Memorandum by the Deputy Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Allen)


Subject: Discussion in the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on July 22, 1945, regarding Italian Colonies.

Mr. Molotov recalled that at the San Francisco Conference the Soviet Delegation had gone on record as expressing the intention of [Page 239]the Soviet Government to apply for designation as a trustee power.1 He said that Mr. Eden had recently made a statement in the House of Commons2 that Italy had lost its colonies in Africa and the Mediterranean. Mr. Molotov wanted to know by what right Great Britain had decided this question, and who had “found” the colonies.

Mr. Eden said that Italy had lost her colonies to the British Army. He said they were under British military occupation pending their final disposal in the peace treaty with Italy.

Mr. Molotov said that his delegation would introduce [had introduced?] a paper3 on the subject and hoped it might be discussed at the next meeting.

G[eorge] V A[llen]
  1. See document No. 734, post.
  2. On October 4, 1944, Eden had answered in the affirmative when asked in the House of Commons whether he would “assure the House that His Majesty’s Government is opposed to the return of the colonies to Italy, and that their declaration that the Italian Empire in Africa is irrevocably lost will be strictly adhered to.” See Parliamentary Debates: House of Commons Official Report, 5th series, vol. 403, col. 908. On January 17, 1945, Eden stated in the House of Commons: “The future of Italy’s prewar possessions in Libya and Tripoli must await consideration by the United Nations at the conclusion of peace.” In answer to further questions, he restated the British position as follows: “It is that the Italian Government have no right to the return of any one of their colonies. What is done about the colonies is a matter, in some part, for discussion in the future.” See ibid., vol. 407, col. 137.
  3. Molotov was presumably referring to document No. 733, post, which had been submitted on July 20.