740.00119 European War 1939/2561: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union ( Hamilton ) to the Secretary of State

1551. The British Ambassador has furnished me in strict confidence with a copy of his note to Molotov of April 27 of which the following is a paraphrase:

“In my letter of March 19 concerning the modification of the principle of unconditional surrender in its application to the smaller Axis states, you will recall that I informed you that a similar inquiry was being made of the United States Government.

  • “2. The gist of the American reply was that they would prefer that the general principle of unconditional surrender should be retained intact although they would be prepared to consider a modification of the principle in specific cases when either the Soviet or British Governments believed this to be advantageous. I understand that the American Government has already informed the Soviet Government of the full terms of its reply.
  • “3. After considering this message my Government have instructed Lord Halifax to inform Mr. Hull that they see some inconsistency between the American Government’s disinclination to depart from the principle of unconditional surrender and their proposal to issue a joint Anglo-American-Soviet declaration to the Axis satellites, of the terms of which you are of course aware. While my Government would certainly not propose to ask the President to make any statement repudiating the terms of unconditional surrender for the smaller Axis states they are anxious to obtain now the necessary degree of latitude for their propaganda to these countries. The British Ambassador in Washington has therefore been instructed to point out that, with my Government’s agreement, the Soviet Government had not applied to Finland the principle of unconditional surrender and that it is also not intended to apply this principle to Rumania. My Government considers in both of these cases that propaganda should conform to practice. It is important with regard to Hungary and Bulgaria that Allied propaganda should be directed toward encouraging active resistance to the Germans and driving home the effect of the proposed tripartite declaration. My Government hope, therefore, that the American Government will agree that Allied propaganda to, or about, these countries should make no further reference to the [Page 604] principle of unconditional surrender although avoiding any public recantation to it.”

Department’s 1080, May 1, 5 p.m. The British note set forth above may be connected with the British request for the postponement of the tripartite statement although the British Embassy here states that it does not know why the request for postponement was made.