Truman Papers

Bohlen Minutes

top secret

The Secretary said he wanted to talk to Mr. Molotov on two or three questions of importance still open before the Foreign Ministers’ meeting this afternoon.

He said, first of all, he wished to tell Mr. Molotov that in regard to the Polish western frontier, we were prepared as a concession to meet the Soviet desire and he, therefore, had a revised paper on this subject (copy attached).1 He pointed out that this would put Polish administration up to the western as against the eastern Neisse.

Mr. Molotov expressed his gratification at this proposal.

The Secretary then said the next question was Italy and the entry of Italy into the United Nations. He had again been endeavoring to find a compromise between his British and Soviet friends. He proposed a new sentence at the end of the third paragraph and a new paragraph regarding freedom of the allied press to report on events in Rumania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Finland (copy attached).2

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Mr. Molotov , after hearing a translation of these changes, said while he could not say finally he believed that they would be acceptable to the Soviet Delegation.

The Secretary then said we come to the most difficult of all the questions, namely, that of reparations. He said that he had a new proposal to make and handed Mr. Molotov the revised United States formula (copy attached).3 He emphasized that this was a United States proposal and that he had not yet consulted the British, adding that if they could reach agreement here on this question he would go to see the British this afternoon and endeavor to persuade them to agree.

Mr. Molotov studied the new proposals and then asked who was to determine what equipment was suitable for reparations.

The Secretary replied that he thought since the Ruhr lay in the British zone that that would be for the British to determine on the basis of what must be left there in order to maintain the minimum required standard of living.

Mr. Molotov said he thought that determination of reparation materials should be done on an Allied basis in which the Soviets would participate. He suggested that it either be the Control Council or the Reparations Commission.

The Secretary said that that was a possibility and should be studied. He said the Control Council operating for all Germany could determine the general norms of living standards, but that the final authority would probably remain in the commander-in-chief of the given zone, since he was responsible for that zone.

Mr. Molotov remarked that the Secretary’s draft did not mention any possibility of the Control Council or the Reparations Commission determining what equipment was available for reparations. Mr. Molotov then proposed that instead of the 12% [15%?] of reparations to be received without exchange4 that that figure be raised to 25%, thus making 25% from the Ruhr to be exchanged and 25% without exchange to the Soviet Union.

The Secretary said he doubted if the British would agree to any such figure. He felt that it would be difficult enough to get them to agree to his proposal.

Mr. Molotov then reverted to his argument of yesterday5 and to the necessity of having a fixed figure either in dollars or in pounds. He repeated all his arguments on this point.

The Secretary replied for his part, giving the arguments as to why it was impossible and dangerous for us to attempt to fix a definite figure either for tonnage or for dollar value at this time.

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Mr. Molotov said he could only give a preliminary opinion and would, of course, have to consult Marshal Stalin. He said he thought the three points of difficulty would be:

who was to determine reparations equipment,
the absence of a fixed sum, and
the question of deliveries from the Soviet zone.

He said that before meeting Mr. Byrnes today they had prepared a counter suggestion and he handed the Secretary a copy in Russian (copy in translation attached).6 He then said he wished to talk about the Ruhr, that he felt that in confining the removals for the Soviet Union to the Ruhr area it narrowed the base, since there was industrial equipment in the United States zone as well.

The Secretary explained that the United States from its zone would have to help meet claims from other countries, such as France, Holland, Belgium, Yugoslavia, and others. He said that under his scheme the Soviet Union would be responsible for reparations to Poland, but that the reparations for other countries would come from the western zones.

Mr. Molotov said that despite the difference still existing he felt that some progress had been made in this question of reparations and he would so report to Marshal Stalin. He then said they had a proposal in regard to the question of the Ruhr as a whole. He recalled that there had been much discussion at previous conferences in regard to the internationalization of the Ruhr, but he said that nothing lately had been heard of it.

The Secretary reminded Mr. Molotov that at one time President Roosevelt had been in favor of the dismemberment of Germany but had subsequently changed his mind. He recalled Marshal Stalin’s talks with Mr. Hopkins last spring on this point.7

Mr. Molotov agreed and said that the paper he was now handing to the Secretary merely dealt with the setup of an Allied Commission composed of the four occupying powers to administer the Ruhr under the general direction of the Control Council (copy attached).8 Mr. Molotov said he had two other papers to hand the Secretary: one in regard to Italian and Austrian reparations based on the discussions of the Big Three, and the other, concerning war criminals which listed the first ten of such war criminals which were to be brought to trial in the near future.9 (Copies attached).

The Secretary remarked that he had understood that Marshal Stalin had agreed to drop reparations from Austria.10

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Mr. Molotov replied they might be prepared to withdraw the reference to Austria but that the Yugoslavs would be offended, adding however, that if Yugoslavia received reparations from other sources she might be satisfied.

The Secretary, in conclusion, said he wished to emphasize once again that these proposals were United States proposals and had not yet received British consent.

  1. Document No. 1152, post.
  2. Document No. 731, post.
  3. Document No. 961, post.
  4. Fifteen percent is the figure in document No. 961, which was attached to these minutes as the paper under discussion.
  5. See ante, p. 473.
  6. Not attached to the minutes, and not positively identified. Cf. document No. 953, post.
  7. See vol. i, document No. 26.
  8. Document No. 1027, post.
  9. Documents Nos. 1104 and 1016, post, respectively.
  10. See ante, p. 464.