President Roosevelt to the British Prime Minister (Churchill)17

Dear Winston:—I have been worrying a good deal of late on account of the tendency of all of us to prepare for future events in such detail that we may be letting ourselves in for trouble when the time arrives.

As you doubtless remember, at Quebec last Summer the Staff people took a shot at drawing up terms of surrender for Italy. The American draft was short and to the point and was finally adopted and presented.

But later on the long and comprehensive terms, which were drawn up by your people, were presented to Badoglio.18

I did not like them because they attempted to foresee every possibility in one document. But, as so often happens, when such an attempt is made, certain points were omitted and additional protocols with respect to naval and other questions had to be later presented.

That is a good deal the way I feel about all this detailed planning that we are jointly and severally making in regard to what we do when we get into France. I have been handed pages and pages with detailed instructions and appendices. I regard them as prophecies by prophets who cannot be infallible.

Therefore, I re-drew them with the thought of making the Commander-in-Chief solely responsible for Overlord and for the maintenance of law, order and reasonable justice for the first few months after we get into France. I have suggested that he get in [Page 189] touch with local persons and with representatives of the French National Committee in such places as they have military status, but that he and his staff bear the sole responsibility.

Now comes this business of what to do when we get into Germany. I understand that your Staff presented a long and comprehensive document—with every known kind of terms—to the European Advisory Commission, and that the Russians have done somewhat the same.

My people over here believe that a short document of surrender terms should be adopted. This, of course, has nothing to do with the locality of the occupying forces after they get into Germany, but it is an instrument of surrender which is in conformity with the general principles.

I am enclosing (a) an argument—facts bearing on the problem and (b) a proposed acknowledgment of unconditional surrender by Germany.19

I hope much that you will read the argument. I think it is very cogent.

I am trying as hard as I can to simplify things—and sometimes I shudder at the thought of appointing as many new Committees and Commissions in the future as we have in the past!

I note that in the British proposal the territory of Germany is divided up in accordance with British plan. “Do please don’t” ask me to keep any American forces in France. I just cannot do it! I would have to bring them all back home. As I suggested before, I denounce and protest the paternity of Belgium, France and Italy. You really ought to bring up and discipline your own children. In view of the fact that they may be your bulwark in future days, you should at least pay for their schooling now!

With my warm regards,

As ever yours,

[File copy not signed]
  1. Copy obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y.
  2. Marshal Pietro Badoglio, Head of the Italian State. For text of Additional Conditions of the Armistice with Italy, signed September 29, 1943, see Department of State, Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS) No. 1604; 61 Stat. (pt. 3) 2742; or Department of State publication No. 2669: United States and Italy, 1936–1946, Documentary Record, p. 55.
  3. Pencilled note on margin opposite this paragraph reads: “No copy rec’d for file.”