Occupation zone

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An occupied zone is a foreign troops occupied area or region of a state in which a foreign state power as occupying power the jurisdiction exerts. In German, the term primarily refers to the last period of occupation in Germany and Austria after the Second World War .

Already after the First World War , the Rhineland on the left bank of the Rhine was subjected to an initially bellicose, peaceful occupation from 1920 based on the Versailles Treaty and the Rhineland Agreement of 1919 ( RGBl. 1919 p. 1336) and was divided into four zones. Belgian, British, American and French troops had partly occupied it until 1930; however, there was no transfer of territorial sovereignty to the Allied and Associated Powers, and their exercise ( state authority ) in the occupied Rhineland was basically in German hands.

The three Western powers and the Soviet Union divided Germany and Austria into zones of occupation in 1945.

As on May 8, 1945, the Second World War in Europe ended ( VE-Day ) , the four took victors USSR , USA and Great Britain and France , the authority over the German Empire and divided its territory among themselves into occupation zones at or affiliated it out. For this purpose, the eastern areas of the German Reich, apart from the Soviet-administered north of East Prussia, were placed under Polish administration. New German states emerged and the period in which the four powers occupied the re-established republic of Austria and Germany is therefore also called the period of occupation . It lasted in Austria from 1945 to 1955 . In Germany, the term usually only refers to the period from 1945 to 1949 , i.e. until the founding of the Federal Republic and the GDR , although the occupation in West Germany did not end until 1955 with the German Treaty.


Germany after the second zone agreement in 1944

On January 15, 1944, the European Advisory Commission (EAC) had proposed that the German Reich be divided into zones of occupation within its borders of December 31, 1937 after the end of the war . In the so-called 1st  zone protocol of the EAC of September 12, 1944, the borders between the north-western, south-western and eastern zones of occupation with the special area belonging to Greater Berlin were planned for post-war Germany within the boundaries of 1920. The eastern zone of Germany and the north-eastern part of Berlin were intended for occupation by the Soviet Union .

In the supplementary, so-called 2nd zone protocol for post-war Germany of November 14, 1944, the commission now also assigned the two still open zones: the north-west for Great Britain and the south-west for the United States . In addition, the commission planned the British and American parts of Greater Berlin within the designated special area of ​​the eastern zone. The first plans followed for a possible regulation of the joint use of the ports of Bremen and Bremerhaven . The establishment of a French zone was not planned at that time.

On the occasion of the Yalta Conference in February 1945, Josef Stalin initially refused to grant the French their own zone of occupation and to allow them to take part in the administration of Germany, since France "had contributed little to this war and opened the gates to the enemy". But Winston Churchill did not want to face the communist Soviet Union alone after the USA withdrew - this was intended after two years. Eventually Stalin relented and declared that "he had no objection [anymore] to his [ France ] being given a zone within the British and American zones". By now the French armed forces had created a fait accompli. Despite the Allied Commander-in-Chief Dwight D. Eisenhower's refusal to provide translation material, the French had crossed the Rhine near Philippsburg on April 1, 1945 , occupied Stuttgart and Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance and then advanced as far as Vorarlberg in Austria. On July 26, 1945, the zone protocol for Germany was last amended by the EAC, in which the details for France's own zone of occupation were worked out. The still outstanding formal decision for the concession of a separate zone for France and the implementation of the recommendations of the EAC for the French zone was then found in the wording of the Potsdam Agreement under Section III A.1.

Occupation zones in Germany

Zone of Occupation (Germany)
         United StatesWesermünde / / / / /
         United StatesUnited StatesWesermünde
United States Bremen –––
United StatesUnited States             
Bremen –––
Occupation zones Germany 1945

United StatesUnited States American Zone of Occupation French Zone of Occupation British Zone of Occupation
United KingdomUnited Kingdom

Soviet Union 1923Soviet Union Soviet occupation zone


Germany 1947: the four zones of occupation of the main victorious powers, the free Saarland and the
eastern areas placed under Polish and Soviet administration according to the Potsdam Agreement

The occupation zones comprised the territory of the German Reich within the borders of 1937 without the initially occupied areas east of the Oder-Neisse line - these were under Soviet , later mainly Polish administration - and were separated from one another by zone boundaries. As a rule, these were identical to the administrative boundaries of the former federal states, and occasionally also with district boundaries. This ensured that proper administration could continue to be ensured.

By dividing Germany into zones of occupation, the Prussian state had been torn apart and in fact ceased to exist. On 25 July 1947 he was by the Allied Control by Control Council Law no. 46 also constitutionally dissolved.

British zone of occupation

For the British occupation zone , the former Prussian provinces of Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover included (later Lower Saxony) without the district Lüneburg belonging Amt Neuhaus , for it but with the Mecklenburg Kaltenhof , Westphalia and the northern districts of Aachen , Dusseldorf and Cologne , the Rhine Province (later North Rhine-Westphalia ), the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, the Free States of Lippe (1947 to North Rhine-Westphalia), Braunschweig without the eastern part of the district of Blankenburg and the exclave of Calvörde , Oldenburg and Schaumburg-Lippe (all to Lower Saxony in 1946). The area of ​​what is now the state of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen was a special case as it belonged to both the British and American zones. The headquarters of the British were in Bad Oeynhausen . Further bases were in Münster, Düsseldorf, Kiel and Hanover.

The British did not exclusively use their own occupation troops in their zone, but also a. also from Belgian and Canadian troops , Polish troops in exile and a Danish - Norwegian contingent.

In the case of the spatially delimited special areas occupied by troops from other nations (ie not in areas of mixed troops), terms such as “ Belgian corridor or Belgian zone of occupation ” and “ Polish zone of occupation ” arose ; However, these were not on the same political level as the occupation zones of the victorious powers and the administrative sovereignty remained with the British in principle. The so-called Polish zone of occupation existed in Emsland from May 1945 to May 1947 . From 1946 the British occupation forces withdrew from the Rhineland and the south of their zone; they were replaced there by units of the Belgian army (so-called Belgian zone of occupation ).

The following countries were not formed on the territory of the British occupation zone until 1946:

From the states of Braunschweig, Hanover, Oldenburg and Schaumburg-Lippe, the state of Lower Saxony emerged on November 8, 1946, retroactively to November 1 . The state of Lippe was dissolved in January 1947 and added to North Rhine-Westphalia.

American zone of occupation

The American occupation zone comprised the former Prussian province of Hessen-Nassau without the district of Herrschaft Schmalkalden (merged with the people of Hessen to form " Greater Hessen "), the northern parts of the former Free State of Baden and Württemberg (merged to Württemberg-Baden) and the Free State of Bavaria without the Rhine Palatinate and the district of Lindau (Lake Constance) . The headquarters was the IG-Farben-Haus in Frankfurt am Main .

The following countries were formed on the territory of the US zone on September 19, 1945:

See also section " Bremen "

French zone of occupation

The French occupation zone included the southern districts of Koblenz and Trier of the former Prussian Rhine province, the Prussian province of Hohenzollern , merged with the southern part of Württemberg (the French part was south of the Karlsruhe-Stuttgart-Ulm motorway) to form Württemberg-Hohenzollern, the southern part of the Free State of Baden ( also the districts located exclusively south of the Karlsruhe-Stuttgart autobahn), the Bavarian Palatinate , the left bank of Rheinhessen , the Oberwesterwaldkreis , St. Goarshausen , Unterlahnkreis and Unterwesterwaldkreis districts of the former Prussian province of Nassau and the Lindau district of the Free State of Bavaria. The seat of the French military government was Baden-Baden . Analogous to the “Polish zone of occupation” within the British, there was temporarily a “Luxembourg zone of occupation” within the French zone.

The following countries were formed on the territory of the French occupation zone:

The Saar area , which became part of the French occupation zone in 1945, is a special case of the formation of Länder . In October 1946, it was spun off from the French zone , expanded by two districts of what would later become the state of Rhineland-Palatinate , and placed under its own authority under the French military governor Gilbert Grandval , based in Saarbrücken . After the first state elections on October 3, 1947 and the adoption of the Saarland constitution on December 15, 1947, Grandval exercised control over the Saarland state government in the office of a French high commissioner .

The Saarland became an autonomous region with its own citizenship from 1947 and an economic association with France. After a referendum in 1955, Saarland became a member state of the Federal Republic of Germany on January 1, 1957 ; the economic connection took place on July 6, 1959, the so-called "Day X" .

Soviet occupation zone

For the Soviet zone of occupation , the Prussian province of Brandenburg, the state of Mecklenburg without border areas with were Ratzeburg , including Western Pomerania, the country formed from the Province of Saxony and the Free State of Anhalt Saxony-Anhalt, the Free State of Saxony (including the western the Neisse part of Lower Silesia), the State of Thuringia as well as the Hanoverian office Neuhaus, the Hessian district Herrschaft Schmalkalden and the eastern part of the district Blankenburg combined. The Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) was based in the former Army Spy School of the Wehrmacht (today: German-Russian Museum ) in Berlin-Karlshorst .

The following countries were formed on the territory of the Soviet occupation zone:


The former capital of Berlin, located in the middle of the Soviet zone but not belonging to it , was divided into four sectors for the coordinated administration and control of Germany , in which the commanders-in-chief of the four occupying powers were based. After the end of the war, Greater Berlin was de facto administered by the Soviet Union for around two months, until the three western sectors were evacuated by it.


Bremen , conquered by British troops and then occupied by American troops, was a special case: After the Second World War , the cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven were used as ports by the US armed forces . The state of Bremen therefore temporarily - until December 1945 and again from April 1, 1947 (Proclamation No. 3 by the US Military Governor McNarney and Ordinance No. 76 of the British Military Government) an enclave of the US zone of occupation within the British-occupied zone, to which it belonged in the meantime; only the city of Bremen itself (including the city of Bremen port area in Bremerhaven) remained part of the American zone without interruption, but not the land area of ​​Bremen (today part of the city of Bremen) and the city district of Wesermünde including the city of Bremerhaven (today completely Bremerhaven). Until December 1945, the district of Wesermünde , the district of Osterholz and the district of Wesermarsch also belonged to the American zone of occupation.

Apart from the geographical allocation, Bremen was de facto part of both the American and the British zone and belonged to both the state council of the American occupation area and the "Conference of the Countries and Provinces" of the British zone.

On January 23, 1947, the British and American military governments agreed to establish the state of Bremen from the city of Bremen and the city of Wesermünde, including Bremerhaven , retroactively to January 1, 1947 , which became part of the Federal Republic in 1949 .

Other areas

Various smaller areas of the German Empire in the west were added to Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France - partly after temporarily belonging to the British and French zones - and were not (yet) part of the Federal Republic of Germany when it was founded: Belgium stopped after 1949 (→  Belgian annexation plans after the Second World War ) continued to occupy some places in the border area (including Mützenich ) and considered them to belong to their own territory, the Netherlands did it just like Belgium , only after treaties in 1956 (with Belgium) and 1960 (with the Netherlands), the Federal Republic got back most of the occupied territories - some remaining areas remained with Belgium or the Netherlands (for example parts of Wyler ). Also included Luxembourg (an area between Vianden and Obersgegen , namely the chamber forest with the village of Roth and the Good Neuscheuerhof ), France ( Kehl am Rhein , Mundat Forest ) and the UK ( Helgoland ) initially territories of the German Empire as to their territory belonging. The reorganization into the Federal Republic of Germany took place from 1949 (first partial areas of Kehl); the last one took place in 2002 (road N 274 near Selfkant in the Netherlands).

Area and population 1946

The area and population of the zones of occupation according to the census of October 29, 1946:

area Area in km² Population
(October 29, 1946)
per km²
Berlin 890 3,199,938 3,595
American zone of occupation 107,459 17,254,945 161
British zone of occupation 97,722 22,305,027 228
French zone of occupation 40.216 5,063,630 126
Soviet occupation zone 107.173 17,313,734 162
Germany *) 353,460 65.137.274 184
*)without Saarland and the German eastern territories under foreign administration


When the German Wehrmacht surrendered unconditionally on May 8, 1945 , the Allied troops had already occupied most of the German national territory. The Soviets had conquered Berlin, the Americans had advanced deep into the zone intended for the Soviet Union - as far as the Elbe. Due to the Allied agreements, all units now had to retreat to the occupation zones intended for them, which British Prime Minister Winston Churchill did not agree with: In a telegram dated May 11, 1945 to American President Truman, he doubted the advisability of withdrawing the American armed forces, because "That would mean that the tide of Russian rule surged forward 120 miles on a front width of 300 or 400 miles." But Truman, trusting future Soviet policy, rejected such a proposal, despite Churchill in another telegram the next day pointed out that "along the Russian front [...] an iron curtain had come down". You don't know what's going on behind it.

In July 1945 the Allied troops moved into their zones of occupation, and units of the occupying powers were stationed in the Berlin sectors as agreed.

Until the end of 1945, the borders of the newly organized countries and thus the zones of occupation were still slightly corrected at various points, partly for traffic reasons, partly to simplify administration. In the Wanfried Agreement , several villages were exchanged between Thuringia and Hesse in order to allow the north-south railway line, which is important for American supplies, to run entirely within the British and American zone . Until then, the route ran for a few kilometers through the Soviet occupation zone . The Barber-Lyaschtschenko Agreement regulated an exchange of territory between Mecklenburg and Schleswig-Holstein.

Tensions between the victorious powers

The countries in the four zones of occupation (as of June 8, 1947 to April 22, 1949)

Due to the growing differences between the Soviet Union and the western victorious powers, the bizone was formed from the American and British zones in September 1946 and became effective on January 1, 1947. With the accession of the French occupation zone with the exception of the Saar area in March 1948, the Trizone was created . Thus, with the exception of Saarland, all of the western German states were combined in the Trizone.

When the Basic Law came into force on May 24, 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany was founded from the eleven West German states (excluding Saarland) with Bonn as the provisional federal capital . In 1952 the states of Baden, Württemberg-Baden and Württemberg-Hohenzollern merged to form the state of Baden-Württemberg . This reduced the number of federal states to nine (excluding Berlin). With the accession of Saarland on January 1, 1957, it increased again to ten.

The Soviet-occupied zone (SBZ) became the German Democratic Republic (GDR) on October 7, 1949 .

A special case was Berlin , which did not belong to any of the four zones and was to be administered jointly by all four occupying powers, like a neutral fifth occupation zone. For the purpose of common management, it has been divided internally into four sectors. This special status also applied to the Austrian capital Vienna from 1945 to 1955 .

In the later course of the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the GDR interpreted the status of Berlin differently from the Western powers to the effect that the whole of Berlin belonged to the Soviet zone of occupation from the beginning, presumably to delegitimize the presence of the Western powers in West Berlin and the increased integration Justify East Berlin to the GDR.

The four-sector city of Berlin was initially not to be assigned to either the Eastern or Western Germany that surrounded it, according to the will of the victorious powers . With the ongoing political division, the GDR took over the eastern part of Berlin ( East Berlin ) as its fully integrated capital, while West Berlin was treated as a federal state by the Federal Republic . The peculiarities of the Berlin status and the formal separation from the Federal Republic of Germany continued to be observed in West Berlin, while in East Berlin they were continuously dismantled over the decades.

Historical situation during the occupation in post-war Germany

After the end of the Second World War , a large part of Europe, including the area of ​​the Greater German Empire, was in ruins. The Allies decided on a policy of democratization , demilitarization and denazification in the former German Reich . The Western Allies soon stopped dismantling for the purpose of reparations (and also abandoned the Morgenthau Plan ); the Soviet Union, on the other hand, dismantled its zone of occupation on a large scale, as it was more marked by war.

At the Nuremberg Trials , the main war criminals were tried before an international tribunal . Among them were surviving influential Nazi politicians such as Hermann Göring , who like several others was sentenced to death , whereby Göring committed suicide before the sentence was executed. Many others that while long prison sentences were sentenced were released in the course of the 1950s, some played in building the administration and the armed forces in the Federal Republic a role.

Denazification was soon restricted in the zones of the Western Allies after the conflict of interests between the political systems of the USSR on the one hand and the USA, France and Great Britain on the other became more and more apparent in the emerging East-West conflict . At the end of the 1940s and later, Central Europe was an important source of conflict during the Cold War. Both systems followed different social, political and economic concepts. While the Marshall Plan promoted economic development in the western zones along the lines of a capitalist free market economy , the eastern zone was shaped by the implementation of a planned economy based on socialism in the USSR .

In 1948, the currency reform was carried out in the Trizone in West Germany , which very quickly led to an economic upswing in the West, which initiated the so-called economic miracle in the following decade and a half. This removed the basis for the black market . The shops filled again with a wider and more abundant range of goods, which was initially not the case in the Soviet zone of occupation.

In the four-sector city of Berlin in particular, the political situation escalated due to the dense economic systems that existed. The Berlin blockade by the USSR came about . Berlin was sealed off from the west. The diplomatic showdown was about to turn from a cold war to a hot war. In a speech that has become famous, the Lord Mayor of West Berlin , Ernst Reuter, called on the international community not to abandon West Berlin (“You peoples of the world, look at this city”). The western part of Berlin was then supplied by the Western Allies for months through the airlift with the most necessary goods until the blockade was finally abandoned.

In 1945 the German Reich was occupied and divided. Austria was re-established as an occupied state; In autumn 1949, two new German states were founded in quick succession in the other occupation zones, outside the separated areas, with the GDR and the Federal Republic of Germany being reorganized:

In the west, the Federal Republic of Germany emerged as a parliamentary democracy , at the head of which a CDU- led federal government under Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was elected in the first federal election . From the beginning, Adenauer was guided by the western alliance system, which was also emerging militarily .

The German Democratic Republic, oriented towards the democratic centralism of the USSR, emerged from the Soviet occupation zone under the rule of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) under Walter Ulbricht . The SED emerged in 1946 from the union of the SPD with the KPD in the Soviet-occupied part of Germany; this union is seen on the one hand as the most important legacy of the prisoners from the concentration camps (see, among others , the Buchenwald Popular Front Committee , Buchenwald Manifesto ), and on the other as a compulsory union .

Due to Adenauer's ties to the West , the first government of the Federal Republic from the ranks of the opposition (especially the SPD) was accused of having cemented the division of Germany for decades.

When the occupation statute came into force on September 21, 1949, the military commanders of the western zones of occupation were replaced by civilian high commissioners, who each represented the rights of their occupying powers in their respective zones of occupation. They were subordinate to state commissioners for the individual federal states in their zone of occupation. The high commissioners together formed the Allied High Commission , which represented the Allies at the federal level.

According to Article 49 of the Hague Land Warfare Regulations, the occupied country had to bear the costs of maintaining the occupation troops and managing the occupation zones . On 2 April 1950, the published Parliamentary Committee a report, after which the newly founded Federal Republic of Germany in 1949 approximately 4.5 billion for crew Affairs  DM occupation costs paid to the Allied occupying powers, representing almost 50 percent of total federal revenues. For every German citizen, this meant a share of 95.46 DM, which was almost equivalent to an average monthly wage. In 1951 dismantling was stopped in the Federal Republic.

With the German Treaty of 1955, the occupation in West Germany was lifted and the Allied High Commission was dissolved. The former division into zones of occupation partially affected the borders of some of the countries established before 1949 as well as the stations of NATO troops, which remained stationed in the Federal Republic after 1955 as allies to protect NATO territory before the Warsaw Pact .

Occupation zones in Austria

Occupation zones in Austria 1945–1955

Austria, which was rebuilt after the Second World War, was also occupied by the Allies and divided into four zones of occupation. As in Berlin, all four occupying powers were represented in Vienna. The only difference was that there was a fifth inter-allied zone with alternating occupation powers.

The occupation lasted until the Austrian State Treaty in 1955, whereby the end of the occupation and the attainment of full sovereignty were carried out in Austria at the same time.

Occupation zones in Korea

After Japan's official surrender on August 15, 1945 ( Gyokuon-hōsō ) at the end of World War II, its former colony Korea - called Chosen Province by Japan - was divided into two zones of occupation by the victorious powers. Based on the Cairo Declaration of 1943, the Soviet Union finally accepted the US proposal to temporarily divide Korea into two zones of occupation along the 38th parallel .

See also


  • Tom Agoston: Care Package & Chewing Gum - A Panopticon of the Occupation. Translated from the English by Eduard Linpinsel, dpa. Leopold Stocker Verlag, Graz / Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 3-7020-0695-8 .
  • John E. Farquharson: The Management of Agriculture and Food Supplies in Germany 1944-1947 . In: Bernd Martin , Alan S. Milward (Eds.): Agriculture and Food Supply in the Second World War , Ostfildern 1985, pp. 50–68.

Web links

Commons : Allied occupation of Germany  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Zone of occupation  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. "The harmony only lasted 48 hours" . taz.de . May 20, 2006. Retrieved August 21, 2013 .; Maczków, Emsland - Jan Rydel on the Polish zone of occupation in West Germany 1945–1947 , in: Berliner Zeitung of December 8, 2003.
  2. Ordinance No. 55 of the Military Government in the British Control Area.
  3. ^ Klaus Reimer: Introduction to the history of Luxembourg . Retrieved August 21, 2013.
  4. Official Journal of the Administrative Commission of the Saarland No. 58a - 1947 (PDF; 59 kB), documents on the formation of the Saarland . German National Library . Retrieved August 21, 2013.
  5. ^ Report on the Crimean Conference (February 3-11, 1945) . documentArchiv.de. Accessed on August 21, 2013: “According to the mutually agreed plan, the armed forces of the three powers will each occupy a special zone in Germany. The plan provides for coordinated administration and control by a central control commission based in Berlin, which consists of the commanders in chief of the three powers. "
  6. Bettina Blank : The West German States and the Emergence of the Federal Republic - On the dispute over the Frankfurt documents of June 1948 . Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, 1995, p. 57 ff. Hermann Kinder, Werner Hilgemann : dtv-Atlas zur Weltgeschichte , Volume 2, various editions.
  7. Bettina Blank : The West German States and the Emergence of the Federal Republic - On the dispute over the Frankfurt documents of June 1948 . Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, 1995, p. 60.
  8. Hope shared. Germany after the war. 1945-1949. 2nd, updated edition, Gesamtdeutsches Institut , Bonn 1990.
  9. Kehl was broken down piece by piece in a total of 42 individual steps between July 1949 and April 1953
  10. ^ German Association of Cities: Statistical Yearbook of German Communities. Alfons Bürger Verlag, Schwäbisch Gmünd 1949.
  11. ^ Hans Manfred Bock: On the perception of the early Federal Republic of Germany in French diplomacy: The Bonn monthly reports of the High Commissioner André François-Poncet 1949 to 1955. In: Francia 15, 1987, pp. 579–658, here p. 603 ( Francia - Forschungen on Western European history . Bayerische Staatsbibliothek . Retrieved on August 21, 2013.)