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BERLIN: AUSTRALIA’S INVOLVEMENT in POST-WW2 MILITARY MISSION

I lived through World War 2 in Sydney and for 2 decades after. I am amazed at how little I knew about facts that involved Australia, at home and abroad, during WW2. I have now lived in North America for four decades bombarded with news, wanted or not, from numerous television sources. As I was always interested in ‘facts’ in my student days, I suspect that we, Australian citizens were not privy to much information during the war or immediately after. This cover is a good example of the secrecy around one significant event.

The cover has manuscript ‘Forces Mail’ and ‘BY AIR MAIL’, the blue 2½d U.K. stamp is postmarked with a double circle FIELD POST OFFICE/ 815 with the date of 1950 obscured. There was a double circle hand-stamp with the Australian Shield/ 14 in the centre, and AUSTRALIAN MILITARY MISSION/ GERMANY, between the two circles The cover was addressed to J. Brack Esq., Dept. of External Territories, Canberra A.C.T., Australia ( Figure 1).

The reverse has no postmark cancellations but it identifies the sender as R.W. Brack, Australian Military Mission, BERLIN B.A.D.R.2 (Figure 2).

With the defeat of the Axis armies in Europe in 1945, four zones of occupation, controlled by the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union were established at the end of the war. Disagreements about the joint administration of these zones and the political and economic management of Germany were the principal causes of the following ‘Cold War’. The Soviet Union controlled eastern Germany, and the Russian zone in Germany later became the German Democratic Republic. The western portion of Germany was divided up between the three major Allies in the war, as shown in Figure 3.

 

The previous figure shows a small multicoloured area within the red zone under the Soviet Union’s control, and when this is magnified it shows how all four allied countries shared the control of the city of Berlin (Figure 4).

 

How did Australia become involved in the post-war Military Mission in Berlin? I found an Australian War Cabinet Submission by John Curtin dated 15 March 1945, when he was acting Minister for External Affairs, labeled ‘SECRET’, relating to the post-armistice control in Germany. Paragraph 2. reads, in part, as follows: "During discussion of matters relating to surrender of Germany, the Australian Government made strong representations to the United Kingdom Government regarding the right of nations other than the Great Powers to participate in the armistice control in Germany and, though these representations were unsuccessful, the United Kingdom Government obtained the insertion of the following provision in the Article VIII of the Agreement: "The necessary liaison with the Governments of other United Nations chiefly interested will be ensured by the appointment by such governments of military missions (which may include civilian members) to the Control Council..................."

Paragraph 3. reads, in part, as follows: "It is considered highly important that Australia should appoint such a mission..............." and it goes on specifically to mention Berlin as being one of the chief centres of information. Paragraph 5. reads, in part, "It is suggested that the appropriate membership of an Australian military mission would be a representative from each service (one of whom would be designated Head of the mission) and a Political Advisor"........ "it is desirable to have a mission in Berlin at the earliest possible moment......"

Paragraph 6. reads in full: "It is therefore recommended - That a military mission to provide liaison with the Control Council for Germany be organized by the Australian Government." Footnote 2. reads: "Discussion by War Cabinet was deferred until 1 May (1945), when it was decided to confine the mission to one service officer and a political adviser with minimum subordinate staff".

At two other internet sources, I learnt that Brigadier Tom Warren White was appointed to head the Australian Military Mission in Berlin in October 1945. He returned to Melbourne in February 1948 and was eventually replaced by Major General Frederick Gallaghar "Black Jack"Gallagan in January 1949 until November 1949.

The sender of the cover (R.W. Brack) probably was one of the civilian staff in the Berlin Mission in 1950. Neither he or his relative, J. Brack, Dept. Of External Territories, Canberra A.C.T. have been found in an internet search.

 

 
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