Lot file 60D–224

Memorandum of Conversation With President Roosevelt46a

Participants: President Roosevelt
Secretary Hull
Under Secretary Edward E. Stettinius
Leo Pasvolsky
James C. Dunn, Adviser, Office of Foreign Economic Coordination
Green H. Hackworth, Legal Adviser
H. Freeman Matthews, Chief, Division of European Affairs
Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy

Meeting at the White House, October 5, 1943

I. Mediterranean Commission46b

The idea of the Commission was suggested by the Soviet Government and acquiesced in by the President and Churchill. The functions are to be recommendatory to the governments. It is to have no control over military authorities and no power of decision, but it should consider all questions relating to enemy and liberated territories. Other interested countries, including Brazil, should be brought in when their interests are involved. The position of the French Committee is not clear. It has been promised participation on the lines indicated above but something more might be necessary.

II. Four-Power Arrangement46c

We should make every effort to secure both British and Russian agreement to China’s participation. Both may present difficulties. Churchill does not like China. Two three-power arrangements will not be nearly as good as one four-power arrangement. It should be possible to find a formulation which would clearly absolve Russia from participation in questions relating to the Pacific area until after the termination with the war with Japan. Alternatively, provision might be made for China’s adherence later on. But the four-power concept should be preserved, even at the cost of getting no agreement at this time. China is too important a factor, both [Page 542] now and in the future, both because of herself and because of her influence over British India, to be alienated.

III. Germany

The President stated categorically that he favors partition of Germany into three or more states, completely sovereign but joined by a network of common services as regards postal arrangements, communications, railways, customs, perhaps power (although he thought power arrangements should be made on a continental basis), etc. The new German states should be deprived of all military activities, including training, and of armament industries. East Prussia should be detached, and all dangerous elements of the population forcibly removed. As against the argument that partition would have many undesirable results and that the customs union arrangement would either prove to be unworkable or become a powerful instrument of re-unification, the President stated that we are inclined to exaggerate these effects. Later in the discussion, however, the President said that the whole transitional period would have to be one of trial and error, and that it may well happen that in practice we shall discover that partition, undertaken immediately after the war, may have to be abandoned. As regards reparation, there will be no exaction in money, but rather in manpower and equipment.

IV. Baltic States and Poland

When he meets with Stalin,46d the President intends to appeal to him on grounds of high morality. He would say to him that neither Britain nor we would fight Russia over the Baltic States, but that in Russia’s own interest, from the viewpoint of her position in the world, it would be a good thing to say that she would be willing, in two years or so after the war, to have a second plebiscite, since, while she is satisfied that the earlier plebiscite was conclusive, the rest of the world does not seem to think so. The same idea might be applied to Eastern Poland. The President thinks that the new boundary should, in any event, be somewhat east of the Curzon line,46e with Lemberg going to Poland, and that a plebiscite should take place after the shell-shock of war had subsided.

[Page 543]

V. Belgium

There is not likely to be any trouble about the restoration of Holland or the Scandinavian countries. But Belgium is likely to present difficulties. Apart from the equivocal position of the King (who has British support because Churchill believes in the restoration of monarchies, but who may cause trouble vis-à-vis the government-in-exile), Belgium is an artificial, bilingual state, with the Walloons and Flamands traditionally at odds with each other. He mentioned, in this connection, a German study made in 1940, proposing a federal union of Alsace, Lorraine, Luxembourg and the two parts of Belgium.

VI. Yugoslavia

He is not sure that Yugoslavia can be restored as a unit. Croatia may have to be set up separately from Serbia.

VII. Trusteeship Idea

We ought to lay a great deal of stress on the possibilities of the trusteeship idea and apply it widely to all sorts of situations. The following are examples:

The Baltic passages—Kiel and the Straits—might each be set up as a free zone, under international trustees.
A similar zone might be arranged for Russia to the Persian Gulf.
The British might, as a gesture of generosity, return to China sovereignty over Hong Kong and the peninsula, while China might, in return, immediately declare Hong Kong a free port under international trusteeship.
Indo-China might be placed under international trusteeship.
The mandated islands of the Pacific might be taken away from Japan and placed under international trustees.
Security points in many parts of the world might be placed under international trustees—Truk, Bonine Islands, Kurile Islands (although the Kuriles should really go to Russia), Rabaul or some point in the Solomons, appropriate points in the Dutch East Indies, Ascension Island, Dakar, some point in Liberia.

A variant of the trusteeship idea might be applied to colonial areas. The draft declaration46f proposed on this point some time ago has great possibilities especially as regards its inspection and publicity features, which would be powerful means of inducing colonial powers to develop their colonies for the good of the dependent peoples themselves and of the world.

  1. Authorship not indicated but presumed to be Leo Pasvolsky, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State and Chairman of the Committee on Special Studies. This meeting was held to discuss with President Roosevelt questions likely to arise at the Moscow Conference.
  2. See section entitled, “The Political-Military Commission”, pp. 782 ff.
  3. See “Tentative Draft of a Joint Four-Power Declaration,” p. 522, together with British and Soviet reactions, pp. 531 and 534, respectively. For related documents, see Foreign Relations, 1943, China, pp. 819835.
  4. For documentation on arrangements looking to a meeting of the Heads of Government, see Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943, pp. 3 ff., and for Secretary Hull’s memorandum of a conversation on October 6 with the Polish Ambassador regarding the forthcoming conference at Moscow, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. iii, p. 467.
  5. In regard to the origin of the Curzon line and for a description of it, see Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol. xiii, pp. 793794, Further details are in ibid., vol. ix, pp. 272273, 286, 434, 446447; British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxii, pp. 971–972; H. W. V. Temperley, A History of the Peace Conference of Paris (Oxford, 1924), vol. vi, pp. 233–283, 317–322; and S. Konovalov, Russo-Polish Relations: An Historical Survey (London, 1945) pp. 33–38, 57–63.
  6. See Document No. 44, U.S. Draft of a Declaration by the United Nations on National Independence, p. 747.