Memorandum by the President’s Special Assistant (Hopkins)
Memorandum of Conference With the President
Subject: British Munitions Requirements After the Collapse of Germany
I told the President that either at our request or on British initiative the British had submitted a list of military requirements1 for a period of one year after the collapse of Germany; that these requirements were obviously made by the British with full consideration of [Page 161] their internal economy and particularly their export trade. In effect the British are asking us to produce munitions for them at a very high rate while they would turn many of their factories over to consumer production—much of it for export.
I told the President that the merits of the British position were being discussed on a low level within our army and navy and that it did not seem to me that this was the proper place to discuss this and, under any circumstances, the British contribution to the final defeat of Japan had not been determined by the Combined Chiefs of Staff, therefore, I could not see how it is possible to even discuss requirements at this time.
I told the President that I thought, in effect, the British Government should withdraw their requirements; that we, on our part, should not reduce the production facilities now available to the British; that he and Churchill discuss this matter at Quebec and that a final decision be postponed until the extent of British participation in the war against Japan was determined upon by the Combined Chiefs of Staff.
The President agreed with this.
I told him I was going to tell the British in the morning.2
The President commented further that, in his opinion, it would be very unwise to make formal commitments tying up our industrial machinery, because he felt it quite possible that, with the defeat of Germany, Japan might well cave in. The primary reason would be that Russia might well tell the Japanese that Russia’s hands are now free; that Russia will not tolerate Japanese forces in Manchuria, China or Korea; that, in effect, will be an ultimatum to Japan to withdraw from these countries. The implications of that ultimatum will be such that the President believes that Japan may throw up the sponge immediately. If this should occur, then the whole requirements picture would be immediately changed. All of this is an added reason for not settling the problem of British requirements at the moment.
Since talking to the President I have an agreement on this policy with Secy. Morgenthau, Admiral Leahy, Leo Crowley, Dean Acheson, and General Clay who is going to communicate it to Admiral Beeves.
I have arranged an appointment with Ambassador Halifax at the British Embassy tomorrow morning to acquaint him of the decision of our government.3