740.00119 European War 1939/2491: Telegram

The Under Secretary of State (Stettinius)75 to the Secretary of State

S–50325.76 Conversing this morning with General Eisenhower77 and General Smith78 they raised with me and expressed the considered opinion that the term “Unconditional surrender” should be clarified by announcing the principles on which the treatment of a defeated Germany would be based. This seemed to them highly desirable in view of the accumulated evidence that German propaganda is interpreting the words “Unconditional surrender” to strengthen the morale of the German Army and people. In order to offset this the Generals thought it very necessary to create, if possible, through our own propaganda:

A mood of acceptance of unconditional surrender in the German Army such as would make possible a collapse of resistance similar to that which took place in Tunisia; and
To create a mood in the German General Staff as a result of which necessary political steps might be undertaken by a German Badoglio79 for unconditional surrender.

It was suggested that the following trend of propaganda would be of great use as far as possible in advance of D day:

Tri-Party American-Anglo-Russian statement to define unconditional surrender and the guarantee of promotion of law and order;
A summary of Anglo-American principles upon which the Anglo-American Military Government will be conducted. The Anglo-American statement might be followed by a political directive which would include:
  • Para 1. Methods of demilitarization;
  • Para 2. Purge of Nazis from the government machine;
  • Para 3. Seizure of war criminals;
  • Para 4. Orderly transfers of population;
  • Para 5. Restoration of religious and trade unions freedom.
Once we have a bridgehead the Commander in Chief should make a statement calling for surrender and at the same time recapitulate the terms of other declarations.

It was said that a period of at least 4 weeks would be necessary to make effective these declarations in the minds of the German people.

General Smith rather than General Eisenhower felt that governmental statements must be followed, at the appropriate time, by a declaration from the Supreme Commander to the German Commander in the west,80 which would presumably not be made until after the bridgehead is well established and the west wall broken. This in General Smith’s opinion would be the psychological moment for the call to surrender, reciting in soldierly language, the principal points of the Tri-Party declarations and the principles of the Anglo-American Military Government.

General Smith expressed the opinion that from all available evidence, in default of such declarations, it would be impossible to exploit the crisis in the German Army which will undoubtedly arise immediately after a successful Allied landing.

For your information the British political officer81 at SHAEF82 has been asked to express these views to the Foreign Office. It would be most helpful if the General could have your reaction as soon as possible which I suggest you send through Phillips.83 Phillips is in hearty [Page 509]accord with the views expressed. Assume you will wish to review with Mister Stimson84 the matter.

  1. Mr. Stettinius was on a special mission to London April 7–29; for correspondence, see vol. iii, pp. 1 ff.
  2. War Department telegram.
  3. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force.
  4. Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, Chief of Staff to the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force.
  5. Marshal Pietro Badoglio had formed a new government in Italy on July 26, 1943, following the resignation of Benito Mussolini. It was the Badoglio government that surrendered to the Allies on September 8, 1943. For correspondence on the overthrow of the Fascist regime in Italy, and Italian surrender and recognition as a co-belligerent, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. ii, pp. 314 ff.
  6. Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt.
  7. Charles B. P. Peake.
  8. Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force.
  9. William Phillips, Political Adviser at the Headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander.
  10. Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War.