The British Prime Minister (Churchill) to President Roosevelt 92

801. Many thanks for your number 631.93

On our last day at Moscow94 Mik[olajczyk] saw Berut95 who admitted his difficulties. Fifty of his men had been shot in the last [Page 1023] month. Many Poles took to the woods rather than join his forces. Approaching winter conditions behind the front could be very hard as the Russian Army moved forward using all transport. He insisted however that if Mik were Premier he must have 75% of the Cabinet. Mik proposed that each of the five Polish parties should be represented, he naming four out of the five of their best men whom he would pick from personalities not obnoxious to Stalin.
Later at my request Stalin saw Mik and had one and one-quarter hours very friendly talk. Stalin promised to help him and Mik promised to form and conduct a government thoroughly friendly to the Russians. He explained his plan but Stalin made it clear that the Lublin Poles must have the majority.
After the Kremlin dinner we put it bluntly to Stalin that unless Mik had 50/50 plus himself the western world would not be convinced that the transaction was bona fide and would not believe that an independent Polish government had been set up. Stalin at first replied he would be content with 50/50 but rapidly corrected himself to a worse figure. Meanwhile Eden took the same line with Molotov who seemed more comprehending. I do not think the composition of the government will prove an insuperable obstacle if all else is settled. Mik had previously explained to me that there might be one announcement to save the prestige of the Lublin government and a different arrangement among the Poles behind the scenes.
Apart from the above Mik is going to urge upon his London colleagues the Curzon Line including Lwow for the Russians. I am hopeful that even in the next fortnight we may get a settlement. If so I will cable you the exact form so that you can say whether you want it published or delayed.
Major war criminals U. J. took an unexpectedly ultra-respectable line. There must be no executions without trial otherwise the world would say we were afraid to try them. I pointed out the difficulties in international law but he replied if there were no trials there must be no death sentences, but only life-long confinements. In face of this view from this quarter I do not wish to press the memo I gave you which you said you would have examined by the State Department. Kindly therefore treat it as withdrawn.
We also discussed informally the future partition of Germany. U. J. wants Poland, Czecho and Hungary to form a realm of independent anti-Nazi pro-Russian states, the first two of which might join together. Contrary to his previously expressed view, he would be glad to see Vienna the capital of a federation of south-German states, including Austria, Bavaria, Württemberg and Baden. As you know, the idea of Vienna becoming the capital of a large Danubian [Page 1024] federation has always been attractive to me, though I should prefer to add Hungary, to which U.J. is strongly opposed.
As to Prussia, U. J. wished the Ruhr and the Saar detached and put out of action and probably under international control and a separate state formed in the Rhineland. He would also like the internationalization of the Kiel canal. I am not opposed to this line of thought. However, you may be sure that we came to no fixed conclusions pending the triple meeting.
I was delighted to hear from U. J. that you had suggested a triple meeting towards the end of November at a Black Sea port. I think this a very fine idea, and hope you will let me know about it in due course. I will come anywhere you two desire.
U. J. also raised formally the Montreux Convention,96 wishing for modification for the free passage of Russian warships. We did not contest this in principle. Revision is clearly necessary as Japan is a signatory and Inonu97 missed his market last December. We left it that detailed proposals should be made from the Russian side. He said they would be moderate.
About recognizing the present French administration as the provisional government of France,98 I will consult the Cabinet on my return. Opinion of UK is very strongly for immediate recognition. De Gaulle99 is no longer sole master, but is better harnessed than ever before. I am sure he will make all the mischief he can, but I still think that when Eisenhower proclaims a large zone of the interior for France it would not be possible to delay this limited form of recognition. Undoubtedly De Gaulle has the majority of the French nation behind him and the French government hold support against potential anarchy in large areas. I will however cable you again from London. I am now in the air above Alamein1 of blessed memory. Kindest regards.
  1. Copy of telegram obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y.
  2. This telegram has not been found.
  3. The remarks made by Prime Minister Churchill in his speech of October 27, 1944, in the House of Commons about his conversations in Moscow are printed in Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 404, cols. 491 ff.
  4. Boleslaw Bierut, Chairman (President) of the National People’s Council of Poland (Krajowa Rada Narodowa), formed in Warsaw at the end of 1943, which by decree of July 21, 1944, established the Committee of National Liberation.
  5. Signed on July 20, 1936; for text, see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. clxxiii, p. 213. Correspondence regarding the conference on the Straits held at Montreux, June 22–July 20, 1936, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1936, vol. iii, pp. 503 ff.
  6. Ismet Inönü, President of Turkey.
  7. Regarding the recognition by the United States of the French Provisional Government, see vol. iii, pp. 634 ff.
  8. Gen. Charles Joseph de Gaulle, President of the Council of Ministers of the Provisional Government of France.
  9. The attack begun by the British VIII Army against, the El Alamein line on October 22, 1942, which led to the rout of the Italian and German forces in Egypt and Libya.