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The Pens of the Berlin Declaration

(This page published March 21, 2024)

Reference Info Index | Glossopedia  ]


On June 5, 1945, the attendees at a conference of the Allied victors used several pens to sign the “Berlin Declaration,” establishing a plan for the administration of Germany in the aftermath of World War II. What were the pens, and whose was which?
The Waldgaststätte in 1958

The Waldgaststätte, Köpenick, Germany, 1958. Photo ©
Museum Köpenick. Used under 17 U.S.C. §107, Fair Use.

The Problem and its Necessary Solution

The German surrender signed by Feldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel, Generaladmiral Hans-Georg von Friedeburg, and Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen Stumpff on May 9, 1945, was a military surrender only. With the total collapse of the Nazi government and the ongoing arrests of both military and civilian authorities, Germany no longer had a functioning central government or any other administrative organization. Something had to be done to clean up the mess, and with millions homeless and starving, there was no time to waste. Taking the problem in hand, Allied leaders convened a conference that has been largely outshone by the drama of the war-ending surrenders. At that conference, they created a document outlining the necessary organization, procedures, and requirements. Entitled “Declaration Regarding the Defeat of Germany and the Assumption of Supreme Authority by Allied Powers,” the document was signed on June 5, 1945. In its preamble, it outlined the problem and stated the solution, as follows:

The Governments of the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United Kingdom, and the Provisional Government of the French Republic, hereby assume supreme authority with respect to Germany, including all the powers possessed by the German Government, the High Command and any state, municipal, or local government or authority.

The Scene

The conference took place around a huge circular table in the restaurant’s main room. On the table was a stand holding the flags of the four Allied Powers whose representatives had signed the Instrument of Surrender in Zhukov’s headquarters a month earlier.

The round conference table

The conferees around the table. Seated, left to right: General Dwight Eisenhower, U.S. Vice-Admiral Robert Ghormley; Robert Murphy, adviser on German affairs to General Eisenhower; Sir William Strang, political adviser to Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery; and Field Marshal Montgomery. Flags on the table, counterclockwise from left: U.S., France, USSR, Great Britain.

Note
Note
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The Signing

The document known as the Berlin Declaration was actually the first of three interrelated documents signed at the conference:
  1. Document 1, the Berlin Declaration proper, proclaimed the unconditional surrender of Germany and the assumption of supreme authority by the victorious Allied powers. It stated further that Germany was now subject to whatever requirements the victors might impose, boty civilly and militarily. It then included 14 Articles detailing how the demilitarization of Germany and the removal of responsible Nazis was to be conducted.

  2. Document 2 announced the establishment of the Allied Control Council, a body that would oversee the demilitarization of Germany and the establishment of the new civil order.

  3. Document 3 defined the zones to be occupied by the four victorious powers, based on the territory of the German Reich as it stood December 31, 1937.

The signing began at 6:00 p.m. June 5, with General Dwight Eisenhower’s signature. As might be expected, Ike used one of his seemingly ubiquitous Parker “51” pens. This pen was dark in color, probably black. (The black pen shown below is representative; the color of Ike’s pen might also have been Blue Cedar or Cordovan Brown.) Neither of the “51” pens that had been used on May 7 at Rheims was used in Berlin.

Parker “51”
Eisenhower signing
Eisenhower signing close-up
General Eisenhower signs the Berlin Declaration, Kö­pe­nick, Germany, June 5, 1945. British Newspaper Pool photo. Used under 17 U.S.C. §107, Fair Use.

Marshal Georgy Zhukov, commander of the Soviet Union’s Red Army, was the second to sign the documents. When his turn came, Zhukov signed with his personal pen.

Zhukov signing
Marshal Zhukov signs the Berlin Declaraion, Köpenick, Germany, June 5, 1945. Photo credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R83900. Used under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

The photograph below shows Zhukov’s pen. In the original copy of this image, the pen was too dark to discern detail; accordingly, I have adjusted levels in this copy to show the pen more clearly. Although the cap-crown jewel and clip are damaged, the pen is obviously a Parker “51”. How this instrument came into Zhukov’s possession is not known. The pen now resides in the Museum of the Great Patriotic War (also known as the Victory Museum), in Moscow, Russia.

Zhukov’s pen
Zhukov’s pen clodse-up

The third man to place his name at the bottom of the Declaration was British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, arguably the least likable of all the Allied commanders but yet a man who had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order in World War I, who had been knighted in 1942, and who would be made Knight of the Garter and 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein in 1946. Montgomery used a dark-colored Parler “51” that had most likely been a gift from Eisenhower, whose supply came from his longtime friend Kenneth Parker. (As with Eisenhower’s pen, I cannot be certain of the color of Montgomery’s pen; judging from its appearance in the photo, I believe that it was black, with a gold-filled cap.)

Parker “51”
Montgomery signing
Eisenhower signing close-up
Field Marshal Montgomeryr signs the Berlin Dec­lar­a­tion, Kö­pe­nick, Germany, June 5, 1945. Photo © 1945 Asso­ci­at­ed Press. Used under 17 U.S.C. §107, Fair Use.

General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, representing the provisional French government, was the fourth and last to sign the Declaration. He signed with a Burgundy and Black streamlined Parker Duofold. This pen now resides in the Musée de l’Armée Invalides in Paris, France. Note the well-crafted replacement clip, which can be seen in de Lattre’s hand in the photo shown to the left below.

de Lattre signing
parker_pen_karlshorst

Photo © Musée de l'Armée Invalides. Used under 17 U.S.C. §107, Fair Use.

General de Lattre signs the Berlin Declaeration, Kö­penick, Germany, June 5, 1945. Photo © 1945 Associated Press. Used under 17 U.S.C. §107, Fair Use.

The Aftermath

The work of the Allied Control Council was just beginning. Among all the various tasks involved in demilitarization, such as ensuring that all troops were disarmed; tallying all aircraft, vehicles, and naval vessels; and removing and replacing civic officials, there was the work of partitioning German territory into four occupation zones. The contemporaneous map shown here was printed on “necessity paper,” which was paper that had already been used but was printed on only one side. This particular copy of the map was printed on the back of a prewar German-language map of Francheval, a commune in the Ardennes district. The use of such paper demonstrates the level of shortages in Germany during and after the war.

Postwar occupation areas, 1945

The Allied Control Council commenced its task of effecting the partition of Germany immediately after the signing of the Berlin Declaration and the associated documents. Troops of any of the Allied powers who found themselves in the occupation zone of another country were technically required to relocate to their own country’s zone, and this requirement was strictly adhered to by the Soviets, who herded troops of the Western Allies out of their zone as rapidly as practicable.

From the outset, the Council’s operation was seriously compromised by the French representatives. Because France had been excluded from the Potsdam Conference, the French refused to recognize any of the requirements that were established there. Finally, on March 20, 1948, the situation had deteriorated so badly that the Soviet representatives walked out, essentially putting the operation of the Council to an end. The occupation of Germany by the four Allied Powers ended officially on May 23, 1949, and the three Western Allies’ zones were combined to become the free Federal Republic of Germany, with the Soviet zone becoming the German Democratic Republic, a Soviet puppet state.

This article is one in a series about the historic pens used at the official German and Japanese surrenders that ended World War II.



Notes:
  1. Preamble to the Berlin Declaration, paragraphs 2 and 5.  Return

  2. Loy, Thomas, “Die vergessene Konferenz nach Kriegsend,” Tagesspiegel link, retrieved March 18, 2024.  Return

  3. After the war, the Forest Restaurant was renamed Friendship Restaurant. After the 1990 German reunification, the building was razed and the forest cleared, and the entire property was filled with a cluster of multistory apartment buildings.  Return


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