740.00116 European War 1939/1213: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State

8992. The London Political Warfare Coordinating Committee met today (reference Department’s 8101, December 23, 3 p.m.) and agreed upon the following directive.

For the time being the Kharkov trials have ceased to have any news value. We should only use the news of these trials or of any future trials as news reports without comment.
In dealing with threats of German reprisals we should, pending developments, report as news and without comment both to Germany and elsewhere, German threats of reprisals.
We should continue in our output to reaffirm the policy of Allied air attacks which are directed against economic, military and administrative objectives essential to the German war machine. This should be done without in any way linking this theme to paragraph 2 above.
In addition we should avoid any comment or speculation whatsoever as to the possible action of the governments concerned in the face of this threat until such time as these governments state their policy.

In addition it was agreed that the Committee should recommend to the United States and British Governments that with regard to the Kharkov trials a decision should be reached at once as to the relation of these trials to the Moscow Declaration. The Committee considers it is essential for propaganda purposes that they should receive a ruling as soon as possible in this matter so as to be in a position to handle the situation when any further trials take place and in order to answer any German efforts to exploit apparent divergencies of opinion between the Allied Governments which such trials might create in the absence of such a ruling. The Committee also decided to recommend to the service authorities concerned that in view of the possible propaganda use which the Germans may make of statements by captured air crews it is important to consider the further briefing of air crews on the nature of military objectives within the target area.

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The Committee invited General McClure79 to bring this last recommendation to the attention of Etousa.80 It also invited Bucknell and Sir Orme Sargent81 to bring the first recommendation to the urgent attention of their respective governments.

Please repeat to Chiefs of Staff and OWI.

  1. Brig. Gen. Robert A. McClure, with the Allied Forces Headquarters since 1942.
  2. European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army.
  3. British Deputy Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.