OMGUS - External Assets Investigation

OMGUS - External Assets Investigation


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


    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.  

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