Truman Papers

Thompson Minutes
top secret

Mr. Byrnes read his report as rapporteur of the morning meeting of the Foreign Ministers (annex l).5

1. Admission of Italy and the Other Satellite States Into the United Nations Organization

The President said that the first topic of the agenda was the admission of Italy and the other satellite states into the United Nations Organization.

Mr. Byrnes said he understood that agreement had been reached by the United States and the British delegations on the draft as it now stood.

[Page 358]

Mr. Eden said that the British had been in full agreement with the first paper submitted by the United States6 but he had some question with regard to the second draft.7 As drafted it looked as though they were undertaking to reconstruct the Italian Government before Italy could be admitted to the United Nations and he questioned the effect of this on the present Italian Government.

Mr. Byrnes replied that it had been agreed that there should be no odious comparisons. He submitted to the British delegation that there was no doubt nor reflection on the present Italian Government as the language proposed related only to the contraction of a peace treaty. It was not known what Italian Government there would be at that time and it was not a reflection on the present Italian Government.

Mr. Eden remarked that it was only a question of drafting and he felt that they could reach agreement.

Stalin said that if the point at issue was to ease the position of the satellite states then all satellite countries should be mentioned. The position of the Italian Government would be eased and it would be difficult to object to this. An abnormal position was being created for the other satellite states and an artificial distinction was being drawn between them. It appeared that Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Finland were being put in the category of leprous states in which fact the Soviet delegation saw a danger that attempts would be made to discredit the Soviet Union. What were the merits of Italy as compared with the other satellite states? It was the first to capitulate but it had done more harm and its behavior had been worse than that of the others. There was no doubt that Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland had done less harm to the Allies than had Italy. He asked if the Italian Government was really more democratic than the Governments of these countries. Was the Italian Government more responsible? No democratic elections had been held in Italy or in the other satellite countries. He, therefore, did not understand the cause of such a benevolent attitude towards Italy as compared with the others. The position of Italy was eased when the first step was taken, namely, the resumption of diplomatic relations. Now a second step was proposed. He agreed to take this second step but thought that they should take this first step with regard to the other satellite states and resume diplomatic relations with them. Italy would still occupy a first place which was due to the fact that it was the first to surrender. This would be so in spite of the fact that she had done more harm than the others.

Churchill said that the British were in general agreement with the United States delegation on this matter.

[Page 359]

The President said that he had a different point of view with regard to Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary than in the case of Italy. We had not been able to have free access to the former countries and had not been able to get information concerning them. Everybody had free access to Italy—the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and other countries. He declared that when Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria were set up on a basis where we would have free access to them we would recognize them but not sooner. To meet the Soviet position the language in the American document was the same in regard to Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary as it was in the case of Italy.8

Molotov stated that Italy, however, already maintained diplomatic relations with the other powers.9

The President replied that the satellites could have diplomatic relations if they would comply with our requirements which they had not done.

Stalin inquired what requirements were referred to and added that none of these satellite governments could hamper allied agents to move freely and to have access to information.

The President replied that nevertheless they did.

Molotov pointed out that there were also restrictions on the Soviet representatives in Italy.10

The President said that we were asking for the reorganization of the other satellite governments along democratic lines as had been agreed upon at Yalta.11

Stalin said he wished to assure the President that the Governments in those countries were more democratic than that in Italy and that they were closer to the people than the Italian Government.

The President pointed out that the language of the proposal meant that they would have the same status for the Council of Foreign Ministers.

Molotov pointed out that if their status was equal that would include maintaining diplomatic relations.

The President replied that this was not the case and that with respect to diplomatic relations he had said that we could not recognize them until they were set up on democratic lines.12

Molotov said that his proposal had been that the satellites would be placed in a position of equality13 and that he could not agree that the wording corresponded to the suggestion he had made.

[Page 360]

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that in the paper which he had circulated14 reference was made to the effort to ease the situation in Italy. The only way——

Molotov broke in to say that there was some misunderstanding. Mr. Byrnes had suggested two amendments orally. The Soviet delegation had one of those amendments before them in writing and in Russian translation. That amendment referred to the four small satellites.15 The second amendment proposed by the Secretary concerning Italy they did not have in writing.

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that the American delegation had circulated the final text of the document which included that amendment.

Molotov replied that they did not have it in circulation.

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that the only way in which it was proposed to ease the situation of Italy was to give support to the entry of Italy into the United Nations Organization. In an effort to meet the objections of the Soviet delegation, the United States delegation had submitted language which read, “The conclusion of such a peace treaty with the democratic and responsible Italian Government will make it possible for the three Governments to fulfill their desire to support the admission of Italy into the United Nations Organization.” In the next paragraph referring to Finland, Rumania, Hungary, and Bulgaria the same language was used with regard to Italy and the other satellite states. He also drew attention to the fact that this statement had been used to do what Stalin had asked to be done, namely, express a view upon the Government of Franco. This was set forth in the last paragraph of the statement.

Stalin said that the words “responsible and democratic governments” should be deleted as it served to discredit these countries.

The President said that this language was used to show that the only way in which they could obtain our support for entry into the United Nations Organization was for them to have democratic governments.

Stalin said that these were not Fascist governments. There was a far less democratic government in Argentina which in spite of this had been admitted to the United Nations. “If a government is not Fascist a government is democratic.” If the word “responsible” was used it would discredit these governments.16

Molotiv proposed to add to the paragraph on diplomatic relations that each of the three Governments would consider separately the resumption of diplomatic relations with those countries. In Italy [Page 361]the United States and the Soviet Union had diplomatic relations now with Italy. There were no diplomatic representatives there for Great Britain and France—only political representatives not holding the rank of Ambassador.

Churchill said the British considered their Ambassador in Italy17 as fully accredited.

Molotiv pointed out that he was not called an Ambassador.

Churchill said this was because the British were at war with Italy and that the status of their Ambassador did not obtain full formality but that for practical purposes he was an Ambassador. The distinction was made for technical reasons.

Molotiv repeated that he was not called an Ambassador.

Churchill replied that he was so called and that he was 90 percent a full ambassador.

Stalin remarked that their representative was not the same as those of the Soviet Union and the United States. He suggested that the same kind of ambassador could be sent to Rumania and Bulgaria as the British had in Italy.

The President said that the United States was making every effort to arrive at a point where they could send an ambassador. He had already stated the difficulties which prevented this.

Stalin remarked that that was in the past and that there were no such difficulties now. Speaking generally it was hard for the Soviet delegation to adhere to this resolution as they would be discredited by it.

The President replied that we had had no such intention.

Stalin admitted this but insisted that this is what would happen.

Churchill said that they wanted no words which would be a slur on any of them. He would like to put in a plea for Italy. It was not only because Italy was first out of the war that this proposal was made. Nearly two years had passed since Italy went out of the war. It was a very short time since the other satellites had been fighting against them.

Stalin rejoined that diplomatic relations with Italy had been resumed seven to ten months after Italy’s surrender.

Churchill continued that Italy had been out of the war for two years and had been fighting on their side all of that time. They had been living in Italy and knew all about political conditions there. That was not the case in Bulgaria and Rumania. Italy had not been a united country. The great democratic north had been under the enemy until two months ago. Italy had given a great measure of help. It had always been recognized that Italy could not have a completely democratic government until the north was liberated. He had been in agreement with Stalin with respect to holding on to [Page 362]Badoglio longer and had disagreed with the Americans on this. The march of events had carried things in a different way. They had built up considerable sympathy for Italy. There was no censorship there. He had been frequently attacked in Italian newspapers only a few months after Italy had unconditionally surrendered. There was a considerable growth of freedom in Italy. Now that the north was liberated they were going to have democratic elections. He did not see why they could not discuss peace with them. With regard to Rumania and particularly with regard to Bulgaria they knew nothing. Their mission in Bucharest had been penned up with a closeness approaching internment.

Stalin broke in to ask if it were really possible for him to cite such facts that had not been verified.

Churchill said that they knew this by their representatives there. Stalin would be very much astonished to read a long catalog of difficulties encountered by their mission there. An iron fence had come down around them.

Stalin broke in to exclaim, “All fairy tales.”

Churchill said that of course they could call each others statements fairy tales and added that he had complete confidence in his representatives there. He had known Stevenson for many years. The conditions in the British mission there had caused them the greatest distress. It was not for him to make a statement in regard to the experience of the United States. Even their motor cars which circulated within the permitted bounds were followed by other cars which supervised their every movement. There had been complaints from their Soviet friends with regard to the size of their mission which had not been large. The Control Commission which was supposed to consist of three representatives almost always met as two. The Soviet representative sometimes saw the American representative, sometimes the British, but rarely both together.18 In Italy Soviet representatives were welcomed and many Russians had come.

Stalin broke in to say that this was not the case. The Russians had no rights in Italy. Vyshinski had never been on the Control Commission. He sat on the Advisory Council.

Churchill said that their position was that the Russians were welcome to come to Italy and to go anywhere. The position there was not on the same footing as that in the other satellite states.

The President said that there had been many difficulties encountered by our mission in Rumania and Bulgaria19 and that these had [Page 363]caused us much concern. He added, however, that we had no intention to make any reflection upon Stalin or upon his Government at this Conference.

Mr. Byrnes said that in the hope of reaching agreement he suggested an amendment which was to substitute the word “recognize” [recognized] for the word “responsible”.

Stalin said this was more acceptable but he would like also that the words suggested by Molotiv be added at the end of the amendment proposed by Mr. Byrnes.

Molotiv then read his amendment which was as follows: “The three Governments agree to consider each separately in the immediate future the establishment of diplomatic relations with Finland, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary.”

Churchill said that this amendment did not reflect what they had been saying.

Stalin rejoined that it was not right to say this. They had decided to prepare peace treaties with Rumania, Bulgaria, and the other satellites. This could not be done if they did not have diplomatic relations.

The President said he saw no objection to Molotiv’s amendment.

Stalin said that in this case they had no objections to the draft as a whole.

Churchill thought this would be covering with words, which would be read by the whole world, a difficulty which had not been removed around the conference table. He thought that the President had said that he would not recognize the present governments of Rumania and Bulgaria.

The President admitted that this was correct, but said that they were now agreeing only to examine the question.

Churchill said that this in no way removed the disagreement and that it would mislead the public.

Stalin inquired: “Why?”

Churchill replied because the purport of the statement would be that there would be immediate recognition of these governments; whereas, he understood that this was not the position of the United States and the United Kingdom Governments.

Stalin suggested that the President could speak for himself. It had already been accepted by the British and the Council for [of] Foreign Ministers was charged with the preparation of peace treaties with Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland.20 A peace treaty could be concluded only after recognition; this meant that the question of recognition was on the agenda. If they made no mention of the resumption of diplomatic relations then the paragraph in regard to peace treaties should be left out.

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Churchill inquired if the President contemplated that in the autumn the representatives of Rumania and Bulgaria would come to the Council of Foreign Ministers and that they would discuss a peace treaty with representatives of the present governments of those countries.

The President replied that the only government that could be dealt with was one that they could recognize.

Stalin replied that that was correct.

Churchill said that the present governments would not be recognized and that there could be no peace treaty with them until they were.

Stalin said he did not see how that followed.

Churchill said it should follow.

Stalin replied that it did not. He said that these governments might be recognized or they might not. All of them might be recognized or some of them might be recognized. It should be understood in the following way. A peace treaty with them would be considered when they had been recognized.

Churchill said that anyone reading this paragraph would not realize that the United States, insofar as he had gathered, would not recognize the present governments of Rumania and Bulgaria. If other governments were created which they could recognize, then they would take up the preparation of the peace treaties. He was sorry to press on these points but this document would be published and this must be explained. They would have to say that they would make treaties with governments which they recognized, but that they did not intend to recognize these governments. That was almost meaningless.

The President proposed to refer the question to the Foreign Ministers again.

Stalin remarked that Churchill was not right. There was no reference to the conclusion of the peace treaties, but only to their preparation. Peace treaties could be prepared even if governments were not recognized.

Churchill replied that of course they could prepare them by themselves. He referred then to the word “with” in the second line of paragraph three.21 Suppose they substituted the word “for.”

Stalin said that he had “for” in his text. That was what was meant.

Churchill expressed his thanks and agreed that it be sent to the Foreign Ministers to be looked at again.

This was agreed.

[Page 365]

2. Question of the Black Sea Straits

The President pointed out that he had circulated a paper on in-land waterways22 and inquired if it had been considered.

Stalin pointed out that this paper did not deal with the question of Turkey and the Straits but dealt with the Danube and the Rhine. The Soviet Delegation would like to receive a reply to their proposal in regard to the Black Sea Straits.23

The President replied that he wished the two questions to be considered together.

Stalin said he was afraid they would not be able to reach an agree-ment in regard to the Straits, since their views differed so widely. He said that perhaps they should postpone the question and take up the next question.

Churchill said he understood that it was agreed that freedom in the Black Sea Straits should be approved and guaranteed by the Big Three and other powers and that the United States would come into that kind of an organization and said that to his mind this was a remarkable and important fact.

The President said that the Prime Minister had clearly stated the position of the United States.

Churchill pointed out that this was a big step.

Stalin said that this was correct with respect to freedom of passage for the British were in favor of freedom for all traffic.

Churchill said that they hoped that the guarantee proposed would be more than a substitute for the fortification of the Straits.

Molotiv inquired if the Suez Canal were under the same principle.24

Churchill rejoined that it was open in war and peace to all.

Molotiv inquired if it were under the same international control as was proposed for the Black Sea Straits.

Churchill said that this question had not been raised.

Molotiv said that he was asking. If it was such a good rule why not apply it to the Suez.

Churchill said that they had an arrangement with which they were satisfied and that this arrangement had operated for some seventy years with no complaints.

Molotiv said there had been a lot of complaints. They should ask Egypt.

Eden said that Egypt had signed the treaty25 with them.26

[Page 366]

Molotiv said that the British asserted that international control was better.

Churchill said that their suggestion had been made to meet the Russian position that Russia should be able to move freely in and out of the Black Sea and that they were prepared to join in a guarantee with other nations and were prepared to press It upon Turkey. Was it to be supposed that Turkey would resist when the three Great Powers agreed and took an interest in the matter. Freedom could be attained in this way and without trouble for Turkey. He quite agreed that the question must be put off, but he hoped that the tremendous fact that they had heard at this meeting should not be underestimated by their Russian friends.

The President said he wished to make clear his understanding of an international guarantee of the freedom of the Straits; it meant that any nation had free ingress for any purpose whatever. He did not contemplate any fortifications of any kind.27

Churchill said he fully sympathized and agreed with Stalin that a great power, such as the Soviet Union, must not have to go to a smaller power, like Turkey, hat in hand, any time it wanted to send ships through the Straits, only because Turkey said she had fears of war. He did not oppose Stalin’s complaint in this respect.

Stalin pointed out that this question had been raised at the Conference by Great Britain. It was evident that they differed in their views. They had many more urgent questions before them and this one could be put off.

Churchill said the question had been brought up following all their conversations with the Russians regarding the Soviet wish to change the Montreux Convention,28 which position they were prepared to support.

Stalin said the question was not yet ripe. Some talks with the Turks should take place.

Churchill inquired “With Turkey by whom?”

Stalin replied that the Russians had interrupted their conversations with the Turks,29 but only temporarily. The United States could talk with Turkey as well as Great Britain. He was not certain whether Turkey would be prepared to agree to international control.

Churchill said it was more likely that they would agree to this than to the construction of big fortifications in the Straits.

Stalin replied that this might be, he did not know.

The President drew attention to the word “control.” If the [Page 367]Straits were free there would be no control. He said that we would endeavor to make Turkey see our point of view.

Stalin then proposed that each of them work on the matter.

3. Preparation of the Communiqué

The President pointed out that the Conference would have to be wound up in not more than a week or ten days and that a communiqué would have to be prepared. He proposed that a committee be appointed to start working on it and suggested that the Foreign Ministers make a proposal to them the next day.

Stalin inquired if they were to meet the next day.

The President said he was anxious to do as much work as possible because when there was nothing more upon which they could agree he was returning home. He had much business in the City of Washington.

Churchill said that Mr. Attlee and he would have to be back in England on the eighth and that he could not stay longer than the sixth.

4. Question of Poland’s Western Frontiers

This question was postponed upon the proposal of Mr. Churchill who said he was having talks with the Poles.30

5. Soviet Prisoners of War in a British Prison Camp in Italy

Churchill said the position was the following. It was true that there were 10,000 persons in this camp.31 It should be remembered that they had just taken one million prisoners. These 10,000 were in the process of being sifted by the Russian Mission at Rome. This Mission had full access to the camps in question. The personnel in these camps was said to be chiefly non-Soviet Ukrainians and to include numbers of Poles who, insofar as they could find out, were domiciled within the 1939 Polish frontiers. Six hundred and sixty-five persons within this camp wanted to return to their native Soviet Union and their return was being arranged. The British would hand over any others who would go without the use of force. The question of how much force would be used must be considered and must be carefully handled. This 10,000 had surrendered almost intact as an enemy division. They had retained the division as organized under their own general for administrative reasons exclusively.32 They would have been glad if General Golikov had made his complaints to Field Marshal Alexander at his headquarters.

Field Marshal Alexander said that he would like everyone present to know that he had always given the Russian representatives [Page 368]in Italy complete freedom of movement and assistance to see anything and everything they wished to see at any time. In questions of this sort where they had a great number of Russian soldiers on their hands it was a great help to receive advice from responsible Russian representatives. He hoped that the Generalissimo would agree and that these facilities could continue to be made available.

Stalin said that under the treaty33 concluded between them they were bound to give each other admission to such camps and not to raise obstacles in the way of returning Soviet nationals to their own country. If Field Marshal Alexander thought this was possible he would be grateful.

Churchill said that if Stalin would send his generals they would examine the situation and see if it could be done.

Stalin replied: “All right.”34

6. Occupation of Vienna

Stalin said he had talked to Marshal Konev35 and that they were ready to continue to issue rations to all zones in Vienna until such time as the British and Americans found it possible to make some other arrangements.

Churchill said that as soon as they got to Vienna one of the first things they would examine would be the question of the extension of the administrative control of the Renner Government in the American and British zone and that in principle they thought this could be done.36

Stalin said that this would be a good thing to do.

The President remarked that he agreed with the Prime Minister.

Meeting adjourned.37

  1. Ante, p. 336.
  2. Document No. 1424, post.
  3. Not found. See document No. 1424, post, footnote 1.
  4. The remarks here attributed to Truman are attributed to Churchill in the Cohen notes, post, p. 370.
  5. This statement is attributed to Stalin in the Cohen notes, post, p. 370.
  6. This statement is attributed to Stalin in the Cohen notes, post, p. 371.
  7. See document No. 1417, post, section v.
  8. See ante, p. 207.
  9. See ante, pp. 326 328.
  10. Not found. See document No. 1424, post, footnote 1.
  11. See ante, pp. 327, 337. It appears that Molotov had before him the Rapporteur’s report and its attachment (see p. 337, ante, and document No. 1424, post), whereas Byrnes had before him the later draft (not found) mentioned in footnote 1 to document No. 1424, post.
  12. The last sentence of this statement is attributed to Molotov in the Cohen notes, post, p. 371.
  13. Sir Noel Charles, Bart., British High Commissioner to Italy.
  14. The representatives referred to are: Colonel General Ivan Zakharovich Susaikov, Soviet Deputy Chairman of the Allied Control Commission for Rumania; Brigadier General Cortland T. Van R. Schuyler, Chief of the United States Military Representation on the Commission; and Air Vice Marshal Donald Stevenson, British High Commissioner in Rumania.
  15. See vol. i, pp. 357 419, passim.
  16. See the attachment to document No. 714, post.
  17. Of the draft (not found) mentioned in footnote 1 to document No. 1424, post.
  18. Document No. 755, post.
  19. Document No. 1369, post.
  20. This statement and the next four statements here attributed to Molotiv are all attributed to Stalin in the Cohen notes, post, pp. 372, 373.
  21. i. e., the treaty signed at London, August 26, 1936, with supplemental agreements. Text in British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxl, p. 179.
  22. This statement is attributed to Churchill in the Cohen notes, post, p. 373.
  23. Cf. document No. 1371, post.
  24. Signed July 20, 1936. For full text, see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. clxxiii, p. 213. Substantive portions printed also in Howard, The Problem of the Turkish Straits, p. 25.
  25. See vol. i, documents Nos. 683, 684, 686, and 701.
  26. See Churchill, Triumph and Tragedy, pp. 661–667.
  27. At Cesenatico. See ante, p. 259, and document No. 1164, post.
  28. Cf. document No. 1165, post.
  29. i. e., the Anglo-Soviet repatriation agreement (not printed) which paralleled the Soviet-American agreement concerning liberated prisoners of war and civilians, signed at Yalta, February 11, 1945. For text, see Executive Agreement Series No. 505; 59 Stat. (2) 1874; Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, p. 985. For a draft text of the Anglo-Soviet agreement referred to, see ibid., p. 417.
  30. Cf. document No. 1432, post.
  31. See ante, p. 310.
  32. Cf. document No. 763, post.
  33. At 7:30 p.m. See Log, ante, p. 19. For information on a TrumanStalin conversation which took place immediately after adjournment of the plenary meeting, see post, p. 378.