Truman Papers

Department of State Minutes

top secret

Mr. Molotov presented the following report as Rapporteur of the Morning Meeting of the Foreign Ministers:5

“The following questions were discussed by the Foreign Ministers:

(1) Reparations by Germany, Austria and Italy.

It was decided to instruct the Economic Commission [Subcommittee] to give preliminary examination to the two drafts which had been submitted6 and to have the matter considered by the Foreign Ministers.

(2) Economic Principles with Regard to Germany.

There was a discussion of paragraphs 13 and 18,7 as well as a new paragraph 19,8 submitted by the Soviet Delegation. At the meeting Molotov said that he withdrew his amendment regarding paragraph 13 and he suggested that paragraph 18 be deleted on the understanding that the matter would be given study by the Allied authorities in Germany and that in case no agreement was reached in the Control Council the matter be decided by the Governments concerned. Agreement was not reached on this matter and it was referred to the Big Three. Molotov had submitted to the British and Americans a new paragraph 19. Secretary Byrnes said it was not acceptable. Molotov then submitted a new paragraph dealing with the question of priority between reparations and exports in payment for German imports.9 No agreement was reached and this matter was referred to the Heads of Government.

(3) Council of Foreign Ministers.

The text submitted by the Drafting Commission [Committee] was approved without amendment.10

(4) Trusteeship.

The draft of the Soviet Delegation on this question11 was discussed. Mr. Eden said that in the first place they should settle the question as to whether colonies should be detached from Italy and if so which. He had argued that this should be settled when the peace treaty is drawn up. The question of to whom the trusteeship of any Italian colonies should be given should be settled by the United Nations Organization. Secretary Byrnes proposed that the matter be put off until the conclusion of the peace treaty. Molotov had proposed to refer the Soviet memorandum to the first meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers in September. Eden had stated that there was no need to refer the matter to the Council of Foreign Ministers, since the question of the Italian colonies would arise automatically when the peace treaty with Italy was drawn up. Molotov asked that notice [Page 301]be taken that all of the questions in the Soviet memorandum would be raised at the September meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers in London.

(5) Directive to Military Commanders in Germany.

On the proposal of the American Delegation12 it was agreed to convey to the Commanders-in-Chief of Allied troops in occupation of Germany all decisions of this Conference relating to them after they had been agreed upon with the Provisional Government of France. It was decided to set up a sub-committee to deal with the matter, consisting of Messrs. Murphy, Riddleberger, Strang, Harrison, Gusev and Sobolev.

(6) Cooperation in Solving Immediate European Economic Problems.

A commission was appointed to give preliminary consideration to the memorandum of the United States Delegation,13 consisting of Messrs. Clayton and Pauley, Brand and Coulson, and Arutunian and Garachin [Gerashchenko].

(7) Tangier.

The Soviet draft14 was discussed and it was agreed to accept the first paragraph of the Soviet paper on this subject stating that the area including the city of Tangier and the zone adjacent to it should remain under international control. It was also agreed that the whole question of Tangier should be discussed at the next conference in Paris of the representatives of the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and France.

(8) Approval of Telegram to China and France.

The text submitted by the commission15 to consider this matter was approved with no amendment. It was decided that the telegram should be sent forty-eight hours before the publication of the communiqué on the results of the Conference.

(9) Agenda for the Meeting of the Heads of Governments.

The following agenda was agreed upon for the afternoon meeting of the Heads of Governments:

(1)
Turkey.
(2)
Transfer to the Soviet Union of the Koenigsberg area.
(3)
Syria and the Lebanon.
(4)
Iran.”

1. Turkey and the Black Sea Straits

Stalin said that it appeared that what had been approved by the Foreign Ministers was automatically approved by the Big Three.

The President said that this was satisfactory to him.

Stalin inquired if the decisions of the Foreign Ministers was [were] regarded as accepted.

The President replied in the affirmative.

[Page 302]

Returning to the subject of Turkey, The President remarked that he did not think that the Prime Minister had finished his remarks when they had adjourned at the last meeting.16

Churchill replied that he had finished his remarks at the last meeting when he had stated that he could not consent to the establishment of a Russian base in the Straits and that he did not think that Turkey would agree to that proposal.

Stalin remarked that yesterday Churchill had said that the Russians had frightened the Turks and that one of the chief points was that the Russians had concentrated too many troops in Bulgaria. He considered it necessary to give information on this point. Churchill’s information was out of date. He did not know what information Churchill had been given by the Turks, but Russia had less troops in Bulgaria than the British had in Greece.

Churchill inquired how many Stalin thought the British had in Greece.

Stalin replied: “Five divisions.”

Churchill said there were only two.17

Stalin inquired with respect to armored units, and asked how strong the British divisions were.

Churchill said they had about 40,000 troops altogether.

Stalin replied that they had about 30,000.18

Churchill said he hoped that the meeting would hear Field Marshal Alexander as he preferred that he give the figures.

Stalin replied that he was not seeking for accuracy but that he believed Churchill 100%. He said that should it prove necessary General Antonov could make a detailed report, but one thing was clear—the Turks had nothing of which to be afraid. The Turks had about twenty-three divisions and there was nothing to be afraid of. That was the Russian information.

As to the rectification of the frontiers, which might have frightened the Turks, he said that perhaps it was the possible restoration of the pre-war frontiers that had existed under the Czar that had frightened the Turks. He said that he had in mind the area of Kars, formerly in Armenia, as well as Ardahan, formerly in Georgia. He pointed out that this question of the restoration of frontiers would not have been brought up if the Turks had not brought up the question of an alliance. An alliance meant that they would defend the frontiers of Turkey, just as Turkey would defend the frontiers of the Soviet Union, but in the Soviet opinion the frontiers in the area mentioned was [were] incorrect and they had told the Turks that if there was to be an alliance the [Page 303]frontiers had to be rectified.19 If this were not done the question of an alliance would be dropped. What was there to be afraid of?

The third question was that of the Straits. He drew their attention to the fact that the position of such a great state as the Soviet Union was the following. The Montreux Convention20 had been decided against Russia. Russia considered it inimical. Turkey had the right under this treaty to block the Straits to any shipping not only if Turkey were at war but also if it seemed to Turkey that there was a threat of war. The Convention also left it to Turkey to decide when this threat appeared. Thus, an impossible situation was created in which Turkey was free to block the Straits when she thought they were threatened. The situation at the moment was that the Russians had the same rights in the Straits as the Japanese Emperor. This was ridiculous, but it was a fact. The result was that a small state supported by Great Britain held a great state by the throat and gave it no outlet. He said that they could imagine what commotion there would be in England if a similar regime existed in Gibraltar or in the Suez Canal, or what a commotion there would be in the United States if such a regime existed with regard to the Panama Canal. Hence, the point at issue was to give Soviet shipping the possibility to pass to and from the Black Sea freely. As Turkey was too weak to guarantee the possibility of free passage in case complications arose, the Soviet Union would like to see them defended by force.

Churchill, who appeared to misunderstand, said: “Not law?”

Stalin replied that force was necessary just as in the case of the Panama Canal, which was defended by the American navy and for shipping through the Suez Canal, which was guaranteed by the British navy. He said that if they thought that naval bases in the Straits were unacceptable to the Turks, then let them give the Soviet Union some other base where the Russian fleet could repair and refuel and where in cooperation with its allies the Russian fleet could protect the Straits. For the situation to continue as it was would be ridiculous.

The President said that the attitude of the American Government was that the Montreux Convention should be revised, thought, however, that the Straits should be a free waterway open to the whole world and that they should be guaranteed by all of us. He had come to the conclusion after a long study of history that all the wars of the last two hundred years had originated in the area from the Black Sea to the Baltic and from the eastern frontier of [Page 304]France to the western frontier of Russia. In the last two instances the peace of the whole world had been overturned; by Austria in the case of the previous war, and by Germany in the case of this war. He thought it should be the business of this Conference and of the coming peace conference to see that this did not happen again. He thought that to a great extent this could be accomplished by arranging for the passage of goods and vessels through the Straits on the basis of free intercourse just as was the case in American waters. He said that he was presenting a paper and that he wanted to see Russia and England and all other countries have free access to all the seas of the world. The President then read his paper on the free and unrestricted navigation of inland waterways.21

The President then continued that he did not want to engage in another war twenty-five years from now over the Straits or the Danube. He said that our ambition was to have a Europe that was sound economically and which could support itself. He wanted a Europe that would make Russia, England, France and all other countries in it happy and with which the United States can trade and be happy as well as prosperous. He thought that his proposal was a step in that direction.

He said that the question of territorial concessions was a Turkish and Russian dispute which they would have to settle themselves and which the Marshal had said he was willing to do, but he pointed out that the question of the Black Sea Straits concerned the United States and the whole world.

Churchill said that he strongly supported Stalin’s wish for a revision of the Montreux Convention with the object of securing for Soviet Russia free and unrestricted navigation of the Straits by merchant and war ships alike in peace or war. He entirely agreed with the President when he said that this should be guaranteed by all of us. A guarantee by the Great Powers and the powers interested would certainly be effective. He earnestly hoped that the Marshal would consider this alternative in contrast to that of a base in close proximity to Constantinople. With regard to the other waterways, they were in full accord with the general line that the President had taken in his statement. He thought that the Kiel Canal should certainly be free and open and guaranteed by all the Great Powers. He also attached great importance to the free navigation of the Danube and the Rhine. He felt that there was a great measure of agreement between the Three Powers represented at the Conference.

The President said there was no doubt regarding their agreement on the question of the revision of the Montreux Convention.

Churchill added “and on the purpose of that revision.”

[Page 305]

Stalin said that he would have to read attentively the proposal made by the President, which was now being translated, before he could discuss it.

2. Transfer to the Soviet Union of Koenigsberg

Stalin said that this question had been discussed at the Tehran Conference.22 The Russians had complained that all ports of the Baltic freeze. They froze for a shorter or longer period but they froze. The Russians had stated that it was necessary to have at least one ice-free port at the expense of Germany. Stalin’s arguments in favor of this were that the Russians had suffered and had lost so much blood that they were anxious to have some piece of German territory so as to give some small satisfaction to the tens of millions of their inhabitants who had suffered in this war. Neither the President nor the Prime Minister had raised any objections and this question had been agreed upon by the three of them. He said they were anxious to see this agreement approved at this Conference.

The President said he was ready to agree in principle although it would be necessary to study ethnographic and other questions, but in principle he agreed.

Churchill said that Stalin was right in saying that the matter had been raised at Tehran and he added that it had also been discussed between Stalin and himself in October 1944 in Moscow in connection with the question of the Curzon line.23 He had made a speech in Parliament on September [December] 15, 1944 in which he had mentioned the Soviet wish to secure the ice-free port of Koenigsberg and that the Soviet frontier should run south of that point.24 He had made it clear that His Majesty’s Government was in sympathy with this wish. The only question which arose was that of the legal occasion to transfer. At the present time the position was that the Soviet draft25 as put in would require each of them to admit that East Prussia did not exist and also to admit that the Koenigsberg area was not under the authority of the Allied Control Council in Germany. It would also commit them to the recognition of the incorporation of Lithuania into the Soviet Union. He pointed out that all these matters really belonged to the final peace settlement. So far as His Majesty’s Government was concerned they should [Page 306]support the Soviet wish to have this port of Germany incorporated into the Soviet Union. He made this statement as one of principle. They had not examined the Soviet line on a map. This could be examined at the peace conference but he would like to assure the Marshal of their continued support of the Russian position in this part of the world.

Stalin replied that they were suggesting nothing more than this at the present time. Of course, the matter would be settled at the peace conference. He said they were satisfied that the British and American Governments approved.

Churchill said that there would have to be certain redrafting of the Russian statement and in the communiqué which would be issued at the end of the Conference he recommended that more general terms be used. The agreement of the Three Powers would be recorded in the minutes of this meeting.

3. Syria and Lebanon

Molotov said that the Soviet delegation wished to present a short paper on this subject (annex 2).26

Churchill said that the burden of defending Syria and Lebanon had fallen upon the shoulders of the British. They did not wish to receive any advantage there not enjoyed by other powers. At the time they entered Syria and Lebanon to throw out the Germans and the troops of Vichy they had made an arrangement with the French in which they both recognized Syria and Lebanon.27 In consideration of the very long historical connection of France with these countries the British had said that they would not object to France having a favored position there if this were satisfactorily arranged with the new independent Governments of those countries. The British had told General de Gaulle that the moment he made a satisfactory treaty with Syria and Lebanon which was satisfactory to those countries, the British would withdraw their troops. If they withdrew their troops now it would lead to the massacre of the French civilians and the small number of troops there. They would not like to see this happen and he pointed out that it would lead to great excitement throughout the Arab world. He also said that it would affect their task of keeping the peace in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. There would be a great outbreak of turbulence and warfare which might affect Egypt too. There could not have been a worse moment than this for creating such a [Page 307]disturbance in the Arab world because it would endanger their lines of communication through the Suez Canal which was being used in the war against Japan by both the United States and Great Britain. The line of communications for the war against Japan was important to the United States as well as to Great Britain. General de Gaulle had acted very unwise[ly] in this region. Against their advice and entreaties about 500 men had been sent to Syria and this had caused a serious outbreak which had still not died away. How silly this was for what could 500 men do? They had, however, been a spark and this uprising had followed immediately. The Government and people of Iraq had wanted to go to the help of the Syrians. All of the Arabic world was convulsed with excitement in regard to this matter. Later, however, General de Gaulle had agreed to hand over the so-called “Troupes Spéciales” to the Syrian Government.28 He trusted that they should be able to reach an agreement with the French. He could not say agreement but a settlement with de Gaulle which would guarantee the independence of Syria and Lebanon and which would reserve for the French some recognition of their cultural and commercial interests which they had built up over such a long period of time. He wished to repeat before this council that Great Britain had no wish to remain there one day longer than necessary. The British would be delighted to withdraw from what was a thankless task assumed in the interest of the Allies. Having regard to the fact the matter rested between them and the French, and of course Syria and Lebanon, and the British did not welcome a proposal to have the Conference in which the United States and the Soviet Union would enter with Great Britain and France and come to a decision [sic]. The whole burden had been borne by them, except for diplomatic approval of the United States which they had enjoyed. The British would not welcome the whole matter being reviewed by a body of this kind. Of course, if the United States wanted to take their place that would be a different matter.

The President replied “no thanks”. He added that when this controversy arose there had been an exchange of correspondence between the Prime Minister and himself.29 The Prime Minister had said that the British had sufficient troops to keep peace in this area and to stop the outbreak of war in that region. He had asked the British to do so immediately for the United States was also much interested in this line of communications to the Far East through the Suez Canal. The President said, however, that we thought that no country should have special privilege. The French did not deserve [Page 308]a special position after the way they had stirred up all this trouble. All should have equal rights.30

Stalin inquired if he might infer of this that his colleagues did not recognize any privileged position of the French in this area.

Churchill replied that the British position was that they wanted to see France have a special position and that he had promised this to the French at a time when the British were weak. This promise was made of course only so far as the British were concerned. They had no power to bind others nor had they undertaken to make serious exertions to procure special rights for the French. If they could get them the British would not object and would smile benignly on their achievements.

Stalin inquired from whom the French could obtain these special rights.

Churchill replied that they could obtain them from Syria and Lebanon.

Stalin queried, “them alone?”

Churchill replied in the affirmative. He added that the French had many schools there, and archeological institutes, etc.; many French live there and the French even had a song which went “Nous partous tour La Syrie” [Partant pour la Syrie?]. They dated their claims back to the Crusades. But he pointed out that the British were not embarking on a serious quarrel with the great powers on this matter.

The President said that the United States stood for equal rights for all.

Churchill asked the President if he would endeavor to prevent the Syrians from giving special rights to the French.

The President replied that he had no qualms in this respect as he was sure that the Syrians would not want to grant special rights.

Stalin observed that they were reluctant. He said that the Russian delegation thanked Mr. Churchill for the information that he had given and that they withdrew their proposal.

Churchill and The President said they wished to thank Stalin for this action.

[Page 309]

4. Iran

Churchill said they had submitted a paper31 to the Council and he would be very glad to hear the views of the other great powers.

Stalin said that the British proposals were based on the presumption that the term for the presence of Allied troops in Iran had expired. The Soviets proceeded on the assumption that the term had not expired and that it would do so only after the termination of the war against Japan. He pointed out that this was stipulated by the treaty.32 Nevertheless, the Soviet delegation concurred with paragraph 1 of the British paper that their troops be withdrawn from Tehran and he suggested that they let it go at that.

The President said that we had been ready for a long time to withdraw but pointed out that we had many supplies in Iran and that we wished to guard them for use in the war against Japan.

Stalin said that the Russian delegation had no objection to the presence of American and British troops in Iran but he agreed that troops from Tehran might be withdrawn.

The President said he thought that there were no American troops in Tehran.

Stalin said that even if there were the Russians had no objection. He proposed that they confine themselves to the immediate withdrawal from Tehran.

Churchill said that the British were anxious to proceed to the other points raised in the British paper. Of course only two and one-half months had elapsed since the termination of the war against Germany. The British would like for the removal of troops to continue on both sides because they had promised that they would go when the German war was over. They would, therefore, like to withdraw when the other two stages were completed.

Stalin said that they would like to have time to think this over. The treaty said that the troops should be withdrawn not later than six months after the termination of the war with Germany and her associates. That included Japan. They had until six months after the completion of the war with Japan. This gave them plenty of time.

Churchill suggested that they accept the proposal to withdraw from Tehran and that they let the Foreign Ministers take another look at the matter when they met.

The President said that we were proceeding with our withdrawal because we needed our troops in the Far East. He said that we expected to be out within sixty days.

[Page 310]

Stalin said that the United States was fully entitled to look after their supplies. He added, “So as to rid the United States of any worries we promise you that no action will be taken by us against Iran.”

The President said he thanked Stalin for this statement.

(Field Marshal Alexander entered the room at this point and Stalin walked around the table to shake hands with him after which he greeted the President.)

5. Occupation of Vienna

Churchill said that with respect to the zones [sectors?] allotted to British and American troops it appeared that so far as the British were concerned that in the principal zone of Vienna there were 500,000 people. As the feeding grounds of Vienna lay to the east of Vienna, they would not be able to undertake the feeding of those 500,000 persons. What they suggested, therefore, was a provisional arrangement under which the Russians would go on feeding until a more permanent arrangement could be worked out. He called upon Field Marshal Alexander to speak.

Field Marshal Alexander said that there were about 500,000 people in Vienna to be fed. He did not have the food to send from Italy. There was a small reserve in Villach in the Klagenfurt area. This could be provided but he thought he was correct in stating that it would be enough for only about three weeks or one month. If they took on the obligation to feed these people the food would have to come from the United States.

Churchill pointed out that this would be in addition to the population in the United States zone of Vienna.

The President said that there were about 375,000 in our zone. He said that our transport was almost totally engaged in transporting supplies in the Japanese war and in supplying Italy, France, Russia, and other countries in Europe.

Stalin asked what about the French zone.

The President said he did not know.

Stalin said he would have to talk with Marshal Konev. He was acquainted with the matter. He would like to know what period they had in mind. Was it until the next harvest?

Churchill said the difficulty was that the people in Vienna had always drawn their food from the East.

Stalin said that they had made an arrangement with the Austrian Government that they would undertake to provide a small quantity of food for money until the next harvest. This would continue until August or September. He would have to talk, however, with Marshal Konev.

[Page 311]

Churchill pointed out that Field Marshal Alexander was entering Styria with his troops but was reluctant to enter Vienna because of the difficulty in regard to food.

Stalin asked if the food situation in Vienna was so bad now.

Churchill replied that they had not been there.

Stalin said that it wouldn’t seem to be so bad so far as the population was concerned.

Field Marshal Alexander said that if the Generalissimo could help them with food they were ready to go forward and take up their work.

Stalin said that he would let them know that evening or the next day.

Churchill thanked the Marshal for this.

Stalin said it would be well if the British and American Governments would agree to extend the authority of the Renner Government to their zones. This would not imply diplomatic recognition but they should be placed in the same position as Finland. The authority of the Renner Government should be extended to the British and American zones in order to help them in the collection of food.

The President said that he thought that as soon as we had moved in and had looked into the matter we would be able to agree to this.

Churchill referred to his remark of the previous day [earlier today]33 when he had said that they had two divisions in Greece and he proposed to ask Field Marshal Alexander to speak on this subject.

Stalin interrupted and said he disagreed and as he had said at the previous meeting a Churchill statement could not be impugned.33

Churchill said he wished to raise a question of procedure. He had drawn the attention of his colleagues to the fact that Mr. Attlee and he had interests34 to attend to in London on Thursday. They, therefore, had to leave by lunch time on Wednesday, taking the Foreign Secretary35 with them, and that they would be back for the evening sitting on the 27th. He added, “or some of us will be back”. Could they not meet on Monday [Wednesday] morning before his departure. This was agreed to.

Churchill suggested that the Foreign Ministers continue to meet and that in Mr. Eden’s absence Sir Alexander Cadogan would represent him. This was agreed to.

The meeting adjourned.36

  1. Cf. ante, p. 289.
  2. Documents Nos. 920 and 921, post.
  3. Of the attachment to document No. 863, post.
  4. Document No. 872, post.
  5. Probably document No. 873, post.
  6. Document No. 714, post.
  7. Document No. 733, post.
  8. Document No. 870, post.
  9. Document No. 1161, post.
  10. Document No. 1356, post.
  11. See document No. 1383, post, section i.
  12. See ante, pp. 256 258.
  13. Cf. documents Nos. 1071 (enclosure 2), 1072, and 1076 (annex i), post.
  14. Cf. documents Nos. 457 and 459, printed in vol. i , and document No. 1072, post.
  15. See vol. i, documents Nos. 683 and 684.
  16. Signed July 20, 1936. For full text, see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. clxxiii, p. 213. Substantive provisions printed also in Howard, The Problem of the Turkish Straits, p. 25.
  17. Document No. 755, post.
  18. The records of the Tehran Conference are scheduled for subsequent publication in a volume in this series. See Churchill, Closing the Ring, p. 403; Herbert Feis, ChurchillRooseveltStalin: The War They Waged and the Peace They Sought (Princeton, 1957), p. 287.
  19. See the map facing p. 748 in vol. i . For the origin and a description of the Curzon Line, see Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol. xiii, pp. 793 794.
  20. See Parliamentary Debates: House of Commons Official Report, 5th series, vol. 406, col. 1478.
  21. Document No. 1020, post.
  22. Document No. 1341, post.
  23. For further particulars on this and other matters referred to by Churchill in his discussion of Syria and Lebanon, see vol. i, document No. 636, and Churchill, Triumph and Tragedy, pp. 561–566.
  24. See vol. i, document No. 642.
  25. See vol. i, document No. 636, footnote 2.
  26. The following additional information on this statement by Truman is given in a personal letter dated August 18, 1945, from Allen to Minister George Wadsworth at Beirut (file No. 740.00119 (Potsdam)/8–1845): “When Churchill referred to the continued privileged position for France I whispered to Jimmy Dunn, reminding him that the United States had never concurred with this position and that we regarded our recognition of Syrian and Lebanese independence as being full and unrestricted. We did not concur in a privileged position for anyone in the area. Jimmy immediately wrote this down on a small piece of paper and handed it to Mr. Byrnes, who was sitting at the big table. Mr. Byrnes, after reading it, passed it on to President Truman. As soon as Churchill stopped speaking, Truman placed the American position before the Conference.”
  27. Document No. 1330, post.
  28. i. e., the Anglo-Soviet-Iranian Treaty of January 29, 1942. Text in Department of State Bulletin, vol. vi, p. 249.
  29. See ante, p. 302.
  30. See ante, p. 302.
  31. i. e., the announcement of the results of the general election which had taken place in the United Kingdom, as the result of which Attlee succeeded Churchill as Prime Minister on July 26 and returned to the Berlin Conference as head of the British Delegation on July 28.
  32. Anthony Eden.
  33. At 7:00 p.m. See Log, ante, p. 18.