Monday, August 15, 2011

The Thinking Behind the Drawing of the Occupation Zones of Germany

August 13th was the fiftieth anniversary of the Berlin Wall being erected.  The division of Berlin and of Germany was the fruit of both the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences.  The occupation of Germany with various zones was agreed to at Yalta while the loss of much of eastern Germany to Poland and the Soviet Union occurred because of negotiations before and at Potsdam.

When one geographically displays the division and occupation of Germany one usually has a mental map something like this:

From Worldology
One may wonder why the Soviet Union, which fought Germany much more than the Western Allies in terms of strength and loses, only received the northeastern corner of Germany.  This is a failure of geographical imagine on oneself.  It was only at Potsdam that it was agreed much of pre-World War II eastern Germany would be lost.  In between Yalta and Potsdam, when the various zones were being proposed and finalized, the Allies took into consideration all of eastern Germany going into the Soviets' control.  The map planners used and produced maps which look like the one below (which is a recent addition to my personal map library)

Planning map of German occupation zones.  Click to enlarge. From my personal map library.
This map gives one greater understanding on just how much of Germany the Soviets truly occupied.

The map also shows how the Allies considered Hitler's changes to Germany's borders illegitimate.  France and the United Kingdom did not object at the time to Hitler's annexation with Austria, allowed the Sudetenland to be adsorbed, and stood by while Germany annexed most of Czechoslovakia.  However, the map shows international boundaries from 1937, right before Hitler began his aggressive territorial expansion but after The Territory of the Saar Basin legitimately voted freely under League of Nations' guidelines to rejoin Germany in 1935.

The second map shows the reasoning behind the Allies behavior.  The Soviets got a much larger share of Germany but decided to give it to their future puppets in Poland.  The map also shows that Allies recognized their failure to curb Hitler's aggression during the appeasement era before World War II.

3 comments:

ft said...

The map does not show the Saar Territorry which the French cut out in 1947 to create a proper protectorate which was retroceded in 1957 after a referendum .

Dan tdaxp said...

Good post -- it is a good reminder of how maps can 'lie', even when people should know better!

data diplomacy said...

Better perspective would be to draw occupations zones on a European scale. The soviets got to keep all that they occupied to remake as their sphere of influence. They got all the sovereign states of eastern Europe above the Balkans. In the same vein the allies got the western part of Germany and Italy