Roosevelt Papers: Telegram

The British Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Clark Kerr ) to the British Foreign Office 1


I asked Molotov last night what he thought of the latest Italian peace feelers and the way they were being handled.

He said that Stalin was preparing an answer to the message from the Prime Minister and the President.2 It would be to the effect that the Soviet Government “considered it necessary” to set up an Anglo-Soviet-American politico-military commission to examine the terms of surrender of Italy and of all the other countries likely to fall away from their allegiance to Germany. The commission should be established in Sicily and should get to work at once. The Soviet Government were making this suggestion because they were conscious of their aloofness from such questions and felt that they should properly take a part in them. They recognized that they had been kept fully informed of decisions taken, but they thought the time had come for them to play a part in the taking of them. I asked if he had any criticisms to make of terms of surrender. He said no.
Some such suggestion as this was bound to come sooner or later. Here we had some sense of its likelihood. It has probably now been brought to a head by Quebec meeting and by discussion in Anglo-American press of the absence of a Soviet representative. An article entitled “Quebec and the Soviet Union” in the current number of War and the Working Classes, which you will doubtless have seen, (Routers’ correspondent covered it fully) shows which way the wind is blowing and that it is blowing briskly.
I expect that at first sight Soviet Government proposal when made will be unwelcome to you, because at this stage presence in our councils of a Soviet representative (suspicious and probably inarticulate [Page 1174] until prompted from Moscow) will be a nuisance. But for myself I feel strongly that we should face this nuisance and accept the proposal without demur, because it seems to me that immediate and full Soviet participation in our debates about Italy would go a long way not only towards stilling grievances but, more important, towards laying the foundations of real cooperation in the settlement of Europe. Admission of the Soviet Government to our present councils would open the door to ourselves and Americans when the time came to provide for the future of Finland and Eastern Europe.
  1. The text of this message was made available to the Department of State by the British Embassy at Washington, and was forwarded to Roosevelt, who was then at Hyde Park, in telegram No. White 137, August 27, 1943, from the White House Map Room.
  2. See ante, pp. 1059, 1095. Stalin’s message to which Molotov referred is printed infra.