740.00119 European War/2662
Memorandum by President Roosevelt to the Secretary of State
I have your memorandum of April fourth in regard to exceptions to be made to the unconditional surrender principle as applied to the satellite Axis states in Europe. I understand the problem thoroughly but I want at all costs to prevent it from being said that the unconditional surrender principle has been abandoned. There is real danger if we start making exceptions to the general principle before a specific case arises.
We all know that this would happen if we were to make any exceptions to the principle which would thereafter apply in all cases.
I understand perfectly well that from time to time there will have to be exceptions not to the surrender principle but to the application of it in specific cases. That is a very different thing from changing the principle.
If the Soviet and British Governments will advise us of any case of this kind, I am quite sure that we will agree with them. This should be made clear to both of these Governments. Then they cannot accuse us of having rendered more difficult the Soviet military task.