Summary of the Proceedings of the Fifth Session of the Tripartite Conference, October 23, 1943, 4 p.m.
Mr. Molotov opened the session by designating Mr. Vyshinski and Mr. Golonski, an official of the Soviet Foreign Office, as Soviet representatives on the Drafting Committee. He then inquired whether there were any proposals in regard to articles 1 and 2 of the Joint Agreement and stated that in his understanding items 3 and 4 were to be referred to the Drafting Committee, as item 2 had already been. The Secretary and Mr. Eden agreed that it would be desirable to refer items 3 and 4 to the Drafting Committee.
Mr. Molotov then suggested that we consider the Soviet proposals in regard to Italy.55
Mr. Eden replied that he thought it better to await instructions from his Government and that in the meantime he had turned in to the Conference a joint statement together with the United States Delegation of Allied policies up to the present in Italy.56
The Secretary said that he likewise had transmitted the Soviet proposals on Italy to his Government but that he could say that in his opinion they were very much in line with the political philosophy of the United States and other members of the United Nations.
Mr. Molotov then suggested that the second part of item 4 dealing with the Balkans be discussed.
Mr. Eden then read a statement in regard to the British attitude toward the resistance movement in Yugoslavia. He said that the long-term desire of the British Government was to see Yugoslavia restored to her former freedom and independence with the preservation of the three kingdoms of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. He said that the British had been in touch with both of the main resistant groups in Yugoslavia, Mikhailović57 and the Partisans.58 When he had been in Cairo he had discussed with King Peter59 and the Yugoslav Government the attitude toward Mikhailović and had said that the British Government’s chief desire was to have him actively engage in operations against the enemies Germany and Bulgaria. He had outlined to the King two operations which the British would like to see Mikhailović carry out, namely the destruction of the Bor copper mines and the cutting of the strategic railroad between Belgrade and [Page 618] Nishi. King Peter had promised that if at this Conference a common policy in regard to Yugoslavia could be agreed upon he would send immediate orders to Mikhailović to carry out these operations for which it was believed he had adequate forces. It was made quite plain to the King that if these orders were not carried out the British Government would have to reconsider its attitude toward Mikhailović and the question of sending him further supplies. Mr. Eden added that the British were continuing to supply the Partisans and it was hoped in the near future that more ample supplies could be sent by the Adriatic. Mr. Eden then outlined his proposals which were simply that efforts be made to unite the two factions in the common struggle against Germany and to prevent in the future their fighting each other. He said that he thought this would be possible since they were operating in different areas.
The Secretary said that he had nothing to add to the statements of Mr. Eden at this time.
Mr. Molotov said he likewise had little to add, particularly as it was the first time that he had heard of the suggested two operations and he would like to have more time to consider the question. He then stated that he had understood that under item 4 there was to be a discussion of the general situation in the Balkans since the specific question of resistance movements in Yugoslavia was provided for in item 16.
Mr. Eden replied that he had given out this information as he thought it would be of value to the Soviet Delegation.
Mr. Molotov said he would study the British statement and it could be discussed when item 16 on the Agenda was reached.
Mr. Eden said that in regard to general policy the British aim was to assist guerrilla bands in that area in their struggle against the German occupying forces and whenever possible to prevent these bands from fighting among themselves; that the British had had officers in touch with Greek guerrilla bands who up until recently had been cooperating with each other, but that very lately this agreement had broken down and he felt that efforts should be made to patch it up. He said that the Italian attitude in the Balkan countries had varied a great deal, that in some places such as the island of Corfu the Italians had joined wholeheartedly with the Greeks in fighting the Germans but this was not uniformly true in other parts. He went on to say that Rumania had recently approached the British Government in regard to the possibility of separate peace but he felt that that had better be considered under the specific item of the Agenda dealing with such peace feelers. Mr. Eden added that they had very little information with regard to Bulgaria and hoped to obtain some from their Soviet colleagues. The only thing that [Page 619] they did know was that Bulgarian divisions had relieved German forces in northern Greece and northern Serbia.
The Secretary said that in this connection he would like General Deane to be permitted to make a statement.
General Deane said that the United States Chief of Staff considered that there was great opportunity in the Balkans, particularly during the winter months, to intensify sabotage and disruptive work in order to undermine German military strength. He said that the Office of Strategic Services had the equipment and trained personnel to carry on this work and was prepared to penetrate the area by air or other means. He said that the American Military authorities hoped that this would be agreeable to the Soviet Government and he wished to assure them that the purpose of these operations was purely military.
Mr. Molotov inquired whether it would be possible to get a clearer picture of the operations envisaged.
General Deane answered that it was somewhat difficult since all such operations were of necessity opportunistic, but that the Office of Strategic Services had done very valuable work in other countries.
Mr. Molotov replied that he would like to postpone that question until another session since he would like to have more information on that point.
Mr. Eden said that if it would be agreeable to Mr. Molotov he would ask General Ismay to submit a paper on sabotage activities in the Balkans.
Mr. Molotov, then turning to the establishment of a Politico-Military Commission in London and machinery for carrying out the Italian terms of surrender, said he would like to propose that these two questions be separated and to deal first with the Italian aspect.
The Secretary inquired how the economic phase was to be brought into the work of these commissions.
Mr. Molotov replied that the economic question had not yet been raised but he saw no reason for necessarily excluding such questions. He emphasized, however, that the situation with regard to Italy was urgent since the Soviet Government had no representative on the spot. He proposed therefore that in accordance with Mr. Eden’s suggestion of October 17 and his remarks on October 2260 the Advisory Council of High Commissioners in regard to Italy be set up at once. He said that if we could agree on this basis the question might be referred to the Drafting Committee.
Mr. Eden said that he fully shared the desire of Mr. Molotov to see a Soviet representative in Italy as soon as possible and that he had [Page 620] already recommended that the Advisory Council be set up at once without waiting for the end of the so-called first period in Italy.
The Secretary stated that he had received information that his Government had already commenced action along those lines.
Mr. Molotov stated that the name of the commission was of course not of vital importance but that there might be some advantage in having the commission with regard to Italy called the Politico-Military Commission since that designation had already been widely used by the press, but that the main thing was to expedite the setting up of a commission in Italy, and he again proposed to submit it to the Drafting Committee. This was agreed to by the Conference.
Mr. Molotov then proposed an intermission, but before doing so said he had the pleasure of announcing that the town of Melitopol had been captured by the Soviet armies.
Mr. Molotov proposed that the terms of reference of both the Italian commission and the London commission should be agreed upon here and he proposed to accept as a basis the British memorandum of July 1, taking into account the observations which Mr. Eden had made at the previous session. He added that if the Secretary considered the British draft of July 1 acceptable it would be referred to the Drafting Committee.
The Secretary said that this question could be referred to the Committee and that from the results of their work we would be able to make our recommendations and decisions.
Mr. Eden said that in his view the only difficulty of using the memorandum of July 1 was that it dealt only with the question of the terms of armistice for the ending of hostilities in Europe.
Mr. Molotov replied that such was not his impression and he had given very careful study to the contents of the document.
Mr. Eden replied that the contents of the memorandum of July 1 referred to conditions after the war whereas he had in mind for the Politico-Military Commission in London consideration of current questions such as the peace feelers from satellite states and other political questions affecting Europe.
Mr. Molotov answered that in our work we should endeavor to improve and not worsen the memorandum of July 1, but that he felt that if the powers of the Politico-Military Commission in London were made too broad there would be no work left for the Foreign Ministers and that personally he saw merit in the proposals advanced by the Secretary yesterday that there be tripartite meetings utilizing existing diplomatic machinery in the capitals of our three countries under the presidency of the Foreign Minister of the capital selected [Page 621] and with the participation of the Ambassadors of the other two countries. He went on to say that the London mission might well start with the consideration of the preparation of armistice terms but that perhaps some combination of the British and United States proposals could be worked out on this. It was then agreed to turn over the question to the Drafting Committee on the basis of the British memorandum of July 1.
Mr. Molotov said that he had only just received the United States proposals in regard to the treatment of Germany61 and wished to have time to study it and prepare Russian translations and therefore wished to postpone consideration of this question until a later session.
It was agreed that the Conference would discuss items 7 and 8 and possibly 10 and 12 at the next session, which was set for 3 p.m. on the following day.
- Conference Document No. 13, p. 714.↩
- Conference Document No. 15, p. 715.↩
- Gen. Draža Mihailović, Leader of the Yugoslav Nationalist guerrilla forces.↩
- The Yugoslav Communist guerrilla forces, led by Marshal Tito (Josip Broz). For related documents on this subject, see vol. ii, section under Yugoslavia entitled “Concern of the United States regarding disunity among Yugoslav resistance forces.” See also Sir Llewellyn Woodward, British Foreign Policy in the Second World War (London, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1962), pp. 332 ff.↩
- Peter II, King of Yugoslavia.↩
- For latter, see summary of the fourth session of the Conference, October 22, p. 604.↩
- Conference Document No. 20, p. 720.↩