Bohlen Collection

Bohlen Minutes

The President said he had asked Marshal Stalin to come to see him as he wished to discuss a matter briefly and frankly. He said it referred to internal American politics.

He said that we had an election in 1944 and that while personally he did not wish to run again, if the war was still in progress, he might have to.

He added that there were in the United States from six to seven million Americans of Polish extraction, and as a practical man, he did not wish to lose their vote. He said personally he agreed with the views of Marshal Stalin as to the necessity of the restoration of a Polish state but would like to see the Eastern border moved further to the west and the Western border moved even to the River Oder.1 He hoped, however, that the Marshal would understand that for political reasons outlined above, he could not participate in any decision here in Tehran or even next winter on this subject and that he could not publicly take part in any such arrangement at the present time.

Marshal Stalin replied that now the President explained, he had understood.

The President went on to say that there were a number of persons of Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian origin, in that order, in the United States. He said that he fully realized the three Baltic Republics had in history and again more recently been a part of Russia and added jokingly that when the Soviet armies re-occupied these areas, he did not intend to go to war with the Soviet Union on this point.

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He went on to say that the big issue in the United States, insofar as public opinion went, would be the question of referendum and the right of self-determination. He said he thought that world opinion would want some expression of the will of the people, perhaps not immediately after their re-occupation by Soviet forces, but some day, and that he personally was confident that the people would vote to join the Soviet Union.

Marshal Stalin replied that the three Baltic Republics had no autonomy under the last Czar who had been an ally of Great Britain and the United States, but that no one had raised the question of public opinion, and he did not quite see why it was being raised now.

The President replied that the truth of the matter was that the public neither knew nor understood.

Marshal Stalin answered that they should be informed and some propaganda work should be done.

He added that as to the expression of the will of the people, there would be lots of opportunities for that to be done in accordance with the Soviet constitution but that he could not agree to any form of international control.

The President replied it would be helpful for him personally if some public declaration in regard to the future elections to which the Marshal had referred, could be made.

Marshal Stalin repeated there would be plenty of opportunities for such an expression of the will of the people.

After a brief discussion of the time of the President’s departure and that of Marshal Stalin, The President said there were only two matters which the three of them had not talked over.

He said he had already outlined to the Marshal his ideas on the three world organizations2 but he felt that it was premature to consider them here with Mr. Churchill. He referred particularly to his idea of the four great nations, the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China, policing the world in the post-war period. He said it was just an idea, and the exact form would require further study.

Mr. Molotov said that at the Moscow Conference, m accordance with the Four Power Declaration,3 it had been agreed that the three governments would give further study as to the exact form of world organization and the means of assuring the leading role of the four great powers mentioned.

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During the conversation, in reply to the President’s question, Marshal Stalin said that he had received the three papers which the President had handed him the day before yesterday, one in regard to air bases, and the other two in regard to secret contacts involving the Far East,4 but said he had not had time to study the documents carefully, but would take it up in Moscow with Ambassador Harriman.

At this meeting, Stalin, referring to his conversation with the President on November 28 [29] on the world organization,5 said that after thinking over the question of the world organization as outlined by the President, he had come to agree with the President that it should be world-wide and not regional.6

  1. For post-Conference references to what Roosevelt said at Tehran about Polish boundaries, see Churchill’s telegram 799, October 18, 1944, to Roosevelt, post, p. 884, and Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, pp. 203205, 667, 677.
  2. See ante, p. 530.
  3. Decade, p. 11.
  4. See ante, p. 529, and post, pp. 617619.
  5. See ante, p. 530.
  6. It would appear, however, from what Roosevelt told Connally after returning to the United States, that Roosevelt believed that Stalin continued to favor the regional plan. See Senator Tom Connally, My Name Is Tom Connally (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1954), p. 265, which reads in part: “Stalin, Roosevelt concluded, favored Churchill’s regional plan. ‘I’ll have to work on both of them,’ Roosevelt told me.”