Truman Papers

Thompson Minutes

top secret

Mr. Molotov proposed that Mr. Byrnes preside at the meeting.

Mr. Byrnes said that it had been agreed that they should discuss the creation of the Council of Foreign Ministers. The reasons for creating the Council were set forth in the memorandum which was submitted yesterday.2 He would like to know the views of the other Foreign Ministers.

[Page 67]

Mr. Molotov again raised the question of China but said that if the Council was to deal with other than exclusively European affairs the objections to China’s participation would drop.

Mr. Byrnes suggested that the Council be composed of five powers but that participation of China be limited to problems concerning the Far East or problems of world wide significance. He explained that if the war with Japan should end soon they would in this manner have established the organization to deal with the problems of peace in the Far East. The other reason for including China was that China is one of the permanent members of the Security Council.

Mr. Eden said that if they were concerned only with European problems he would prefer four members and that in that case the meetings of the three Foreign Secretaries would merge with the new Council and probably also the European Advisory Commission would disappear and some form of secretariat would have to be set up. He agreed, however, that if the Council’s sphere was to be the world, China should be included.

Mr. Molotov proposed that the Council of Foreign Ministers should be established to deal with both European and non-European affairs and should be composed of five members.

Mr. Eden inquired if this meant four members for European affairs.

Mr. Molotov replied that so far as Europe was concerned the first task of the Council was to draft treaties of peace with Germany, Italy, Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria. Finland for some reason appeared to be omitted. France did not participate in the armistices with these countries.3 He had no question about French participation in the discussions relating to the peace with Germany and Italy but he thought that France should be excluded when the peace treaties with the other countries were being considered.

Mr. Eden thought this would be complicated as there would be three members for some purposes, four for some, and five for others.

Mr. Molotov pointed out that this was due to the actual situation.

Mr. Eden thought that the Council would consider day to day problems as well as those of peace in which event it would be well to include France.

[Page 68]

Mr. Molotov pointed out that the last wording submitted by the United States delegation referred only to the peace treaties.

Mr. Byrnes said that this was done to avoid delay which would occur if the Council were loaded with many diverse problems. He thought, however, that the Council might consider matters referred to it by the respective governments.

Mr. Eden observed that at the Crimea Conference it had been agreed to set up the meetings of the three Foreign Ministers.4 They had not had a formal meeting although they had an informal meeting in San Francisco.5 Was the Council to do the work of that body as well as the peace? He thought that it should.

Mr. Byrnes said that was also his thought.

Mr. Molotov again pointed out that this differed from the American draft although the original draft6 contemplated broader functions for the Council. He thought it best to be content with the more limited arrangement.

Mr. Byrnes said it was true that the earlier draft had been changed. This was done because of fear that pressure for consideration of other questions might delay the work of the Council. He had no objection to including language to provide that it could consider questions referred to it by governments. There was no point in the three Foreign Ministers making a separate trip to meet when they were already meeting in the Council.

Mr. Molotov thought it would be well to abide by the later American proposal and it would be possible subsequently to see whether it was advisable to widen the functions of the Council.

Mr. Eden then inquired what would happen to the meeting of the three Foreign Ministers.

Mr. Molotov thought this question might receive some consideration. He thought the European Advisory Commission should be terminated and that its members should be thanked.

Mr. Eden then inquired if he understood clearly that the meetings of the three Foreign Ministers would be continued and that the Council would consist of four or five members.

Mr. Byrnes replied that the Council would consist of five members and suggested language to provide that China’s participation, so far as European affairs are concerned, should extend only to matters affecting Asiatic interests or of world wide concern.

Mr. Molotov asked if it were settled that Finland should be mentioned.

[Page 69]

Mr. Byrnes replied that it was.

Mr. Molotov then proposed that paragraph 1 of the American draft be amended to provide that the composition of the Council should conform to the character of the matters under discussion.

Mr. Eden preferred to leave paragraph 1 as it was. The Soviet amendment would involve much discussion as to who would be present at each meeting.

Mr. Molotov said that while France had perhaps an interest in questions concerning Finland and Rumania, it was not a party to the armistice arrangements concerning those countries.

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that the United States had not been at war with Finland and although it would be interested at Council meetings it would not sign any peace treaty with Finland. He assumed that the Council would prepare recommendations to the Governments relating to the terms of peace and in doing so would consider the views of a government which had not been at war. The Council, however, would not be called upon to make recommendations to France in a case where France was not at war.

Mr. Eden thought this would be difficult and pointed out that Vichy had not been at war with these countries whereas the de Gaulle movement was. France had not done much fighting against some of them but also the British had not done much fighting against the Finns because they could not get at them.

Mr. Molotov said the point was that France did not participate in the deliberations for an armistice. Of course, France could sign the treaty but the question was who was to make the preparation for it. He said his objections were not directed against France but were based on the fact that France did not participate in the armistice.

Mr. Eden then proposed amending the text to limit membership to those countries who had signed armistice agreements with the countries being considered.

Mr. Byrnes agreed and thought that it would be possible to draft language in which all could concur.

Mr. Eden proposed that a drafting committee be set up but he still wished to know what would happen to the meeting of the three Secretaries. They could not keep meeting all the time as they were very busy. He had thought that the Council might have taken over this work.

Mr. Molotov pointed out that the Council would then have four members. He thought that it should be three and that if necessary they could add some other representatives.

Mr. Byrnes said it had been his thought that the meetings of the three would not be affected. They could meet at the same time the [Page 70] Council met. It had been agreed at Yalta that they could discuss anything and he thought that this arrangement was not affected.

Mr. Eden said he would have liked the three to become four but if his colleagues thought otherwise he would have to agree.

Mr. Molotov proposed that they begin with three and see what happens. It would be possible to make changes if necessary.

A drafting committee to draw up the text was then appointed consisting of Mr. Dunn, Mr. Cohen, Mr. Vishinsky, Mr. Sobolev, Mr. Ward, and Mr. Dean. The drafting committee reported back later in the meeting7 and submitted a draft text (Attachment 1, final text8).


Mr. Byrnes suggested that the Foreign Ministers now discuss the question of the authority of the Control Council in political questions.

Mr. Molotov interposed that it would be desirable to discuss the disposition of the German fleet and merchant ships.

Mr. Byrnes replied that he would prefer to begin with the discussion of the topic which he had suggested. He doubted if the Big Three could or should enter this afternoon into a discussion of the difficult and complicated mass of economic problems having to do with Germany. He suggested therefore that in so far as these problems were concerned the Foreign Ministers might appoint a subcommittee consisting of one or two representatives from their staffs which would examine these questions in the first instance and present to the Foreign Ministers those problems, one or two at a time, on which the subcommittee was unable to reach agreement. Such questions might be, for example, the relationship of restitution and war booty to the payment of essential imports or the application of the reparations program to the entire territory of Germany as it existed in 1937.

Mr. Eden inquired whether the Big Three should discuss any of these questions this afternoon.

Mr. Byrnes replied that for this afternoon he suggested that they discuss only the authority of the Control Council in political questions. As to the authority of the Council in economic questions he thought that they might follow the procedure he had suggested under which the subcommittee of experts would present to the Foreign Ministers problems on which the subcommittee disagreed, and the Foreign Ministers would determine which of these problems should be recommended to the Big Three for discussion and decision.

[Page 71]

Mr. Molotov remarked that the agenda for this afternoon’s meeting would therefore be:

  • Topic 1—Procedures for the peace settlements;
  • Topic 2—The political authority of the Control Council; and
  • Topic 3—The appointment of the subcommittee to deal with German economic questions.

Mr. Byrnes replied that the Foreign Ministers themselves might well appoint this subcommittee, leaving therefore only two questions for discussion by the Big Three this afternoon.

Mr. Molotov reverted to his suggestion in regard to the disposition of the German fleet and merchant ships. He thought that the Big Three might well discuss more than three questions at this afternoon’s meeting. He added that the Polish question might also be considered.

Mr. Eden remarked that the disposition of the German fleet is really the simplest of all the questions before the house and might well be held until another meeting. He promised that the fleet would not be sunk in the meantime.

Mr. Molotov declared that he did not insist that this matter be settled today. He thought it should be dealt with rapidly. He pointed out that it is a question which is of a special interest [of especial interest?] to countries which have lost most of their fleet.


Mr. Byrnes said that he agreed that the Big Three might well discuss the question of the liquidation of the London Polish Government.

Mr. Molotov added that this would include the discussion of all the problems related to the liquidation of that government.

Mr. Eden pointed out that this is only part of the Polish question and that there should also be discussed the matter of the implementation of the Yalta agreement on Poland,9 particularly the prompt holding of free and unfettered elections.

Mr. Byrnes replied that all aspects of the Polish question should be discussed and there was general agreement on this point.

German Economic Problems

Mr. Byrnes returned to his suggestion of the appointment of a subcommittee to deal with German economic problems. He expressed the view that this subcommittee should deal with all German economic matters, including reparations.

Mr. Molotov and Mr. Eden agreed.

[Page 72]

Agenda for Big Three Meeting

It was thereupon agreed that the agenda for this afternoon’s meeting of the Big Three should consist of three items:

The procedures for peace negotiations and territorial settlements;
The political authority of the Control Council for Germany;
The Polish question, with particular reference to the liquidation of the London government, and the implementation of the Yalta agreement.

German Fleet

Mr. Molotov mentioned once again the disposition of the German fleet and merchant marine.

It was agreed at Mr. Eden’s suggestion that the Foreign Ministers would take up this subject soon but that they would not do so today.

Chairmanship of Foreign Ministers Meetings

It was agreed that the Chairmanship of the meetings would rotate and that the chairman of the day would act as rapporteur to the heads of governments.

Political Authority of the Control Council for Germany

Mr. Molotov declared that he had no objection to the placing of this subject on the agenda but that he had a number of questions in regard to the U. S. draft which had been circulated yesterday.10 As to paragraph (1) in regard to the authority of the Control Council, he felt that this matter had been decided upon in the EAC. If there were no changes of substance, he inquired why it was necessary to make any change in the language approved by the EAC.11

Mr. Byrnes replied that there were no changes of substance or no intention to make any material change in the decisions reached by the EAC.

Mr. Molotov said that the language seemed to be slightly different in its shades of meaning and he asked whether it was intended to strengthen the aspect of centralization as compared to the aspect of the zonal administration.

Mr. Byrnes replied that there was no intention to change the relationship between the zones and the Control Council.

Mr. Molotov said that if there was no intention to change, a drafting subcommittee could easily reconcile the language, and this suggestion was approved.

[Page 73]

Mr. Molotov then referred to 2 (i) (a).12 He pointed out that prisoners of war cannot be said to be demobilized and inquired whether there was any intention by this paragraph to change the status of prisoners of war.

Mr. Byrnes replied that there was no such intention.

It was agreed that the drafting subcommittee could deal with the language on this point.

Mr. Molotov said that he had an amendment to propose on paragraph 2 (i) (b) but that he would not go into the details of this at this time.

Mr. Molotov proposed the following new wording for paragraph 3:

“In addition to measures already adopted all Fascist law, as well as all Fascist decrees, orders, instruments should be abolished as directed against democratic liberties, civil rights, and the interests of the German nation. Discrimination on grounds of race, creed or political opinion established by Nazi law should be liquidated. No such discrimination, whether legal, administrative or otherwise, shall be tolerated.”

Mr. Byrnes replied that this suggestion seemed to him at first glance to be satisfactory but that the drafting committee could work out the language.

Mr. Eden pointed out that the British delegation had a number of small drafting points which they would turn over to the drafting committee.

Mr. Molotov then suggested that the language of the last sentence [of] paragraph 5 should be eliminated in order to remove any possible loopholes for the retention of Nazis in office.

Mr. Eden said he had thought the sentence referred only to non-Nazis.

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that it might refer to those who had been only nominal participants in the Nazi party or who had been members of the party under duress. He thought that in some cases it might be useful to use persons of this type in public administration but he suggested, in order to make the point perfectly clear, the insertion of the word “other” before the word “Germans” in this sentence.

Mr. Molotov stated that he preferred to drop the sentence altogether, and Mr. Byrnes said that he would have no objection.

Mr. Eden felt that there should be somewhere in the document the concept of an official holding office only subject to good behavior.

Mr. Molotov replied that he felt that this went without saying.

Mr. Byrnes said that he was inclined to feel that there should be an indication of this kind in the document but that he would agree either to placing it at some other point or dropping it altogether.

[Page 74]

Mr. Molotov urged that it be dropped altogether.

Mr. Molotov then referred to paragraph 7 (i). He inquired whether it is not too soon to start holding elections.

Mr. Byrnes replied that the objective, i. e., decentralization of the political structure and development of local responsibility, is stated in the introduction to the paragraph and that the Control Commission will decide when it is appropriate to hold elections. He referred to paragraph 7 (iii), which states that elective principles shall be introduced into the higher political units as soon as the results of local self-government seem to warrant.

Mr. Molotov still felt that elections at this time would be premature.

Mr. Byrnes replied that if they are premature, they will not be held, and the matter is within the discretion of the Control Commission.

Mr. Eden expressed the view that all would agree that elections at this moment are premature but that they should be held whenever possible. He felt that a reservation of the same character as that in 7 (iii) should be introduced into 7 (i).

Mr. Byrnes agreed that this would be acceptable, pointing out that the essential is that the Germans should bear as much responsibility as possible for the carrying on of local affairs.

Mr. Molotov suggested the following redraft of paragraph 7 (i):

“Local self-government shall be restored all over Germany on democratic principles with due regard for safeguarding military and state security.”

Mr. Molotov pointed out that this language contained no reference to elections. He felt that this should be left to the discretion of the occupying powers. There should be a general tendency in this direction but we should be cautious in proceeding with it. He felt the U. S. language to be too categorical.

Mr. Byrnes said that he had no objection to qualifying 7 (i) in the same way as 7 (iii) but that he felt any reservation in regard to elections to be not strictly applicable since it is recognized the world over that elections are the proper means of having democratic governments.

Mr. Eden suggested adding to 7 (i) the words “at the discretion of the Control Council.”

Mr. Byrnes agreed, but Mr. Molotov felt the question should be further discussed.

As to paragraph 7 (iv) Mr. Molotov inquired whether the prohibition on the establishment of a central German political government implied the establishment of some other form of government.

[Page 75]

Mr. Byrnes agreed that the word might well be stricken since any form of government is in fact political.

Mr. Molotov inquired whether some form of central economic administration is intended.

Mr. Byrnes replied that he assumed that some central administration for such matters as currency and transport would be necessary.

Mr. Molotov concluded that he had some further additions to suggest but felt that they could be dealt with by the drafting subcommittee.

Mr. Eden then suggested that in paragraph 8 after the words “shall be permitted” there be added the words “and any existing instructions will be progressively relaxed.” It seemed to him that it would be undesirable to give Germany freedom of the press all at once.

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that under the terms of the paragraph freedom of the press would be subject to military security and inquired as to what other reasons [existed why] this freedom should be limited.

Mr. Eden took the position that the matter should be clarified, pointing out that we would not allow the press to start preaching Nazi doctrine or attacking Allied governments.

Mr. Molotov said that he also had an amendment on this paragraph but would refer it to the drafting subcommittee.

Mr. Byrnes , returning to paragraph 7 (i) took the view that we would wish to consider this language very carefully. If in the U. S. zone we thought that a given community was ready to hold elections, to make this decision subject to the authority of the Control Council might be too restrictive.

Mr. Eden expressed the view that in so far as possible we should attempt to follow the same policy in all zones. He felt that it would be a pity if some held elections while others did not.

Mr. Byrnes replied that conditions might warrant elections in one place but not in another.

Mr. Eden felt that in that case the four governments as represented in the Control Commission should decide where elections were warranted.

Mr. Byrnes stated that we would be inclined to accept the British judgment as to whether elections were appropriate in a given community in the British zone and that no administering authority should be precluded from starting the democratic processes if it thought the communities in question were ready. He agreed, however, that the drafting subcommittee should work out appropriate language.

[Page 76]

Mr. Eden expressed doubt as to whether the drafting subcommittee could revise this document in time for consideration by the Big Three this afternoon. He thought, however, the Big Three might discuss the subject in general terms even though the draft of the text had not been completed.

Mr. Byrnes agreed and said that he would wish to appoint on the subcommittee dealing with German economic problems Mr. Clayton and Mr. Pauley.

Mr. Molotov said that he would appoint Mr. Maiski and Mr. Arutunian.

Mr. Eden said that he would appoint Sir David Waley and Mr. Coulson.

Mr. Byrnes then named as American representatives on the subcommittee working on German political questions Mr. Matthews and Mr. Cohen.

Mr. Eden named Sir William Strang and Mr. Harrison.

Mr. Molotov designated Mr. Vyshinski and Mr. Semenov.

The Foreign Ministers then returned to the discussion of the question of the Council of Foreign Ministers, the subcommittee appointed for this purpose having completed its proposed draft.13

Mr. Molotov proposed that their draft be adopted although he still wished to consider the advisability of clarifying paragraph 1 of the American draft. Mr. Molotov proposed and was supported by Mr. Eden and Mr. Byrnes that the words “each of” be amended in the text submitted by the drafting committee. This was agreed to.

Mr. Byrnes said that he thought that if each of the five Governments wished that the Council should consider a subject other than the question of peace they should be free to do so and he proposed that the sentence covering this point be included.

Mr. Molotov thought that if the five were agreed this could of course be done but it would be better to omit much of it in order not to divert attention from the main task.

Mr. Byrnes thought that the five Governments would refer only important questions to the Council and that it would be for the Council to determine the order in which they would be considered.

Mr. Molotov agreed to this and said that it should be placed on record that the European Advisory Commission had finished its task.

Mr. Eden suggested that it should be stated that the Control Commission would take over the remaining task of the EAC. He pointed out, however, that it would be necessary to have the agreement of the French.

Mr. Byrnes said that the decision could be expressed in this way.

[Page 77]


Mr. Byrnes observed that the President had yesterday raised the question of Italy becoming a member of the United Nations Organization and he wondered if it would not be possible to decide this matter.

Mr. Molotov thought that this question should wait for a day or two as they had not had time to study it.

The meeting adjourned.

  1. Document No. 711, post.
  2. The following are the armistice agreements referred to: armistice with and instrument of surrender by Italy, signed respectively at Fairfield Camp, Sicily, September 3, 1943, and at Malta, September 29, 1943 (Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 1604; 61 Stat. (3) 2740, 2742); armistice with Rumania, signed at Moscow, September 12, 1944 (Executive Agreement Series No. 490; 59 Stat. (2) 1712); armistice with Finland, signed at Moscow, September 19, 1944 (British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxlv, p. 513); armistice with Bulgaria, signed at Moscow, October 28, 1944 (Executive Agreement Series No. 437; 58 Stat. (2) 1498); armistice with Hungary, signed at Moscow, January 20, 1945 (Executive Agreement Series No. 456; 59 Stat. (2) 1321); and the two acts of military surrender by Germany, signed respectively at Reims, May 7, 1945, and at Berlin, May 8, 1945 (Executive Agreement Series No. 502; 59 Stat. (2) 1858, 1860). French military representatives witnessed the two acts of surrender by Germany.
  3. See document No. 1417, post, section viii.
  4. While the United Nations Conference on International Organization was in session there.
  5. See vol. i, the attachment to document No. 228. This draft had been communicated to Eden and Molotov on July 8. See vol. i, document No. 231.
  6. See document No. 712, post.
  7. See document No. 712, post, footnote 3.
  8. See document No. 1417, post, section vi.
  9. Document No. 852, post.
  10. In the agreement on control machinery in Germany signed at London, November 14, 1944, as amended by a further agreement signed at London, May 1, 1945. For texts, see Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 3070; United States Treaties and Other International Agreements, vol. 5, pt. 2, p. 2062. Text of the agreement of November 14, 1944, also in Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, p. 124.
  11. i. e., paragraph 2 (i) (a) of document No. 852, post.
  12. See document No. 712, post.