Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Harry L. Hopkins, Special Assistant to President Roosevelt 55
|Subject: Eden Visit—Conference with
Hull raised the question of the 60 or 70 thousand Jews that are in Bulgaria and are threatened with extermination unless we could get them out and, very urgently, pressed Eden for an answer to the problem. Eden replied that the whole problem of the Jews in Europe is very difficult and that we should move very cautiously about offering to take all Jews out of a country like Bulgaria. If we do that, then the Jews of the world will be wanting us to make similar offers in Poland and Germany. Hitler might well take us up on any such offer and there simply are not enough ships and means of transportation in the world to handle them.
Eden said that the British were ready to take about 60 thousand more Jews to Palestine but the problem of transportation, even from Bulgaria to Palestine is extremely difficult. Furthermore, any such mass movement as that would be very dangerous to security because the Germans would be sure to attempt to put a number of their agents in the group. They have been pretty successful with this technique, both in getting their agents into North and South America.
Eden said that the forthcoming conferences in Bermuda on the whole refugee problem must come to grips with this difficult situation.[Page 39]
Eden said he hoped that on our side we would not make too expansive promises which could not be delivered because of lack of shipping.
There was a general discussion about the organization of the United Nations after the war. The President and Welles were very emphatic that the United States could not be a member of any independent regional body such as a European Council; they felt that all the United Nations should be members of one body for the purposes of recommending policy; that this body should be world-wide in scope. 2. That there would be under this body regional councils with similar advisory powers made up of the nations geographically located in the regions; but, finally, that the real decisions should be made by the United States, Great Britain, Russia and China, who would be the powers for many years to come that would have to police the world.
The President was very insistent with Eden that China should be a member, altho it was clear to me that Eden still was not convinced of the wisdom of the procedure. The President feels that China, in any serious conflict of policy with Russia, would undoubtedly line up on our side.
I said that Churchill’s speech56 in which he advocated a purely European Council of Nations, had a very unfortunate effect over here. Eden said he was sure Churchill had not meant to exclude the United States and that he rather felt that Churchill spoke on the spur of the moment and that he, Eden, agreed that the United Nations should be organized on a global basis.
The whole idea of the trusteeship of mandated islands, etc. was discussed and the President and Eden seemed to be much closer together than they were at the beginning of their conferences on this policy.
The President made it clear that he did not want a commitment made in advance that all those colonies in the Far East should go back to the countries which owned or controlled them prior to the war. He specifically mentioned Timor, Portugal, Indo-China and France. He suggested that all the specific problems which Mr. Eden had raised in his visit here be referred to the State Department and they asked to start exploratory discussions with the British or with any other country in regard to all of them.
I said I thought it would have a very bad effect, both in England and the United States, if the world got the impression that the United States and England were, together, planning the future of the world without consulting anyone else. Eden agreed to this and said the British were conducting direct conferences on matters that concerned them and Russia and he assumed we would do the same thing.