Bohlen Supplementary Memorandum
Memorandum of Marshal Stalin’s Views as Expressed During the Evening of November 28, 1943
During dinner and afterwards Marshal Stalin kept returning to the following subjects:
(1) treatment to be accorded germany
In regard to Germany, Marshal Stalin appeared to regard all measures proposed by either the President or Churchill for the subjugation and for the control of Germany as inadequate. He on various occasions sought to induce the President or the Prime Minister to go further in expressing their views as to the stringency of the measures which should be applied to Germany. He appeared to have no faith in the possibility of the reform of the German people and spoke bitterly of the attitude of the German workers in the war against the Soviet Union. As evidence of the fundamental German devotion to legality he cited the occasion in 1907 when he was in Leipzig when 200 German workers failed to appear at an important mass meeting because there was no controller at the station platform to punch their tickets which would permit them to leave the station. He seemed to think that this mentality of discipline and obedience could not be changed.
He said that Hitler was a very able man but not basically intelligent, lacking in culture and with a primitive approach to political and other problems. He did not share the view of the President that Hitler was mentally unbalanced and emphasized that only a very able man could accomplish what Hitler had done in solidifying the German people whatever we thought of the methods. Although he did not specifically say so, it was apparent from his remarks that he considered that Hitler through his stupidity in attacking the Soviet Union had thrown away all the fruits of his previous victories.
As a war-time measure Marshal Stalin questioned the advisability of the unconditional surrender principle with no definition of the exact terms which would be imposed upon Germany. He felt that to leave the principle of unconditional surrender unclarified merely served to unite the German people, whereas to draw up specific terms, no matter how harsh, and tell the German people that this was what they would have to accept, would, in his opinion, hasten the day of German capitulation.[Page 514]
(2) france and the french empire
Throughout the evening Marshal Stalin kept reverting to the thesis that the French nation, and in particular its leaders and ruling classes, were rotten and deserved to be punished for their criminal collaboration with Nazi Germany. In particular he reiterated that France should not be given back her Empire. He took issue with the Prime Minister when the latter stated that France had been a defeated nation and had suffered the horrors of occupation, and denied that France had been in effect defeated. On the contrary their leaders had surrendered the country and “opened the front” to the German armies. He cited as characteristic of French political thinking the views of Bergery, former Vichy Ambassador to Moscow. Bergery had felt that the future of France lay in close association with Nazi Germany and not in association with Great Britain and the United States. When the Prime Minister stated that he could not conceive of a civilized world without a flourishing and lively France, Marshal Stalin somewhat contemptuously replied that France could be a charming and pleasant country but could not be allowed to play any important role in the immediate post war world. He characterized De Gaulle as a representative of a symbolic and not a real France but one who nevertheless acted as though he was the head of a great power. He appeared to attach little importance to De Gaulle as a real factor in political or other matters.
Both in regard to German and French questions Stalin was obviously trying to stimulate discussion and to ascertain the exact views of the President and Prime Minister on these questions without, however, stating clearly what solutions he himself proposed. On all questions of future general security which arose in the discussion of the French and German questions he appeared desirous to ascertain exactly what form of security organization would be developed after the war and how far the United States and British governments were prepared to go in implementing the police power of such an organization.