President Roosevelt’s Press Conference Notes1
Notes for F.D.R.
Soon after the successful landing operations in North Africa on November 8th, the President and the Prime Minister quickly agreed that the time had come for another review of the world war situation, and the practical discussion of steps to be taken by the United Nations for the prosecution of the war. This involved a meeting of the British-American combined staffs and if possible, another personal meeting. Such a meeting involved total geographical considerations and the President discussed with Mr. Stalin the possibilities of his attendance at a joint meeting somewhere in Africa.2 It became clear that while Mr. Stalin greatly desired to attend such a meeting, he was of necessity precluded from leaving Russia because he3 was conducting the new Russian offensive which even at that time had begun its eminently successful operation against the Germans, along the whole long line of the Russian-German front, from the Baltic to the Caucasus.
The Russian war leader was advised that the meeting between4 the President and the Prime Minister would nevertheless be held, and that he would be kept fully informed of the progress of planning for the year 1943. It is of course expected that as the operations of the year develop, the four major United Nations’ military powers will continue their excellent cooperation in, and coordination of the world [Page 837] wide strategy which day by day is closing the net around the Axis powers.5
As a result of preliminary conversations, the President and the Prime Minister met at an undisclosed point in North Africa about ten days ago, their Army, Navy and Air staffs having already begun studies of the world situation.
These studies, unprecedented in history in their completeness and in their total global aspect, have resulted in unanimous agreements marked by a spirit of complete understanding and cordiality, and have now been brought to a conclusion.6
The combined staffs have been actuated in this by the7 pooling all of the resources of the United Nations and by the determination to maintain the initiative against the Axis powers in every part of the world.
War plans have been agreed on to strike the enemy during the whole of 1943. These plans cover:
- United operations conducted in their areas of hostilities.
- All possible material aid to the Russian offensive against Germany, which is so greatly cutting down the manpower of Germany and her satellites Roumania, Italy and Hungary now opposing Russia on the eastern front, together with the continued destruction of German munitions and material of all kinds.
- All possible aid will be given to the heroic struggle of China now in its 6th year, with the resolve to end for all time Japanese domination of the Far East.
The President and the Prime Minister, after a complete survey of the world war situation, are more than ever determined that peace can come to the world only by a total elimination of German and Japanese war power. This involves the simple formula of placing the objective of this war in terms of an unconditional surrender by Germany, Italy and Japan. Unconditional surrender by them means a reasonable assurance of world peace, for generations. Unconditional surrender means not the destruction of the German populace, nor of the Italian or Japanese populace, but does mean the destruction of a philosophy hi Germany, Italy and Japan which is based on the conquest and subjugation of other peoples.
The President and the Prime Minister are confident that this is equally the purpose of Russia, of China, and of all other members of the United Nations.[Page 838]
The meeting of the President and the Prime Minister with the combined staffs has come to a complete and successful meeting of the minds in regard to all military operations, and the war against the Axis powers will proceed according to schedule with every indication of a continuation of successes for the United Nations during 1943.
In view of the fact that the conference was held in North Africa and in view of the world wide desire that France be liberated from the Nazi yoke, the President and the Prime Minister, on arrival, took steps to bring Frenchmen in every part of the world outside of occupied France, into a unity, with one simple objective—the raising of French Army, Navy and Air forces to march with the United Nations to the liberation of France.
They therefore invited General Giraud and General de Gaulle to meet in North Africa, in order that they might discuss ways and means toward this simple objective, and if they desire to consult with the President and the Prime Minister toward the common end. General Giraud, the High Commissioner of French North Africa and French West Africa, arrived at the place of meeting within two days.
General Giraud, as High Commissioner, represents the supreme French command in Algiers, Tunis, the French Protectorate of the Sultanate of Morocco, and West Africa, which includes Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Dahomey and French Guinea. These territories include by far the greater part of the French overseas territory, both in area and in population. In the category of population, these territories include not only the greater majority of the native population, but also the greater majority of the French population which lives outside of France proper.
After negotiations in London which lasted six days longer, General de Gaulle agreed to come to North Africa to meet with General Giraud. He arrived on Friday morning, January 22nd. (At this point the Prime Minister will set forth the situation resulting from General de Gaulle’s visit):
Statement by the President
While in North Africa, I have visited and inspected a number of American Army ground and air units, and in addition have talked with a number of commanders of Naval areas.
A few days ago I visited and inspected several American divisions which had taken part in the landing operations on the night of November 7–8. I found them in excellent health, high spirits and high efficiency—eager to fight again. And they will.[Page 839]
I had the opportunity of visiting localities where the actual landing operations, followed by severe land fighting, had taken place. I went to a cemetery containing the graves of American soldiers and the graves of French soldiers killed in the first few days before the fighting ceased.
May I say here, that the French garrisons, obeying orders to resist any landing, fought with extreme bravery and with heavy losses, but the moment peace was reestablished, the French Army and Navy and the French civil authorities have given whole hearted assistance to the American forces in carrying out the common objective of peace in these areas, of the establishment of French armies to do battle in the common cause, and to improve the conditions of living in a civil population which had been subjected to grave hardships during the past two years by the demands upon them for food and other supplies by a Nazi machine which thought of itself and itself alone.
I have also had the privilege of meeting and cooperating with the Sultan of Morocco, who, as the sovereign of Morocco, is rightly interested in the welfare of his people. It is gratifying to know that at no time has he given aid or comfort to the Axis.
The American forces in North Africa maintain at the highest point their morale and fighting qualities. They seek further victories. They are ready to go. I am proud of them.
- Photographs of the Roosevelt–Churchill press conference of January 24, 1943, such as that following p. 483, show Roosevelt holding a document, presumably the notes printed here. These notes, which appear to have been prepared in the course of several days, are printed here in two parts. Part A bears a notation at the top of the first page in Roosevelt’s handwriting: “Notes for my press conf.—Dictated by my [sic] Jan. 22”. Part A is in fact a revision of the draft joint statement by the President and the Prime Minister printed supra and incorporates most of the handwritten corrections and emendations indicated in that previous paper. Part A itself contains marginal notations, in an unidentified handwriting, which are indicated in footnotes at the appropriate places. Part B, which is also undated, bears the notation in Roosevelt’s handwriting: “Notes for my press conference statement FDR Casablanca.” According to the Log ante, p. 533, during the evening of January 23, Roosevelt dictated “background material” for the press conference scheduled for the following day. The substance of these notes and the handwritten annotations thereto were included in Roosevelt’s statements as recorded in the transcript of the press conference, ante, p. 726.↩
- A marginal note at this point reads: “definitely asked to come.”↩
- A marginal note reads: “as Commander in Chief of the Russian armies.”↩
- A marginal note reads: “Expression of admiration for the quality of his leadership.”↩
- The first part of this sentence is crossed out, and a marginal note reads: “with Russia and with China in the offensive vs. Japan.”↩
- A marginal note at the end of the sentence reads: “Stayed in same hotel with adjoining rooms etc.”↩
- Before being corrected by Roosevelt, the first part of the sentence read: “The combined staffs have been actuated in this by a spirit of pooling.”↩