Roosevelt Papers

The Secretary of State to the President

Memorandum for the President

In line with our personal conversation about answers to questions that Churchill might ask, I herewith attach several documents which deal with the titles indicated. I believe they will be of some use to you.

C[ordell] H[ull]

The Secretary of State to the President

top secret

Memorandum for the President

As of possible assistance to you in your conversations with Mr. Churchill, I attach memoranda concerning the following subjects:

[Here follows a numbered list of the titles of ten Department of State briefing papers.2]

C[ordell] H[ull]
[Annex 4]

Department of State Briefing Paper


Germany: Partition

In discussing the partition of Germany as set forth below, it should be made clear that these views on partition do not, of course, exclude [Page 121] the question of major and minor frontier adjustments affecting present German territory (East Prussia, Danzig, etc.).

This Government has not to date given its representative on the European Advisory Commission3 any instructions relative to a possible partition of Germany. Shortly after the European Advisory Commission was established, a Sub-committee on Partition was set up but no reports have ever been received and apparently no discussion on this question has taken place in London.

It is the view of the Department of State that this Government should oppose a forcible partition of Germany. An imposed dismemberment of Germany into two or more separate states has been advocated as a practicable means of forestalling any renewal of German aggression. However, such a measure would not remove the necessity of imposing and enforcing far-reaching security control upon Germany for an undetermined period whether Germany is left united or is partitioned.

Furthermore, because of the high degree of economic, political and cultural integration in Germany which has developed over the past 75 years, it must be anticipated that partition would not only have to be imposed, but also maintained by force. The victor powers, by imposing partition, would assume a burdensome and continuing task of preventing surreptitious collaboration between the partite states and of restraining a nationalistic determination to reunite, which would probably be the response of the German people. Finally, the disruption of German economic unity might menace the economic stability of Europe as a whole.

In place of partition, the Department of State would favor a return to a federal system of government in Germany, including the division of Prussia into a number of medium-sized states. In reaction to Nazi over-centralization, the Germans might return to a considerable degree of federal decentralization, including the breakup of Prussia which in 1938 included 62% of the area and two-thirds of the population of Germany.

[Annex 5]

Department of State Briefing Paper


Arming of French Forces

On August 19, 1944 the British Embassy raised with the State Department the question of equipping adequate armed forces of the [Page 122] Western European Allies to enable them to maintain security in their own countries and to take part in the occupation of Germany.4

The Netherlands Government has accepted in principle that the Dutch Army will be re-equipped with British types of arms and, while desiring to avoid the appearance of competing with the United States, the British apparently desire to assume the same responsibility for rearming the Belgians, Norwegians and Danes. They suggest that during the next few years the equipping of the French Army should be carried out from American sources, not only because the French land forces are at present provided with American type equipment,5 but because it would be very difficult for the British to accept the added burden. The British conclude that if this Government is unwilling to accept the proposed commitment they will have to reconsider the situation.

Presumably the technical aspects of the question are being studied by the Combined Chiefs of Staff to whom supporting figures have been furnished by the British. The financial ramifications will also require careful study.

Our present policy toward France is based on the belief that it is in the best interests of the United States that France resume her traditional position as a principal power, capable of playing a part in the occupation of Germany and in maintaining peace in Europe. The recruiting and equipping of French land forces would be a natural corollary of that policy, leaving for decision the question of the source from which the arms should be obtained and the quantity which should be provided.

It would seem advantageous to this country to have the rearming carried out from American sources. Politically it could be portrayed as a further evidence of American friendship for France and a proof of our desire to see France restored to a strong position. American influence and prestige would be enhanced. Furthermore French reliance on the United States for arms would provide us with a lever which might enable us to exercise a certain measure of influence on French policy for a number of years. Conversely it is certain that, in their present highly nationalistic and aggressive frame of mind, the French will make every effort to obtain arms from one source or another. If they obtain them from a source other than the United [Page 123] States, they may be compelled to accept conditions of a political or other nature which run counter to American aims.

In making the above recommendation I have not failed to give careful consideration to the fact that British policy aims at forming, and playing the leading role in, a group of Western European countries, including France, and that one of the objects of the British Government in suggesting the rearming of France by the United States is thereby to create a link between this country and the Western European nations which might be useful to them in the future. This I believe is the primary and all important reason behind the British request and it may, of course, have important long-range strategic implications.

  1. The Department of State file copy of this memorandum bears the following manuscript endorsement: “Sent to the White House 1:20 p.m. Sept. 8. J[ames] E B[rown] Jr.” (740.0011 E.W./9–644)
  2. Annexes 4 and 5 to this memorandum are printed here. For annexes 1–3 and 6–10, see post, pp. 190, 192, 194, 207, 212, 214, 229, and 172, respectively.
  3. John G. Winant. Concerning the work of the European Advisory Commission in 1944, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. i, pp. 1 ff.
  4. The British aide-mémoire referred to, which was delivered to the Department of State on August 23, 1944, is not printed (840.20/8–1944). On August 25 Hull sent copies of the aide-mémoire to the War and Navy Departments and to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with a request for the views of those organizations. Replies were not received until after the Second Quebec Conference, and no evidence has been found to indicate that this subject was discussed at Quebec.
  5. Concerning the United States role in equipping French forces, see Marcel Vigneras, Rearming the French (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1957), in the series United States Army in World War II: Special Studies.