5-091 To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 6, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: April 6, 1945

Subject: World War II

To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower

April 6, 1945 Radio No. WAR-64236. Washington, D.C.

Top Secret

For Eisenhower’s EYES ONLY from Marshall.

Discussion here by G-2 and Mr. Stimson relates to effect of complete destruction of Ruhr industry and economic future of Europe, destruction that would result from further Allied offensive action.1 Admiral Leahy, King, Handy and Hull are opposed to asking you any question.

Aside from purely military considerations concerned with advancement of campaign to destroy the German Army there are two schools of thought in high government circles here regarding a post war pastoral Germany and a policy of leaving some industrial capability to benefit the related economy of other European countries lacking Ruhr resources.

We naturally assume that you are proceeding in the manner best adapted to the security and rapidity of your thrusts into Germany.

Without thought of compromising yourself or in effect limiting your present military intentions will you please give me for no other eyes but Mr. Stimson’s, mine, Handy’s and Hull’s, most confidentially your present intentions as to Ruhr pocket and your view as to desirability or feasibility of any procedure by which the Ruhr proper might be sealed off.

I assume your forces are already deeply committed to operations directed against the pocket. This message must not in any way embarrass you or have the slightest effect in limiting your present point of view or intentions. As yet I have no views whatsoever in this matter, except that I think the fat is probably now in the fire and whatever the political conclusions it is too late, too impracticable to take any action for such reason.2

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed radio message.

1. Secretary of War Stimson reported that the April 6 meeting with Operations and Intelligence (G-2) staff had brought up the “problem of the Ruhr.” Major General Clayton L. Bissell, assistant chief of staff, G-2, pointed out that American troops encircled the Ruhr. “Should we clean the pocket up now or should we bypass it and let it starve into submission, using the rest of our troops to conquer the rest of Germany? It was a vital big question which lies before Eisenhower today and one in which Marshall apparently felt and I felt it was a case where we should at least discuss it with him.” If we conquer the Ruhr now, “we must smash practically everything in it, . . . wipe out the most important industrial area in Europe, the source of Europe’s trade and commerce more than any other one spot; the factories, even the mines, will all be smashed perhaps into irreparable ruin if our troops have to take it in the way we are taking the other cities of Germany today.” However, “if we bypass it, simply containing it, and finish up with the rest of Germany, it will take time; the Ruhr will ultimately fall in our hands but we may endanger quick success in the rest of Germany by the absence of the troops which we will be obliged to leave around the perimeter of the Ruhr.” (April 6, 1945, Yale/H. L. Stimson Papers [Diary, 51: 13].)

2. “I regard the substantial elimination of the enemy forces in the Ruhr as a military necessity,” replied Eisenhower on April 7. “At the very least we must compress his remaining elements into a relatively small area where they may be contained with a few divisions and so that our problem of maintenance may be minimized our main attacks against the pocket are coming from the east and southeast.” Eisenhower reported that while “accomplishing the substantial destruction of the enemy in the Ruhr area we have no intention of inflicting useless or unnecessary damage on existing facilities.” (Papers of DDE, 4: 2588-90.) Marshall forwarded Eisenhower’s reply to Secretary Stimson with the note: “General Eisenhower has transmitted the attached radio regarding the Ruhr for the eyes only of yourself, General Handy, General Hull, and me.” (Marshall Memorandum for the Secretary of War, April 8, 1945, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 132-133.

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Holding ID: 5-091

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