Roosevelt Papers: Telegram
The Commanding General, United States Military Mission in the Soviet Union (Deane), to the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1
NCR 4463. (To AGWAR for the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their eyes only Top Secret. From Deane.)
Tonight2 attended a meeting between the Prime Minister and Marshal Stalin at which were present Field Marshal Brooke, Ismay, Burrows and Jacob on the British side, Molotov, General Antonov and the Chief of Staff of the Soviet Far East Forces on the Soviet side and the Ambassador and I on the American side.
The meeting opened with Field Marshal Brooke presenting a résumé of the European situation and the situation in Italy. It was a very fair presentation and presented a good picture of British and American collaboration.
With regard to the situation in France Marshal Stalin suggested the possibility of an invasion through Switzerland in order to outflank the Siegfried Line. In connection with the Italian campaign Marshal Stalin said that Soviet forces did not intend to advance westward through Yugoslavia and indicated he thought we might join up eventually in the vicinity of Vienna.
The Prime Minister then gave a complete résumé of British participation in the war indicating that they had the equivalent of 90 divisions involved including of course all the home forces and separate and foreign garrisons.
Field Marshal Brooke then explained the Burma campaign tieing it in closely with our operations over the hump and the ground and air operations in China. Again he made a very fair presentation.
I was then called upon to discuss the Pacific campaign. My summary was along the following lines. First a brief description of the period of Japanese aggression, the strategy which has been consistently approved by the Combined Chiefs of Staff, the turn of the tide at Coral Sea and Midway and the operations in the Aleutians, and a description of the southern approach through the Solomons and New Guinea and the central Pacific approach thus bringing the situation up to date.
I then gave them the information about proposed operations which you sent to me in your last telegram.3 In this connection I emphasized that with regard to the “invasion of Japan phase” our Chiefs of Staff thought it was important that the plan to be selected and applied [Page 367]should be concerted with plans for operations against Japan from the north.
I then gave them the strategic objectives which you authorized me to suggest to them as coming from you.4 This of course included the part they might play in securing the lines of communications across the north Pacific. I told them that the United States was prepared to assist the Soviet Union to the extent consistent with our commitments in the war against Germany by supplying munitions and particularly B-24 aircraft for building up of a Soviet air force. I stated that from the military point of view our Chiefs of Staff were hopeful that the Soviet Union would enter the war against Japan as soon as possible after the defeat of Germany. However that in the meantime you considered it to be of urgent importance that combined planning be started at once and that whatever preparatory measures were practicable should be started now suggesting what some of the preparatory measures might be.
I concluded by stating that the Chiefs of Staff were most concerned in the answers to the following questions:
- How soon after the defeat of Germany may we expect Japanese-Russian hostilities to begin?
- How long will it take to build up Soviet forces to take the offensive?
- What part of the Trans-Siberian Railroad can be devoted to the building up of a Soviet-American air force?
- Is the Soviet Union prepared to agree to the building up of Soviet stragetic air force and undertake a training program? I stated again that we were prepared to allocate the four engined bombers at once.
Marshal Stalin apparently agreed with the strategy adopted and indicated once a blockade is effective Japanese southern conquests will fall of their own weight. He said they were in a serious plight with all their lines of communications exposed.
It was agreed that Marshal Stalin and the Soviet General Staff will state the Soviet position on the Far East at a meeting tomorrow night.
Following my talk General Antonov gave a résumé of the present situation on the Soviet front. In brief he said that operations were going to continue in the Baltic States where 30 divisions were cut off from any escape except by sea. These divisions are to be entirely liquidated. They are going to continue these operations and also occupy Hungary before they start an offensive for the invasion of Germany from the eastern front. He said the situation in Hungary opens a new possibility of attacking Germany from the south. He [Page 368]said the attack might be simultaneous from the east and south but the south offered possibilities because of the lack of German prepared defenses in that direction immobilizing forces on the eastern front and maintaining constant pressure and General Antonov states definitely that the Germans are unable to withdraw forces from the front. They place Axis strength at 180 German and 26 Hungarian divisions. Apparently the peace feelers by Hungary are not going well and they are not complying with the conditions that have been laid down prior to the consideration of armistice terms.
Marshal Stalin said they will either comply in two days or the Soviets will continue operations in Hungary. Apparently the direction of the main attack in Hungary is to be in the direction of Budapest and Vienna although they are going to continue the encirclement of German forces trapped in Transylvania by continuing the attack northeast from the Diebretzen [Debrecen?] area.
When pressed by the Prime Minister as to when the invasion of Germany proper would start Marshal Stalin seemed more optimistic than General Antonov but even he said he thought the Germans would not be defeated this year and that a winter campaign would be necessary.
At the conclusion of the meeting Marshal Stalin and Mr. Churchill were talking about the German divisions in Finland. Stalin indicated that were were 3 divisions in the Petsamo area which probably were withdrawing to Norway. He suggested in a general way that the British and Russians might collaborate in an operation in northern Norway. The Prime Minister said the British could not send any divisions but could assist in operation by naval action. The subject was dropped with the understanding that both principals would think it over.
Tomorrow night’s meeting on the Pacific should be productive of information we have been seeking for a long time and I shall record it fully.