Control Office for Germany and Austria
The Control Office for Germany and Austria was established in October 1945 as an independent department, with ultimate responsibility to Parliament being undertaken by the Secretary of State for War. In its earliest stages it had been responsible to the Foreign Office and briefly, from June 1945, to the Directorate of Civil Affairs of the War Office. The Control Office was responsible for the work of the British Elements in the Control Commission for Germany and the Allied Commission for Austria. Those bodies began to be assembled during 1944 and the main contingents took up their duties on the ground in the months immediately following the German surrender in May 1945.
The Control Office's existence as an independent unit came to an end in April 1947 when it was incorporated in the Foreign Office to form part of a new German Section along with the Foreign Office German Department, which had been established in 1945 to deal with policy matters in the British zones of Germany and Austria, and became the German Political Department. Ministerial responsibility then passed to the Foreign Secretary.
A European Advisory Commission's recommendations had provided for the division of Germany and of Austria into four zones and also the creation of four sectors in Greater Berlin and an inter allied command of Vienna. Political differences between the Russians and the three Western powers prevented the development of the four German zones as intended. In 1946 this led to the British and Americans putting their zones together for economic purposes.
In 1948 the British and Americans were joined by the French, in a year in which the relations between the Western allies and the Russians worsened: the Russian representative walked out of the Allied Control Council and blockade was imposed between Berlin and the West. To counter this action by the Russians the Western powers undertook an air lift which was maintained until the blockade was lifted in May 1949.
Until March 1951 the German Section advised the Foreign Secretary on all matters regarding the control of Germany and Austria, and was responsible for the administration of the Control Service (as the British Element of the Control Commission was called) in the British zones of Germany and Austria. After 1951, all departments of the German Section, other than those concerned with the administration and finance of the British Element of the Control Commission for Germany, were transferred to the main Foreign Office for all purposes. From that time the main Foreign Office also assumed full responsibility for Austria. The German Section, as reduced, kept its own vote until 1954.
The new arrangements flowed from the establishment of the German Federal Republic in Western Germany in September 1949. The granting of full independence to Western Germany in 1955 and the termination of the occupation, led to the disbandment of the German Section in 1956.
Control Commission for Germany (British Element)
Military Government Headquarters: The first Military Government Headquarters was at Lubbecke. An advanced element operated for a time at Frankfurt, the headquarters of the American zone. A further advanced party was established in Berlin under the title Special Echelon. Berlin became the main headquarters from the summer of 1946, however the economic fusion of the British and American zones late in 1946 led to the transfer of many headquarters staff to Frankfurt. A further change occurred following the Berlin blockade and the establishment of a West German Government in 1949 when the main headquarters moved from Berlin to the Bonn area.
Chief Administrative Officer/Chief of Staff: The chief administrative officer of the military governor, later the chief of staff to the United Kingdom high commissioner, dealt with British Government departments regarding the establishment work and the organisation of the British Element of the Control Commission for Germany. He was also responsible for its financial and accounting work and for the Road Transport, Welfare Service and Maintenance Directorates.
Regional/Land commissioners: Originally four civilian regional commissioners were appointed for North Rhine, Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein and Hanover. They were later redeployed to cover the North Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony Länder with a further commissioner at the Regional Administrative Office, Hansestadt Hamburg.
T Force/Field Information Agency Technical (FIAT): In order to obtain information of a scientific and technical nature from occupied Germany on behalf of United Kingdom government departments and agencies, a 'T' or target force was organised. A Field Information Agency Technical (FIAT) was also established. All its work was co-ordinated by the British Intelligence Objectives Sub-committee, the successor of the Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-committee. In December 1946 FIAT was transferred from the Control Commission's Intelligence Division to 'T' force, which was itself disbanded in August 1948, when its work was passed to the headquarters secretariat of the Commission.
Bipartite/Tripartite administration: In December 1946 the British and American authorities agreed to fuse their zones for economic purposes. A joint organisation was subject to the control of a Bipartite Board consisting of a military governor from each zone. In 1948 the arrangement was extended to the French zone leading to tripartite administration. The joint organisation was responsible for various agencies, panels, committees and control groups, the most notable of which was the Joint Export-Import Agency.
International Authority for the Ruhr: Arising from the decision to establish a German Federal government, the Western occupying authorities created in May 1949 an International Authority for the Ruhr. The main function of the Authority was to allocate coal, coke and steel from the Ruhr as between German consumption and export. When the European Coal and Steel Community came into existence in February 1953 the Authority was formally liquidated.
Allied Commission for Austria (British Element)
The British Element of the Allied Commission for Austria's zone comprised the provinces of Carinthia and Styria. The British Element was divided into administrative divisions which operated at headquarters level and were supplemented by regional staff located in the two provinces.
In December 1945, Austrians elected a provisional government with limited powers. This government worked in close concert with the occupying authorities. In 1955 a final peace settlement, the Austrian State Treaty was signed and the occupation troops of all four powers were withdrawn.