Truman Papers

Thompson Minutes

top secret

The Fifth Meeting of the Foreign Ministers took place on Sunday, July 22, 1945, Mr. Eden being in the Chair. The meeting opened at 11:10 a.m.

Mr. Eden stated his belief that mention should be made of all outstanding subjects which appear on the agenda, in order that the meeting could decide which were ready to discuss. He mentioned first the admission of neutral states, except Spain, into world organizations.

Mr. Molotov asked about Italy.

Mr. Eden replied that Italy was linked to this subject.

Mr. Eden went on to mention the Council of Foreign Ministers and German economic questions.

Mr. Byrnes inquired about the status of the proposal for the Council of Foreign Ministers.

Mr. Eden asked that he be permitted first to state the questions on the agenda. He mentioned the implementation of the Yalta Agreement on Liberated Europe and the removal, as war booty, of Allied equipment from Rumania, and asked about the condition of each of the foregoing subjects.

Mr. Byrnes remarked that he had suggested the question of the supply of oil for Western Europe.

Mr. Molotov stated that there were other questions, including German and Austrian reparations, on which a subcommittee is working. He inquired about Spain.

[Page 227]

Mr. Eden stated his assumption that Mr. Molotov meant the general paper on Spain. He remarked that Spain was included in the paper regarding the admission of Italy into international organizations.2 The question on policy towards Spain was discussed by the Big Three and was still before them.

Mr. Byrnes stated that the Big Three had discussed the question of withdrawal of recognition from Spain, but when agreement was not reached the question had been passed over.

Mr. Eden replied that it had not been passed on to the Foreign Ministers.

Mr. Byrnes agreed that it had not, but remained on the Big Three agenda.

Mr. Molotov recalled that there had been a suggestion for special mention of Spain.

Mr. Byrnes agreed that the drafting committee had been instructed to state, in connection with the admission of Italy into international organizations, that Spain should not be so admitted. The committee’s report is not yet ready.

Mr. Eden agreed, except that it had been suggested that Spain be linked with the neutrals. The whole question was now in the hands of a subcommittee.

Mr. Molotov inquired whether a committee had been appointed.

Mr. Byrnes said Yes and that Maisky had been appointed for the Soviet Union.

Mr. Molotov then raised the question of Tangier3 and the question of the admission of neutral states into the United Nations.

Mr. Byrnes remarked that the latter subject was connected with the proposal he had just mentioned. It had been referred to the same committee that was dealing with Spain and Italy.

Mr. Molotov stated his agreement and asked about Tangier.

Mr. Eden replied that the question had not yet been discussed but could be put on the agenda.

Mr. Molotov stated that although the question had not been referred to the Foreign Ministers, he had no objection.

Mr. Byrnes then stated that he had another item to suggest. This was a paper concerning international cooperation for the solution of European economic problems.

Mr. Eden asked whether the meeting had a paper on this subject.

Mr. Byrnes replied that the paper will soon be circulated,4 but if Mr. Eden wished, he would suggest it for discussion by the Big [Page 228] Three in order that it might be referred back to the Foreign Ministers. This would take another day.

Mr. Eden pointed out that five big items were already on the agenda, but suggested that a start be made on them and, if possible, this extra item may be considered.

Mr. Molotov pointed out that the question was not before the meeting and that no document was available.

Implementation of the Yalta Agreement on Liberated Europe

Mr. Eden announced that the first question before the meeting was the implementation of the Yalta Agreement on Liberated Europe (Annex l).5

Mr. Molotov stated that he had studied the American suggestion and had two questions on it. The first is the provision for the supervision of elections. The Soviet delegation did not like this provision and had already stated that it did not approve. It believed supervision to be unnecessary. The second question concerned the press. There is no doubt that conditions have now changed and that the end of the war will mean more favorable treatment of the press. He had no doubt that everything possible will be done. He did not understand the need for such a statement. On the question of the control commissions, Mr. Molotov stated that this was not clear. No doubt the American and British members know that in the countries in question the Soviet representatives have submitted suggestions for the improvement of conditions. If his colleagues do not know about the suggestions, he would be glad to furnish information in order that they might be discussed. He was willing to amend them, and any amendments made could be inserted. He had just received a telegram from Voroshilov stating that the American and British representatives on the Control Council in Hungary had been given the text of the Soviet suggestions.6 Voroshilov believed that they approved of them. Mr. Molotov would like to hear comment regarding these suggestions.

Mr. Byrnes in reply referred first to the last question. It is the American position that just as the representatives of the Three Powers gather around the present conference table in order to exchange views and make suggestions, the representatives of the Three Powers in the satellite states should follow the same procedure. Up to now this had not been done, according to reports received from our representatives. [Page 229] Our representatives report not only that suggestions are not made by Soviet representatives, but that action is taken without consultation. Mr. Byrnes believed that the Soviet Government should consult prior to taking action, just as the Conferees were doing here. All paragraph 37 does is to assert that as a desirable thing. There could certainly be no objection to this. As to the press, we have heretofore stated that the American press representatives are refused freedom of movement and freedom to report to their papers. Marshal Stalin had agreed that the end of the war meant an improvement in this situation.8 We are only stating in our document what he suggested. As to paragraph 1, Mr. Byrnes stated that he could only repeat that we do not like the idea of the supervision of elections but that we have become convinced that it is the wise thing to do in order to remove suspicion regarding the conduct of elections. These suspicions may be unjustifiable, but they can only be removed by supervision of elections; that was agreed to at Yalta.

Mr. Eden stated that the British had been asked to put forward a paper on this subject. This had not been done because the document before the Conference is entirely acceptable to the British Government. In regard to Mr. Molotov’s suggestion regarding the modification of the control councils, Mr. Eden believed that it would be useful if we could have the text of these suggestions here. It is difficult to follow the exact nature of the modifications proposed. Perhaps Mr. Molotov could arrange to make the text available, in which case a subcommittee could be appointed to consider them. In regard to the supervision of elections, Mr. Eden agreed with the paper. We do not wish to supervise elections but must do so in order to fulfill the spirit of the Yalta Agreement. In regard to the press, this was not wholly a question of freedom of movement but a question of the right to report free from political censorship. That is why the British like the proposal in this paper and hope that their Soviet Allies will be able to accept it.

Mr. Molotov pointed out that in the paragraph dealing with the supervision of elections five countries were mentioned, including Italy. However, in paragraph 3 of the paper, dealing with control commissions[,] only three countries were mentioned. It is evident that Greece could not be mentioned in paragraph 3 since there is no control council there, but this is not true in Italy. Why was Italy omitted?

Mr. Byrnes replied that Italy had been omitted because no complaint had been received regarding the operation of the Council.

Mr. Molotov asked whether a tripartite basis would be approved in Italy.

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that the Commission is an Allied commission in Italy and that the Soviet Government has representatives.

[Page 230]

Mr. Molotov insisted that the Soviet representatives took no part in the work and were not kept informed.

Mr. Byrnes replied that this was the first that the United States had heard about the Soviet representative not being kept informed. He was certain that he must be. The United States sought nothing in Rumania, Bulgaria, or Hungary which it was not willing to make available to the Soviet Union in Italy.

Mr. Molotov stated that he believed that it would be best to circulate the Soviet suggestions regarding the Control Council as suggested by Mr. Eden. Of course, there were slight differences in conditions in the three countries, but the principles would be the same. Perhaps somebody would suggest an improvement in the work of the Allied Control Commission in Italy.

Mr. Byrnes replied that any suggestion would be considered and reiterated that this was the first time he had heard any complaint about operations in Italy.

Mr. Molotov stated that he had mentioned on several occasions, to American and British representatives, that conditions in Italy constituted a model for the control commissions in Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. The Russians had read about the reorganization of the Italian Commission in the press but had decided not to do anything about it.

Mr. Byrnes agreed that the Soviet representative should have been informed.

Mr. Molotov asked whether Mr. Byrnes was satisfied that American and British representatives in Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary should have the same working conditions as the Soviet representative in Italy.

Mr. Eden pointed out that if conditions in Italy are not satisfactory to the Soviet Union, they would be changed gladly. Mr. Eden had heard nothing about this.

Mr. Byrnes agreed, and stated that our representative should take no action without consultation with the Soviet representative. We wanted the same treatment.

Mr. Eden stated that it was agreed that Mr. Molotov would furnish the text of the proposals and any comment he wished regarding conditions in Italy.

Mr. Molotov then stated that on the question of the supervision of elections the statement was unnecessary and would cause suspicion. He pointed out that up to now elections in ex-enemy countries had been held only in Finland, and asked whether there is any suspicion that this election had not been free.

Mr. Byrnes agreed that so far as we knew this election had been all right.

[Page 231]

Mr. Molotov then said there was no other election and inquired what grounds there were for suspicion.

Mr. Byrnes replied that we would, frankly, always be suspicious of elections in countries where our representatives are not free to move about and where the press cannot report freely. Our representatives in every one of these countries had reported such conditions, but they had not done so in Finland. Elections might be conducted as fairly as is possible to conduct them, but so long as our representatives are not permitted to move about and there is no free press, no one will believe that the elections are free. Great harm might result where no reason existed for such harm.

Mr. Molotov stated that he had no objection to the discussion of the American proposal if this discussion at the same time included the question of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Mr. Byrnes stated that the press had reported freely about the Finnish election and that the public was satisfied regarding conditions under which it was held.

Mr. Eden , referring to Mr. Molotov’s last statement, said that he believed that there might be something in this. If elections were held under conditions set forth in this proposal, it would be much easier to bring about some form of recognition of these countries. However, it must be borne in mind that Constitutionally Great Britain was unable to extend full recognition until the conclusion of peace. Full diplomatic relations had not yet been established with Italy for this reason.

Mr. Byrnes stated that the President had made plain the other afternoon that there could be no question, so far as the United States is concerned, of recognition under existing conditions and that, therefore, the United States would not recognize these governments.9 He hoped that elections would be held under conditions which would permit prompt recognition of any government set up by the people.

Mr. Molotov replied that the Soviet Union could not agree to the supervision of elections. He could understand that other Allies wanted better facilities for their representatives in these countries. Now that the war was at an end, there is every reason to give greater freedom both to these representatives and to the press. They would have every opportunity fully to be informed regarding the elections. Mr. Molotov suggested that paragraphs 2 and 3 of the proposal be referred to a subcommittee.

Mr. Eden stated that he would report to the Big Three that paragraphs 2 and 3 had been referred to a subcommittee but that no agreement had been reached regarding the supervision of elections.

Mr. Byrnes interjected to inquire whether Mr. Molotov would agree to accept paragraphs 2 and 3 if paragraph 1 was withdrawn.

[Page 232]

Mr. Molotov stated that there were drafting points, since certain parts of the paper were not clear. If the Conference was willing to state that conditions would be the same as in Italy, there would be no objection.

Mr. Byrnes remarked that we were going in circles.

Mr. Eden suggested that the matter go forward as suggested by him and that a subcommittee be appointed.

Mr. Byrnes appointed Mr. Cannon and Mr. Russell.

Mr. Eden appointed Mr. Hayter.

Mr. Molotov appointed Mr. Sobolev[.]

German Economic Questions

Mr. Eden next raised the report of the economic subcommittee (Annex 2).10

Mr. Byrnes suggested that this afternoon’s consideration of this report be confined to those matters agreed to by the subcommittee.

Mr. Molotov asked for clarification of this point.

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that if the Foreign Ministers approved those portions of the report of the subcommittee [already?] approved by it, they could be referred to the Big Three and progress would be made. Among the disagreements is the question of reparations, and Mr. Byrnes did not wish to have this question considered this afternoon.

Mr. Eden stated his understanding of the need to leave out reparations, but asked whether there weren’t other sections which must be considered before a report was made to the Big Three.

Mr. Byrnes agreed, except for reparations.

Mr. Molotov asked what report was meant.

Mr. Eden replied that they were considering the report of the economic subcommittee. In this report the last half dealt with reparations. Under the American proposal this meeting would deal with all questions but reparations.

Mr. Byrnes agreed that questions not dealt with this afternoon should be first on the agenda of the next meeting.

Mr. Eden brought up the report.

Mr. Byrnes asked that paragraph 4 be passed.

Mr. Eden failed to see the connection between paragraph 4 and reparations.

Mr. Byrnes replied that he did not wish to discuss paragraph 4 and renewed his request that matters in disagreement not be discussed now but be placed first on the next agenda.

Mr. Molotov stated that it was not quite clear to him what the meeting was discussing.

[Page 233]

Mr. Eden replied that he understood that the drafting committee had agreed on this report except where specifically indicated and that it had been agreed that the Foreign Ministers would discuss only portions agreed upon. Eighteen principles had been agreed upon. They would be taken in order.

Mr. Eden mentioned paragraph 10.11

Mr. Molotov suggested that in the last sentence the phrases providing that “production shall be destroyed” and “or shall be removed” be reversed.

Mr. Byrnes agreed.

Mr. Eden raised paragraphs 11 and 12, and they were agreed to.

Mr. Molotov submitted an amendment to paragraph 13 which consisted of the addition of the clause “according to detailed instructions to be issued by the Control Council” at the end of the first sentence. He pointed out that Germany cannot be considered a single economic unit in all respects and cited the language of paragraph 11 as proof of his contention. Therefore he believed that more specific instructions were needed.

Mr. Byrnes stated that he wished to give more consideration to this matter. In the report, the principle was stated that during the occupation period Germany would be treated as a single economic unit. The language of Mr. Molotov’s proposal would modify this principle and make it subject to directives from the Control Council. If any member of the Control Council objected on a specific issue, Germany would not be treated as a single economic unit on that issue. Mr. Byrnes was in agreement with the language of the committee’s report but not with that of the amendment.

Mr. Molotov stated his belief that the amendment was necessary. The language of the present draft was too general.

Mr. Byrnes remarked that this would mean that in every single case the Control Council would decide whether Germany was to be treated as an economic unit.

Mr. Molotov insisted that he had not been understood. He is not denying that it had been decided that Germany would be treated as an economic unit. However, he had another idea. He felt that the Control Council should be instructed to sit and look at the situation in detail. After some months of experience the Control Council might recommend a new basis based on their experience. He believed this to be essential.

Mr. Byrnes suggested that this matter be passed over. He stated that he was willing to take Mr. Molotov’s suggested language and see whether agreement could be reached.

Mr. Eden then raised paragraphs 14, 15, 16 and 17 and they were agreed to.

[Page 234]

Mr. Molotov suggested the deletion of paragraph 18. The effect of the war is serious and great changes have been made. Stalin yesterday had said that it was impossible to restore pre-war conditions in Germany.12 It is difficult for us now to say in what respect pre-war Germany can be restored.

Mr. Eden pointed out that the matters dealt with in paragraph 18 are already contained in paragraph 5 on which agreement had not been reached. Therefore, we must reserve on paragraph 18 and note that no agreement had been reached. He inquired whether the meeting was willing to consider paragraph 7 which did not deal with reparations.13

Mr. Molotov asked about the annex.14

Mr. Eden replied that it dealt entirely with reparations.

Mr. Molotov pointed out that article 16 referred to the annex and that note must be made that the annex had not been considered. This was agreed to.

Mr. Eden then suggested consideration of paragraph 7.

Mr. Molotov replied that he had not read the report.

Mr. Eden stated that there are only a couple of sentences.

Mr. Molotov repeated that he had not read it.

Mr. Eden agreed that it should be passed over.

Industrial Equipment in Rumania

Mr. Eden then raised the matter of the seizure of British and American owned industrial equipment in Rumania.15 A British company had a lot of equipment bought and paid for. Some had come from Germany; some from other countries. When the Germans invaded Rumania they had seized these companies and the equipment. The British had assumed that when Rumania fell to the Allies this equipment would be returned. They were naturally much concerned when the equipment had been taken by our Russian Allies.

Mr. Molotov asked that the losses of this British corporation be compared with the losses of the Soviet oil companies.

Mr. Eden pointed out that the British had not taken Soviet property because of British losses.

Mr. Molotov maintained that German property had been taken.

Mr. Eden denied that the property was German.

Mr. Vyshinski then made a long statement containing statistics concerning the equipment in question. He maintained that after Soviet seizures had been completed enough equipment remained to insure three years’ output. He asserted that the pipe in question had [Page 235] been imported by the Germans from Germany in order to build a pipeline for pumping Soviet oil. He denied that the equipment had been paid for by British companies.

Mr. Eden intervened to state that he had heard this story before and that it had been disproved.

Mr. Vyshinski continued his statement alleging that the Germans had imported these pipes and transferred them to firms already made German. He also made an extended argument attempting to justify the Soviet action under the armistice terms and purporting to prove that the equipment constituted war booty.

Mr. Eden intervened to state that no Allied property in any country is booty to another Ally.

Mr. Vyshinski continued his argument based on the surrender terms.

Mr. Byrnes interposed to state that the question does not concern the right of the Soviet Government to take German property as war booty, but concerns the Soviet claim to the right to take the property of American citizens as booty. The question is whether the property in question is the property of American citizens. If it was German, the Russians had a right to take it. The case must be solved on facts and the facts must be determined by somebody [some body?] like the Reparations Committee. Mr. Byrnes wished the three powers to agree to the general proposition that the property of American citizens should not be confiscated as war booty by the three powers here represented. Byrnes stated his understanding that all four of the armistice terms [agreements]16 contained appropriate provisions governing these cases.

Mr. Eden stated that he wished to make a point.

Mr. Vyshinski remarked that he had not finished his statement. He stated that the Control Council in Rumania was satisfied that the pipes were not British or American property.

Mr. Eden pointed out that this was a unilateral action of the Soviet High Command which had never been agreed to. However, we are used to such unilateral acts.

Mr. Molotov then stated that the Soviet armies had covered big distances in their advance and that there had only been this one case on which dispute arose.

Mr. Vyshinski then continued his argument insisting that the equipment in question had not been paid for before the war and could not have been paid for during the war. He mentioned that the high octane Astra–Romana plant though legitimately war booty had not been removed by the Soviet Union since its removal would have [Page 236] affected Rumanian production. He reiterated that enough equipment had been left to guarantee three years’ supply and insisted that according to all the facts the equipment removed was German property.

Mr. Byrnes inquired whether it was contended that the Germans owned the oil in the ground.

Mr. Vyshinski replied that they had used the oil against the Allies and had also used the pipes.

Mr. Byrnes stated that if the German Army uses your property, such use does not take title away.

Mr. Vyshinski then argued that the matter would have been different if the pipes had come from the United States and had been seized from [by?] the Germans. However, they had been brought from Germany. He asked how they could be considered Allied property.

Mr. Byrnes asked whether the American citizen owned the oil or whether he had lost the title to it because the Germans had seized the well. If the oil were to be taken out of the ground now, would the American citizen be paid?

Mr. Vyshinski stated that the Soviet Union received oil as reparation from the Rumanian Government. The Soviet Union is taking nothing from American firms. In any event, we were dealing with equipment, not oil.

Mr. Eden remarked that the argument could go on for a long time. He thought this matter should be examined by a committee. It should be remembered that:

Not only the question of the pipes should be considered;
The great majority of the pipes had been bought and paid for before the war; and
Great Britain had not objected to the removal of surplus property but did object to indiscriminate removal. He believed that if the Committee investigated the matter it could be cleared up.

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that it would be difficult to determine the owner of specific pipes. The matter should be left to the Reparations Commission or some similar body. We ought to agree here on general principles. He suggested the reference of the case to a committee which could arrive at principles governing such cases.

Mr. Eden stated his belief that there should be a meeting of experts to determine what had happened. The Soviet Government had issued orders in the name of the Control Council without consulting either the British or American representatives.

Mr. Byrnes suggested the appointment of a committee to reconcile opposing points of view.

Mr. Molotov queried the usefulness of such a committee. He [Page 237] could understand that the firms in question wanted the use of these pipes even though they were enemy.

Mr. Eden remarked that he had said many times that this was not enemy property. If Mr. Molotov did not wish to discuss it, it would be necessary to leave it as it is, and in that event he would have to tell Parliament. Personally he thought it best that he should not have to take this course.

Mr. Byrnes stated that it was not wise to leave a subject of such disagreement. It would be much better if each appointed a representative to discuss the situation in order to avoid future difficulty. If American citizens submitted complaints it would be necessary to investigate these complaints and claim restitution. It was better to try to settle the issue here.

Mr. Eden suggested that the question be thought over for later consideration. He continued that since it was now 1:30 p.m. it was necessary to produce an agenda for the afternoon meeting. Questions still before the afternoon meeting included Western Frontiers of Poland, adjourned from yesterday.

Mr. Molotov then raised the question of Koenigsberg and the Koenigsberg area in German territory which is to go to the Soviet Union.17 He asked whether there was any objection to opening the agenda with the question of the Western frontiers of the Soviet Union.

Eden inquired whether this subject was desired on the agenda.

Mr. Molotov stated that it should not go first on the agenda but should be considered after the Western Frontiers of Poland.

Mr. Eden said that the second item would be Trusteeship; the third, Turkey; and that the Western Frontiers of the Soviet Union could be added as the fourth item if Mr. Byrnes agreed.

Mr. Byrnes agreed and added that other territorial questions might well be added since they were all interrelated.

Mr. Eden then stated that he would circulate a paper on Iran18 and asked whether there was any objection to its inclusion. This would be the fifth item on the agenda.

Mr. Molotov inquired about German economic questions.

Mr. Eden stated that a report would be made on this subject but that consideration had better be postponed because of reparations.

Mr. Byrnes stated that there were two matters which he wished added to the agenda. Each would in due course be referred back to the Foreign Ministers by the Heads of States. The President would first present a paper on Cooperation in Solving Immediate [Page 238] European Economic Problems.19 He would also propose the issuance of a draft [directive] by the Heads of Governments stating the principles governing the control of Germany.20

Mr. Molotov stated that the second point was not quite clear to him.

Mr. Byrnes stated that the directive proposed would be issued by the respective governments to their commanders occupying Germany in order that what was agreed by this Conference might be carried out.

Mr. Eden stated that this could not be discussed now.

Mr. Byrnes agreed and added that it would not be discussed this afternoon since it must be referred to a committee.

Mr. Molotov asked about the object of this proposal.

Mr. Byrnes stated that he had wanted the matter on the agenda this morning but was unable to get it included. The President will now present it in order that it can be referred to the Foreign Ministers.

Mr. Eden asked whether it could not be taken up tomorrow morning.

Mr. Molotov asked whether military questions or economic had been included.

Mr. Byrnes stated that if the Conference agreed, the proposal could be read and referred to a committee. Such action would save time in the afternoon meeting.

Mr. Molotov stated that he wished a short explanation of the subject. Would it include military, economic or political matters?

Mr. Byrnes replied that whatever we agreed to here must be sent to our commanders. It will be only a directive to our commanders to carry out our agreements.

Mr. Eden asked whether it could not be agreed that it would be considered tomorrow morning.

Mr. Molotov asked that it go to the Big Three for reference back to the Foreign Ministers.

The meeting then adjourned.

  1. Eden was presumably referring to documents Nos. 727 and 1177, post.
  2. See document No. 1356, post.
  3. See document No. 1161, post.
  4. Document No. 748, post (not annexed but clearly identified). For the text of the Yalta Declaration on Liberated Europe, see document No. 1417, post, section v.
  5. See document No. 796, post. Cf. document No. 797, post, and document No. 309, printed in vol. i. The United States and British representatives referred to were Major General William S. Key and Major-General Oliver Pearce Edgcumbe, respectively.
  6. Of document No. 748, post.
  7. The reference may be to statements made by Molotov on July 20, See ante, pp. 151153.
  8. See ante, p. 207.
  9. Documents Nos. 863 and 902, post (not annexed but clearly identified).
  10. Of the attachment to document No. 863, post.
  11. Cf. ante, p. 210.
  12. The paragraphs 5 and 7 referred to by Eden are presumably the fifth and seventh unnumbered paragraphs of document No. 863, post.
  13. i. e., annex i to the report of the Economic Subcommittee (not printed separately, but identical with attachment 1 to document No. 894, post).
  14. See document No. 837, post.
  15. For the text of the armistice with Rumania, signed at Moscow, September 12, 1944, see Executive Agreement Series No. 490; 59 Stat. (2) 1712.
  16. See document No. 1020, post.
  17. Document No. 1330, post.
  18. See document No. 1161, post.
  19. See document No. 870, post.