Traman Papers

No. 250
Memorandum by the Assistant to the President’s Naval Aide (Elsey)1
top secret


The Declaration issued at Cairo in November [on December 1,] 1943 by Roosevelt, Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek said, in part:

[“]The Three Great Allies are fighting this war to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan. They covet no gain for themselves and have no thought of territorial expansion. . . . The aforesaid Three Great Powers, mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, are determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent”2

There was no reference to Korea in Map Room messages or documents until the Yalta Conference. On 8 February 1945, during a discussion on the Far East when Churchill was not present,3 President Roosevelt explained to Marshal Stalin his intentions with regard to Korea.

The President said he had in mind for Korea a trusteeship composed of a Soviet, an American and a Chinese representative. He felt the trusteeship might last from 20 to 30 years. Marshal Stalin said the shorter the trusteeship period the better, and he expressed approval [Page 310] when the President said foreign troops would not be stationed in Korea.

President Roosevelt said he did not feel it was necessary to invite the British to participate in the Korean trusteeship, except that they would probably resent their exclusion. Stalin replied that British resentment would be strong, and his opinion was that the British should be invited.

Korea was not discussed again at Yalta, nor was the subject pursued in Map Room messages.

When Mr. Hopkins arrived in Moscow, he found Stalin’s views had not changed and he reported to President Truman on 29 May that Stalin agreed to a trusteeship for Korea under China, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States.4

On the basis of this report, the President informed Chiang on 15 June that the U. S. S. R., Great Britain and the United States agree to a Four-Power Trusteeship for Korea.5

G. M. Elsey
  1. Submitted to Leahy July 1 and subsequently forwarded to Truman.
  2. Full text in Department of State Bulletin, vol. ix. p. 393.
  3. See Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, p. 770.
  4. For the text of the telegraphic report referred to, see “The Entry of the Soviet Union Into the War Against Japan: Military Plans, 1941-1945” (Washington, Department of Defense, processed, 1955), p. 72; Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, p. 902. Cf. document No. 26.
  5. See Truman, Year of Decisions, p. 269.