740.00119 EW/2662: Telegram

The Chargé to the Netherlands Government in Exile (Schoenfeld) to the Secretary of State

Neter25 11. Dr. Van Kleffens, acting on behalf of the Belgian, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Norwegian Governments, last evening handed me a memorandum26 (in French) regarding the desire of those Governments to secure some method for exchanging views with the U.S., U.K. and U.S.S.R. on conditions to be imposed on Germany, the organisation of security and related matters.

He said memorandum was also being presented simultaneously to British and Soviet Governments. He had been delegated to perform this mission with respect to U.S. Government. Monsieur Spaak, Belgian Foreign Minister, was performing similar mission with British Government through Mr. Eden,27 Mr. Lie, Norwegian Foreign Minister, was doing likewise with Soviet Union through Ambassador Lebedev.28

The substance of the memorandum is as follows:

The principal problems to be solved on the termination of hostilities have been the subject of an exchange of views between the Allied great powers. Those which concern Europe particularly are discussed in the European Advisory Committee.
Desiring to contribute to the solution of those problems, especially those which are of special importance to them, the Belgian, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Norwegian Governments have already had occasion to present various suggestions. Though those suggestions have been received with evidence of interest, the Allied great powers have nevertheless expressed no definite opinion regarding them nor given any information as to the way in which they envisage those questions.
In consequence, the present four Governments have only been able to formulate provisional and general suggestions. Such a procedure involves the risk of eventually confronting them with decisions determined in their absence and taken without their knowledge on problems that are of capital importance to them. This procedure would be incompatible with the solidarity developed between them and the Allied great powers during the war, a solidarity which must continue after hostilities have ended if peace is to be definitely assured.
Among the questions that are particularly important for the present four countries, they cite especially the conditions to be imposed on Germany and the organisation of their security. The latter problem involves particularly the precautions to be taken to render impossible [Page 59] a new German aggression; the arrangements to be made to assure the most effective cooperation between the armed forces of the four countries and their Allies; the political safeguards to be set up, possibly within the framework of a world-wide international system.
They regard it as their duty to invite the attention of the Governments of the United States, Great Britain and the U.S.S.R. to these considerations, stressing at the same time that it seems to them to be necessary to make all headway called for by the present situation in reaching a solution of the above-mentioned problems. Van Kleffens said the “suggestions” referred to in paragraph 2 were those embodied in the various reports made by the Committee of Foreign Ministers in London (my despatches Polish series Nos. 293, April 20, 382, August 18, 434, October 9, 1943, and 521 February 3 and 538, March 1944.)29 These, of course, embodied the views of a larger number of occupied countries than the four presenting the present memorandum. Van Kleffens explained that the present four powers realised the difficulties confronting the great powers in working out some method for meeting the situation. He said that, speaking quite frankly, he recognised that aside from the inherent difficulties, there were special problems arising from differences between certain powers, particularly between Poland and the Soviet Union, which rendered the latter unwilling to deal with a group embodying those elements. Without entering into the merits of the differences, the powers presenting the present memorandum did not feel they should be the victims of this situation.

The Governments of Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Norway expressed no opinion as to the form that might be chosen for the collaboration they were seeking. They left that aspect of the matter to the American, British and Soviet Governments. If official exchanges of views were not possible, they would be agreeable to unofficial exchanges of views, so long as these took place before final decisions were taken. If the unofficial method were adopted, they would undertake to keep the fact of such exchanges completely confidential.

He said that in discussing this matter he wished to stress that in all he did there were two things uppermost in his mind: the desire to be helpful in the war effort and the desire to contribute to future solidarity. He thought that the countries which had been occupied had by reason of that fact certain experience which would be a valuable contribution to the discussions. The Soviets, of course, had suffered partial occupation but he thought the occupied viewpoint should be more fully represented. Furthermore, for the different countries to be associated with decisions was important not only individually but for the future generally. It would be harmful for the Government if, when it returned to the homeland and when questioned [Page 60] in Parliament, it had to say it had not been consulted in decisions. But he was equally concerned as to the effect that such a situation would have on the attitude toward the great powers.

In conclusion he said he hoped I would make it clear that despite the general phraseology of paragraph 5 of the memorandum the four Governments were making “a request”.

Original text of memorandum by air mail.30

  1. Series designation for telegrams from the Chargé to the Netherlands Government in Exile at London.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  4. Viktor Zakharovich Lebedev, Soviet Ambassador to the Governments in Exile at London.
  5. None printed; for the reports transmitted to the Department as enclosures to despatch 538, March 1, 1944, see note from the Acting President of the Inter-Allied Committee of Foreign Affairs to the Chargé to the Polish Government in Exile dated February 23, and enclosures, pp. 4750.
  6. In despatch 148, June 12, 1944; neither printed.