740.00119 European War 1939/2434
The Department of State to the Soviet Embassy
The United States Government has given careful study to the memorandum of March 31 from the Soviet Ambassador setting forth the views of the Soviet Government concerning the proposal of the British Government that the principle of unconditional surrender be modified in the case of the European satellite countries.
It is noted that the Soviet Government believes that under certain conditions the retention of the principle of unconditional surrender as applied to the satellite countries might delay rather than hasten their rupture with Germany and, therefore, the Soviet Government regards favorably the proposal of the British Government that the three Governments represented at the Moscow Conference should be free in each individual case to decide after consultation with each other whether the principle of unconditional surrender should be retained in regard to a particular satellite country or modified by the presentation of moderate, concrete terms. It is further noted that the Soviet Government considers that the principle of unconditional surrender should however be retained to the full in regard to Germany.
After careful consideration of the proposal of the British Government and the views of the Soviet Government thereon, the United States Government has come to the conclusion that it is undesirable to make any general departure in principle from the doctrine of unconditional surrender. Any such departure in principle would inevitably serve as a precedent for all future cases. This Government would prefer that the general principle of unconditional surrender be retained intact and consideration be given to any modification on the basis of specific cases. This Government, rather than abandon the principle of unconditional surrender in regard to the Axis satellite countries as a group, is prepared to give favorable consideration to a modification of this principle in the specific case of any one of such satellite countries when either the British or Soviet Government believes such modification to be advantageous to the common cause.
The British Government is being informed of the above views of the United States Government.41
- By a memorandum of the same date to the British Embassy, not printed.↩