The Expulsion of Germans from Japan, 1947-1948

Published: 2003-05-01

This document is part of the The Revisionist periodical.
Use this menu to find more documents that are part of this periodical.

After the End of World War Two, almost all German property outside of Germany was confiscated: valuables, currencies, real estates, patents, copyrights etc. The value in today's money may have amounted to many trillions of dollars. Most of this property was later auctioned and sold to companies or individuals, the incoming assets kept by the respective governments. Any attempts of German individuals or the West German government to regain confiscated property years after the war failed. A particularly sad chapter in this greatest looting in mankind history is that of Germany's former ally Japan, who willingly aligned itself in the expulsion of German nationals and the plundering of Germany property in Japan, and refused any reconsideration even after it had signed a peace treaty with the USA.

"There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest. [...] The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people."[1]

Vae Victis[2]

On August 28, 1945, the first elements of the American occupation force started landing on Atsugi airfield in Japan. Instead of the anticipated violent reaction, they encountered a reception committee serving orange juice.[3] The Americans entered a totally different world where they lacked direction, experience, or understanding. Whereas their conquest of Germany had created immediate physical occupation and control of that country, the Japanese surrender created far more uncertainties. Hatred, mistrust, doubt, and outright fear characterized American thought. The policies for Japan would be very different from those employed in Germany.

The major difference came in the original approach to the occupation. At the outset, President Harry Truman appointed General Douglas MacArthur as the Supreme Commander Allied Powers (SCAP), a unique position under the circumstances of an allied war.[4] Despite some planning and multi-national exchanges, the initial phase of the occupation would be dominated by the Americans.[5] The uncertainties between the United States and Russia in Asia, the preponderance of American military power in that war theater, and the actions of the imperious MacArthur precluded any substantive collaboration.[6] The indefinite, ill-defined arrangements created in July 1945 at the Potsdam Conference remained the basis for American interpretations and, given their dominating physical presence, for their control.

MacArthur seized complete authority immediately and brusquely rebuffed all attempts at sharing any power or responsibility. At the outset he insisted that all contact between foreign governments would pass through his headquarters and that he would employ the Japanese authorities to execute his orders. This indirect approach assured American power from behind the scenes, as did his insistence on English as the language of communication. His instructions appeared as directives, called SCAP Instructions, to the Japanese Government (SCAPIN). These normally terse, forcefully stated orders provided the directions governing all occupation activities.[7] The Americans wasted no time in advancing a policy built on disarmament, demilitarization, and democratization. This approach anticipated a simultaneous revolution and reformation. Removing the military armaments, both human and material, was a mechanical undertaking. Creating a democratic society demanded a longer period for adjustment, education, and direction. The demilitarization issue was the thorniest immediate concern, both because of definition and implementation. Punitive action was the first order of business.

SCAP (MacArthur's headquarters) purged the entire administrative structure of Japanese life. Within a few months, SCAP liquidated economic cartels, dismissed thousands of officials, and arrested hundreds of people as war criminals.[8] The two cultures collided over every issue, as bureaucracies stumbled over all controls, as conqueror and conquered sought accommodation.

These extraordinary administrative issues provided fertile ground for numerous surprises for everyone. On the one hand, the impact of unconditional surrender, the physical damage of aerial bombing, and the arrival of so many Caucasians provided an obvious shock to the Japanese. On the reverse side, the Americans made the unexpected discovery of some 2,000,000 foreign nationals in the four main islands of Japan. While the vast majority of these people were Asians from Korea, Formosa, the Ryukyu Islands, and China, there were representatives from many lands. Some were United Nations nationals, others were neutral or stateless individuals, and a few were citizens from other enemy countries. Within all of these groups were individuals who had lived their entire lives in Japan without any interest in or concern for politics or ideology. This body did include many pro-Axis individuals who had served as officials or propaganda agents of the defeated powers. There were also members and representatives of religious, business, and cultural groups. There were numerous dependents, many of them barely surviving.

MacArthur's first obligation in this area was the repatriation of prisoners of war and displaced United Nations nationals. His instructions from President Harry Truman on August 29, 1945, had specified the earliest possible return of these individuals. Repatriation would require individual registration with the occupying authorities and certification that the person had not participated in the war against the United Nations.

On October 31, 1945, SCAP delineated the term "United Nations" and listed 49 nations as signatories of the United Nations Declaration, six countries as neutrals and five countries (Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Japan. and Rumania) as "enemy nation."[9] The resulting, expedited release of some 110,000 prisoners of war allowed quick attention to repatriating the Asian nationals. This effort, largely voluntary at the beginning, lent itself to rapid movement of these people. The large-scale return of Japanese troops from overseas involved an extensive shipping commitment, which created a surplus of space on the outward trips. As part of this operation SCAP created repatriation centers for the transshipment, detailed instructions for the Japanese authorities, and rules for property transfers. By December 1945, over 650,000 people had left Japan for their original homes.[10]

With the steady progress in returning allied nationals, the next issue was the status and disposition of Axis nationals. The number of Rumanians and Bulgarians was negligible, while there were 463 Italians.[11] The Germans had approximately 2,800 (which included some Austrians). Included in that number were 700 refugees from the Dutch West Indies, 400 naval and merchant marine personnel, 100 individuals trying to return home from the United States and caught by the German invasion of Russia, plus 1,600 long-term residents in Japan.[12] Following the Allied victory in Europe, the Japanese had restricted German civilian movements and loosely interned their official representation.[13] The Americans changed this situation rapidly. They ordered the Japanese to impound all German property and assets on September 13, seized the official German food stores, and dissolved the German relief organization. The Japanese had orders to supply the destitute Germans, an awesome task given Japan's own shortages and shattered infra-structure.[14] Given the disarray of the Japanese system, the Germans suffered from neglect and their low-priority status.

These restrictions added to their wartime problems of bombing, crowded housing, transportation difficulties, and food shortages. Many had fled to Japanese summer houses for survival. The flimsy construction and social stigma of cowardice discouraged the Japanese from using their own housing. Under the circumstances, the Germans survived as best they could through black market activity, some canned foodstuffs in warehouse storage, the produce of their own gardens, stealing, and begging from the Americans after their arrival. They did keep up their schools, churches, and clubs for morale and unity.[15]

In Washington D.C. the American Joint Chiefs of Staff had not forgotten them. The Potsdam Declaration had a loose directive calling for the elimination of those in authority and influence who had led Japan into aggression. While the rule lacked all specificity, it provided an imperative prescript. At the outset the first issue was the purging of the Japanese officials, people of influence, and those in public positions. This methodical removal of 'evil' provided an emotional outlet for the victors.[16]

That was not sufficient for the distant American military command. They believed that German military, diplomatic, and economic representatives had unduly influenced Japanese aggression. As an international precedent against future totalitarian machinations, they decided to remove the dangerous German influence.

On December 7, 1945, the Joint Chiefs dispatched a long telegram to MacArthur. They reaffirmed earlier instructions concerning the transport of United Nations nationals but added directions for enemy citizens, suggesting that the latter groups should be identified and registered immediately. All property, real and personal, owned or controlled by these people should be placed under strict control. Those individuals who had served as National Socialist agents should be interned for possible trial or repatriation. The term "agent" was the operative word and included a wide range of professional activities: researchers, scientists, administrators, businessmen, etc. They had no choice. Those Germans outside these loose terms could volunteer for return to Germany. In any event, the Japanese authorities would pay the costs and do the work.[17] An immediate follow-up, on December 12, carried orders that objectionable repatriates should be permitted only the minimal personal effects, no foreign currencies, and only minor personal jewelry.[18] These brief, direct instructions brought the German issue to the forefront.

With such forceful thought from Washington, D.C., SCAP's staff seized the opportunity and made the repatriation issue a priority. Using a Japanese memorandum of January 10, 1946, which estimated some 2,700 German nationals in Japan, the staff reported, on January 21, 1946, their own informal total of 2,632 Germans, with 2,409 wishing repatriation to Germany. While the source and reliability for these figures remains a mystery, the determination to rid Japan of these unwanted people was clear. The only reservation was the need for approval from the authorities in Germany.[19] On January 31, 1946, SCAP ordered the Japanese to prepare a detailed roster of all Germans with names, sexes, addresses, ages, and German relatives' addresses.[20] The report was due March 10, 1946.

General Douglas MacArthur greets Mr. John Foster Dulles, Republican Consultant to the State Department, at the Haneda Air Force Base, Tokyo, Japan, June 21, 1950.[21]

In various discussions, both with staff and with the Japanese, the Americans discovered a new figure (811) for Germans seeking repatriation. They found this second figure insufficient and unacceptable. In their opinion, the Joint Chiefs wanted the majority of Germans removed from Japan. In the new interpretation, only those Germans who had permanent Japanese residence before January 1, 1939, and could maintain themselves while contributing to Japan's welfare, might be considered for residence. Only those who could prove both points conclusively would be allowed to stay.[22]

While the Japanese met the assigned deadline, the Americans complained about numerous shortcomings on June 5, 1946. They argued that the Japanese had omitted some 756 individuals, including many known National Socialist enthusiasts.[23] The angry Americans objected also to other errors of fact as well as form. The Japanese would have a correct list by June 20, 1946; there would be no delays.[24]

As the Japanese labored on the corrections and the SCAP staff pursued their preparations, the Joint Chiefs of Staff established categories for determining the objectionability of the Germans. They defined three categories:

"A"-those Germans who had traveled to Germany or to German-controlled territory after September 1, 1939;

"B"-any German who had belonged to any National Socialist organization or helped the German war effort (which included scientific researchers or industrial representatives);

"C"-those non-objectionable individuals not in the first categories.[25]

While these instructions added little genuine guidance to SCAP, they did complete the decision process for repatriation. The combination of activities at such distance divided the responsibility between SCAP and the Joint Chefs but cemented the purpose. The Germans would leave Japan.

Before SCAP could implement the program, two additional issues slowed the process. Given the fact that the Germans were enemy nationals with differential amounts of property, SCAP had concerns over administrating that property. On one hand they had the serious dilemma of responsibility for that property; on the other hand they had legal concerns over ownership of the goods, real estate, patents, etc. On September 13, 1945, they had impounded all enemy assets and property. At the same time, they had required the reporting of these holdings to the Japanese authorities.[26] The reports suggested German holdings of 1,178,900,000 yen.[27] Having frozen and listed the property, SCAP needed help with the final disposition of the assets.

The guidance came from Germany where American occupation authorities had finally adopted a vesting law in November 1945 directing the seizure of property belonging to the National Socialist leaders and party as well as various branches of the government. They did not officially address the issue of overseas Germans until May 18, 1946, when they amended the original law. Under the expanded regulation, SCAP became an agent of the German External Properties Commission. This designation legitimized SCAP's creation of the Office of Civil Property Custodian on March 8, 1946, for control of German and Japanese property. Within that body SCAP created the Enemy Property accounts Section to record, control, and reflect the disposition of all German assets, liabilities, etc.[28] All of these administrative activities and concerns delayed the repatriation issue.

A further complication was the eventual acceptance of the repatriates. SCAP had hoped for a mass transfer in early 1946, but negotiations in Germany proved difficult and protracted. Living conditions in Germany were harsh and the authorities wanted no added difficulties. The critical fuel, food, and housing shortages precluded accepting more refugees before spring 1947.[29] Since many of the returnees had neither close relatives nor domiciles in the homeland and little awareness of local conditions, they would be a problem. A second planned departure for June 1946 fell apart because the four powers in Germany could reach no agreement. Finally, on October 11, 1946, they accepted the return of the objectionable Germans. SCAP now could move these individuals whom they deemed security threats to the Japanese occupation. After more review SCAP determined that there were 1,353 objectionable Germans.[30] The selection criteria depended on the uncertain interpretation of the Joint Chief's categories.

With these matters essentially resolved, SCAP created, on December 1, 1946, a Repatriation Section in Eighth Army. Under Colonel Ernest T. Barco it would organize and execute the actual movement. With the experience gained from transporting Asian nationals to their homeland, his office could proceed quickly. While Japanese authorities would execute the repatriation-collection, processing, movement, customs search, and property custodial duties-Eighth Army personnel would supervise and control the operation. As well, they would be responsible for the warehouses containing confiscated or impounded property and the reception centers for the final transfer to a ship. The availability of shipping remained an uncertain factor but would not delay any preparations.

Barco wasted no time in organizing his assignment. On December 5, 1946, he issued calls in the name of Lieutenant General Robert Eichelberger, Commanding General, Eighth Army to the two Army Corps, I and IX, for assistance. Barco wanted thirteen field grade officers, 117 company grade officers, 139 enlisted men, and 110 interpreters. He listed out the custodial warehouse locations, detailed the general locations of the Germans, and estimated a January 1947 departure date. Finally he called for a two day conference on December 18.[31]

At the meeting he conducted a thorough review of the process, sketched out the specific duties for the Japanese personnel, the command obligations of the senior American officers, the assignments of the small American teams, and the instructions to the repatriates.[32] Clearly he and his small team had worked out the plan in all of its details.

On January 13, 1947, information that the ship Marine Devil would reach Yokohama about January 28 galvanized more activity. SCAP assigned missions to the two corps for administrative personnel, including guards and medical technicians, for the voyage to Bremerhaven. Additionally, the Civil Property Custodian would assign seven observers to oversee the property inventories.[33]

A redirecting of the Marine Devil forced a sudden change to the Marine Jumper which delayed the expected sailing date to February 14. The time change allowed consideration for a brief halt in Shanghai where the Americans wanted to include another group of Germans.[34] Unfortunately the Marine Jumper was already loaded with cargo and passengers' baggage which had to be offloaded in favor of reprovisioning for the longer trip to Bremerhaven.

With the delay, Barco completed the administrative needs, and on January 22, 1947, the Eighth Army issued Operational Directive No. 12, which provided fulsome instructions for everyone. For the Americans, the responsibilities meant developing command and control, forming 89 three-man inspection teams with 6 six-man units, establishing collecting warehouses (Kagohara, Kurihama, Tokyo, and Kobe), and providing material support needs.

The Japanese would supply the work personnel needed for the inventory and custodial duties; processing, packing, and shipping moveable items; transporting all repatriates and their personal baggage to Uraga, providing all rations for the movement; satisfying the customs inspections. They would also pay all of the costs.

The Directive also had combined the orders for the deportation of the Germans. The instructions were in English, Japanese, and German. The German translation was more imperious in tone and contained some misunderstandings. It opened with "Orders have been received directing your repatriation." In a military format the directions then provided an approximate departure date, the fact that the Japanese would execute the operation under American supervision, and of the luggage limits (350 pounds per individual or 1,500 pounds per family).

The financial restrictions were just as direct. Irrespective of position, wealth, or possessions each adult could bring two watches, one camera, two necklaces, and two bracelets. Other valuables or bullion were not allowed. In the English version they could take $50 each; the German translation allowed 750 yen as an alternative. In all events, the money had to be exchanged in Germany for marks. The Germans with property would have an armed Japanese custodian appointed for that property. The custodian would reside on the premises at the direction of the American inspecting team which would facilitate the inventory process. Under all circumstances the custodian would move in and live on the premises, assume custody of all property and guard it. The repatriates could furnish two lists of their holdings: (1) small items of high intrinsic value and (2) moveable property. The teams would verify the accuracy of all statements, decide on the property scheduled for storage, and provide receipts.[35]

Because of the ship's delay the house inspections began on January 30, 1947, but without any specific departure date. On February 6, Eighth Army informed the Japanese authorities that the movement would begin two days later. The announcement gave them 24 hours to inform the repatriates about any final needs and to transfer them to entraining points. Despite the earlier team visits, many Germans had not believed in their forced repatriation. The surprise was unpleasant. In most areas the Japanese picked them up in dirty, open trucks with armed police guards and drove them through the city streets. The normally placid Japanese often cried out "losers" and "good riddance" to them. At the train stations they boarded trains for designated receiving camps. There they answered a roll call and elected group leaders as their representatives to the authorities. Japanese doctors then examined them for contagious diseases and general health. After receiving a medical certificate they could rest. At 6:30 a.m. the following day they boarded trucks again and moved to Uraga Repatriation Center for customs inspection, weighing of all hand baggage, and a body search for hidden valuables.[36]

With completion of these preliminaries, the repatriates climbed into lighters which ferried them out to the Marine Jumper. Aboard ship, Colonel Charles Arny was in command of thirteen Army officers, five nurses, and 56 enlisted men. This group provided health and security responsibilities. The repatriates would serve as cooks, orderlies, sanitation workers, kitchen police, etc. They would take care of the functional activities, whatever their experience.

An immediate, serious concern was the ship's store which sold small necessities for American currency only. Since the Uraga authorities had impounded all American funds, the Germans had to struggle with their resources. It was a poor beginning. On February 15, the Marine Jumper put to sea with 536 adult males, 306 adult females, and 226 children.[37]

From Japan the ship turned for Shanghai. She spent only a short time there, ostensibly to pick up certain war-criminals before turning for Germany.[38] With the addition of a few Chinese-Germans, the Marine Jumper departed on February 20 for Bremerhaven.

Aboard ship the Germans settled down for the long voyage. Given their unfortunate lot they accepted their situation stoically. Divided into nine different living areas they lived their fate. They organized musical concerts, skat games, chess tournaments, educational lectures, language courses, and a multitude of activities. They were busy. Each day the Americans made certain that everything was in order (and gave certain privileges for housekeeping accomplishments). The American crew also furnished motion pictures (with ratings!) as well as other forms of ship's entertainment.[39] There were few disturbances because people, whether through fear of the future or shock over their departure, tended to be quiet and reserved. The abundance of food far exceeded the experiences of the Germans, who had more than they could eat. They arrived in Bremerhaven on March 23, 1947.

American troops impounded any funds before moving them to trains for Ludwigsburg (near Stuttgart). Once in camp they went through a lengthy screening process. For the most part the interrogators were searching for hardcore National Socialists. They could not always differentiate the level of party commitment and tended to lump everyone together. For most of the returnees the interrogations and filling out forms concerning political memberships, activities, etc. lasted three weeks. With some exceptions the Americans then dismissed the repatriates to fend for themselves. The combined experience of their arrival in Germany was a difficult one filled with pain, suffering, and uncertainty.[40]

In Japan, SCAP ordered another survey of the remaining nationals. There remained some 800 Germans subject to return. During the earlier review of the first transport various persons had missed repatriation. These individuals were, for the most part, members of religious orders, long-term residents in Japan (who had, for whatever reasons, missed the Marine Jumper), individuals with confused citizenship (dual, mixed United Nations, etc.), and the families of Germans evacuated from the Dutch colonies. The latter, now almost half of the remaining Germans, had been hurriedly evacuated to Japan from the former Netherlands colonies in 1942.[41] They had survived as indigents on Japanese charity. Without funds, language, or needed skills they posed a serious humanitarian challenge. They had survived by bartering their few belongings, by employing their children as beggars, and by stealing. This group had little choice but to return to Germany, which accorded with SCAPs interest in removing Germans from Japan.[42]

The German diplomats were also still present. They possessed certain privileges because of international law. In addition, the Japanese had allowed them various advantages which SCAP could not violate easily. Nonetheless the Americans wanted them on the next boat home:[43] Before any action could be organized, however, SCAP had to obtain approval in Europe for the reception of the Germans. Living conditions in Germany remained poor and the expanding discordance between the former allies made movement more problematical.[44] As well as this, the issue of the families from the Dutch colonies presented a moral dilemma. They had no property, lived on Japanese charity, and most wanted to return to Germany (the free ticket was a major motivation). Messages between the American occupation authorities moved back and forth, as each struggled to cope with the problem.[45] SCAP had some 140 diplomats and 198 objectionables to transport. The refugee numbers were uncertain.

The "Marine Jumper," used to deport "objectionable" Germans from Japan after World War Two[46]

By July 1947, SCAP had sufficient assurance of acceptance to proceed with the process. They issued instructions to the Japanese authorities which replicated their earlier format. While the orders were less emphatic, they did not reflect the changes recommended in the earlier review of the first transport. The currency regulations now allowed $50 in any currency other than yen, but all of the other restrictions remained the same. The diplomats could take $250 and 8,000 pounds of personal effects, but could only count on handling 500 pounds on debarkation in Germany.[47]

Everything went according to the organizational directions, and the repatriates boarded the transport General Black on August 19, 1947. The movement commander, Colonel Douglas Pamplin, had eighteen officers, 42 enlisted men, and five nurses for security, control, and health purposes. Given these limited numbers, the repatriates would provide the labor force. The diplomats received the few private accommodations and no duties. Everyone else lived in the compartments. The General Black left Yokohama on August 20 for Shanghai. Aboard were 806 passengers. She remained in the Chinese port nine days while loading 514 more Germans and waiting out a typhoon. She departed on 1 September. Colonel Pamplin was anti-German and forbade any exchange between the Americans and Germans. Given the number of children and the unpleasant heat aboard the ship, his rules had little success. The crew allowed them, via trade or gift, to acquire foodstuffs and cigarettes, which the Germans carefully sewed into their clothing. They had heard about the cigarette economy in Germany. The General Black docked in Bremerhaven on October 1, 1947.[48]

In Bremerhaven the reception authorities had major difficulties. They found that the "objectionables" had not been separated from the others, that the baggage had not been divided by occupation zones, and that the personal histories arrived two weeks after the ship (regular mail instead of the directed airmail). As a result, the receiving office sent everyone to Ludwigsburg rather than dividing them among other stations. The result was chaos and inconvenience for everyone. There was not enough food, nor were there sufficient blankets or beds; conditions were very bad. The authorities dispatched a blistering communiqué to SCAP, which could rectify the problem.[49]

Because of illness arid bureaucratic error, SCAP still had 28 "objectionable" Germans in Japan. Given the numbers and shipping problems, SCAP made arrangements to fly them to Germany. They feared possible legal problems with any flight over the United States and selected a Pan American route-Tokyo, Calcutta, Istanbul, Frankfurt. Confiscated former German Embassy funds paid for the costs of the Germans and their guards.[50] When these "objectionables" landed in Germany on April 4, 1948, they completed the deportation phase of repatriation. SCAP assumed no responsibility for those Germans remaining in Japan. The issues of the transfer and the impounded, confiscated, stored property, however, remained unresolved.

As soon as the expellees aboard the Marine Jumper had found a measure of stability, they sought out the American occupation offices for their property. They encountered a misinformed and disinterested bureaucracy at every turn. Given their poor fiscal status on arrival, their confiscated funds, and their absence from Germany, they could protest but without any success. Many of them rallied behind Johann Lipporte, a fellow repatriate, who spoke excellent English and resided in Ludwigsburg. His efforts to meet the General Black in Bremerhaven to obtain the release of the impounded funds and to extract clarity about the repatriates' property accomplished nothing.[51] The American occupation representatives declared that any promises made in Japan had no authority in Germany. Lipporte organized a letter writing campaign while maintaining active contact with the military claims offices. He also brought the Ostasiatischer Verein in Hamburg into the struggle. They achieved little beyond making some officers feel guilty about the legal and human uncertainties.[52]

On March 14, 1948, the American licensed Japan Times and Advertiser announced the imminent liquidation sale of German property. The first Tokyo auction included thirty pianos, four automobiles, furniture, curios, clothing, etc. The accredited purchasers were occupation personnel and licensed commercial representatives.[53] The announcement indicated that the sale would be the first of many which would liquidate all salable German property. Lipporte protested the action, presented the property receipts of his associates, and demanded a halt to the action. As a result of his efforts, the Public Welfare Office in Stuttgart asked for clarification, which created some exchange with the various claims authorities in the European Command. In a brusque opinion, the Claim Division rejected any claims for the property. No authority in Japan could have made any promises to the repatriates concerning their property. All impounded effects came under vesting decrees and would be treated accordingly. There was no understanding concerning money conversion.[54] No one would do anything. Clearly the bureaucracy could not, would not question itself. The rebuff forced the petitioners back, via Washington, D.C., to SCAP for redress.

With the planned sale the authorities in Japan began unraveling their already unclear situation. The earlier emotional commitment to remove Germans now confronted the administrative realities of their property. In part the complexities of the issues and, in part, the uncertain legal ambiguities of the seizure confused everyone. Besides this, SCAP delayed all consideration of the issues until the end of the repatriation process. Thereafter language, trust, methodology, control, etc. demanded an inordinate amount of time. The search for corporate and scientific assets provided challenges in tracing, locating, confirming, and impounding them.[55]

On October 13, 1949, after intense exchange with Washington, D.C., SCAP issued a declaration of property ownership. Any property in Japan owned or controlled before July 1, 1948, by any Germans residing in Germany or any German living outside that country after September 1, 1939, belonged to France, Great Britain, and the United States.[56] SCAP was the trustee for that property with full powers of control and disposal. The Japanese authorities would provide the necessary preservation, maintenance, administration, and accounting for the sale of German assets.[57]

With that clear statement, the liquidation could begin, but the allies could not find any agreement on the process. For the Germans still in Japan, SCAP cut down the local controls and gave them back their personal property. For the repatriates there was no discussion. Finally on February 7, 1950, the authorization for disposal of the German assets arrived at SCAP. As the result of a British proposal, they formed a Tri-Power Advisory Committee (TRIPAC) on March 9, 1950. The acceptance of TRIPAC allowed much progress in the technical issues. It cut through official disclaimers over substantive, procedural, and administrative issues.[58]

As they commenced selling the assets SCAP reviewed the repatriation policies and uncovered various individual inequities. Included in this group were those who had had no, or only nominal, membership in the National Socialist Party, those who had lived most of their lives in Japan and could not earn a livelihood elsewhere; those who were not a security risk; and those who had suffered unduly from the confiscation practices. TRIPAC recognized these problems and treated each one on an "ad hoc" basis. In response SCAP set up the German National Reclassification Committee for redress. Unfortunately, the body had no time for major action; it could act on some pending requests, but not hold up the sales process.[59]

For administrative convenience, TRIPAC proposed that a wide range of moveable property, including personal effects, be sold locally. SCAP moved quickly and established the auction rules. Local experts would set a floor price, with the right to refuse all bids. The basic bidding currency was the dollar. A restrictive resale clause would prevent any resale to German ownership.[60] In studying the issues, TRIPAC discovered the considerable amount of personal property registered to the repatriates. A goodly portion of this property was of a sentimental nature, objects with limited actual value. The cost of storage and liquidation far exceeded any auction proceeds. TRIPAC proposed that the Japanese separate, pack, and ship these items to a German port. SCAP accepted the idea and ordered the Japanese to make the arrangements. The goods should be shipped aboard the German registered Bogata Maru and charged against German funds. The ship left with a large consignment on July 17, 1950.[61] The Germans could pick up their property in Bremerhaven and pay the costs.

Thereafter TRIPAC turned its attention to the more pressing issues of selling institutional enterprises, business assets, license agreements, retail shops, film rights, etc. Included here were bullion, precious stones, and bank accounts. Land was a particularly thorny issue since it included residential, farming, and business buildings and properties. The holdings belonged to social clubs and schools as well as individuals and firms. For those properties released, for various reasons, to Germans, the owners received bills for maintenance costs and repair charges. For those already sold by auction, the previous owners received the monies realized from the sale and for all outstanding bills.[62]

Beginning in 1950, SCAP expedited the sales. Over the next months they held over 300 auctions at different sites. When SCAP discovered that they could not sell everything for dollars or sterling, they invited the Japanese public to secondary sales where the yen became acceptable currency.[63]

Despite extensive and widespread protests from the repatriates, ably coordinated by the Ostasiatischer Verein, SCAP paid no attention. No matter how the group employed their arguments, i.e., human justice, the changing world, international law, etc., they received no recognition.[64]

The Japanese Peace Treaty, signed in San Francisco on September 8, 1951, made a major adjustment in the issue. With Article 20 Japan agreed to assume responsibility for disposing of German assets as determined by the three allied powers and to take care of the conservation and administration of them.[65] This blank check maintained the former relationship relative to German assets. Everything would continue along the same path, i.e., the Japanese doing the bidding of the victors.

Since SCAP would go out of existence on the Treaty's effective date (April 28, 1952), the headquarters hastened to reorganize these issues. Both TRIPAC and the office of Civil Property Custodian went out of business on May 2, 1952. These functions merged into a Tripartite Commission (TPC) charged with maintaining the rights of the three powers. The new body also absorbed the trustee rights of the earlier organizations.[66] As a result, the Japanese would continue as executors of earlier decisions while assuming greater responsibilities. They accepted legal accountability for a legalistically confused program based on an uncertain interpretation of a victors' meeting at Potsdam concerning foreign nationals.

Concurrently, the Japanese found a new player emerging in the property issue. West Germany's emergence as a fledgling power created new exchanges. On April 5, 1952, the Germans opened a Mission under a charge d'affaires, Heinrich Northe, who immediately set to work. He understood the basic arguments of morality, of a changing world, of the Marshall Plan, of the Japanese peace. His protests helped postpone the auction of two houses in April 1952, but could not halt the auction.[67] The issue was clear, i.e., the allies advertised, the Germans protested, the Japanese auctioned the property. This time, however, they did so with the yen as the only accepted currency.[68]

The German representatives argued in favor of releasing the impounded funds and of reviewing the entire repatriation issue. Because the Japanese continued the auction process, the Germans found difficulty in sorting out the bureaucratic maze. In August 1952, they gained access to the warehouses containing the last remaining sentimental objects. They could not make headway with their return, with the questions of royalties, patents, etc., or any reconsideration. No one wanted any responsibility for anything. Within the TPC any member could block any transaction, and the Japanese would not act independently.[69] The Germans fully understood that the auctions were, essentially, complete, Their desire was to extend the issue until they could gain access to the records, assure proper control of surviving properties, express moral concerns about earlier decisions, and initiate compensation questions.[70]

At the outset, they had no grasp of the realities. The TPC and the Japanese refused all access to their files. Even the available approximations contained problems, i.e., land values, especially in urban areas, had escalated considerably, the yen's value had changed within a short time (in 1947, 15 to $1; in 1953, 360 to $1), accounting practices lumped personal property into simple figures (in 1953, each object was carried with a value of 100 yen or 1.20 marks). The changing times had adjusted the value of patents, businesses, libraries, films, etc. As outsiders, the Germans could not change this process.[71] Rejection precluded consideration, adjustment, or rectification.[72]

In June 1953, they did manage to gain control of the last sentimental items-some furniture, but basically only photo albums, diaries, and personal papers. Doing the paper work, coordinating the customs issues, and locating the owners in Germany took more time. Ultimately, in May 1954, the Embassy could collect the last objects, pack them into 26 crates, and return them on the steamer Hamburg. The Ostasiatischer Verein had accepted responsibility for forwarding everything properly.[73] While this action terminated the return of small items, it did not conclude the many issues of restitution or rehabilitation. The key issue was the term "objectionable," which had been the justification for the forced repatriation. That clarification was vital to all discussions and encountered generalized responses. The basic defense was that the Counter Intelligence investigations, the relationship of the individuals to the National Socialist Party, and the value of persons to the Japanese war effort combined for the final designation.[74]

Time passed in desultory exchange as the Germans sought access to the records. The authorities, Japanese and the TPC, found varying grounds for refusal-personnel shortages, shifting responsibilities, file transfers, etc. Only the diligence of the Ostasiatischer Verein kept the issues alive. While business interests continued their individual efforts, the Verein spoke for everyone.[75]

In 1954, some changes in the German-American discussions over similar property seizures in the United States brought a ray of hope. Both countries had an interest in resolution. They encountered the same issues as the representatives in Japan: inadequate accounting, unknown commitments, impractical demands, uneasy legal interpretations. At least the Americans expressed some interest in a potential maximum individual award of $10,000. The changes in world diplomacy, the German economy, and an uncertain conscience motivated the Americans, who broke ranks with their allies. While these exchanges continued for some time, various misunderstandings, the cost of compensation to individuals damaged by the war, and the uncertain price to the American taxpayer eventually scuttled any resolution.[76] Domestic concerns in both countries precluded satisfaction.

These efforts did bring limited movement in Japan. In September 1956, the Germans made some headway through the wall of denial and refusal. Mr. Howard Staub, the General Secretary of the TPC (and long-term member of TRIPAC), agreed that the designation "objectionable" had led to many errors. He pointed out that the German National Reclassification Committee had adjudicated the concerns of diplomatic privilege and had changed eight individual cases. The Commission's insistence on unanimity on all reclassification requests had hampered all restitution.[77]

In Bonn, the German Foreign Office tried to follow up on this information. They adjusted their position to rehabilitating the "objectionables" as a precedent for returning or reimbursing the property, to establishing a fiscal fund (from the auction sales) for repatriates in harsh circumstances, and to blocking further sales. By pressing for a general amnesty or rehabilitation, they hoped to rescue something.[78]

The idea found no echo in Tokyo. A meeting between Embassy representatives and the TPC on March 18, 1957, brought a sharp rejection of the German proposals. The Allies refused all discussion of any changes. The members accepted the possibility of some form of rehabilitation in the future, but totally independent of any past claims or demands. They found that the term "objectionable" was neither politically nor discriminatorily wrong and that it did not impose any travel restrictions. In closing, the allied representatives finished with the fatal observation that they would make their time-consuming recommendations to their home governments.[79] The answer was clear; inaction and obfuscation would continue.

Subsequent efforts for clarification received a common answer that the term "objectionable" was an administrative term and did not reflect on patriotism nor indicate criminal activity. To question the issue would lead to extraordinary legal complications which lacked any factual basis. The TPC remained totally negative to any property questions. Since the liquidation process was complete and the records lost or scattered in different archives, changes were impossible.[80]

To cement their point, the TPC quietly informed the Japanese, and not the Germans, on June 24, 1957, that, after July 1, they would renounce their rights, titles, and claims to undiscovered German assets in Japan. The Japanese informed the Germans, but underscored their fear of potential German recovery demands. They wanted an official German statement renouncing such claims, which was not forthcoming. A meeting with the TPC on September 13 brought no progress.[81]

In February 1958, Staub reported his impending departure (on March 12) and the completion of the TPC's work. The French, British, and American embassies would take care of any subsequent questions under the TPC imprimatur. There were neither apologists nor suggestions. The Japanese and Germans could address their respective problems between themselves.[82]

The Japanese quickly accepted the idea of halting all seizures and set April 1, 1958, as the terminal date. The departing TPC made no protest.[83] Concurrently, however, a judgment in the Japanese courts brought the entire process to a conclusion. A German plaintiff had sued the Japanese government for the 1953 auction of his real estate. He had come to Japan in 1929 and acquired several properties which he had lost to seizure shortly before his forced repatriation. He argued that the loss violated international law, that the Potsdam Proclamation and the Japanese Peace Treaty provisions were in disagreement, and that the confiscation was without due process. The Japanese defense maintained that the United States, Great Britain, and France had entered into agreements with the West German government, which obligated the latter not to make claims for requisitioned German overseas assets. These agreements further precluded individual claims. Given those facts, the suit had no merit. The court decided against the plaintiff and charged him all court costs.[84] There could be no more claims against the Japanese or the Allies.

As the Germans tried to pursue other property concerns, they encountered major opposition. The English chairman of the TPC, Cooper Blyth, bluntly told a German representative that all future requests would be denied without comment. His explanation was that the constant change of administrations (SCAP, TRIPAC, TPC, Japanese officers) had destroyed any documentary accuracy. In addition, no one had sufficient personnel for answering individual questions. Finally, arguments over the true value of auctioned items could never be resolved, nor could anyone answer the problems of currency relationships.[85] Blyth's comments provided the indicated evidence that the wall of refusal and denial remained intact.

On June 30, 1960, the TPC finally closed its doors and gave up its authority. Subsequent questions should be addressed to the member embassies.[86]

The announcement effectively terminated the repatriation issue and the property dislocations. The path had been long and convoluted.[87]


Charles Burdick was Professor of History Emeritus at San Jose State University in California. He died in 1998.

[1] United States, Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States. The Conference of Berlin (Potsdam Conference) 1945 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1960) (hereafter FRUS, Vol. II 1475-1476.
[2] Observation by a forced repatriate in 1947.
[3] Merion and Susie Harris, Sheathing the Sword: The Demilitarization of Japan (New York: Macmillan, 1987) 23.
[4] In Europe General Dwight Eisenhower served as Commander, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHEAF). The variance in titles was a serious matter, which provoked much criticism in Japan. John M. Allison, Ambassador from the Prairie (Tokyo: Charles Tuttle, 1973), 143.
[5] Hugh Borton, American Presurrender Planning for Postwar Japan (New York,: Columbia University, 1967). An interesting account is Leon V. Sigal, Fighting to a Finish: The Politics of War Termination in the United States and Japan, 1945 (Ithaca: Cornell University, 1988).
[6] Allied powers created, in December, 1945, two governing bodies: the Far Eastern Commission and the Allied Council for Japan. In conception the diplomats had aspirations for some form of collective governance, an attitude not shared by General MacArthur. Some of the frustration in this struggle over prestige and authority is in Roger Buckley's Occupation Diplomacy: Britain, the United States and Japan, 1945-1952 (Cambridge University, 1982) See also George H. Blakeslee, The Far Eastern Commission: a Study in International Cooperation, 1945 to 1952 (Washington, D.C. Department of State, 1953).
[7] They often employed a distinctive jargon, part harsh military directive and part conciliatory civilian persuasion termed Scapanise by many, Henry E. Wildes, Typhoon in Tokyo: The Occupation ant Its Aftermath (New York: Macmillan, 1954), 1.
[8] For a discussion of the legal basis for these actions see Nisuke Ando, Surrender, Occupation, and Private Property in International Law: an Evaluation of US Practice in Japan (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991). Useful studies on the occupation are Richard B. Finn, Winners in Peace: MacArthur, Yoshida, and Postwar Japan (Berkeley: University of California, 1992); John M.Maki "United States Initial Post-surrender Policy for Japan," in Han-Kyo Kim, ed., Essays on Modern Politics and History: Written in Honor of Harold M. Vinacke (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1969), 30-56. The major study on MacArthur is D. Clayton James, The Years of MacArthur, Vol. 3, Triumph and Disaster, 1945-1964 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985).
[9] SCAP Instructions to the Japanese Government (hereinafter SCAPIN) 217: Definition of "United Nations," and "enemy Nations," 31 October 1945. National Archives (hereafter NA, Record Group (hereafter RG) 331, Box 3.
[10] For a more detailed account of these activities see Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, General Headquarters, Statistics and Reports Section, "History of the Non-Military Activities of the Occupation of Japan," vol. 17, "treatment of Foreign Nationals," 1-15. NA, RG 331, Box2. Note, also, Eric H. F. Svensson, "The Military Occupation of Japan. The First Years Planning, Policy Formulation, and Reforms" PhD dissertation, University of Denver, 1966), 144-157.
[11] After some lengthy discussions SCAP allowed the Italian government to send a ship that took all the Italians home in April 1947. "Treatment of Foreign Nationals," 61-62. CINCAFPAC to WARCOS, 2 October 1946. MacArthur Memorial, (hereafter MM). Norfolk, Virginia, RG-9, Radiograms, WD OUT. Edward J. Boone, Jr. was most helpful with these files.
[12] These figures come from a later report by the German representation in Japan. Ber. Nr. 237/53, 24 März 1953, Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amts (hereafter AA), Tokyo, Bd. 6662. Maria Keipert was very supportive to my research.
[13] A description by a diplomat is Erwin Wickert, Mut und Übermut. Geschichten aus Meinem Leben (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags Anstalt, 1992), 436f. See also his Der fremde Osten: China und Japan gestern und heute (Stuttgart : Deutsche Verlags Anstalt 1968) 286=-334. A daily record is in Paul Werner Vemehren, "Kriegstagebuch" Bundesarchiv Militärarchiv. The human suffering was severe. The bombings;, crowded housing, transportation difficulties, food shortages made the restriction difficult. Letter from Reiner Jordan, 6 March 1993, letter from Margot Lenigk, 13.4.93. See also Thomas R. H. Havens, Valley of Darkness: The Japanese People and World War Two (New York: W.W. Norton, 1978).
[14] Central Liaison Office to SCAP, 10 January 1946, NA RG, 160, Box 449.
[15] Letters from Reiner Jordan, 15.3.93, 20.3.93; letter from Margot Lenigk, 15.4.93, letter from Ursula Reinhard, April 1993; Jurgen Lehmann, Zur Geschichte der deutschen Schule Kobe (Tokyo: Deutsche Gesellslchaft für Natur- und Völkerkunde Ostasiens, 1988, 4-48. See also Helmut Krajewicz "Das Kriegsende in Japan am Fuße des Fujuyama", Vierteljahresschrift derVereinigung Deutscher Auslandsbeamaten e.v. (3-4/90), 167-172.
[16] Hans H. Baeerwald, The Purge of Japanese Leaders under the Occupation (Berkeley, University of California, 1959) remains a fine treatment. Harris and Harris, Sheathing the Sword, chap 5, presents a colorful version.
[17] Joint Chiefs of Staff to CINCAFOAC, WARX 875m 7 December 1945, NA, RG 319, Box 507.
[18] Civil Affairs Divisions Operations to CINCAFPAC, WARX 88430, 12 December 1945. NA, RG 319, Box 507.
[19] Memo for Record (AG), 30 January 1946. NA, RG 260, Box 449: Washington to USFET, 24 January 1946. MM, RG-9: Radiograms W.D.
[20] SCAPIN 686: Repatriation of German Nationals in Japan, 31 January 1947. NA, RG 331, Box 3. SCAP subsequently published a lengthy compendium of over 800 SCAPINS. Only two of them mentioned the Germans.
[21] www. [since moved; ed.]
[22] SCAPIN 769: Repatriation of German Nationals and Nationals who claim Austrian or Czechoslovakian Citizenship now in Japan, 23 February 1946. NA, RG 260, Box 449.
[23] Much of the research material and emotional fuel for these early efforts came from the Army's Counterintelligence activities in Japan. The 441 CIC Detachment, with over fifty small subordinate units, had the mission to locate the suspect individuals. These units lacked jurisdictional boundaries, careful supervision, or hierarchical rules. They enjoyed great authority and freedom in 1945-1946. See "History of the Counter Intelligence Corps," Vol. XXVIII, "CIC in the Occupation of Japan" (Baltimore: US Army Intelligence Center, 1960). A major source for this study, "Representative History of CIC Activities in the Occupation of Japan (Sep 1 1945 to 1948)" has disappeared from the files. Letter from John Allshouse, Federal Records Center- Kansas City, July 16, 1992. The Counter-Intelligence records are fragmentary and difficult to use. Letter from Jane B. Sealock, US Army Intelligence and Security Command, Fort George G. Meade, MC 30 March 1992.
[24] SCAPIN, 1000: Repatriation of German Nationals, 5 June 1946. NA, RG 331, Box 3. The Japanese subsequently reported 2,679 Germans with 1191 individuals as head of households containing 1488 family members. The Allied occupation forces in Germany had forwarded extensive lists of the Nazi party members in Japan. These lists, drawn from the captured Nazi records, provided detailed personal information as well as address in Japan. Letter and materials from David Marwell, Berlin Documents Center, 16 April 1993.
[25] Radio WCL 25844 to SCAP, 5 December 1945, MM, RG-9: Radiograms, W.D.; 10 Information and Historical Service Headquarters Eighth Army, "Special Staff Study of the Repatriation of German Nationals from Japan"( 6 June 1947), Center of Military History, Department of the Army, Washington, D.C. This brief study, completed just after the final phase of the repatriation, has valuable material as well as some errors.
[26] SCAPIN 26: Protection of Allied and Axis Property, 13 September 1945. On October 2, 1945 SCAP relaxed these controls slightly and allowed families to utilize some personal funds for living expenses and tax payments. SCAPIN 87: Authorization No 1, Living Expense Allowances to Axis Nationals Domiciled in Japan, 2 October 1945. NA, RG 331, Box 3.
[27] Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, General Headquarters, Statistics and Reports Section, "History of the Non-Military Activities of the Occupation of Japan," Monograph 21, "Foreign Property Administration," 106. NA, RG 331, Box 2. Of the total, individuals owned 115,080,000 yen; business firms claimed 286,362,000 yen; official German agencies possessed 764,482,000 yen, and other sources had 13,002,000 yen. Ibid.
[28] Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, Vested Assets in Japan. Final Report of Trusteeship 9n.p. , 28 April 1952), part XI. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. This report is valuable because most of the documentary material is misplaced or destroyed. I am indebted to Marin T. Hanna and her colleagues in the National Archives for their exhaustive search for these files.
[29] Telegram, Military Government Germany to SCAP Pacific, 11 October 1946. NA, RG 260, Box 141.
[30] SCAP "Treatment of Foreign Nationals," 52-53; Cable OMGUS to CINCAFPAC, 5 Nov 46. MM, file RG-9: Radiograms, State Department.
[31] Letter to Commanding Generals I and IX Corps, 5 December 1946. NA, RG 94, Box 2726. Barco had a clear image of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs' views because of an extensive exchange between SCAP and that command in October. These messages are in MM, RG-9: Radiograms, WD out.
[32] Agenda, Reparation Conference, 18 December 1946, with enclosures. NA, RG 94, Box 2726.
[33] SCAP to CG Eighth Army, 13 January 1947 in Administrative Papers of G-1 Reparation Section, Center of Military History, Department of the Army, Washington, D.C.
[34] The reparation process in China had begun much earlier but moved slowly. Accounts on the removal are in Klaus Mehnert, Ein Deutscher in der Welt. Erinnerungen 1906-1981(Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1983), 324-336; Karl H. Abshagen, Im Lande Arimasen (Stuttgart: Deutscher Verlag, 1948), 347-374.
[35] Headquarters, Eighth Army, Operational Directive No. 12, 22 January 1947. NA,RG 94, Box 2726. There was some confusion over mixed marriages. If a Japanese wife elected to stay in Japan she could do so but only with the property she had held before the marriage. Anything acquired after the marriage was subject to the same rules.
[36] This description comes from the 10th Information and Historical Service, "Special Staff Study," and its Annex No. 1, "Interrogation of Repatriated German Nationals" The latter were voluntary responses to a questionnaire issued just before embarkation.
[37] Ibid. The decline in numbers came from the removal of the sick, unfit and a decision not to include any diplomats- as well as administrative confusion. On the other hand some Germans held in Sugamo prison did find accommodations on the ship. Ibid. See also Friedrich J. Klahn, ed., Kapn,. Kolhabach: Der Blockadebrecher mit der glücklichen Hand (Biberbach: Koehlers Verlag, 1958), 220-222.
[38] Since China was an ally the German issue was different than in Japan. Nonetheless, the Chinese, for unclear reasons, did not cooperate in moving the Germans. This unhelpfulness led to a major protest from the U.S. Department of State. The "fiasco" was a major embarrassment to the Allied powers. Washington (Acheson) to SCAP, 10 March 1947. MM, RG-9: Radiograms, State Department.
[39] "Jumper Journal." The ships mimeographed publication contained information on world events as well as ship's activities. Reiner Jordan shared his file of the publication. Letter from Heinrich Pahls, 15 April 1993; letter from Wilhelm Osterfeld, 28 February 1993.
[40] See Dietrich Seckel, Schriften-Verzeichnis. Mit einem autobiographischem Essay. Mein Weg zur Kunst Ostasiens (Frankfurt.a.M.: Hang & Herchen, 1981), 94-96. The completed forms are in NA, RG 338, Boxes 669-674.
[41] The Dutch and the British took the German males with their evacuation forces to India. This action led to a major disaster on January 20, 1942 when the Japanese bombed the Dutch ship, van Imhoff, in the Indian Ocean. The Dutch crew took the few lifeboats and left the Germans to their fate. Subsequently a Dutch rescue ship, Bollongan, arrived on the scene but refused to pick up any Germans; 411 perished. Those who survived the evacuation traveled to internment camps in Dehra Dun, India. They returned home in 1946. For the tragic reality, see C. Van Heekeren, Batavia Seint Berlyn (Den Haag: Bert Bakker, 1967) 159-371, Erich Klappert, Erlebnisse (?: Klappert, 1978) 46-50. C. Towen-Bouwsma and Margot Lenigk provided these materials. Letter from Ursula Reinhard, April 1993.
[42] CINCFE to MOGUS, WAR, 6 August 1947. MM, RG-9: Radiograms, Outgoing. Report by Margot Lenigk, May 25, 1993.
[43] Wickert, Mut und Übermut, 480-482: H.G. Stahmer, Japans Niederlage-Asiens Sieg: Aufsteig eines Größeren Ostasien (Bielefeld: Deutscher Heimat Verlag, 1952), 192-195.
[44] There were extensive discussions concerning the diplomats. Until they reached German soil they enjoyed a special position; once landed in Germany, they lost this protection, i.e., they became responsible for their baggage, valuables, transportation, security, etc. The records concerning the diplomats' repatriation are in a lost file, which makes research virtually impossible. Letter from Joseph Dane Hartgrove, National Archives, March 19 1992.
[45] MM, RG-9: Radiograms, State Department and RG-9: Radiograms, WD WX have these exchanges. An interesting proposal came from the American President lines, which proposed a commercial transport on their ships; i.e., those Germans able to pay their passage could do so while the American authorities could pay a reduced price for the others. WAR to CHICFE, Berlin, 3 May 47; MM RG-99: Radiograms, WD WX. Since the Japanese were paying the costs, the Americans declined the offer.
[46] www. [new defunct; ed.]
[47] Telegram SEC STATE to SCAP, 17 June 1947. NA, RG 260, Box 141; SCAPIN 1750: Repatriation of German and Austrian Nationals, 21 July 1947. NA, REG 331, Box 5; Operational Directive No. 51, 21 July 1947. NA, RG 94, Box 2726. The State Department employed the descriptive term, "obnoxious" Germans as opposed to SCAP's " objectionable" Germans.
[48] Orders to Colonel Douglas Pamplin, n.d., Ibid: CINCFE to WAR, 10 August 1947. MM, RG-9: Radiograms, Outgoing.
[49] "Destination and Accompanying Documentation of the Refugees aboard the USAT General Black," 21 October 1947. NA, RG 260, Box 141; OMGUS to Department of the Army, 30 October 1947. MM, RG-9: Radiograms, Misc. For insight into the corrupt conditions in Ludwigsburg see Wicken, Mut und Übermut, 483-486.
[50] DA to OMGUS, 20 December 1947, NA, RG 260, Box 141. State Department to SCAP, 16 March 1948, State Department to SCAP, 4 April 1948. MM, RG-9: Radiograms, State Department; SCAPIN 1869: Repatriation of German Nationals, 10 March 1948. NA, RG 331, Box 5. For a description of the return flight see Marie Balser, Ost- und westliches Gelände: Unser Leben in Ost und West den Enkeln erzählt (Geissen: Munchowsche Universitätsdruckerei, 1958), 158-161.
[51] Many of his letters are in Bestand JL 525 12/77-2/18, Staatsarchiv Ludwigsburg (hereafter SL).
[52] The organization, founded in 1900, devoted itself to helping German interests in East Asia. Expanded to encouraging cultural matters in 1911, it became an influential force by 1914. After the damage inflicted by the loss of the First World War, the leadership developed a different focus: as a facilitator for joint interests and as a representative for business administration. It became more political and published a journal, Ostasiatsche Rundschau.. In 1945 the organization began operations relying on former contacts and the members' energy. They did achieve some moral support. See Chief Claims Division to Budget and Fiscal Director, European Command, "Property Claims of Japanese Repatriates," 3 June 1948. SL 12/77-2/18.
[53] Office of Military Government, Land Württemberg-Baden, "Property Claims of Japanese Repatriates," 29 Jan (sic) 1948. NA, RG 260, Box 141: "Expellees from the Orient," October 1947. SL JL 525 12/63-1/6.
[54] Office of Military Government to Office of Military Government for Württemberg-Baden, 8 July 1948. NA, RG 260, Box 141. Headquarters, Claims office team 7728, "Property Claims of Japanese Repatriates," 24 May 1948. SL JL 525 12/63-1/6.
[55] SCAP, "Foreign Property Administartion," 121-124.
[56] Under the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, the Soviet Union had surrendered all claims to German overseas assets. FRUIS, The Conference of Berlin, II, 1486.
[57] SCAPIN 2051: Notification that the United Statres, United Kingdom, and France are Owners of Certain Categories of Former German Property in Japan, 13 October 1949, NA, RG 3312, Box 5.
[58] SCAP, Vested Assets in Japan, Part I, 4. The report provides a general account of the German assets. It includes a section listing various individual accounts which held sums down to $3.00 or another with 1.67 yen.
[59] Ibid, 4-5.
[60] TRIPAC Minutes, 31 May 1950; Memos for Information, Nrs. 5,10, 11 as cited in SCAP "Foreign Property Administration," 150.
[61] Ibid.
[62] SCAP, Vested Interests in Japan, Part II, 13. The American and British governments each purchased two residences for their use. Ibid, Part I, 5.
[63] Ibid, Part I,3.
[64] Copies of these papers are in AA, Tokyo, Bd, 6663.
[65] United States, Department of State, United States Treaties and Other International Agreements, Vol. 3, Part 3, 1952 (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1955), 3188. SCAP did not overlook the issue and spelled out Japan's continuing responsibilities after gaining sovereignty. SCAPIN 2195: Property in Japan Formerly Owned by Certain Persons of German Nationality. 25 January 1952. NA, RG 331, Box 5.
[66] SCAPIN 2203: Property in Japan Formerly Owned by Certain Persons of German Nationality, 17 April 1952. NA, RG 3312, Box 5. The transfer of pertinent records to the Japanese had already begun. Just the papers for the cases awaiting completion exceeded 100 linear feet! SCAP Check Sheet: Disposition of German Records 3 January 1952; note of Major D.L. Luques, 1 November 1951. NA, RG 331m, Box 7564. There were over 2,000 linear feet of total records.
[67] The Germans did so from unofficial sources. The Americans had already decided that there were no grounds for considering compensation for the vested German property. They found no reason to provide information on that process. DEPTAR to SCAP, 4 December 1951. NA,RG 331, Box 7564. Northe remained in charge until May 1955 when the first German Ambassador, Hans Kroll, arrived in Tokyo. Hans Kroll, Lebenserinnerungen eines Botschafters (Berlin: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1967), 293.
[68] Vertertung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Tokyo, an das Auswärtige Amt, 30 Mai 1952, Tokyo, Bd 6662.
[69] Rechtsabteilung Tokyo, Vermerk, 1 September 1956. AA. Bd 6662.
[70] Botschaft Tokyo Ber. Nr. 515/52, 4 Oktober 1952, AA, Tokyo, Bd. 6662.
[71] Dres. K. Vogt & R. Sonderhoff an Dr. H. Northe, 29 Oktober 1952. AA, Tokyo, Bd. 6662.A careful explanation of the realities, with useful inclusions, is in a letter to the Ostasiatischer Verein. An den Ostasiatischen Verein, 10 März 1952, AA, Tokyo, Bd. 6663.
[72] The frustration is clear in Ostasiatischer Verein, Mitteilung Nr. 24/53, 31 März 1953. AA. Tokyo, Bd. 6663.
[73] Bescheinigung, Dr. Jakob, Tokyo, 12 März, 1954, AA, Tokyo, Bd. 6662.
[74] An excellent description is in Botschaft Tokyo Ber. Nr. 710/53 "Lage und Behandlung des deutschen Vermögens in Japan," 11 August 1953. AA, Tokyo, Bd. 6663.
[75] The files in AA, Tokyo, Bde. 6663,6665 are filled with their correspondence.
[76] See Hans Dieter Kreikamp, Deutsches Vermögen in den Vereinigten Staaten: Die Auseinandersetzung um seine Rückführung als Aspekt der deutsch-americanischen Beziehungen, 1952-1962 (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags Anstalt, 1979), especially 81-85.
[77] Botschaft Tokyo an Auswärtiges Amt. Ber, 1693/56: Politische Einstufung ehemaliger Japan-Deutschen 13. September 1956. AA Tokyo, Bd. 6664. At the same time the Japanese demonstrated their resistance to returning any German business interests. Botschaft Tokyo an Auswärtiges Amt Ber. Ches Vermögen in Japan...." 19. Oktober, 1956, AA, Tokyo, Bd. 6665.
[78] Aufzeichnungen, Dr. Schmidt-Dornedden, Ref. 506, Auswärtiges Amt "Deutschen Vermögen in Japan....," 19. Oktober 1956. AA, Tokyo, Bd. 6665.
[79] Aufzeichnung "Besprechnung mit Vertreten der amerikanischen, britischen und französischen Botschaft über die Frage der Klassifizierung von Japan-Deutschen und beschlagnahmtes Vermögen in Japan." AA. Tokyo, Bd. 6664.
[80] Botschaft Tokyo an Auswärtiges Amt Ber. Nr. 407/57. Betr. Deutsches Vermögen in Japan,; hier: Rehabilitierung der Japan-Deutschen, 19 März 1957. AA, Tokyo, Bd. 6664.
[81] Botschaft Tokyo Ber. Nr. 1529/57 Betr. Deutsches Vermögen in Japan, 13 Dezember 1957. AA, Tokyo Bd. 6664.
[82] Botschaft Tokyo an AA BR. Nr. 340/58 Betr. Deutsches Vermögen in Japan, 14 Februar 1958, AA, Tokyo, Bd. 6664.
[83] Botschaft Tokyo an AA Ber. Nr. 620/58 Betr, Deutsches Vermögen in Japan, 10. April 1958. AA Tokyo Bd. 6664.
[84] Translation of Judgement, rendered 29 March, 1958. AA, Tokyo, Bd. 6664.
[85] Botschaft Tokyo an AA Ber. V, 980/58: Deutsches Vermögen in Japan....," 14 Juni 1958. AA, Tokyo, Bd. 6664.
[86] Cooper Blyth to Dr. Ernst Jung, June 27, 1960, AA, Tokyo, Bd. 6665.
[87] As of April, 1952, the Japanese had paid 19,000,000 yen for repatriating the German nationals. They had invested 39,000,000 yen for the investigation, accounting, and reporting of German property. These accounts were incomplete. SCAP, Vested Interests in Japan, Part XII,5. As of April 1952 SCAP had transferred 355,265,877 yen to thirteen countries with another 344,734,123 yen scheduled for distribution from German assets. Ibid, Part X,3.

Additional information about this document
Property Value
Author(s): Charles Burdick
Title: The Expulsion of Germans from Japan, 1947-1948
Sources: The Revisionist 1(2) (2003), pp. 156-165
Published: 2003-05-01
First posted on CODOH: June 10, 2012, 7 p.m.
Last revision:
Appears In: