Executive Secretariat Files

Briefing Book Paper

[Liberated Countries]

Subject: The necessity of the three principal Allies arriving at a common political program for liberated countries.

Although the principal Allies have been able to work out a generally satisfactory coordination of military strategy and operations in the prosecution of the war against Germany, there has been no such coordination in regard to political policies. Recent events in Europe have demonstrated the very real danger not only to Allied unity during the war but to the hope of a stable peace, as a result of the failure of the Allies to evolve an agreed and mutually acceptable political program.

Growing evidence of Anglo-Soviet rivalry on the continent of Europe and the resulting power politics scramble for position is due less to the difficulties over territorial questions than to the question of the political character of the governments in various countries of Europe beyond the Soviet borders. On the one hand, it is evident that the Soviet Government suspects that Great Britain desires to see installed wherever possible right-wing governments which from the Soviet point of view would be hostile to the Soviet Union. On the other hand, the British view with apprehension the possibility that the Soviet Government will endeavor in its turn to install and support left-wing totalitarian governments as far west as possible in Europe.

In actual fact these mutual suspicions appear to be unjustified in that it is not a fixed and calculated British policy to support right-wing elements in Europe, nor on the basis of existing evidence can it be said that the Soviet Government is determined to install Communist regimes throughout Europe. However, these interacting mutual suspicions tend to push British policy, in action, farther to the right and Soviet policy farther to the left. Recent events in Greece will undoubtedly be widely interpreted in Moscow as confirmation of their suspicions of Great Britain’s intentions, and the recent events in Poland with the formation of the Lublin Committee into a provisional government will likewise confirm British fears in regard to Soviet policy.

If the situation is to be saved it is essential for the three principal Allies to examine carefully the present political forces at work in the [Page 103] liberated countries in Europe in order to ascertain if there are not political groups and parties which would be mutually acceptable and to which all three countries could give whole-hearted support. It would be necessary to start by excluding either a right-wing government in which “reactionary” elements regarded by the Soviet Government as intrinsically hostile would predominate, or a single party Communist totalitarian state. Between these two extremes, however, lies the bulk of the political sentiment of the peoples of Europe.

Judging from present indications the general mood of the people of Europe is to the left and strongly in favor of far-reaching economic and social reforms, but not, however, in favor of a left-wing totalitarian regime to achieve these reforms. Until such time as it is possible to hold genuine elections in the liberated areas, in certain countries at least, such as Greece and Poland, it will probably be necessary for the principal Allies, and for this purpose France should be included in that category, to accept and support interim governments. The character and composition of these governments is precisely the place where the Allies must have an agreed political program. These governments must be sufficiently to the left to satisfy the prevailing mood in Europe and to allay Soviet suspicions. Conversely, they should be sufficiently representative of the center and petit bourgeois elements of the population so that they would not be regarded as mere preludes to a Communist dictatorship.

In so far as the United States is concerned, the following two criteria could be applied to any proposed interim government: (1) that it should be dedicated to the preservation of civil liberties; (2) that it should favor social and economic reforms.

In order to work out with its Allies for the interim period an agreed, mutually acceptable political basis for coordinated policies, the United States Government should be prepared, when the internal condition of a liberated country so demands, to participate in inter-Allied commissions to act as observers and to insure that at the proper time the people of that country will be given a genuine opportunity to elect their future government.