The White, Grey, and Black List: American Media Control in Post-war Germany 1944-1947

Created by: Dr. Erwin J. Warkentin, Associate Professor of German and Communication Studies, Memorial University of Newfoundland


In 1944, with the first American troops on German soil (Aachen, October 21, 1944), the Psychological Warfare Division of the Allied Expeditionary Force began the task of reorienting the German people after 12 years of Nazi rule. Under subsequent names like the "Information Control Division" and the "Information Services Branch," the ICD controlled and gave shape to Germany's post-war media and information services. Shortly, a volume will be appearing, which describes the history and activities of this often overlooked branch of the American occupation of Germany.

"The Histories" will be based on the "official" yearly summaries of the activities of the ICD found in the archival records held at the National Archives and Records Administration, College Park. While it appears that the ICD had every intention of publishing them at some point, they never were. These documents provide a unique insight into the day to day operations of the ICD and the challenges they faced in restoring Germany's cultural industries. In addition, it clearly outlines what the American occupation was prepared to countenance and what it would not tolerate in Germany's new media. Most of all, it is a study of an attempt to bring about democratic thought in an entire nation through autocratic means. (The text of these history may be found by following the links below).

Finally, the database below provides access to the secret "White, Grey, Black List," which was used by the ICD to determine who would be allowed to become a player in post-war Germany's media. 

The responsibility for vetting applicants were divided into three branches by the ICD: Press, Radio, and Film-Theater-Music. At this time, the databases contain 18,538 entries. When one excludes the 1,857 entries of the initial November 1944 list, which was preliminary in nature, and duplicate entries on the various lists, there are 16,681 entries. An aggregate database that excludes multiple entries over the life of the lists currently contains  7,797 unique individuals.

Currently, my research assistants and I are in the process of adding the October, December 1945, and August 1946 list to the database, which will bring the number of unique entries to approximately 12,000. Including individuals appearing on more than one list and the preliminary Black List of November 1944, there are approximately 17,800 entries. In total, this represents about 590,000 discrete data points.

The information contained in this database lists such mundane information as a media applicants' names, birth dates, current addresses, sex, and home town. This, however, is not all. It also notes the classification of the individual (White [A or B], Grey [Acceptable or Unacceptable], Black). For a brief explanation of the system used, see the note below. For a fuller description and analysis of the classification system, click here. On occasion it also noted the reasons for their classification or their political background.


Of greater interest, perhaps, are the names that appear on the list. Here are a few of the examples:

Luise Rinser, who went on to be a much honoured writer in Federal Republic of Germany, was black listed as someone who was under no circumstance to be allowed to work in the media in Germany. Her entry noted that she had been using her married name Luise Hermann as an alias. 

Wilhelm Furtwaengler, who appeared as a Blacklisted in the April 1946 list.

Friedrich G. and Ernst Juenger appear on the March 1947 list as Black.

Emmy Sonnemann (Goering) received a Black designation on the April 1946 list.

The original licensees of the Frankfurter Rundschau, Emil Carlebach (WA), Hans Etzkorn (WA), Wilhelm Karl Gerst (GA), Otto Grossmann (WA), Wilhelm Knothe (WA), Paul Rodemann (WA), and Arno Rudert (WA), are listed there. 

August Schwingenstein (WA), Edmund Goldschagg (WA), and Franz Josef Schöningh (WA) of the Süddeutsche Zeitung are listed there as well.

The Stuttgarter Zeitung's initial three publishers, as well as one that was always considered an "unofficial founder" of the paper, are listed here as well: Joseph Eberle (WA), Karl Ackermann (WA), Henry Bernhard (WA), and Helmut Cron (GA)

There are even Americans on the list, like the prodigy violinist Guila Bustabo (Black) of Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Col[l]in Ross (Black) an American radio personality on German radio during the Nazi period.

The Sources

To see the original sources for the WGB List Database, click on one of the dates below:

The Database

The database below provides access to the White, Grey, Black List compiled by the Information Control Division in Germany from April, June, November 1946, and  March 1947. The lists for October, December 1945 and August 1946 are currently being worked on.

The database is an aggregate of ICD White, Grey, Black Lists of  April (3481 Entries), June (1345 Entries), November 1946 (2528 Entries), and  March 1947 (2199 Entries). The total number of entries is 9553. In this database the duplicate entries have been removed, bringing the total entries down to 7797 unique individuals. In removing duplicate entries, the latest list was considered the definitive entry, with earlier entries deleted. Additional information contained in earlier entries, not present in the latest entry, was copied into the comments section of the database. Information from other lists: October (ca. 1200 Entries), December 1945 (ca. 800 Entries), and August 1946 (ca. 4500 Entries), are being prepared in database form. The total of approximately 5780 Entries will most likely yield another 4000 unique entries. 

Classification Codes
Pre Jan. 1946 Post Jan. 1946

White or A

White A

White or B

White B

Grey or C

Grey Acceptable

Black or D

Grey Unacceptable

Black or E


Remember,  the database uses English spelling conventions, thus not umlauts or sz. The US Army only had standard American typewriters. 

You may sort the data by any of the columns by clicking on the column header.

You may search any of the columns individually or in combination with any of the other columns. You start by clicking the search button on the top left.

There are a number of different way that the search may be made, from "like" to "is" to "is not" to "contains".

You may click on the information in a row to reveal the complete information on any given entry. You may also click on the "view" function in the left-most column (does not appear with all browsers).

You may also click on the view function in the left-hand column to view the full information on any of the entries.

October 1945 ICD White, Grey, Black List

The following are the databases based on the individual WGB Lists created by the ICD. In this format they are somewhat less unwieldy and easier to extract meaningful data from than in their original paper format.

The database that follows immediately is for the ICD White, Grey, Black List for October 1945. It is identified as List #2 on its cover. However, a previous list (List #1) has not been located in the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. This can mean one of three things: List #1 may still be missing and filed somewhere else in the approximately 33,000 cubic feet of holding related to OMGUS (This is entirely possible, since one of the lists was located in a file relating to the governing of islands captured during the Pacific Campaign), all copies of List #1 may have been destroyed at some point and are thus permanently lost, or, the reference to List #1 may be to the preliminary list compiled by the Allied Psychological Warfare Division in November of 1944, which was the operational list for the initial occupation of the American Zones in Germany.

The following are the operational ICD White, Grey, Black List databases as indicated by their month and year of publication. There are some names that are carried forward from one list to the other, but the they often contain new information on the applicants or a revision of their personal information or ICD status.

The Statistics

The November 1944 Preliminary Black List

The database on the preliminary list of Germans involved in the media (compiled by the Psychological Warfare Division in November 1944) and being sought by the Allies is available here.