740.00119 Potsdam/7–345

No. 34
The Chairman of the President’s War Relief Control Board (Davies) to the President 1

top secret

Supplemental Report2 of Conferences With Foreign Minister Eden

My Dear Mr. President: With reference to the above entitled matter, I have the honor to report as follows:

On Monday, May 28, Ambassador Winant, who has been most [Page 79] considerate and helpful, presented me to the Foreign Minister at the Foreign Office.

Following the Prime Minister’s suggestion, I covered the ground practically as in my discussions at Chequers, which were set forth in a previous report.3

In view of the Foreign Minister’s connection with the San Francisco Conference, I spoke very frankly, in a friendly (and certainly not in critical spirit), of the unfortunate manner in which issues had arisen as between the Soviet delegation and the delegations of Britain and the United States, and the overwhelming majority of the United Nations. Quite apart from the facts, it gave ground for the Soviets’ suspicion that not only was the United Nations opposed to them on a question of long avowed principle, to wit: the destruction of Naziism; but also that the leadership of the opposition to the Soviets resided in the United States and Great Britain.

Regardless of the friendly intent of these delegations to use the Argentine situation, in order to serve the Soviet desire to have additional votes for White Russia and the Ukraine,4 the manner in which the situation developed, (involving as it did a complete change of front in the policy of the United States as to the Argentine), undoubtedly served to give the impression that the United States and Britain were “ganging up” against the Soviets.

Eden replied that Molotov seemed to have left in good humor, and apparently no serious harm had been done. I replied that while I might be mistaken, I did not concur in that conclusion. The Soviets had already been greatly disturbed by recent events, culminating in the death of President Roosevelt. There had developed cumulatively a series of situations which had aggravated and tested their confidence. The Polish discussions, lend lease, matters connected with Rumania and Hungary, and situations which had developed in military operations, and alleged lack of compliance with the military agreements at Yalta,5 had caused them grave concern. It was not so much the facts, but their construction of the facts, which threatened a reappraisal of their entire policy. It was also, in my opinion, characteristic of the Soviets, as was illustrated in August 1939 when they suddenly entered into a non-aggression pact with Germany, once they made up their minds, to act quickly and without any previous indication of such action. There existed, in my opinion, a very serious deterioration in the relations between the Big Three. That condition existed, and could not be discounted because of Molotov’s good humor and professional [Page 80] attitude. There was grave danger that allied unity might be seriously impaired if not destroyed unless they were convinced that there was no implacable hostile intent as to the Soviets.

In the discussion of Soviet fears and suspicions which then developed, Eden agreed generally with me as to the “legacies of suspicion”, which were a constant background in our relations.

He agreed heartily that every possible effort should be exhausted in an effort to compose differences, and reestablish confidence. For without unity, of course, he said, another war was inevitable.

tito—trieste, and yugoslavia

The newspaper accounts of yesterday and today in connection with the delicate situation in Trieste, I said, had disturbed me. I asked what had happened in connection with the cabled request which the President had sent to the Prime Minister,6 that great care should be taken by General [Field Marshal] Alexander as Allied Commander, that nothing should be done which might involve the United States in a war with Yugoslavia unless it were perfectly clear that they had attacked us, in which case the President would feel that we would be justified in using force to throw them back.

Eden said that the Prime Minister, he knew, had given direct orders to General Alexander to arrive at such an agreement with Tito as would protect the situation along the lines the President desired. He called in one of his associates immediately, and when it appeared the matter was still unsettled (General Alexander, I gathered, being somewhat reluctant to recede from the position which he had taken), Eden gave peremptory instructions that the matter be settled at once, and that General Alexander be so directed.

Later I discussed it with Ambassador Winant, who immediately followed it up and advised me that it had been done.

matters explored

We discussed at some length the problems which had developed in Germany.

In connection with the retirement of the armed forces into the zones of occupation, as agreed upon, I told Eden that in my opinion the President would require our armed forces to so retire in the near future, and probably before the coming meeting. This, I assumed, would be done in conjunction with similar action by the British forces, as the Combined Chiefs of Staff would decide. Eden, in contradistinction to Churchill, said nothing as to the desirability of delaying such action.

Eden considered that as to Germany it was necessary to have agreement as to inter-allied policies, and as to their administration [Page 81] and machinery, as soon as possible. It would be unfortunate if in the different zones occupied by the four allies, there would not be uniformity in matters of administration and treatment of the German population, war prisoners, displaced persons, or in connection with their attitudes toward the civilian population or local governments. If these matters were not agreed upon through the decisions of the Military Commanders comprising the Berlin Allied Central Control Commission, they should be determined at the forthcoming meeting.

The matter of feeding the populations not only of Germany and Austria, but of Europe, was a very grave and serious situation, in his opinion. It was very important to have an agreement with the Soviets that food from the “granaries” of Germany, which were largely in the Soviet zone, should be also available for the populations in the other occupied zones.

The same necessity for arriving at an understanding and agreement existed as to Austria. Here the same problem was presented as in the creation and recognition of interim governments, in Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria. Agreements should be had which would assure cooperation of the Allies through the Allied Control Commission. Here, as in the Balkans, it was necessary to define the control to be exercised, and particularly the extent of the control which would accrue to the British and American representatives.

Another serious question which might be considered was the matter of Peace Treaties with minor enemy or other states, providing for the withdrawal of Russian armies of occupation; or the withdrawal of British and American forces from Italy. The withdrawal of both Russian and British forces in Iran was a similar case.

I rather gathered that the British looked with favor upon some arrangement for recognizing Russia’s need for access to warm water, both by way of access through the Baltic as well as through the Dardanelles.

I was impressed with the fairness, objectivity, and well-balanced attitude of Eden.

I cannot conclude this report without again referring to Ambassador Winant. He impressed me very much. He has a great deal of information with reference to all these matters, which I think it would be very valuable to you to have at the coming Conference.

Attached hereto is a list of matters which Mr. Eden gave to me in connection with subjects which might be considered at the coming meeting.7 I do not comment on certain matters as the attitude of their Foreign Office appears from the statement of the questions.

With great respect, I am [etc.]

[Joseph E. Davies]
  1. Printed from an unsigned carbon copy transmitted to Byrnes by Davies on July 3.
  2. Davies has supplied the information, in an interview with a Department of State historian on May 21, 1954, that this report was supplemental to an earlier oral report to Truman. See document No. 33, footnote 4.
  3. document No. 33.
  4. See The United Nations Conference on International Organization: Selected Documents, pp. 316–325, 403–407, 409–410; Truman, Year of Decisions, pp. 280–282.
  5. See Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, pp. 985987.
  6. Not printed.
  7. See the enclosure to document No. 145.