740.0011 European War 1939/5–2644: Telegram

The British Prime Minister (Churchill) to President Roosevelt 17

680. Personal. I brought your No. 541 before the Cabinet yesterday, Curtin18 and Smuts19 also being present. Considerable concern was expressed at the tone of friendship shown to the Germans at this moment when troops are about to engage. There was a feeling that the message, if sent before the battle is won, might be distorted by the enemy into a sort of peace appeal. If there were nothing between us except that the Germans have an evil philosophy, there would be little grounds for the war going on. I think myself that the message might conceivably be taken as a peace feeler and that the Germans might reply that they accepted your note as a basis for further discussion.

In truth there is much more between them and us than a philosophy. Nearly all of Europe cries for vengeance against the brutal tyrant. At Tehran my suggestion for the isolation of Prussia20 was considered far too modest by you and Uncle Joe.21 Everybody expects complete forcible disarmament of Germany, possibly extending to civil aviation, to be made and maintained. There are other very grave questions open. For instance how are the Poles going to be [Page 518]compensated if they do not get East Prussia and certain territories up to the line of the Oder in return for the Curzon Line22 which Russians will certainly demand?
I do not know what Uncle Joe will say about your declaration but we here earnestly hope that you will not make it in its present form and above all at this present time. There was also a feeling that a document so grave addressed to the enemy should emanate from the three principal Allies. I may add that nothing of this document would get down to the German pillboxes and front lines in time to affect the fighting troops.
  1. Copy transmitted to the Secretary of State by note of May 26, 1944, from the British Minister, Sir Ronald Campbell (not printed). According to a pencilled marginal note the copy was “Rec’d. May 27—10:45 a.m.”
  2. Prime Minister John Curtin of Australia.
  3. Prime Minister Jan Christian Smuts of the Union of South Africa.
  4. See Churchill, Closing the Ring, pp. 400–403, 706. For documentation on the Tehran Conference, see Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943, pp. 459 ff.
  5. Reference here is to Marshal Stalin.
  6. See Churchiil, Closing the Ring, pp. 394–397, 403; for information on the Curzon Line, see footnote 51, p. 495.