5-236 To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, September 24, 1945

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: September 24, 1945

Subject: Postwar

To General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower

September 24, 1945 [Radio No. W-68476.] Washington, D.C.


Personal to General Eisenhower from General Marshall.

Thanks for your prompt reply regarding post war Army.1 The following is quoted from an editorial in the New York Times [p. 18] this morning: “General Patton believes that in general, far too much fuss has been made regarding denazification of Germany; that this Nazi thing is just like a Democratic and Republican election fight, and that the best hope for the future lies in showing the German people what grand fellows we are.

General Patton is a fine soldier, etc. but General Patton is now head of the Military Government of Bavaria and what he says on the subject of occupation policy is certain to affect both the attitude of our own troops and the response of the German people. When therefore, General Patton belittles the very purpose for which the war in Europe was fought, namely the denazification of Germany, we do not believe that his remarks should go unchallenged either by his commanding officer General Eisenhower, or by his superiors in Washington.”

Please take action to see that Patton refrains from such comments. I had already received reports from several parties that he was being very indiscreet in his statements.2 This particular indiscretion becomes much more important in view of the extreme of trouble we are having in the Pacific and here at home with indiscreet casual comments by senior officers.

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. See note 3, Marshall to Eisenhower, September 20, 1945, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-233 [5: 306].

2. The War Department had recently lifted its ban on quotations from general officers by the press. Patton called a press conference at his Third Army headquarters on September 22. Several reporters were particularly interested in the speed of denazification (which Patton was reputed to oppose) and the use of former Nazis in certain roles. Patton lost his temper at what he considered the hostile implications of some of the reporters’ questions. (Martin Blumenson, The Patton Papers, 1940-1945 [Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974], pp. 761-66.)

“Patton states that he was badly mis-quoted,” Eisenhower replied the next day. He then directed Patton to: (1) read to the press part of a letter on denazification policy Eisenhower had sent to Patton on September 11; (2) submit a report concerning any person in Patton’s occupation area who was in a position of influence and who was suspected of Nazi party affiliation or sympathies; (3) fly to Eisenhower’s headquarters for a meeting. (Papers of DDE, 6: 374-76.)

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. 310-311.

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