuals such as members of the Thyssen family and the Wuerttemberg royal family. The records include numerous investigative reports concerning repatriations; Suez Canal stock transactions; Spanish Civil War debts; German claims for assets in Japan; and the Safehaven program, including Swedish and Spanish Safehaven Accords. Also included is a list of securities and assets of German banks deposited in the United States as of November 1939; a report prepared by the Finance Division in 1946 regarding German external assets located in the colonies, mandates, and territories of the French republic and British Empire; and reports and memorandums concerning the Section’s dealings with the Soviets through 1948.

Reports and Exhibits Relating to Investigations, 1945–1947, is arranged alphabetically by subject. This series consists primarily of financial documents, memorandums, cables, correspondence, reports, and other records pertaining to investigative reports contained in the series General Records Pertaining to External Assets Investigations, 1945–1949, described above. Most of the German financial documents, many dating back to the 1920s, were exhibits to reports prepared during the course of the investigations. These reports generally contain statements of the significance of the documents, occasionally providing English translations, and suggestions as to their applicability. Also included are reports on the external assets of Hermann Göring, Safehaven reports concerning Nazi channels for foreign investment, and Safehaven reports concerning German-owned or controlled firms in Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Egypt, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

Interrogations and Reports Pertaining to German Financial Matters, 1945–1946, is arranged alphabetically by subject. Each interrogation folder contains a listing of the individuals questioned. The series includes correspondence, reports, and copies of interrogations primarily pertaining to the financial status of certain Nazi leaders, including Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Hermann Göring, and Walter Funk. Among the people interrogated were Hermann Göring, his wife, his brother, his sister-in-law, his niece, his private secretary, his nurse, certain subordinates in the Air Ministry, several art-looting associates, and members of his staff. Also interrogated were Joachim von Ribbentrop and several other members of the Foreign Office; Walter Funk, Paul Koerner, and other financial leaders of the Reich; SS (Schutzstaffel) members Walter Schellengerg and Karl Wolff; Christa Schroder, Hitler’s secretary; Julius Schaub; Margarete Himmler, wife of Heinrich Himmler; and Max Amann, director of Eher Publishing Company, publishers of Mein Kampf. Evaluation reports accompany the interrogations in several instances.

Informational Reports Prepared by the Ministerial Record Section, 1945–1946, is arranged alphanumerically by report number. This series includes reports with correspondence and copies of financial documents generally pertaining to the identification of external assets by German individuals and companies before and during World War II. These reports were based on original documents of various German financial agencies, including the Foreign Exchange (Devisenstellen), the Ministry of Finance (Reichsfinanzministerium), and the Ministry of Economics (Reichswirtschaftministerium). The reports consist generally of photostats of German financial documents, with significant portions occasionally translated into English, and an accompanying synopsis and evaluation of the documents by the Ministerial Records Section. Included at the beginning of the series is a card index arranged alphabetically by name of individual or company investigated, which gives the report number, and in many instances some data concerning the company or individual to which the report refers.

General Intelligence and Investigation Records Pertaining to German External Assets, 1945–1950, is arranged alphabetically by subject and thereunder chronologically. This series consists primarily of cables, correspondence, German financial documents, laws, lists, legal opinions, memorandums, newspaper clippings, reports, and other records pertaining primarily to intelligence about and investigation of the cloaking of German external assets by German individuals and companies. Included are intelligence and investigative records relating to gold looted by the Nazis, censorship intercepts, and other records relating to violations of declarations as required by Military Government Law 53 and Allied Kommandatura BK/O (46) 337. Also included are records relating to Safehaven activities, including negotiations, agreements, and accords with approximately 30 countries, primarily Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland.

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Source

These images are digitized from 88 rolls of microfilm publication M1922, which reproduced investigation reports, interrogations of business and industrial leaders, and related records of the External Assets Investigation Section of the Property Control and External Assets Branch of the Property Division of the Office of Military Government, U.S. Zone (Germany) [OMGUS], during the period 1945–1949. These records are part of Records of U.S. Occupation Headquarters, World War II, Record Group (RG) 260.

*Some of the information on this description page is taken directly from the NARA descriptive pamphlet for M1922, published in 2009, and prepared by Lloyd A. Beers, Jr. A PDF version may be viewed or downloaded here.

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