The most devastating war in modern human history was over, but with two of the most prominent militaries now locked in ideological and political differences. Despite this, the U.S. was once again willing to demobilize most of her military besides what was necessary to enforce occupation duties in former axis nations. For example, in 1945, almost 41 percent of the nation’s GDP went toward military spending. By 1948, it was only 7.2 percent of GDP. Although there were some fears by Nobel laureates such as economists Gunnar Myrdal and Paul Samuelson about a postwar economic collapse, the U.S. economy grew and the general public focused inward, once again preferring some degree of isolationism like prior wars.

The American army of occupation lacked both training and organization to guide the destinies of the nearly one million civilians whom the fortunes of war had placed under its temporary sovereignty.”

— Col. Irwin L. Hunt, Civil Affairs, Third Army, Post WWI

But isolationism was not possible. The old Imperial order was shattered, with even the victorious British Empire now broke. Forced to deal with the occupational duties in not just Germany, but also Austria, Japan, and Southern Korea, the U.S. was thrust into a role the public was historically resistant of. To walk away from this meant leaving the new world order to the Soviet Union, and to the Truman administration, this was not politically acceptable.

Occupational Hazards: Europe

But we finally knocked that Fuehrer out. Defeated the German armies, second Chapter ended. We marched into Germany and said: “Why these people are ok! It was just the Kaiser we had to get rid of. You know, this is really some country. When it comes to culture, they lead the whole world! We bit. We poured in our sympathy. We pulled out our armies. And they plunk Chapter 3 in our faces. Fuehrer number 3. Slogan number 3. “Today, Germany…tomorrow, the world”.

— “Your Job In Germany” 1945 US Army Orientation Film

Like most wars, the U.S. Army was left holding the bag in terms of implementing post-war civilian governance, which it embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Still at the forefront was the Psychological Warfare Division, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (PWD/SHAEF), which was still tasked with psychological warfare. Only instead of working to defeat Germany military morale, the new tasks were to reinforce allied willpower for occupational duties and crush lingering Nazi sympathy. After occupational duties were started, PWD/SHAEF was formed into the new Information Control Division (ICD).

But besides setting up a framework of civilian democratic governance that was systematically dismantled during National Socialism’s rise to power, the biggest question was what to do about lingering sympathy for Nazism. Such concerns were reinforced by rumors of an active pro-Nazi insurgent group called “Werwolf” ready to strike at occupying American, British, or Soviet forces. But despite having a rather clever name and a few isolated attacks that may or may not have been contributing to the insurgents, it was largely a bust. It was enough to be perceived as very real, as both Allied and Soviet authorities carried out reprisals against suspected Germans.