5-179 To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, July 31, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: July 31, 1945

Subject: World War II

To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower

July 31, 1945 [Washington, D.C.]

Dear Eisenhower:

After seeing your Berchtesgaden rest center in full operation and also something of what had been done in Paris I came away with an impression that a splendid job is being done for the morale of the men. However, in my opinion, there is one phase that has not yet been touched which I think is highly important from the viewpoint of typical American reactions.

The movements to the great rest centers have to be handled with large groups of men and even though they are given a choice of what they want to do at each center, wherever they go there are again considerable groups being shown about. This is absolutely necessary and is beautifully handled. However, it leaves the man short of that feeling of independence which all Americans crave. Therefore I have this suggestion to make:

Would it be practicable to permit each regiment or similar unit to send out once a week, for a week, one or two small groups of men, about ten, each with a responsible noncom, with a truck, basic elements of the ration and a definite mileage or gasoline allowance. These men to be allowed to go wherever they chose except to the organised leave areas or into a Russian zone, for example; the point being that they could plan their own affairs and for a brief period be on their own. They would have to subscribe to all local regulations though it might be possible to permit them to buy certain things that are otherwise forbidden, such as milk and eggs and vegetables, that cannot be put up for the winter.

I realize that the head of the Military Police organization, probably Army commanders and almost certainly local area commanders, would not view such a prospect with approval. However, that does not greatly impress me. In my experience I have found that officers and men alike crave a feeling of at least temporary independence and while the suggestion above could only apply to a very few people, nevertheless it would be a leaven to the general tenor of the command.

Don’t let my proposal embarrass you. It is merely an idea.1

Faithfully yours,

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

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. Eisenhower replied on August 17: “I think your idea . . . is a good one,” and said he would send instructions to his army commanders to carry it out. (The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, ed., Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., et al., 21 vols. [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1970-2001], 6: 293-94. An example of Eisenhower’s implementing letter is on pp. 298-99.)

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. 252-253.

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Holding ID: 5-179

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