Truman Papers

Cohen Notes

Secretary Byrnes reads the report of the Foreign Secretaries.

1. The economic committee [subcommittee] was not yet ready to report on German reparations. They have not yet reported on reparations for Austria and Italy. The Russian delegation submitted papers [Page 369]on Austria[n] and Italian reparations.1 These economic matters have been postponed a day. The economic committee will meet tonight.

2. The United States had submitted a paper on European oil supplies, but action was postponed pending the committee’s report.

3. Implementation of Yalta Declaration on Europe and satellite states. The subcommittee was not ready to report, and the matter was postponed. The paper proposed eventual admission—Italy and neutrals, excluding Spain—into the United Nations, which was discussed.

Disagreement of the Foreign Secretaries was to be submitted to the Big Three. Soviets’ objection to the paper was because it omitted reference to Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary and Finland. Mr. Eden proposed certain changes regarding Italy, and these changes were agreed to. Secretary Byrnes proposed a paragraph to include reference to admission of Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland when peace treaties were concluded, with responsible democratic governments of these countries. The Chairman had hoped that this would meet the objection of Mr. Molotiv. As Mr. Molotiv was not satisfied, it was referred to the Big Three.

4. Rumanian oil equipment. British paper proposing arbitration referred to committee.

Agenda for Big Three meeting to include admission of Italy, neutrals, and satellite countries to United Nations organization, Polish western frontier, and the Straits.

Byrnes: The Foreign Secretaries heard representatives of the Polish provisional government this morning. I assume the Foreign Secretaries have each made their own report to the beads of state, but I will give a brief summary, if desired.

The Polish government proposed the Oder and western Neisse, including the city of Stettin as the basis of their western frontier. The principal arguments in support of this thesis were: Poland should be compensated in the west for what was taken from her in the east. The territory proposed in the west comprises one economic unit. Poland will receive less in the west than she lost in the east. The population would be reduced, but would be more homogenous. Only one to one and a half million Germans [were?] left in area, but they would be willing to return to Germany.

This territory would enable Poland to support her population without resort to emigration. This frontier would enable many Poles to return to Germany. It is the shortest possible frontier, and the most easy to defend. Germany had attempted to destroy the Polish population, and it would be an act of historic justice to give this territory to Poland. Poland had ceded territory in the east for world peace. It was right that Germany should also cede territory [Page 370]for this purpose. Territory sought would take away Germany’s war potential in the east. It would leave Poland without a large minority. It would absorb excess urban population in the west, which is not absorbable in old Poland’s industries. It would enable Poles abroad to return. Territory to be taken was one of the bases of Germany’s imperialism.

It would deprive Germany of her profits from the exploitation of this area. If not given this territory, Poland would lose more territory in the war than Germany. A speedy decision was urged so that Poles abroad could return and participate in the reconstruction of Poland.

Truman: The first question before us is the statement on the admission of Italy, neutrals, and other satellites to the United Nations.

Byrnes: The British and American delegations are agreed on the statement.

Truman: What has the Soviet delegation to say?

Stalin: To ease the situation of all satellite countries, all of them should be mentioned on an equal basis. The artificial distinction drawn prompts us to believe that satellites other than Italy are put in a leprous category. Such a distinction tends to discredit the Soviet armies. Italy was the first to surrender, but she did more harm than any other satellite state. There is no doubt that the other satellites did less harm than Italy.

Is the Italian government really more democratic than the governments of Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria and Finland? Is it more responsible? No elections have been held in Italy. It is not clear to me that the benevolent attitude towards Italy has been shown to the other satellites. Italy’s position has been eased by the renewal of diplomatic relations. Now a second step is proposed. Yes, let us take the second step towards Italy. But let us also take the first step towards the other satellites. That would be just. You can renew diplomatic relations with the other satellites and then you can make a peace treaty with Italy first.

Churchill: We are in general agreement with the United States. Our point of view is divergent only with reference to these other satellites. We have been unable to get information, or to have free access to the satellite states. As soon as we have proper access to them, and proper governments are set up, we will recognize them—not sooner. The language is the same in the proposed document regarding Finland, and the southeastern European satellite states, as it is regarding Italy.2

Stalin: But you have recognized Italy.

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Truman: The other satellite states will be recognized when they meet the same conditions as Italy has met.

Stalin: No one of these governments can prevent access to information to the Allied governments. There were restrictions on the Soviet government’s representatives in Italy.

Truman: We are asking reorganization of these governments along democratic lines.

Stalin: The other satellites have democratic governments closer to the people than does Italy.

Truman: I have made clear we will not recognize these governments until they are reorganized.

Molotiv: It was my suggestion that the satellites other than Italy be put on the same basis, including diplomatic recognition.

Byrnes: May I ask whether the Marshal has had translated the paper that has been circulating?

Molotiv: We have an amendment concerning the small satellites.

Byrnes: We submitted the whole paper in amended form. I should like it translated and read to the Marshal. It is an effort to treat Italy and the other satellites on the same basis, and to find a vehicle to condemn Franco’s Spain.

Stalin: The reference to “responsible and democratic government” should be deleted.

Truman: We cannot make peace with them until we recognize them.

Molotiv: Reference to responsible democratic governments discredits the satellite governments. There should also be a reference to the recognition of these governments. My proposal is to add words that each of the governments will consider the resumption of diplomatic relations.

Churchill: We do not want to use words to slur these governments. I would like to put in a word for Italy. It is not that she was the first out of the war, but two years have passed since she got out of the war. The other countries are out of the war only a few months. Our mission in Bucharest has been practically confined. I am sure the Marshal would be amazed to read the long list of incidents which have occurred.

Stalin: They are all fairy tale[s].

Churchill: Statesmen may call one another’s statements fairy tales, if they wish.

Stalin: The same condition prevails in Italy.

Churchill: That is not accurate. You can go where you like in Italy.

Truman: Our missions have encountered great difficulties in the satellite states.

[Page 372]

Byrnes: I suggest that we use the term recognize[d] democratic governments in the proposed statement, in lieu of responsible democratic governments.

Stalin: That is more acceptable, but I should also like that the amendment added by Mr. Molotiv be put at the end; that is, add to the Byrnes paragraph on satellites a provision that the three governments will consider each separately in the near future, the question of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Bulgaria, Rumania, Finland and Hungary. This does not run counter to what has been said. Treaties cannot be concluded until countries are recognized.

Churchill: This gives the impression that we were considering recognizing the present governments. That is not the position of the President, nor is it ours.

Truman: May I suggest that we again refer the matter to the Foreign Ministers?

Stalin: Mr. Churchill is not right. Peace treaties can be prepared even though governments are not recognized.

Churchill: Then we should provide for the conclusion of treaties for not with these countries.

Stalin: That will be more satisfactory.

Churchill: Thank you, Marshal.

Stalin: Don’t mention it.

Churchill: It would be a good thing for the Foreign Secretaries to have another look at the wording.

Truman: We may now discuss the problem of the Straits. I circulated a paper on this.

Stalin: The paper put in by President Truman refers to the Danube and the Rhine, and not the Straits. We would like a reply to our statement on the Straits, and a base.

Truman: I should like to consider them together.

Stalin: I am afraid we won’t reach an agreement on the Straits. Our ideas differ widely. Perhaps we can pass over this point now.

Churchill: I think that the freedom of the Straits in war and in peace, for war and merchant vessel[s], should be guaranteed by the three great powers. That is a proposal worthy of discussion.

Stalin: We are also for the freedom of all traffic.

Churchill: We should think that an international guaranty would be more than the equivalent of a base.

Stalin: What will be done about the Suez Canal?

Churchill: It will be open.

Stalin: What about international control?

Churchill: That question has not been raised.

Stalin: I am raising it.

[Page 373]

Churchill: We have an agreement, with which we are satisfied. There have been no complaints.

Stalin: Egypt should be consulted.

Churchill: We have a treaty.

Stalin: You suggest that international control is preferable. We want a treaty with Turkey.

Churchill: We should be prepared to press on Turkey the acceptance of this idea, which will give the Soviets a guarantee of freedom for their traffic. I quite agree that this must be put off, but I hope that the proposal put forth at this table, which gives the Soviets absolute security, will not be underrated by the Marshal.

Truman: I want to make it clear that this guarantee is for freedom of traffic for all of us, without any fortifications by anyone.

Churchill: I fully sympathize and agree with the Marshal that he should not have to go cap in hand to a smaller power like Turkey every time he wants to send a ship through the Straits.

Stalin: This question was brought up for discussion by Great Britain. It becomes evident that we differ in our views. We have more urgent questions than the Straits, so this question can be passed.

Churchill: It was brought up by Great Britain because the Marshal indicated he wanted a revision of the Montreux Convention.

Stalin: The question is not ripe for discussion. There must be further talks with the Turks.

Truman: I have made my position clear.

Stalin: The United States and the British can talk to Turkey as well as we. I am not sure that Turkey will agree to international control.

Truman: Control by international guarantee that the Straits are open, means freedom of traffic, and no control. We shall endeavor to make Turkey see our point of view.

I have a suggestion. I hope we can wind up the conference in a week or ten days. I think a committee should be appointed to work on a communiqué so that everything will not have to be done at once. I hope the Foreign Secretaries will report to us on this tomorrow.

Stalin: Do we meet at eleven tomorrow?

Eden: We had doubt[s] whether there would be enough on the agenda for the Big Three for tomorrow, but as today’s agenda is not completed, you can meet.

Truman: As soon as we can finish, I must be back in Washington. Let us meet tomorrow.

Stalin: There is the Polish frontier to discuss.

Churchill: Field Marshal Alexander is waiting.

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Truman: Shall we talk about Poland?

Stalin: Have we time to discuss it?

Churchill: I am having a talk with Bierut in the morning. We can postpone it.

Truman: Bring in Marshal Alexander then.

Churchill: In a few words, following is our position about the Soviet war prisoners in Italy, about which the Soviets have asked information.

The Soviets have full access to the camp in question. These prisoners are said to be mainly non-Soviet Ukrainians, and they include Poles not domiciled within the 1939 Russian boundaries, and those who wish to return to Russia may go. We will hand over the others who will go, without the use of force. This body of about 10 thousand personnel surrendered almost intact as a Polish division. We would have been glad if the commanding general had made his complaint direct to Field Marshal Alexander.

Alexander: I have nothing to add to the Prime Minister’s statement. I should like everyone here to know the following: I have always given Russian representatives in Italy freedom of movement to see anything at any time. I think this is a good thing to do, when we have Russian soldiers to look after in our camps. I hope that the Generalissimus will enable me to give the fullest facilities to his representatives.

Stalin: Under our treaty, we must both grant each other admission, and not raise obstacles to the return of men to their own country. I will be grateful if Field Marshal Alexander would so arrange.

Churchill: Will the Generalissimus send his representatives to investigate?

Stalin: I have already talked to Marshal [Konev].3 I will give you time to work this out.

Churchill: There was also the question of giving the Renner government civilian administrative authority in all zones. This is one of the first questions which we will tackle when we get into Vienna. We agree that in principle this is desirable.

Truman: I agree with the Prime Minister.

  1. For the documents referred to in these notes, see the footnotes to the Thompson minutes, supra.
  2. Concerning discrepancies in the attribution of these and other remarks during this meeting as between the Thompson minutes and the Cohen notes, see the footnotes to the Thompson minutes, supra.
  3. Name supplied from the Thompson minutes, ante, p. 368, The Thompson minutes indicate that this remark introduced a new subject, namely the occupation of Vienna.