Truman Papers

Cohen Notes

Churchill: When we were at Teheran, there were no journalists. At Yalta, there were few. Here they are all about. They carry powerful weapons. They are making a great outcry.

[Page 95]

Molotov: Where are they?

Churchill: They are not in the compound. We can only do our work in absolute secrecy. If my colleagues are willing I am willing to have a talk with them and explain as a newspaper man the need for secrecy. I am willing to speak to them or to have the President or the Marshal speak to them.

Molotov: What do they wish? Are their demands known to everyone?

Truman: We each have a press representative here. Let them handle it. We will make no communication until the end of the Conference. I am not disturbed by them. Most of them are Americans. Your election is over and so is mine.

Let us proceed. The Foreign Secretaries have recommended the following items for discussion:

1. Machinery for peace settlement. Shall we discuss this?

Molotov: I agree.

Truman: Draft proposal for Council of Foreign Ministers (American proposal)1 approved in principle. May I ask the Secretary of State to read the report of the Foreign Secretaries?

Molotov: Yes.

Churchill: Yes.

(Secretary of State Byrnes reads report of the foreign secretaries).

Three questions presented:

Peace machinery.
Control Commission for Germany.
Polish question.

Truman: Is it your pleasure to proceed with the first point?

Molotov: The Soviet Delegation withdrew its reservation in regard to paragraph 1, as to the rest, it agrees to accept.2

Churchill: What is the meaning of reference to submission to the United Nations?

Byrnes: This is required by United Nations undertaking not to make a separate peace.

Churchill: It means with a view to their ultimate submission.

Molotov: It makes no difference. The three powers represent the whole.

Churchill: British Delegation agrees.

Byrnes: (proceeds with reading of report.)

Truman: What is your pleasure regarding the second item? This is the principles for the control of Germany.

[Page 96]

Churchill: What do we mean by Germany? If we mean pre-war Germany, I agree to such.

Stalin: Germany is what has become of her after war. No other Germany exists. Austria is not a part of Germany.

Truman: Why not say the Germany of 1937?

Stalin: Minus what she has lost. Let us for the time being regard Germany as a geographical section.

Truman: But what geographical section?

Stalin: We cannot get away from the results of the war.

Truman: But we must have a starting point.

Stalin: Do you wish to restore German administration to Sudan line [the Sudetenland]?

Truman: I said Germany of 1937.

Stalin: It may be so understood from a formal point of view. If German administration appears in Koenigsberg, we would expel it.

Truman: We said territorial changes are to be made at the peace conference.

Stalin: Let us fix the western frontier of Poland. I have difficulty of [in?] saying what is the frontier of Germany now. No frontier guards, no troops. The country is broken up into four occupation zones.

Truman: I am still suggesting we shall proceed from Germany of 1937.

Stalin: We shall proceed from there as a starting point.

Churchill: I agree.

Truman: That is the Germany of the Versailles Treaty. So it is agreed that the Germany of 1937 should be the starting point.

Stalin: Have we finished the political principles?

Byrnes: The economic principles have been referred to a subcommittee. As to political section, it is reported complete and is ready for discussion.

Stalin: The Russian Delegation accepts in the main all the points in the political section. There is one amendment to item 5. If possible, it would be well to delete the last four lines. We agree to the rest but wish a commission to go over the style of the document.

Eden: I hope the foreign secretaries can go over the drafting committee’s draft tomorrow.

Stalin: That would be better.

Truman: That is agreed.

Churchill: I refer to Section 2 (i) (b). There are experimental military stations (wind tunnels, etc.) in Germany which should not be immediately destroyed.

Byrnes: The language is seized or destroyed.

Churchill: We shall use them share and share alike.

[Page 97]

Molotov: The Soviet delegation has a draft to submit.

Byrnes: (proceeds with reading of the report on Polish question.)

Molotov’s paper is read. It suggests severance of all relations with the former Polish government, the transfer of all assets to the government of national unity, and the placing of Polish armed forces and fleet under the new Polish government.

Churchill: The burden of this matter rests on Britain. We received the Poles when they were driven out by the Germans. There is no property of any kind or extent belonging to the old Polish government. There are 20 million pounds gold in London and Canada which is frozen and is the ultimate property of the Polish national state. There is a Polish Embassy vacated by the old ambassador which is available to the ambassador of the new government as soon as they send one and the sooner the better.

The Polish Government has been financed during the last five years by the British Government. We have advanced 120 million pounds sterling for them and their troops.

When the Polish Government in London was disavowed, it was arranged that three months’ salary should be paid all employees and they should be dismissed. It would have been improper to do otherwise. The expense has been borne by Great Britain.

Our position is unique in another way. We must deal with the transfer of forces which have fought with us against the Germans. Some of them came from France after France fell. Some came to Italy from Switzerland. We built up five divisions of 50,000 escaped Poles. The Poles built up an army of 180 to 200 thousand men. These men have fought with great bravery and discipline. They have had heavy losses. I must make it perfectly clear that this involves the honor of His Majesty’s Government. We have given pledges to Parliament and we must treat them in a manner which the world as a whole will regard as just and fair.

Stalin: Of course.

Churchill: These men have taken an oath to their President and we have ceased to recognize him. What is the policy we are pursuing? Our policy is to persuade as many as possible to go back to Poland. I was angry when General Anders said to his troops that if they went back to Poland they will be sent to Siberia. This officer will not be permitted to make such prejudicial statements to the troops. Our policy is to persuade as many to go back to Poland as soon as possible. This applies also to civilian officials, and employees. The better things are in Poland, the quicker they will go. I rejoice in the improvement which has taken place in Poland and I wish every success to the new Polish government. It is not perfect but it is a great advance. I have said if there were Polish soldiers who have [Page 98]fought with us who do not go back we will receive them as British citizens. But we hope the great bulk will return. It would assist if the new Polish Government could give undertakings that those who do return will be safe in their livelihood. They should with proper assurances want to go back to the land of their fathers which has been liberated by Russian arms.

Stalin: Have you read the draft of the Russian delegation?

Churchill: I have read the draft. I agree in principle, subject to what I have said. I should be pleased to have the draft remitted to the foreign secretaries to be considered along with the British suggestion.

Stalin: I appreciate the difficult position of the British who have sheltered their former rulers.3 I know that despite this fact the former rulers have caused great difficulty for the British government. I assure Mr. Churchill my draft is not intended to make the position of the British government more difficult. It is intended only to put an end to the former Polish government. They have their agents and press which make an unfavorable impression on public opinion. The purpose of our draft is to put an end to this position. I am fully prepared to withdraw anything that will complicate the British situation. Our only purpose is to put an end to an indefinite situation.

Churchill: If you cut off all financial aid, you can’t in England prevent their talking. We have no relations with them. But we have to be careful about the Army. They might mutiny. Our purposes are the same. We ask for trust and confidence in the making of [in making?] Poland a place which will attract them.

Truman: It seems there is no fundamental difference. The Prime Minister is asking time for soldiers to get back. I think there should be an agreement. I am interested in the Polish Government, particularly in free elections assured by the Yalta agreement.

Stalin: Let us refer this matter to the foreign secretaries, including the matter of elections. The Polish Provisional Government has never refused to hold elections.

Truman: That is all the foreign secretaries have submitted today. Is there anything further? Shall I suggest that the foreign secretaries prepare another agenda for tomorrow?

Churchill: I am concerned with the weight and scope of the political principles. Are we going to have uniform control or different practices in the four zones?

Stalin: This is dealt with in the political section. My understanding is that we all favor a unified policy.

Meeting adjourned.

  1. For the documents referred to in these notes, see the footnotes to the Thompson minutes, supra.
  2. The Thompson minutes, supra, attribute to Stalin this statement and various other statements here attributed to Molotov.
  3. i. e., the Poles’ former rulers.