An extensive and rich archive of material assembled by Augustus B. Hill an American officer serving in the Office of Military Government for Bavaria (OMGB) during the American occupation following the Second World War.
Hill served in the OMGB from at least 1945 through 1949 and was primarily involved in matters relating to the reconstruction of the region’s housing stock, badly damaged during the war and overtaxed by floods of refugees and American occupation personnel. Though the scope of his work was relatively local, the geopolitical stakes were high indeed: In his own words at a 1948 conference, “the Bavarian housing problem will have to be alleviated and better living conditions secured if the policies of the American Occupation forces are to be achieved in full.” The overarching goal of these policies was the democratization of western Germany to act as a reliable American ally and a bulwark against the emerging Communist Bloc in the East.
This extensive archive of correspondence, reports, charts, maps and other material provides first-hand evidence both for the magnitude of the challenge faced by Hill and his colleagues and the complex political, financial and logistical efforts required to address them. Though the Allied occupation of Bavaria (and western Germany as a whole) must be judged as a resounding success, the documents provide evidence of the enormous difficulties faced by any conquering power with aspirations to “nation building”… lessons which, as the history of American interventions in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq suggests, the United States government largely failed to internalize or institutionalize.
In the mid 1930s the German state of Bavaria was dissolved by the Nazis and broken up into six separate states. At the end of the Second World War Germany was occupied by American, British, French and Soviet forces, with the American zone including former Bavaria and the rest of southwest Germany. In Bavaria the American occupation was implemented by two parallel chains of command: The “tactical chain”, consisting of the Third Army (under Patton for a time), was responsible for maintaining order and security. The “military government chain”, embodied in the Office of Military Government for Bavaria (OMGB), was charged with the recreation of civilian government and preparation of the state for renewed democratic self-government. Both initially reported to General Lucius D. Clay, from 1945-47 Deputy Military Governor of Germany under General Dwight Eisenhower.
The American occupation of Bavaria faced enormous challenges, among them the collapse of the regional economy and the resulting mass unemployment and shortages of food and other essentials; the destruction of a large percentage of urban housing stock; and the dislocation of the population and flood of refugees fleeing Soviet occupation in the East. Further complicating matters were the punitive policies of the American government–including the push for de-Nazification–policies amplified by the American people’s understandable lack of sympathy for the plight of their former enemies.
Caught in the middle were the officers of the OMGB, tasked with implementing policy set in Washington but faced with the realities of human suffering on the ground.
“American policy towards defeated German, as developed in 1944 and 1945, created greater hardship for an already traumatized, injured, and hungry German populace. In Bavaria, these policies had the potential to cause a major humanitarian crisis, including starvation, economic stagnation, and political upheaval. Ultimately American policymakers reversed their course in early 1947, embracing reconstruction and economic recovery, which culminated in the announcement of the Marshall Plan in 1948. However, the reversal of harsh American policy was not merely a top-down imposition by policymakers in Washington, Berlin, and Frankfurt. Instead, it first emerged out of the complex relationship that low-level military government officers (MGOs) in Bavaria possessed with American policy throughout the occupation period.
“Scenes of total devastation and interactions with Bavarians of all stripes – government officials, civilians, and even former soldiers – made OMGB officials and MGOs located in Bavarian communities sympathetic to the plight of the German populace. These individuals worked to feed the German people and restart economic life during the first eighteen months of the occupation, often challenging the deconstructive tone of early American policy towards Germany.” (Hess, pp. 2-3)
Though the war was over, the stakes could not have been higher: With the Soviet Union consolidating Communist control over what became the Eastern Bloc, failure of the OMGB and its indigenous-German affiliates to provide a basic standard of living could catalyze ongoing social disorder and political instability, retard the reinstitution of democratic self-government, and give an opening to Soviet influence in western Germany at the very outset of the Cold War.
Though greatly reduced in size and scope by 1947, the American occupation of Bavaria continued even after the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949, not legally concluding until May 1955. For all its obstacles and problems—denazification for example was something of a failure—the American occupation of Bavaria was ultimately a stunning success of reconstruction. Already in September 1945 the State of Bavaria was re-established, albeit under control of the occupiers, and the first post-war state elections were held already in June 1946. Thereafter a new state constitution was written and approved by popular vote in December of that year.
Captain Augustus B. Hill
Internal evidence indicates that the archive was assembled by Hill (ca. 1905?-1989), probably a native of Tennessee. Hill received his B.A. from Vanderbilt in or around 1925, earned a law degree and doctorate from Harvard Law, then practiced in Memphis for a time. In 1938 he was appointed chief of the Civil Service Examination Office by Governor Prentice Cooper. After war broke out he volunteered for the Army Air Corps, but after officer training he was selected for additional training in Military Government, his ultimate destination Bavaria, Germany.
Hill’s first posting was Nuremberg, where a Stars and Stripes article (of which three copies are present in the archive) described him as “housing officer” for the city.
“To house Nurnberg for the winter, Capt. Hill supervised a survey which showed that there are about 157,000 habitable cubicles in the city. Into these, 273,000 people have already been stuffed, and every week about 4,000 more drift into town.” (Stars and Stripes, Southern Germany Edition, vol. 1 no. 11 (Oct. 31, 1945), p. v)
“As Military Government Officer in Nuremberg, Hill directed the priority housing of Jewish survivors and provided the German labor which repaired the Justice Building for the war crimes trials.” (Halloran)
Hill was then transferred to the occupation’s state headquarters in Munich, where he oversaw housing and possibly social insurance until at least 1949. That said, his precise title and responsibilities in Munich remain somewhat unclear to me. At a 1948 conference, the proceeds of which are included in this archive, he is described as “Chief, Real Estate and Land Resources Branch, OMGB”. On the other hand a biography in the magazine of his fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, asserts that “he supervised the Housing and Social Security Departments of the new Bavarian state government.”)
Whatever his precise role, the archive demonstrates that Hill was deeply involved in the postwar reconstruction and replenishment of Bavaria’s housing stock, for the benefit of both Germans and their thousands of American occupiers. One of his many major endeavors was overseeing the construction in Munich of housing for American Air Force personnel and their families during the Berlin Airlift (The archive includes a large folder material related to this effort.)
At some point Hill shifted to the Foreign Service, though he remained in Germany until at least 1952 (The Foreign Service list for that year describes him as Assistant to the Deputy Land Commissioner in Bavaria.) Per his Pi Kappa Alpha biography, he worked abroad in several countries until his 1974 return to Nashville and an active retirement. He died there in 1989.
Inevitably, the OMGB became deeply involved in one of the greatest challenges facing postwar Bavaria, namely the housing of its people while also providing housing for thousands of American personnel and their families. During the war much of Bavaria’s housing stock, particularly in the large urban areas, had been destroyed by Allied bombing and ground combat. At the same time the state was flooded with German refugees from the East, more than two million by 1950, some 25% of the total population. Hill was deeply involved in these issues, first as housing officer in Nuremburg, and then at the state level in Munich.
This archive, comprising dozens of maps, charts, documents, reports, and memoranda (many marked as “Restricted”) spanning the period 1942-1950 (with most 1945-1949) provides rich primary-source documentation for that process. The information is varied, ranging from “big-picture” reports on demographics and and the housing situation in Bavaria to very detailed material such as a conference record providing extensive background on the challenges faced by the OMG, and the aforementioned folder related to the construction of housing for American Air Force personnel during the Berlin Airlift. Together they reveal the staggering scale of the challenge faced by the OMGB and their German counterparts, along with considerable granular information about the years-long effort to address it.
A detailed inventory is provided below.
Biographical information on Hill from Pat Halloran, “Sixty Years Later, Dr. Hill Is Still Loyal and Concerned”, Shield & Diamond, vol. 96 no. 4 (June 1985), p. 34. Background on the OMGB from
- John D. Hess, “Coping with Crisis: Military Government Officials, U.S. Policy, and the Occupation of Bavaria, 1945-1949” (doctoral thesis, University of Kansas, defended April 28, 2017)
- Walter M. Hudson, Maj., USA, “The U.S. Military Government and Democratic Reform and Denazification in Bavaria, 1945-47” (Fort Leavenworth, KS, 2001).
Inventory of the archive
[3 maps] War Office map of “München” (1942), War Office map of “Nürnberg” (1943), and U.S. Army Map Service map of “Nürnberg” (1944)
[1 map] “Germany: Zones of Occupation[:] Military Government Subdivisions” (1944)
[16 maps] Briefing maps prepared by the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), and dated April 17, 1945, including
- “Administrative Maps[:] Land Bayern[:] General Administration”, including 5 general administrative maps of various regions
- “Administrative Maps[:] Regierungsbezirk Oberfranken und Mittelfranken”, with 6 maps including maps of the public safety, public health, and legal apparatus
- 5 disbound maps, similar to the foregoing
[1 map] Third Army G-5 Intelligence, “M[ilitary] G[overnment] Detachments (Bavaria)” (May 1, 1945). Appears to be hand drawn in ink by a member of the 652nd Engineer Topographic Battalion.
[3 newspapers and a TLS] 3 copies of Stars and Stripes Southern Germany Edition, vol. 1 no. 11 (Oct. 31, 1945), including a two-page article featuring Hill. Accompanied by a 1p TLS on Stars and Stripes stationary addressed to Hill by article author Sergeant William H. Jordy, acknowledging minor errors in the article.
[1 map] “Town Plan of Heidelberg”, with additions and a stapled-on key of housing locations for a “Manpower Conference” held there on Nov. 13-14, 1945.
[1 map] “No[.] of destroyed dwellings [in Bavaria] source: Statistical Landesamt census 10. Dec. 1945”. Photo-reproduction of a thematic map, with numerous corrections and pasted on additions.
[1 chart] Very large, hand-drawn statistical chart titled “Die Luftkriegsschäden in München” (Jan. 17, 1946). On translucent paper, possibly designed for overlay on a map of the city. Extremely fragile and badly chipped, but with only minor loss of information.
[1 pamphlet] Office of Military Government for Bavaria, Economics Division, “Statistical News No. 8” (prob. early Spring 1946). 16pp incl. numerous charts.
[3 maps] Dipl. Ing. Robert Swarosky, “Übersichtskarte des Landes Bayern… Number of Totally Destroyed Rural Buildings” (Sept. 20, 1946); “Übersichtskarte des Landes Bayern… Reconstruction-Plan for Housing” (Dec. 15, 1946); and “Housing Situation[:] The Increase of the Population Since 1939 in Bavaria by Landkreise” (Dec. 31, 1946). Fascinating thematic maps revealing population growth since 1939, staggering level of damage to Bavaria’s housing stock and the extremely ambitious reconstruction plans.
[1 conference report] “Office of Military Government for Bavaria Field Operations Division Seminar Nürnberg, Germany[:] General Chairman Murray D. Van Wagoner, Land Director” (Nov. 17, 1948). Mimeograph, 133pp, stapled at left, marked “Restricted”. Transcripts of opening addresses; talks on “The Democratization of the Bavarian People”, “Current Processes and Problems”, and “The Program of the People of the United States”; and a “Gripe Session”. During the session on “Current Problems and Programs”, Hill, described as “Chief, Real Estate and Land Resources Branch, OMGB”, gives a talk on “Housing and Housing Surveys (Rooms and Roofs and How to Count Them)”.
The material in this report is granular and very revealing, of Hill’s powerful intellect and clear habit of speech, of his outlook on his role in the OMGB, and the difficult realities he and his colleagues faced. Two quotes from Hill’s talk will have to do for now:
“It must be emphasized definitely that the Bavarian housing problem will have to be alleviated and better living conditions secured if the policies of the American Occupation forces are to be achieved in full. Democratization and reorientation programs cannot succeed where housing accommodations are substandard and overcrowded.” (pp. 95-96)
“… I wish we could do more about [lack of support from German officials]; but… you can’t call in German officials and give orders about that. Do you gentlemen realize that one of the most important things that we have dealt with recently is that we have been in the position of requesting—I use the term now, quote and unquote—“requesting” the assistance of the Bavarian government to house the workers of ours, so that the airplanes that fly the Berlin Air lift may be repaired. I know what I’d like to do, and you know what you’d like to do, but the regulations don’t permit those things…. The attitude and assistance, and lack of assistance and lack of cooperation, in housing is marvelous.” (p. 98A)
[5 photos] Photographic reproductions of 2 charts and 3 chloropleth maps of Bavaria (with multiple copies of each), including “Office of Land Commissioner Bavaria” (an organizational chart, listing Hill as “Ass[istan]t to Deputy Land Commissioner”); “Housing Conditions in Bavaria”; “The Increase and Decrease of the Population in Bavaria from 1939 to 31 July 1948”; “Density of Population (Incl. DPs, Internees) in Bavaria 31 July 1948”; and “Housing Situation Density Figures of Bavarian Stadt- and Landkreise as of 1 August 1948”. It is possible these photos were produced for the conference described just above.
[1 memorandum] Typed memo in German, signed and dated Nov. 22, 1948, addressed to Hill from a German official regarding the status of building projects in Munich. Accompanied by a translation and a transmitted report by another German official, dated Dec. 4, 1947, bemoaning the lack of available labor and its impact on construction projects. 9pp in all.
[1 map] Small map of Bavaria printed in colors, with statistical notes at left. 3 copies. Probably 1949.
[Large folder] Folder docketed on front flap, “Construction Project for AF in Munich”, including ca. 100 pages of memos, charts, plans and handwritten notes dated February-May, 1949. Most or all relating to the construction of housing in Münich for hundreds of Air Force personnel and their families. Extremely detailed material, which would no doubt shed much light on the political, financial, logistical and technical aspects of collaboration between the OMGB, the Bavarian government, and other elements of the American military.
[Intelligence reports] “Weekly Intelligence Report[:] Special Report: Employment and Unemployment in Bavaria”, dated week ending Jan. 20, 1950. Accompanied by 18pp of extracts from other “Weekly Intelligence Reports”, dated June-July 1949.
[1 map] Very large “JRO-Plan von München”, with manuscript additions and a pasted-on label indicating “Im Rohbau fertiggestellte Bauten” (roughly, “buildings completed in the shell).
[1 map] Untitled plan of a parcel in Seehausen.
[1 map] Small “Town Plan Munich” with “points of interest” listed in English on verso (3 copies).
[1 map] Blueprint map titled “All Control Points-Bayern”.
[Blank letterhead] Various unused letterhead for the Headquarters Regional Military Government Bavaria, Land Resources Board for Bavaria, Military Government for Bavaria Office of the Land Director, Office of Military Government for Bavaria Manpower Division, Office of Military Government for Bavaria Real Estate and Budget Control Branch. Some in letter format, others A4, multiples of each.
[1 map] “General Map Bavaria (Excluding the Palatinate)”, printed in colors (2 copies).
[1 map] “Bavaria Field Organization Office of Land Commissioner for Bavaria” (5 copies, 2 with extensive changes and additions in print and manuscript).
[1 map] Large War Office map of Murnau, Bavaria, dated 1944 but with undated ms additions showing “haul roads” to various (construction?) sites.
[1 map] Large map of part of Nuremberg centered on the Nazi parade grounds, clearly excised from a larger sheet. With intriguing manuscript additions to the area of the parade ground, of uncertain purpose.