Truman Papers

Cohen Notes

The Report of the Foreign Ministers1 was received. A change in paragraph 3 ii of Council of Foreign Ministers was adopted. This was to provide for permanent secretariat.

There was considerable discussion as to what the foreign secretaries did favor regarding Bulgaria, Rumania, and Greece. Molotov, however, indicated that there should be a relaxation of present restrictions now that the war has ended.

Churchill: On elections—I want to [make] clear that supervision of elections does not mean control.

Byrnes: Observation is a better word.

Churchill: I wanted to make it clear that we did not have the responsibility.

Continued discussion of the foreign secretaries’ report. Byrnes proposed admission of Italy to the United Nations as suggested by President at first meeting, with a declaration against admission of Spain.

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Eden suggested also examination of question of the admission of neutrals. Molotov inquires about Rumania and Bulgaria and sentiment in favor of admitting such countries upon the conclusion of the peace treaty.

Churchill: May I raise a small point of procedure? There is really not time between meetings of foreign secretaries in the morning and the meeting of the Big Three in the afternoon. I suggest that we meet at 5:00.

Truman: I should like us to have the Report of the foreign secretaries by 3:30.

The first matter is Council of Foreign Ministers.

Churchill: I think the meeting place should be in London. London is the capital city most under the fire of the enemy and the longest in the war. It is the largest city in the world. It is more nearly half way between the United States and Russia than any place on the continent. I have twice gone to Washington, twice to Moscow, but London has not been used in the whole of this war. There is great feeling in England on this. I would ask my colleague, Mr. Attlee, to say a word on this.

Attlee: I entirely agree with the Prime Minister. The people of London have a right to see these distinguished people and the geographic argument is a strong one.

Truman: I agree. The United States feels it has had its share. London is entitled to its share and the geographical position is right.

Stalin: I agree.

Churchill: May I express our thanks to the President and the Marshal for their acceptance of our invitation.

Truman: What about the time?

Churchill: We will leave that to the foreign secretaries.

Stalin: I agree.

Truman: The next point is our policy toward Italy. The gist of my statement is surrender terms should be terminated and replaced by simple undertakings and peace concluded as rapidly as possible.

Stalin: It would be well for the foreign secretaries to discuss this question. I have no objection in principle but certain drafting amendments, and improvements may be necessary. It would be well to refer this paper to the foreign secretaries and to bring up the question of the other satellites, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary at the same time. We have no right to single out Italy. Italy helped Germany. Bulgaria and Rumania moved their troops against Germany. I am bound to say that their armies fought well. Finland did not give support in the war against Germany, but her position is all right and should be facilitated. The same applies to Hungary. It would be well in facilitating the position of Italy to facilitate the positions [Page 179]of the other satellite countries. If you agree, the foreign secretaries may be asked to examine the question of satellites as a whole.

Truman: I brought up Italy because she surrendered first and surrender terms were the hardest. After Italy has been taken care of, we shall take up the others.

Churchill: Our position regarding Italy is a little different. We were attacked by Italy in 1940 and suffered heavy losses in Egypt and in the Mediterranean. Unaided we had to undertake the Abyssinian campaign. Special Italian air detachments were sent to bombard London. Italy made most dastardly attack on Greece, our Ally; just before the war, she seized Albania. All these things happened when we were alone. We suffered most grievously from Italian action. We can not entirely acquit the Italians of responsibility. Nevertheless, we have tried to keep alive the vitality of Italy. Mr. Roosevelt and I made a joint declaration on it. When there was a question of dividing the Italian ships into three parts, it was agreed that Russia should have her share or the equivalent. We are not hostile to Italians simply because we spoke harshly of Count Sforza who did foolish things.

I am anxious to join with the Marshal in sending a message to the Italian people. Therefore, the British government does not object in principle to making peace in Italy. This work will take several months and one wonders whether the peace conference can be so far away. I also notice that the Italian government has not yet had its elections.

It is the intention of the Italian government that elections should be held before winter. Therefore, while I agree that the foreign secretaries should start on this work, I do not think a final conclusion should be reached until the Italian government rests on a recognized democratic base. In the meanwhile, I do not find myself in full agreement with the President’s position to replace surrender terms with undertakings which the Italian people are no[t] prepared to assume. There would be a gap.

The proposed undertakings do not cover the future of Italian fleet, colonies, reparations, etc. We would lose our rights under the surrender. Finally, the terms of surrender were signed by the Dominions. They would have to be consulted. I do not wish to go further than to assent to the preparation of a peace treaty. I am bound to say that I can not feel that Bulgaria has any particular claim on Great Britain. She struck us a deadly blow and did what she could to hurt us in the Balkans. Bulgaria has hardly suffered at all in this war. She did injury to Greece and Yugoslavia, her neighbors. She was a menace and kept Turkey out of the war.

Stalin: The question of Italy and the satellite countries are questions of great policy. The purpose of such a policy is to separate from [Page 180]Germany the main aggressive forces, these satellite countries. There are two ways. We could use force. Force was successfully applied during the war. But the use of force is not enough to separate satellites from Germany. If we use force alone there is danger that we shall create a medium that will favor the association of these countries with Germany. Therefore, it is expedient to add to force a policy which would wean the satellites from Germany. This is the only means to rally the satellites about us and to separate them from Germany. All consideration of revenge, all complaints for suffering lapse in the face of this high policy. So I favor in principle the paper presented by the President on Italy and would extend it to other satellite countries.

There is another aspect of this question I have in mind. The second part of Mr. Churchill’s speech. Of course Italy committed sins against Britain. She committed sins against Russia also but not as great. Italians fought as far as the Don and the Volga but it would be incorrect to be guided by injuries or feelings of retribution. The feelings of revenge and retribution are poor guides in politics. We should be guided in politics by the calculation of forces. Do we want to have Italy on the side of the United Nations? I think so. The same must be said with regard to the other satellites. Many difficulties were caused by satellites like Rumania, Hungary. Great defeats were caused to us by Finland. It was Finland’s help that enabled Germany to blockade Leningrad. Less injuries were caused to us by Bulgaria but she also helped Germany to fight Russia, but she did not declare war or send her troops to Russia, but she caused harm to our Allies in Greece and Yugoslavia. Bulgaria should be punished and should pay reparations. But it is also contemplated in the Armistice that Bulgaria should fight Germany. Bulgaria’s Army must be demobilized and reduced to peacetime strength. Such are the sins of the satellites against the Allies and the Soviets in particular. After the satellites have been brought to their knees and the Control Commission has taken over, it is high time to pass over to another policy.

And now as to specific proposals. President Truman does not propose immediate peace treaty. All he proposes is that the way should be cleared. For the time being, he proposes an intermediate state of affairs. I think it is difficult to be opposed to such a proposition. As to other satellites, I do not propose this intermediate state, but I do think that we can start having diplomatic relations with them. Democracy is Democracy the world over.

Truman: I have made clear my position on the recognition of the satellites. I have no objection to Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungary as well as Italy having their position facilitated by us. While nations must be punished, we want no peace of revenge.

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The United States can not, moreover, pour out its resources without prospective return. We want to get satellites on a self-supporting basis. I will not sanction the continued handing out of funds to nations which should be self-supporting. We want to help these nations to become self-supporting. I am hopeful that this matter can be referred to the foreign secretaries.

Churchill: I think we are agreed that preparations of the peace should be referred to the Council of Foreign Ministers. I merely point out we can not give up the surrender terms while we prepare peace terms. There is no objection to announcing peace treaties with Italy will be prepared—and also with the satellite countries.

I have great sympathy with the view expressed against the peace of vengeance and I have great sympathy with Italy. I mentioned reparations. We will not claim reparations from Italy for ourselves but for Greece.

Truman: Let us refer the easing of the surrender terms to the foreign secretaries.

Churchill: I am for the preparation of a peace treaty for Italy but I think the interim steps should be considered by the foreign secretaries.

Stalin: I should like to have the foreign secretaries discuss the question of other satellite countries.

Churchill: I have no objection.

Truman: Let us proceed. The next point is Vienna and Austria.

Churchill: I regret to have to speak against the Soviet view. The situation in Vienna and Austria is very unsatisfactory. We have been unable to agree on zones which had previously been agreed upon in principle. We have not been able to enter the sector assigned to us. We agreed to reciprocity with respect to inspecting seized ships. Our going into Vienna ought not to be obstructed. The British and Americans retreated in Germany to give Russia her promised zone, but we are unable to enter our sector in Vienna.

Stalin: General agreement was reached as to zones in Austria, but not as to zones in Vienna. But today an agreement was reached. Agreement on air fields took time. The French communicated their agreement to us only yesterday. The French also [always?]2 delayed. We will now, at once, fix a date for the movement of the troops—today or tomorrow.

Mr. Churchill seems indignant but he has no grounds. We were kept out of our zone a whole month and we did not complain. The removal of troops is complicated. There was quicker action in Berlin. Field Marshal Alexander was not skilled in handling these matters. He behaves as if Russian troops were under his control.

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Churchill: I am glad to know that the matter is at last settled and we shall be allowed to move into our assigned zone and allocation. I do not think that Field Marshal Alexander is to blame.

Stalin: There are no complaints against Eisenhower. I am not complaining against Alexander. I am only reporting the difficulties.

Truman: If the matter is satisfactorily settled, let us proceed to the western frontier of Poland.

Stalin: If you are not prepared, this may go over until tomorrow.

Truman: The next subject is trusteeship.

Stalin: If you are not prepared, we shall postpone for tomorrow. Adjourned.

  1. For documents referred to in these notes, see the footnotes to the Thompson minutes, supra.
  2. Cf. the Thompson minutes, ante, p. 176.