Four power status

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Germany within the borders of 1937, as it existed under international law - due to the Allied reservation right  - until 1990, but from 1970 onwards it increasingly lost its importance.

As a four-power status is the common responsibility of the four victorious powers of World War II , United States , Soviet Union , Britain and France , for Germany as a whole , respectively. It is derived from the Berlin Four Power Declaration of June 5, 1945 , in which the victorious powers declared an "unconditional surrender of Germany" and jointly assumed supreme power over Germany within the 1937 borders .

An Allied Control Council of the Four Powers based in Berlin was supposed to issue guidelines for a uniform occupation policy in the zones of occupation in Germany .

After the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949, the four-power status was confirmed in the German Treaty of 1952 between the three Western powers and the Federal Republic.

The Soviet Union tried several times to question the four-power status of Berlin, for example with the Berlin blockade from 1948 to 1949 and the (second) Berlin crisis between 1958 and the construction of the Berlin Wall and with the following months of increased tension (until 1963) . The three western powers, however, retained the four-power status of Berlin. In the Four Power Agreement on Berlin , which came into force on June 3, 1972, responsibilities for Berlin were reorganized. On October 1, 1990, the Allies suspended the four-power status of Berlin, rendering it obsolete.

With the First Control Agreement of July 4, 1945, the victorious powers also assumed supreme power in Austria and formed an Allied Council with the military governors of the four occupation zones . The four-power status of Austria was represented by the Vienna Inter-Allied Command .


The participating powers of the anti-Hitler coalition were already aware during the course of the war that in the event of the military occupation of Germany they would no longer encounter a government capable of acting (see Dönitz government ). The agreed procedure should not abolish or annex the German Reich . The four victorious powers took over the tasks of the defeated German state as a whole, without assuming financial and legal obligations as legal successors; the subject of international law was henceforth represented by them. The legal theoretical considerations for the construction used go back to the work of Hans Kelsen and the British constitutional lawyer William Malkin .

  • In 1943, in the Moscow Declaration , the Allies promised the re-establishment of a state independent of Germany.
  • In 1944 the European Advisory Commission (EAC) proposed dividing the capitals Berlin and Vienna into three sectors each .
  • In February 1945 at the Crimean Conference , the Yalta Conference , the occupation planning for Germany was concretized by the three main Allies (USA, United Kingdom, USSR). They agreed to give the French their own occupation zone and a place on the Allied Control Council . When Anglo-American troops were already occupying their sectors in Berlin, the French sector of Berlin was not determined until the first meeting of the Control Council on July 30, 1945, after the EAC worked out the details in a final meeting on July 26, 1945. The contractual confirmation to set up French occupation zones in both countries and other details followed in the summer of 1945 at the Potsdam Conference .

The particular legal situation in Germany after 1945 played alongside the legal circumstances of the German surrender even with the re-establishment of Austria and the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany as well as in the diplomatic relations of the Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic up to the German reunification an important role. This resulted in serious territorial and constitutional changes.

After Austria was restored as an independent state within the borders of 1938 from May 1, 1945 with the declaration of independence of April 27, 1945 by the ÖVP , SPÖ and KPÖ with the approval of the Red Army , Berlin and Vienna became the capital cities in the summer of 1945 divided into four sectors and by the autumn of 1945 as a four-sector cities governed.


An Allied Control Council was set up as the highest body for Germany, which was to be responsible for matters affecting Germany as a whole .

Eastern territories of the German Empire

The former German Eastern Territories (1945–1990 under foreign administration)

At the Potsdam conference, the USA and Great Britain agreed to the Soviet demand to remove East Prussia from the previously jointly planned division of Germany into zones of occupation. They also stated that in the event of a future peace settlement they would support the demand for the cession of the northern part of East Prussia with Königsberg to the Soviet Union. In 1946 the Soviet Union incorporated it as Kaliningrad Oblast into the Russian Soviet Socialist Federal Republic .

Federal Republic and GDR

During the division of Germany , the sovereignty of the two German states remained restricted. For the Federal Republic of Germany, the Allied High Commission , or AHK for short, was the supreme control body of the three Western powers with three High Commissioners (also known as "High Commissioners") from 1949 to 1955. This was dissolved with the repeal of the occupation statute through the entry into force of the Paris Treaties in 1955, but the Allied right of reservation continued to restrict the state sovereignty of the Federal Republic.

The joint management of the area of ​​the four-sector city of Greater Berlin , which as the seat of the Control Council was not assigned to any occupation zone, was the responsibility of an Allied command office , which consisted of four commanders appointed by their respective commanders-in-chief. The Allied Command of the Four Sector City of Vienna was subordinate to the Allied Commission for Austria.

The Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD) until 1949 and the Soviet Control Commission (SKK) were the monitoring and management institutions of the Soviet occupying power for the management of the Soviet Occupation Zone (SBZ) and later the German Democratic Republic until May 28, 1953. After death Josef Stalins 1953 the SKK was transformed into the "High Commission of the USSR in Germany". General Chuikov's political advisor at the time, Vladimir Semenov (later: Deputy Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union), was appointed High Commissioner.

The Allied Control Council for Germany was not formally dissolved until the unification of the two German states , when Germany's complete sovereignty was established in 1990 through the Two-Plus-Four Treaty .

Occupation zones in Germany

Occupation zones in Germany in 1945

With the Berlin Declaration on June 5, 1945, the Allies established that they would take over government power in Germany. This also applied to the powers of the German government, the High Command of the Wehrmacht and the governments, administrations and authorities of the federal states, cities and municipalities. The zones of occupation comprised the territory of the German Reich within the borders of December 31, 1937 , excluding the areas east of the demarcation line on the Oder and Neisse - these were under Polish and Soviet administration - and were separated from each other by zone borders. As a rule, they were identical to the administrative boundaries of former states , Prussian provinces , and occasionally also district boundaries. This ensured that proper administration could continue to be ensured.

The division of Germany into zones of occupation tore the Prussian state apart. Before that, the Prussian strike of July 20, 1932 and the unconstitutional dissolution of the state parliament on February 6, 1933 deprived him of any political independence from the Reich. Due to the Reich Reconstruction Act of January 30, 1934, it de jure lost its independent sovereign powers . On February 25, 1947, Prussia was declared dissolved by the Allied Control Council by Control Council Act No. 46, also under constitutional law.


The four sectors of Berlin in early July 1945

In February 1945 it was agreed, among other things, to divide Germany into four zones of occupation and the capital Berlin into four sectors. The free movement of people within the city was not affected by the division of Berlin into an eastern and western part in 1948, but in 1952 the GDR government forbade residents of the three western sectors of Berlin from entering the territory of the GDR . It was only with the construction of the Berlin Wall on August 13, 1961 that the free movement of people between East and West Berlin ended. In 1971 the four-power agreement on Berlin , which regulates many practical questions, was concluded.

During its peaceful revolution , the GDR opened the border between East and West Berlin on November 9, 1989 (first at the Bornholmer Strasse border crossing ). As a result, from this point in time it was possible to pass the West Berlin border unhindered to the surrounding area and to East Berlin. The halves of the city officially continued to exist until the eve of German unification , i.e. until the end of October 2, 1990.

The original structure of the four sectors

The districts of Marzahn , Hellersdorf and Hohenschönhausen were created between 1979 and 1986 during the housing construction program due to changes in the district boundaries in East Berlin. Under Allied law, this would have required the consent of the four Allies - including the Western Allies - which did not take place, but in fact the border changes were tolerated by them. In this respect, the GDR acted unauthorized with the backing of the Soviet Union.


For the Republic of Austria one was Allied Commission established. The restriction on sovereignty finally ceased with the State Treaty of Vienna in 1955 . In Austria, the Control Council ended its activities in 1955.

Occupation zones in Austria

Occupation zones in Austria 1945–1955

Like Germany, Austria had already been divided by the Allies into zones they had to occupy before the end of the war . After the end of the war, some of the territories conquered by other Allies changed their occupiers in the summer of 1945. In contrast to Berlin, Vienna's 1st district , the city center, was designated as an inter-allied sector in which the occupying power changed every month and the inter-allied military police patrolled.

The occupation lasted until the Austrian State Treaty , which was signed in Vienna on May 15, 1955 and entered into force on July 27, 1955. This ended the law of occupation and Austria regained its full sovereignty under international law . On this day the agreed 90-day period for the withdrawal of the occupation troops began. The last occupation soldiers withdrew in October 1955. On October 26, 1955, the National Council decided , as the Soviet Union had promised the Soviet Union in the spring, that the country would remain neutral .


Similar to the situation in Berlin, Vienna was also divided into four sectors , but until the end of the occupation in 1955 there was freedom of travel within the entire city. The division of sectors related to the area of ​​Vienna within the boundaries of 1937; All areas added by the decision of the Nazi regime to form Greater Vienna in 1938, especially in the former districts 22 to 26, were assigned to Lower Austria and thus to the Soviet zone of occupation outside Vienna.

The Inner City (1st district) was not assigned to any occupying power alone, but was declared an Inter-Allied Sector and occupied by all four powers (according to a monthly rotation in the line). The sovereign rights over the 1st district were handed over to the next occupying power on the last day of the month. The ceremony took place in front of the Vienna Palace of Justice until 1953 , where the Inter-Allied Command was based at that time, and then until 1955 on Heldenplatz . For this purpose, the two occupying powers, which had replaced each other, marched with a division of soldiers and a military band. The occupying power, which exercised sovereign rights in the 1st district, also provided the jeep and the driver for the patrols of the military police. The remaining three each provided a military policeman as a passenger ( the four in the jeep ) .

While the Soviet occupying power had Aspern Airport within the city , the US Langenlebarn Airport and the British Schwechat Airport were in Lower Austria - and therefore in the Soviet occupation zone. To be on the safe side, these occupying powers created small air strips in their sectors.

The so-called four in a jeep achieved fame through the film of the same name . These were patrols carried out jointly by all four occupying powers , which symbolically propagated the functioning of the four-power administration.

The novel The Third Man by Graham Greene , which became world famous through the film adaptation with Orson Welles in the title role , is set in Vienna in 1947/1948. Greene had done the research on the spot.

The occupation sectors in Vienna
The brightened peripheral areas (1938 Greater Vienna incorporated) belonged to Lower Austria under occupation law, i. H. to the Soviet zone.

International sector

French sector

The French sector stretched as a contiguous area from the city center to the west:

British sector

The British sector to the southeast and southwest of the city center was interrupted by Soviet-occupied districts:

American sector

The American sector stretched northwest and north of the city center as a contiguous area:

Soviet sector

Apart from two Soviet-occupied districts in the urban area otherwise occupied by the British, the Soviet sector comprised all districts that, viewed from the city center, lay beyond the Danube Canal or the Danube , including the largest in terms of area in Vienna:

Area assigned to the Soviet-occupied area

(*) Areas marked with this symbol belonged to the administrative area of ​​the city of Vienna, but not to the four-sector city under occupation law, but to Soviet-occupied Lower Austria. The regulation affected Albern (since 1954 in the 2nd, since 1956 in the 11th district), Liesing (since 1954: 23rd district), the Lainzer Tiergarten , the Friedensstadt , the Auhofer Trennstück settlement and the settlement in the former Lainzer Tiergarten (all since 1954 in the 13th district) as well as parts of today's districts 21 and 22.

See also


  • Uwe Andersen, Wichard Woyke (Hrsg.): Concise dictionary of the political system of the Federal Republic of Germany. 5th revised and updated edition, Leske + Budrich, Opladen 2003, ISBN 3-8100-3670-6 . Licensed edition: Federal Agency for Political Education , Bonn 2003, ISBN 3-89331-389-3 ( Federal Agency for Political Education series 406).
  • Peter Csendes: History of Vienna. 2nd revised edition. Publishing house for history and politics, Vienna 1990, ISBN 3-7028-0295-9 (history of the Austrian federal states) .
  • Hans Rauschning: Berlin half and half. Drawn four-sector city. Verlag Food Promotion, Munich 1985, ISBN 3-7605-8510-8 .
  • Arthur Schlegelmilch: Otto Ostrowski and the reorientation of social democracy in the four-sector city of Berlin. In: Yearbook for the history and Central and Eastern Germany. Vol. 14, 1993, ISSN  0075-2614 , pp. 59-80.
  • William Durie: The British Garrison Berlin 1945–1994. A Pictorial Historiography of the British Occupation. 1st edition, Past Publishing, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86408-068-5 ( English ).
  • Can Genscher go to Berlin? In: Die Zeit , No. 23/1975 of May 30, 1975.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Declaration in view of the defeat of Germany and the assumption of supreme governmental power over Germany by the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and by the Provisional Government of the French Republic of June 5, 1945 ; on this Dahm / Delbrück / Wolfrum, Völkerrecht , Vol. I / 1, 2nd edition, 1989, p. 145.
  2. See the so-called Teso decision of the Federal Constitutional Court of October 21, 1987, Az. 2 BvR 373/83, BVerfGE 77, 137 (154 ff.)
    Or NJW 1988, p. 1313.
  3. Kay Hailbronner , in: Graf Vitzthum (Ed.): Völkerrecht , 4th ed. 2007, p. 224, Rn. 196 .
  4. ^ Matthias Etzel: The repeal of National Socialist laws by the Allied Control Council (1945-1948) (=  contributions to the legal history of the 20th century; Vol. 7). Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 1992, ISBN 3-16-145994-6 .
  5. Gerhard Keiderling: The principle of unanimity prevailed . In: Berlin monthly magazine ( Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein ) . Issue 12, 2000, ISSN  0944-5560 , p. 67 ( ).
  6. Lars C. Colschen, Germany policy of the four powers , in: Werner Weidenfeld / Karl-Rudolf Korte (Hrsg.): Handbook on German unity. 1949–1989–1999 , updated and expanded new edition, Campus, Frankfurt am Main / New York 1999, p. 268.
  7. ^ Günther Stökl : Russian history. From the beginning to the present (=  Kröner's pocket edition , vol. 244). 5th, extended edition, Kröner, Stuttgart 1990, ISBN 3-520-24405-5 , p. 756.
  8. Marcel Kau, in: Graf Vitzthum / Proelß (ed.), Völkerrecht , 7th edition, 2016, marginal no. 208.
  9. ^ Horst Möller : Prussia from 1918 to 1947. Weimar Republic, Prussia and National Socialism. In: Wolfgang Neugebauer (Ed.): Handbook of Prussian History. Vol. 3: From the Empire to the 20th Century and Major Topics in the History of Prussia . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-090669-1 , p. 309 f. (accessed via De Gruyter Online); Eberhard Jäckel , Hitler's rule. Execution of a Weltanschauung , 4th edition, Stuttgart 1999, p. 30.
  10. ^ Sabine Höner: The National Socialist Access to Prussia. Prussian State and National Socialist strategy to conquer power 1928–1934 (=  Bochum Historical Studies: Modern History , Vol. 2). N. Brockmeyer, Bochum 1984, p. 492 ff.
  11. .. The Journal KR # 14 p 81; Horst Möller: Prussia from 1918 to 1947. Weimar Republic, Prussia and National Socialism. In: Wolfgang Neugebauer (Ed.): Handbook of Prussian History. Vol. 3: From the Empire to the 20th Century and Major Topics in the History of Prussia . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2012, p. 308 (accessed via De Gruyter Online).
  12. ^ On the blocking measures of the GDR government in 1952 see Dennis L. Bark: Die Berlin -frage 1949–1955. Basis for negotiation and containment policy (=  publications of the Historical Commission in Berlin , vol. 36). Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1972, pp. 279-281.
  13. According to Article 1 StV the “restoration of Austria as a free and independent state” in its pre-war borders (Art. 5): “The Allied and Associated Powers recognize that Austria has been restored as a sovereign, independent and democratic state.” Ludwig Karl Adamovich , Bernd-Christian Funk , Gerhart Holzinger , Austrian Constitutional Law , Vol. 1: Basics , Springer, Vienna / New York 1997, ISBN 3-211-82977-6 , margin no. 09.012 ; Walter Berka, Textbook Constitutional Law , Springer, Vienna / New York 2005, ISBN 3-211-21868-8 , margin no. 44 f.
  14. ^ Agreement on the occupation zones and the administration of the City of Vienna of July 9, 1945, Appendix 2 to the 1st control agreement of July 4, 1945, in: Manfried Rauchsteiner: Der Sonderfall. The occupation time in Austria 1945 to 1955 , ed. v. Army History Museum / Military Science Institute, special edition, Vienna 1985, p. 342 f.
  15. Werner Niegisch, Vienna 1. district, crew.