Editor’s Note

—No official record of the substance of the conversation at this meeting has been found. Forrestal’s diary entry for July 29 gives the following summary (Forrestal Papers):

“From there went to see Ernest Bevin and found Bevin in very good form. He said in answer to my question that the only industries they proposed to nationalize were power, railroads, mines, and textiles up to the spinning mills. He indicated he had no use for Laski. He spoke highly and appreciatively of Anthony Eden. He said he was quite familiar with tactics of the Communists because he had had to deal with them in his own labor unions in England.

“I asked him a question about the Emperor in Japan, whether he thought we ought to insist on destruction of the Emperor concept along with the surrender. He hesitated and said this question would require a bit of thinking, but he was inclined to feel there was no sense in destroying the instrument through which one might have to deal in order to effectively control Japan. He then made a rather surprising statement—for a liberal and a labor leader: ‘It might have been far better for all of us not to have destroyed the institution of the Kaiser after the last war—we might not have had this one if we hadn’t done so. It might have been far better to have guided the Germans to a constitutional monarchy rather than leaving them without a symbol and therefore opening the psychological doors to a man like Hitler.’

“He said he was determined to get going what he called the three historic axes of European trade—the Baltic axis, that is to say, the old Hanseatic League; the Antwerp axis, and the Genoa axis. He said these three were the classic foci of European trade for hundreds of years back, that if they could be restored to activity, it would do much to bring about revival of commerce in Europe.

“I asked him how he was going to deal with Southeastern Europe, that is, the Balkans, which would be under the control of Russia, and he said he didn’t think the Balkans amounted to much in the way of business. I differed with this.”