GHDI logo

Stuttgart Speech ("Speech of Hope") by James F. Byrnes, United States Secretary of State (September 6, 1946)

Collaboration between the Allied victors became increasingly difficult as the year 1946 unfolded. Clashing ideas about Germany’s future paralyzed the work of the Allied Control Council in Berlin and hindered improvements in economic conditions. Since the United States and Great Britain could not reach an agreement with the Soviet Union and France on certain contested issues, the Americans and the British decided on September 5, 1946, to combine their zones into a “Bizone” with joint economic and administrative structures.

The following day, the American Secretary of State, James F. Byrnes, gave the following speech in Stuttgart. Byrnes’s speech made public the change in U.S. policy and had a profound effect in Germany. He was critical of the fact that, contrary to the agreements reached in Potsdam, Germany was not being treated as a single economic entity, and he also believed that the Four Powers had not lived up to their responsibilities. The Americans were not going to withdraw from Germany; however, Byrnes had presented the Germans with the first prospect of forming their own government on a democratic basis, drafting a democratic constitution, and being given back the authority to run their own domestic affairs.

print version     return to document list previous document      first document in next chapter

page 1 of 12

I have come to Germany to learn at first hand the problems involved in the reconstruction of Germany and to discuss with our representatives the views of the United States Government as to some of the problems confronting us.

We in the United States have given considerable time and attention to these problems because upon their proper solution will depend not only the future well-being of Germany, but the future well-being of Europe.

We have learned, whether we like it or not, that we live in one world, from which world we cannot isolate ourselves. We have learned that peace and well-being are indivisible and that our peace and well-being cannot be purchased at the price of peace or the well-being of any other country.

I hope that the German people will never again make the mistake of believing that because the American people are peace-loving, they will sit back hoping for peace if any nation uses force or the threat of force to acquire dominion over other peoples and other governments.

In 1917 the United States was forced into the first World War. After that war we refused to join the League of Nations. We thought we could stay out of Europe's wars, and we lost interest in the affairs of Europe. That did not keep us from being forced into a second world war.

We will not again make that mistake. We intend to continue our interest in the affairs of Europe and of the world. We have helped to organize the United Nations. We believe it will stop aggressor nations from starting wars. Because we believe it, we intend to support the United Nations organization with all the power and resources we possess.

The American people want peace. They have long since ceased to talk of a hard or a soft peace for Germany. This never has been the real issue. What we want is a lasting peace. We will oppose soft measures which invite the breaking of the peace.

first page < previous   |   next > last page