740.00119 (Potsdam)/8–945

No. 738
Memorandum by the Executive Secretary of the Central Secretariat ( Yost )1
top secret

Berlin Conference


Soviet Policy

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In connection with the question of trusteeship the Soviets presented a proposal for consideration by the Council of Foreign Ministers on the disposition of Italy’s colonies in Africa and the Mediterranean.3 They suggested that the Council consider the possibility of assigning some or all of these territories under trusteeship to the United [Page 638] States, Britain and the Soviet Union either separately or jointly. They stated that they had learned from the foreign press that Italy had lost its colonies once and for all and wished to know how they were to be disposed of. They referred to the letter sent to Mr. Stettinius at San Francisco4 stating that they were anxious to receive mandates for certain territories. They did not, however, under questioning by Churchill, definitely commit themselves to a claim for Italian territory but merely urged that their proposal be considered by the Council of Foreign Ministers. The decision on the question was as stated in the communiqué.5

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British Policy

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As to the Italian colonies Churchill pointed out that Mr. Eden’s public statement on the question6 meant that Italy had no longer a right to these colonies but that did not preclude the peace conference from deciding that some of the colonies might be restored to Italy. He himself was open to arguments on this point. The British had conquered these colonies by their own efforts but they claimed nothing for themselves. They wished to know if there were any other claimants. He emphasized that the British had great interest in the Mediterranean and that any marked alteration in the status quo in the Mediterranean would need long and careful examination. He said he had not considered the possibility of the Soviet Union desiring to acquire a large tract of the African shore. If that were the case, it would have to be considered in relation to many other problems. He was willing for the matter to be discussed by the Council of Foreign Ministers but the question of the ultimate administration under trusteeship of any territories not returned to Italy by the peace treaty is one which would have to be settled by the United Nations Organization.

There was no very clear indication of the attitude toward Italy by the new Labor Ministers except that they supported those portions of the communiqué having to do with … the reference to the Council of Foreign Ministers of the disposition of Italian colonies.…

  1. Printed from the ribbon copy, which is unsigned. For the minutes of the discussions summarized in this memorandum, see ante, pp. 252256.
  2. For the other sections of this memorandum, see documents Nos. 1093 and 1107.
  3. Document No. 733.
  4. Document No. 734, enclosure 1.
  5. See document No. 1384, section xi .
  6. See ante, p. 239, footnote 2.