Eisenhower's Letter to Roosevelt on the Possibility of a German Surrender

(March 31, 1945)


DEAR MR. PRESIDENT:

The further this campaign progresses, the more probable it appears that there will never be a clean-cut military surrender of the forces on the Western Front. Our experience to date is that even when formations as small as a division are disrupted their fragments continue to fight until surrounded. This attitude if continued, will likely mean that a V-E Day will come about only by proclamation on our part rather than by any definite and decisive collapse or surrender of German resistance.

Projecting this idea further, it would mean that eventually all the areas in which fragments of the German Army, particularly the paratrooper, Panzer and SS elements may be located, will have to be taken by the application of or the threat of force. This would lead into a form of guerrilla warfare which would require for its suppression a very large number of troops.

Of course, if the Government of Germany or any group that could take over a political control would make a national surrender, then all armed bodies remaining in the field would, in my opinion, no longer be classed as soldiers of a recognized government, but would occupy the status of brigands or pirates. Since, if captured under these conditions, they would not be entitled to protection afforded by the laws of war, it is my conviction that, except for extreme fanatics, they would largely surrender.

But so long as any of the Hitler gang retains a semblance of political power I believe the effort will be to continue resistance not only throughout Germany, but in all of the outlying areas, including the western port areas of France and Denmark and Norway.

To counteract this eventuality our local propaganda stations are constantly pointing out to the Germans that they should now be planting crops for next winter's food instead of fighting. In addition, I am hopeful of launching operations at the proper time that should partially prevent a guerrilla control of any large area, such as the southern mountain bastion.

It is, of course, always possible that there might be in Germany a sudden upsurge of popular resentment against the war, which would lead to a much easier pacification than that described above. My opinion is based upon the supposition that our experience to date provides our best basis of future prediction. At best we should be prepared for the eventuality described.

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER


Source: ibiblio