Truman Papers

Thompson Minutes

top secret


Churchill raised the question of the press in relation to the Conference. At Tehran it had been difficult for the press to obtain access to the Conference; at Yalta it had been impossible; here there were many representatives of the press outside the well-guarded fortress in which the Conference was taking place and they were raising a great outcry in the world press regarding the inadequacy of their access to information.

Stalin inquired who had let them in.

Churchill replied they were outside the compound. He recognized that secrecy and quiet were necessary for the work of the Conference. If his colleagues agreed he was willing to have a talk with the press not to explain the work of the meeting but rather why the press must be excluded or it might be delegated to the President or to someone else to do this.

The President pointed out that each delegation had a press representative here and suggested that it be left to them to handle and that this meeting be kept secret as the others have always been. He was not worried about the correspondents who were mostly American.

This was agreed to.

Churchill said he had only offered himself as the lamb and that in any event he would only go if the Generalissimo would agree to rescue him.

[Page 89]

Rapporteur’s Report of the Meeting of the Foreign Ministers, July 18

The President said that the Foreign Ministers had agreed that the agenda of the present meeting should be the following:

The question of procedure for peace negotiations and territorial settlements.
The question of the authority of the Control Council for Germany in political questions.
The Polish question, particularly the problems having to do with the liquidation of the former London Polish Government and with the implementation of the Yalta agreement on Poland.5

The President said it was agreed that the Secretary of State would present the report of the Foreign Ministers meeting and he would now ask him to do so.

Procedure for Peace Settlements

Mr. Byrnes then read section 1 of his report dealing with the procedure for peace settlements (Attachment 1).6

Stalin said that the Soviet delegation withdrew its reservation to paragraph 1 of the United States draft and that the rest of the draft was acceptable.7

Churchill said he wondered about the words “with a view to their submission to the United Nations”.

Mr. Byrnes said that the Declaration of [by] United Nations of January 1, 19428 called for this.

Churchill said he assumed this meant the ultimate submission of the treaties to the United Nations.

Stalin said this made no difference as the three powers would represent the interests of all.

Churchill said it was all right if this was clear.

The President said that the report on the procedure for peace settlements was agreed to unanimously.

Political Authority of the Control Council for Germany

Mr. Byrnes read section 2 of his report (Attachment 1).9

Churchill said the word “Germany” was used repeatedly. What

was Germany for this purpose? Was it pre-war Germany. If this were meant he agreed.

The President asked what was the understanding of the Soviet delegation.

[Page 90]

Stalin replied that Germany is what she has become after the war. No other Germany existed now. Austria for example was not now a part of Germany.

The President proposed that for this purpose they consider Germany as it existed in 1937.

Stalin proposed to add “minus what Germany had lost in 1945”.

The President observed that Germany had lost all in 1945.

Stalin replied that he was speaking geographically and said that it was impossible to get away from the results of the war.

The President agreed but said it was necessary to have a line from which to start.

Stalin referred to the Sudetenland which Germany had taken from Czechoslovakia. Did his colleagues propose that this be considered part of Germany?

The President replied that he had suggested the Germany of 1937.

Stalin agreed that from a formal point of view Germany might be considered in this way. He suggested that the Western frontier of Poland be fixed now and that the question would then become clear.

The President said that this could best be done when it had been decided what to do with Germany.

Stalin said that Germany was a country with no government and with no definite frontier. It had no frontier guards. It did have four occupied zones.

The President said he still suggested that 1937 Germany be taken as a point from which to operate in considering this matter.

Stalin replied that of course they would have to base themselves on some starting point and from this point of view the Germany of 1937 was satisfactory.

Churchill said he agreed and The President noted that Germany of 1937 was agreed to.

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that economic questions connected with Germany had been referred to the subcommittee and that it was not possible to finish with this question until the subcommittee had reported. It was, however, possible to discuss the political section of the report.10 Certain changes in drafting had been referred to a subcommittee but that would not prevent discussion of political questions now.

Stalin said the Soviet delegation accepted, in the main, all the points in the political section of this proposed agreement. The Soviet delegation, however, had one amendment to propose in point 5,11 namely, the deletion of the last sentence.

[Page 91]

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that the Foreign Ministers had already agreed to this.12

Stalin noted that the Soviet delegation agreed to the document but said that the drafting could be looked over.

Mr. Eden proposed that the Foreign Ministers look over the redraft the next morning and submit it to the next meeting of the heads of state.

This was agreed to.

Churchill drew attention to section 2, paragraph (1), (b),13 which covered the destruction of arms, implements of war and so forth. There were many things which could not be destroyed such as wind tunnels and other technical facilities. Would it not be well to have some use of them?

The President pointed out that the words of the report were “shall be seized or destroyed”.

Stalin said that they were not barbarians and they would not destroy research institutions.

Churchill said he meant they could share them and use them together.

Stalin said he agreed that this could be done.

The Polish Question

Mr. Byrnes read section 3 of his report dealing with the Polish question (Attachment 1).14

Stalin also presented a statement on the Polish question which was read by the interpreter (Attachment 2).15

Churchill said that the burden of this matter lies on the British Government. When Hitler drove the Poles out of Poland, Great Britain received them. There was no property worthwhile belonging to the London Polish Government which the British have now disowned. There were about twenty million pounds in gold which has been frozen. He supposed it was the ultimate asset of the Central Polish Bank and that they must follow whatever is the normal course of such transfers. This gold was not, however, in the control of the London Polish Government. He added that the Polish Embassy in London had been vacated by Raczkiewicz and is available to the representative of the Polish Provisional Government. The Ambassador of the Polish Provisional Government may have it when he wants it and the sooner he arrives to take it the better.

Churchill said he may be asked how the Polish Government had been financed. The answer was that it had been financed by the British Government which had expended about £120,000,000 to [Page 92] finance the Polish Army and to look after Poles who had fled the German scourge and who had taken refuge on British shores—the only asylum available to them in Europe. When the London Polish Government had been disavowed and they had recognized the new provisional government, the British had arranged that three months salary be paid to the employees of the London Government and that they be dismissed. He thought it would have been improper if they had not given these people an opportunity to look around to see what they would do. The expense of this fell on the British Government.

Churchill asked the indulgence of the President in pointing out that the British position was unique. They had to deal with the transfer or liquidation of the Polish forces who had fought with them. Some Poles had got out of France, others had escaped from Switzerland to Italy. They got 40 or 50 thousand out of France before the French capitulation and had constructed a Polish Army of about five divisions which was based in England. There were a great many Poles in a Polish corps of three divisions in Italy which was also in a very excited frame of mind. This Polish Army of about 200,000, front and rear, fought with great bravery and discipline here in Germany and also in Italy. They suffered heavy losses and held the line with distinction. Relations with these men involved the honor of His Majesty’s Government. Pledges had been given to Parliament, but in any event they would feel obliged to treat them in a manner which the world as a whole would approve.

Stalin interrupted to say “of course”.

Churchill said that these men had taken an oath to President Raczkiewicz. He said it was necessary for him to state British policy toward these men. It was to persuade as many as possible to return to Poland. He had been very angry when he learned that General Anders, who is a good soldier, but who, Marshal Stalin knows, is anti-Russian in his views, told his troops that if they returned to Poland they would probably be sent to Siberia. Disciplinary action would be taken against this officer. This was the British policy but they needed a little time. This policy also applied to civilian employees. Of course, the better things were in Poland, the quicker they would go.

Churchill wished to take this occasion to rejoice in the improvement which had developed in the Polish situation and to express the wish for the success of the new Polish Provisional Government. He referred to the fact that Mr. Mikolajczyk had contributed to its establishment. He had wished for more in the setting up of this Government but the progress made was a splendid example of the collaboration of the great powers. He had said in Parliament as a pledge, because feeling after the Crimea Conference was high on the [Page 93] Polish question, that if soldiers who had fought for Britain did not wish to return to Poland they would receive them in the British Empire. They could not cast adrift men who had been brothers in arms. He hoped as few as possible would remain and they would be encouraged to return to Poland. If the Polish Provisional Government could give them the assurance that they would be well received in full freedom and under appropriate economic conditions, this would be of great help. He would like them to feel assured in returning to their home which had been freed by the victory of the Red Army. The Foreign Ministers might discuss this matter.

Mr. Churchill said he had read the Soviet paper on this question which had been submitted earlier in the meeting and his remarks were in answer to it. They showed that subject to what he had said he agreed with it and suggested that it be sent to the Foreign Ministers to see if anything should be added. He said the British were also submitting a paper on Poland.16

Stalin said he appreciated the difficulties of the British Government. They had sheltered the former rulers of Poland and in spite of this these foreign rulers had caused much trouble to them. The Soviet draft was not intended to make the British position more complicated. Its purpose was to put an end to the position which still existed. The Government of Arciszewski continued to exist; it had means to conduct activities; it had agents and press representatives. This made an unfavorable impression on public opinion in all allied nations. If Mr. Churchill pointed out some items in the Soviet draft that complicated the British position he was prepared to withdraw them. He repeated that it was only intended to end the present situation.

Churchill said the British delegation agreed with Stalin but he pointed out that when you cut off money and end a Government you cannot prevent—in England—individuals from going on talking. This included members of Parliament. After the departure of Mr. Mikolajczyk he had never seen the members of this Government nor had the Foreign Secretary. But what could be done if Arciszewski wandered through the streets of London and talked with journalists? He repeated that the British Government had nothing to do with these men and was giving them no facilities. They had to be careful, however, about the Army, if they were to prevent mutiny and possibly bloodshed in which case their own people would be killed. In this connection he said that many of them were in Scotland and that they only wanted to get rid of them. The British had the same objectives as the Soviets. They asked for help and a little time and also that Poland be made an attractive place for Poles to return to.

Churchill said that they were willing for the draft of the Soviet [Page 94] Government to be examined by the three Foreign Secretaries in the light of this discussion and of the paper which he would submit. He agreed that this matter [should] be settled as soon as possible.

The President observed that there was no fundamental difference. Churchill asked for time to get the Polish soldiers into a condition in which they would wish to return to Poland. Stalin had agreed to withdraw any points in the Soviet draft which would complicate the position of the British Government.

The President stated that he was also interested in the Polish question. He recalled that the Yalta agreement had been reached on the holding of free and secret Polish elections as soon as possible. He hoped that this procedure would be carried out by the Polish Government.

Stalin proposed that the question be referred to the Foreign Secretaries.

Churchill agreed but suggested that the whole Polish question be referred to the Foreign Ministers and that they bring out a new draft.

Stalin said he wished to state that the Polish Government had never refused to hold elections.

Churchill inquired if it was agreed that they would continue tomorrow the discussion of the big question covered in section 2 of the report,17 namely, the German question.

The President replied in the affirmative and Stalin said it was only a question of wording.

The President agreed.

On the proposal of The President it was agreed that the agenda of the next meeting would be prepared by the Foreign Ministers.

Churchill said he was impressed by the question of political principles to be applied to Germany and that it was well to discuss it at the next meeting. It was, however, a very big question. Were there to be uniform or different practices in the different zones?

Stalin said he understood that they were all in favor of the uniform policy.

The President stated that was correct.

Churchill said he only wished to emphasize this.

The meeting adjourned.18

  1. See document No. 1417, post, section vi.
  2. Ante, p. 77.
  3. The Cohen notes, infra, attribute to Molotov this statement and various other statements here attributed to Stalin.
  4. Executive Agreement Series No. 236; 55 Stat. (2) 1600.
  5. Ante, p. 78.
  6. Ante, p. 78. Cf. document No. 856, post.
  7. Of document No. 852, post.
  8. See ante, pp. 7374.
  9. Of document No. 852, post.
  10. Ante, p. 78.
  11. Document No. 1120, post.
  12. See document No. 1121, post.
  13. i. e., the Rapporteur’s report, ante, p. 78.
  14. At 6:00 p.m. See Log, ante, p. 15.