740.0011 European War 1939/20328

Memorandum by the Acting Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Atherton) to the Acting Secretary of State

Mr. Welles. I have redrafted the telegram concerning the declaration of war against Rumania, Hungary and Bulgaria in order that the message may be conveyed through the Swiss Government. This draft is attached hereto17 for your approval.

The objection to utilizing the Swiss authorities in the beginning was that a communication of this kind through the representing power seems almost automatically to take the character of an ultimatum. I am not sure that the Swiss, any more than would the Turks, will be willing to act along the informal lines suggested.

It was, as you know, my view that the advantages of our present status should be exploited, as a psychological warfare measure, before making the declarations which would irrevocably range the three countries as active enemies. After the meeting held in your office on February 26, and the sending of the telegram to Ankara, various plans were discussed for utilizing the interval for intensive press or radio work, to determine whether this weapon may in fact have value in promoting actual resistance to the Axis in the countries concerned. This program, in the form of directives based on an official statement, has been worked out in considerable detail by Mr. Hoskins (A–B/H),18 in consultation with this Division and with Mr. Berle. It will be ready for presentation to you today for your approval, if Mr. Hoskins obtains some expected technical information from the Coordinator’s office.19

I therefore suggest that we delay the telegram to the Swiss Government until you will have had an opportunity to look over this project.

Meanwhile, I think it is worth noting that the best information we can get from Bulgaria and Rumania indicates a stiffer attitude toward Germany, and recent developments in Hungary are especially significant. The new Hungarian Premier20 is so notoriously anti-German that his appointment, following closely on the flouting of German ideas in the matter of the vice-regency, must be taken to mean that Hungary no longer feels that Germany is now in a position to exact complete subservience. If this is correct, there would seem to be an [Page 838]advantage in delaying the formal declarations until we can see how effectively the propaganda elements can work.

Ray Atherton
  1. Not attached to file copy; for the telegram as sent, see infra.
  2. Harold B. Hoskins, Executive Assistant to Assistant Secretary of State Adolf A. Berle, Jr.
  3. Presumably the reference here is to the Coordinator of Information, whose foreign information activities were transferred to the Office of War Information on June 13, 1942, and whose other activities were transferred on the same date to the Office of Strategic Services.
  4. Miklós Kállay, Hungarian Premier from March 9, 1942.