740.00119 European Advisory Commission/29: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)2 to the Secretary of State

82. Personal for the Secretary. Department’s 8108 of December 23, 8 p.m.3 I note that your view of the scope of activity of the European Advisory Commission represents the absolute minimum of what was set forth in its terms of reference.4 This view practically excludes, after disposal of the French civil affairs document5 and the liberated areas question specifically referred to the Commission by the Moscow Conference,6 the consideration of any subjects other than [Page 2] terms of surrender and machinery for control in enemy countries.7

The British have an entirely different view of the Commission’s role, and are making plans for submitting to it numbers of matters on which they will be anxious to obtain agreement, currently and with a minimum of delay, between the three Governments.

They expect the Commission to consider not only the treatment of Germany and other enemy countries with respect to frontiers, military occupation, disarmament, reparation, decentralization, as well as armistice terms and controls, but also numerous questions connected with the liberated territories. It was their understanding that while the Commission would not concern itself with the detail planning of affairs in liberated territories, it would make recommendations covering the broad lines of policy in this respect.

There thus remains between the two Governments a divergence of view so serious that I think it dangerous to allow it to manifest itself initially in the actual sessions of the Commission, where it could hardly fail to be conspicuous to the Russians; and I feel we should do everything possible to reach a closer approximation to the British position before the Commission convenes. I am pressed, however, to call a meeting of the Commission this week by both the British and the Russians.

I understand and share your concern that the Commission should not in any way anticipate the political decisions of a future general organization for the maintenance of peace and security on a worldwide basis, or the military decisions which must necessarily be taken on various future occasions by Allied military commanders.

I do not think, however, that the strict observance of these considerations should prevent us from exchanging views in the Commission on a number of current questions affecting the termination of hostilities in Europe, which may be referred to us.

In this view, I am guided by the following thoughts:

The Commission is advisory only; its deliberations and agenda will presumably not be made public; and there is no reason why our Government should accept any undesirable proposals.
You may be sure that I shall keep the above considerations carefully in mind in my work on the Commission.
I expect to be in touch with the Department currently, and the latter, together with the other Departments represented on the working security committee, will have ample opportunity to make known its views even in the course of the preliminary consideration of matters before the Commission.
Our delegation will have closest touch with our military authorities through (a) inclusion of military experts in its membership; (b) regular liaison with Combined Chiefs of Staff and their Combined Civil Affairs Committee;8 (c) direct day by day contact with Supreme Allied Commander; and (d) army representation on Working Security Committee in Washington. In these circumstances, I fail to see how anything prejudicial to the interests of our military authorities could pass unnoticed.
We cannot dispute the necessity of having some central machinery through which the views of the three Governments may be obtained and joint action solicited on questions which may arise suddenly and urgently at any time as the military situation develops and which affect the immediate interest and competencies of the three powers in connection with the termination of hostilities in the European sphere. If we take at the outset a negative attitude to the Commission, without having any alternative facilities to propose, I fear that we may cause deep and deplorable discouragement on the British side and indifference on the part of the Russians and thereby jeopardize the chances of obtaining effective Anglo-Russian-American cooperation for the immediate post-hostilities period.
As you know, Sir Frederick Bovenschen9 is visiting Washington where he will presumably discuss British participation on the Combined Civil Affairs Committee. Even if agreement is reached in these discussions in Washington, the future successful operation of the Combined Civil Affairs Committee will be assured only if the British are satisfied that we are willing to cooperate wholeheartedly in the application of such agreement. I doubt very much if the British will consider that we are doing so if we refuse to join them in exploiting to the full the possibilities of the Advisory Commission to the establishment of which we have consented.

This message will be followed by separate messages reviewing the present situation with respect to each of matters which have been proposed for consideration by the Commission. In connection with these messages, I hope that the Department will bear in mind the considerations set forth above.

  1. Ambassador John G. Winant was United States Representative on the European Advisory Commission.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, p. 812.
  3. The Terms of Reference of the European Advisory Commission are contained in Annex 2 of the Secret Protocol of the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers, signed November 1, 1943, ibid., p. 756.
  4. Under item 6 of the Secret Protocol of the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers, it was stated that an exchange of views had taken place upon the document presented to the Conference by the United States and the United Kingdom (American title: “Civil Affairs for France”, British title: “Basic Scheme for Administration of Liberated France”) and the document was referred for examination to the European Advisory Commission. For text of the Secret Protocol, see ibid., p. 749. For text of the document, see Annex 5 to the Secret Protocol, ibid., p. 760. For the record of the discussions of this subject at the ninth session of the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers on October 27, 1943, see ibid., p. 650.
  5. Under item 14 of the Secret Protocol of the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers, it was stated that an exchange of views had taken place on a proposal put forward by the United Kingdom on “policy regarding Allied territory liberated through the advance of the Allied forces” and that this question was referred to the European Advisory Commission. For text of the British draft proposal, see Moscow Conference Document No. 35, ibid., p. 738. For the record of the discussions of this subject at the ninth session of the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers on October 27, 1943, see ibid., p. 650.
  6. For correspondence regarding the discussions in the European Advisory Commission regarding the terms of surrender and control machinery for Germany, see pp. 100 ff. Regarding the consideration by the European Advisory Commission of surrender terms for Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Finland, see bracketed note, p. 39.
  7. This United States-British committee, which was located in Washington, was established by the Combined Chiefs of Staff in July 1943 to recommend civil affairs policies for enemy and enemy-held areas that were occupied by combined operations and to coordinate military and civilian agency interests in such matters. For previous documentation on the relationship of the Combined Civil Affairs Committee to the European Advisory Commission, see pertinent entries in the index of Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran.
  8. British Joint Permanent Under-Secretary of State for War and head of the Administration of Territories (Europe) Committee, a British body to coordinate planning for military government. Bovenschen was in Washington to advance a British proposal that a branch of the Combined Civil Affairs Committee be established in London. At the end of January 1944 the London Sub-Committee of the Combined Civil Affairs Committee was set up. For a discussion of the events leading up to the establishment of this sub-committee, see Forrest C. Pogue, The Supreme Command, in the official Army history, United States Army in World War II: The European Theater of Operations (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1954), pp. 76–78.