Matthews Files

Matthews Minutes 1
top secret

The President opened the meeting and said that he thought they should talk about the general aims of peace rather than about Dakar and China. There were many things to discuss. He said that one of the first questions to discuss of immediate importance was that of zones of occupation of Germany now that the situation seemed to be coming to a head. He meant not the permanent solution of Germany but just that of occupation. It was a question of the French who want a zone. Occupation also involves control machinery. He showed a map to those at the table and said that is what he and Prime Minister Churchill discussed about at Quebec. He amended this statement when it was explained to him privately that the map had its origin in the protocol on the zones of occupation and the European Advisory Commission.

Stalin : I should also like to discuss the following questions: (1) the dismemberment of Germany. There was an exchange of views at Tehran and when Churchill came to Moscow it was further discussed that [but?] there were no decisions. I understand that we are all in favor of dismemberment but I would like to know definitely do we agree, and if so, what form of dismemberment. (2) Do we admit the setting up of any government in Germany or not? Or should we confine ourselves merely to establishing their administration? If we divide Germany will each part have its own government or will each part have its own administration? (3) Unconditional surrender. We are agreed on that, but if Hitler surrenders unconditionally are we to preserve his government? One thing excludes the other. Do we still adhere to unconditional surrender? We have already had experience with that in Italy. Do we not need to work out the definite terms of unconditional surrender? (4) Reparations and the amount. All these questions are in addition to those raised by the President. (It appeared that Stalin was not familiar with the EAC approved protocol on unconditional surrender.)

President: All these other questions are permanent and grow out of the zones of occupation.

Eden : (nodding) That’s right.

Stalin : That we shall find out. If Germany is to be partitioned, then in what parts? It is well known that we twice exchanged views. First at Tehran when the President then suggested partition into five parts. The Prime Minister hesitated but said he also favored partition. I associated myself with the President but that was only an [Page 625] exchange of views. The second time I exchanged views with the Prime Minister in Moscow. He talked of partition in two parts; one of Prussia and one of Bavaria. He suggested that the Ruhr and Westphalia be put under international control. I replied that might be appropriate but would make no decision because the President was not there. Hasn’t the time come for decision? If you think so, let us make one.

Prime Minister: In principle I think we are all agreed on dismemberment, but the actual method, the tracing of lines, is much too complicated a matter to settle here in five or six days. It requires very searching examination of geography, history and economic facts and is deserving of prolonged consideration by sub-committees or committees to be set up to go into the question. The two conversations mentioned by Marshal Stalin have approached the topic in a very general way only. If asked today, “How would you divide Germany?” I would not be prepared to answer. I might make some personal suggestion but would feel free to change my views. One has in mind, first, the might of Prussia, then the [omission] of Austria. One can see that Prussia separated from other German states [would have] her power greatly reduced, and I personally myself thought establishment of another German state to the south—possibly with its capital at Vienna—would be a line of ground division between Prussia and the rest. The population would be half and half. There are other questions, in principle decided, which here present themselves for consideration: (1) We are agreed Germany should lose certain territories largely conquered by Russian arms or needed in connection with Polish settlement. (2) Also there is the question of the Rhine Valley—the Ruhr and the Saar—potent munitions areas. Should they be handed to a country like France? or made independent under Germany? or placed under some world organization for a long period of time? This obviously requires very searching study and consideration. I have no fixed ideas. (3) Finally, there is the question whether Prussia herself, having been isolated, should be subjected to internal division. I have no fixed opinion. I would like the matter explored and possibly settled in agreement with our two great allies. The French must of course be consulted. At Tehran there was some talk of an examination being made of these complex matters. We should do this quickly, mainly set up machinery for examination.

We are not ill-prepared for the immediate effect of German surrender. All details have been worked out and are well known to the three governments. There remains only formal agreement on zones of occupation and control machinery. If Germany surrenders in a few weeks or a month unconditionally we have only to march in and occupy by processes already agreed upon.

[Page 626]

Stalin : This is not clear. How can it be carried out in practice? Suppose a group declares it has thrown out Hitler? Shall we be prepared to deal with them?

Eden : We would set the terms agreed upon before this regime.

(I left the room at this point to get a copy of the surrender terms and missed the next few minutes.)

Prime Minister: In that case we must make up our mind whether the group is worth dealing with. If so, we must make them sign the agreed terms. If they are not worth dealing with we should continue the war and occupy the whole country.

Stalin : When shall we bring up the question of dismemberment to these new people if there is no provision for dismemberment (in the surrender terms)? Shall we not add a provision to the terms of surrender for dismemberment?

Prime Minister: If they sign we do not discuss with them any question about the future. There is no need to raise the question. We reserve all rights over their land, their liberty and their lives.

Stalin : This is not an additional question but it is most important.

Prime Minister: I agree. But it is not necessary to discuss it with the Germans.

Stalin : No, simply to demand from them.

Prime Minister: I do not think it possible to discuss the exact form of dismemberment. That would come at the peace conference.

President: We have not decided what the Marshal proposed. Are we going to dismember or not? He wants the matter settled in principle but not as to details. The Prime Minister says he is not yet ready to lay down the limit; that requires study. In effect, these are our terms and in addition we shall dismember. That is the only difference. Shall we all agree that Germany should be dismembered? As at Tehran, I am very much personally in favor of decentralization. Forty years ago when I was in Germany there was no word for the Reich and in Bavaria affairs were managed entirely locally. I do not know whether there should be more or less states than suggested before but shall we tell the Germans that we are going to dismember and do it our way?

Prime Minister: I see no need to inform the Germans at the time of surrender whether we will dismember them or not. It is enough to tell them, “Await our decision as to your future.” We might be able to tell while our troops are marching in what is needed.

President: If this question is discussed all over the world there will be a hundred plans for dismemberment. Therefore, I ask that we confine it to ourselves and that the three foreign secretaries bring in tomorrow a plan for dismemberment.

Prime Minister: You mean a plan for the study of the question of dismemberment, not a plan for dismemberment itself?

[Page 627]

President: Yes, for the study of dismemberment.

Prime Minister: His Majesty’s Government would be prepared now to assent [to the] principle of dismemberment and to set on foot the best body to study the method.

Stalin : I put the question so that we may be quite agreed on what we want. Events in Germany are developing rapidly toward a catastrophe for them. Their defeats shall increase because of the allied airforce attacks in the near future.

(I left the room to get a glass of water for the President and missed the following few minutes.)

Stalin : In view of such rapid events we should not be without preparation. Therefore, I put the questions and think they should be settled here. No details need be worked out now. I think the President’s compromise proposal should be accepted. Is it agreed (1) to dismember Germany and empower a commission to elaborate concrete plans? (2) To add to the surrender terms that Germany is going to be dismembered though not to say into how many states? I think it important that we should say this so that the group in power should know Germany is to be dismembered. I think the Prime Minister’s plan not to tell the Germans is a risky one; we should say this to them in advance. I think there are advantages to have this provision in the surrender terms so that any German group should know when they sign and bear the responsibilities.

Prime Minister: The terms of unconditional surrender are terms on which the fighting stops. (He reads article 12 of surrender terms.) That is what they have got to sign.

President: The first paragraph on disarmament does not mention dismemberment and does not make it clear enough. The Marshal’s idea, which is somewhat my own, is that it will make it easier if it be in the terms and tell them.

Prime Minister: But you don’t want to tell them. Eisenhower doesn’t want that. That would make the Germans fight all the harder. We should not make this public.

President: My own feeling is that the people have suffered so much that they are now beyond questions of psychological warfare.

Staltn: No, these conditions for the moment are only for us. They should not be public until the time of surrender. We can do as we have done with Italy where the surrender terms are not yet public. I want it agreed (1) to dismember and (2) to put dismemberment into the surrender terms.

Prime Minister: I find it difficult to go beyond assent to the principle of dismemberment and the setting on foot of machinery as to the best method of doing it. I agree to a most rapid examination of the question of the best means of studying a method of dismemberment.

[Page 628]

President: Would you put in Article 12 in addition the word “dismemberment”?

Prime Minister: Yes, I would agree.

Eden : or some other formula to make dismemberment possible.

Stalin : I have no objection to the proposal. It is agreed.

President: Now to take up the next question—a zone of occupation for France. (A portion missed here.)

Stalin : The French told me in Moscow that they would want a frontier on the Rhine.

Prime Minister: I can’t agree. There is a question of a condominium on the Rhine. The present question is different. It applies only to zones of occupation. We are all now agreed, are we not, on the three zones? The French want a zone and I am in favor of granting it to them. I would gladly give them part of the British zone. All we want is this: It does not affect the Soviet zone. Will our Russian allies agree that the British and Americans get together on a zone to allot to the French? The line of the Moselle seems a convenient place to let them in. They are not in a position to occupy a large zone.

Stalin : Would it not be a precedent for other states? Would it not mean that the French become a fourth power in the control machinery for Germany which, so far, is only for the three of us?

Prime Minister: Our answer is that France should come in and as its army grows take a larger part in the occupation.

Stalin : I think there might be complications in our work if we have a fourth member. I suggest another method—for the British to get the help of France or Holland or Belgium in occupation but not give them rights in the control machinery. We might ask on our side to invite other states to help occupy our zone but not to sit in on control machinery.

Prime Minister: The discussion is on the immediate question of France. They have had long experience in occupying Germany. They do it very well and they would not be lenient. We want to see their might grow to help keep Germany down. I do not know how long the United States will remain with us in occupation. (The President: “Two years.”) Therefore the French army should grow in strength and help us share the burden. If Russia wants some other power in her zone we should not object.

Stalin : I should like to know the President’s opinion.

President: I can get the people and Congress to cooperate fully for peace but not to keep an army in Europe a long time. Two years would be the limit.

Prime Minister: I hope that would be according to circumstances. At all events we shall need the French to help us.

[Page 629]

Stalin : France is our ally. We signed a pact with her. We want her to have a large army.

President: I should much rather have a small number on the control machinery. I should be just as satisfied if the French are not in on the control machinery.

Stalin : I should like to repeat that if we let the French in on control machinery it would be difficult to refuse other states. I agree that the French should be great and strong but we cannot forget that in this war France opened the gates to the enemy. This is a fact. We would not have had so many losses and destruction in this war if the French had not opened the gates to the enemy. The control and administration of Germany must be only for those powers standing firmly against her from the beginning and so far France does not belong to this group.

Prime Minister: We were all in difficulties early in this war and France went down before the new tanks and I admit they were not much help in this war. But the fact remains they are the neighbor of the Germans and the most important neighbor. British public opinion would not understand if decisions vital to France are being made with regard to Germany over France’s head. I hope, therefore, that we shall not decide for an indefinite exclusion of France for all time. I was very much against General de Gaulle’s coming here and the President’s view was very much the same. Apparently Marshal Stalin feels the same. But the fact remains that France must take her place. We will need her defence against Germany. We have suffered badly from German robot guns and should Germany again get near to the channel coast we would suffer again. After the Americans have gone home I must think seriously of the future. I propose to offer the French a zone out of present British and American zones and that technical studies be made of the French position in the control machinery.

Stalin : I am still against France taking part in the control machinery.

Prime Minister: I agree. (Several sentences not understood) That France cannot be a member of this group but cannot we let her into control machinery.

President: (On the basis of a note from Mr. Hopkins) I think we have lost sight of the French position on the European Advisory Commission. I suggest that the French have a zone of occupation but that we postpone discussion on control machinery. Others might want to come in, such as Holland or Austria.

Stalin : I agree.

President: The Netherlands are in a very serious situation. Several millions of their farmers are thrown off their land by flooding and [Page 630] we must set aside some land in Germany to take care of this. Their own land will not be suitable for cultivation for five years. The Netherlands might ask for a seat on the Control Commission.

Eden : If the French are to have a zone, how can they be excluded from the control machinery? If they are, how can their operation of their zone be controlled?

Stalin : They could be controlled by the power from which they obtained the zone.

Prime Minister and Eden : We cannot undertake to do that and the French would never submit to it.

Eden : The French pressed us hard on this question in Paris when we visited there. Didn’t they question it at Moscow?

Stalin : We talked about it but we said it could only be discussed by all the three powers.

Prime Minister: Is it agreed that the Americans and British set aside a zone for France? I propose to leave the next step as to the future status of France when it may be approved as a whole. I propose that the three foreign secretaries sketch out the kind of commission for control to be set up. (After Eden has whispered to him) He (Eden) says it has all been worked out and I withdraw my question.

Maisky : I think it is superfluous to discuss the question with the three foreign ministers.

Molotov : The European Advisory Commission has already taken decisions and has set up for only the three powers. It is agreed that France is to have a zone and that the question of their relation to the control machinery shall be left for report by the three foreign ministers.


President: The three of us are involved in this question and there is also the question of what the small powers want. First, there is the question of manpower. What does Russia want? The United States and British I believe do not want reparations in manpower.

Stalin : We have a plan for reparations in kind but we are not ready to talk about manpower.

Prime Minister: Could we hear about your plan for reparations in kind?

(Stalin instructs Maisky to explain the Russian plan.)

Maisky : Reparations in kind we think should be in two forms: (1) Withdrawals from the national wealth of Germany at the end of the war. By this is meant transfer of factories, plants, machinery, machine tools, rolling stock and investments abroad. (2) Yearly payments in kind for a period of ten years.

To restore Russian economy and for the security of Europe it is necessary to cut down German heavy industry by 80%. By heavy industry is meant iron and steel, metal working, engineering, chemicals, [Page 631] electrical engineering, etc. All military production and aviation as well as synthetic petroleum should be prohibited 100%. About 20% of German heavy industry would be left and this would be enough for the real need of German economy. Reparations in kind should be for a period of ten years and the list could be settled later on. The reparations in kind should be terminated in ten years and withdrawals of plants, factories, etc., in two years. In order to make Germany pay there must be very strict tri-partite control over Germany. The details can be settled later on but it must be established that the most important industries should be internationalized and members of the three great allies should be on the boards of directors, such representation to continue for the ten-year period. In estimating reparations we have considered the kind of losses to be covered. The figures are so astronomical that we believe that only those losses under the category of direct material losses, that is, destruction of state and private property of all sorts should be included. Even this is so large that the whole amount of reparations cannot be covered. Therefore, priorities among countries should be fixed by indices. We make two suggestions: (1) The proportion of contribution by a country to the winning of the war to its losses of material in the war. The highest should be in the first category and the others in the second category. (2) For discussion of the principles and details on reparations we suggest that a commission with its seat in Moscow should be set up. The question now comes how much would Russia want for reparations. We would want not less than ten billion dollars.

Prime Minister: I remember well the last war and the sad experience in reparations that followed. It was with great difficulty that one billion pounds was finally extracted from Germany and that was due to the fact that Germany received much larger amounts in loans from the United States. I remember we took over some old Atlantic liners which permitted Germany to build better new ones. I do not want to repeat that experience. I admit that Russian losses are much greater than those of any other country. I feel that the removal of certain plants and materials from Germany is the proper step for restitution. I am sure that we will never get out of Germany anything like 250 million pounds a year. We too have suffered. Our houses have been destroyed. We are faced with an export problem. We must export in order to buy food, one half of which we must import. We have incurred very heavy debts outside lend-lease. No victorious country will come out so burdened financially as Great Britain. If I could see any benefit in reparations I would be glad to have them but I am very doubtful. Other countries also have suffered great devastation—France, Belgium, Norway. We [Page 632] must also consider the phantom of a starving Germany and who is going to pay for that. If eighty millions are starving are we to say, “It serves you right.” and if not, who is going to pay for feeding them?

Stalin : There will be food for them anyway.

Prime Minister: I am in favor of setting up a commission to study the question.

President: We lent Germany far more than we got after the last war. That cannot happen again. We want no manpower. We do not want their machine tools or their factories. Therefore, what can we get? German stock and property in the United States? This has at present been taken over by the Alien Property Custodian. After the last war it was used as an off-set against our claims in Germany. I hope to get legislation this time to take it over as a trust fund.

We must think of the future of Germany. We have always been generous through our Red Cross but we can’t guarantee the future of Germany. We don’t want to kill the people. We want Germany to live but not to have a higher standard of living than that of the U. S. S. R. I envision a Germany that is self-sustaining but not starving. There will be no lending of money. Our objective is seeing that Germany will not starve in helping the Soviet get all it can in manpower and factories and helping the British get all they can in exports to former German markets. Therefore, the time has come to set up a reparations commission. In re-building we must get all we can but we can’t get it all. Leave Germany enough industry and work to keep her from starving.

Maisky : The experience of reparations has been bad but the reason was not because reparations were too heavy but because they were asked in monetary form and therefore the transfer question arose. There was also the question of Germany’s refusal to pay. What is ten billion dollars? It is 10% of the United States budget this year. It is six months war expenditure of Great Britain. It is one and one quarter times the United States peacetime budget and two and one quarter times the British each year. Yes, we should prevent Germany from having a higher standard than the middle European standard. Germany will be able to live on this and she is free to develop her light industries and agriculture. The doubts of the Prime Minister are unfounded. Germany will be able to live a decent life and we must not forget that she will have no burden of military expenditures.

Prime Minister: I agree on the setting up of a reparations commission but we must keep it secret.

Stalin : Yes, it should be kept secret.

Prime Minister: The commission must also consider the claims of all the victims, the assets available, and the priorities to be assigned. [Page 633] Differences arising in the commission must be referred to and settled by the three governments.

Stalin : We must take here common decisions as the guiding lines for the commission. The work must be done by the three parties to the commission. We three should have the first place on reparations claims as we bear the burden of the war. The United States should get German property in America. She doesn’t want machine tools. We must take into consideration not only present German resources but her future resources when her manpower returns and goes to work. I do not include France in the first category and certainly France shall not have reparations from us. I must say, in all truth, France cannot be compared to us. She takes part in the war with eight divisions and some navy. The Yugoslavs, and I am not mentioning them, have twelve divisions; Lublin Poland has ten divisions, which is more than de Gaulle has. I propose that the three foreign ministers meet and report.

Prime Minister: They should settle the heads of the directives— the guiding principles—and I hope that within one month the governments can receive their version. You must remember I have a cabinet and parliament. Also the point of the first index on damage sustained I think is enough. I do not think that the exertion in the war should be taken into consideration. Remember the saying of each according to his needs. The President agrees to the setting up of the reparations commission in Moscow; the Prime Minister agrees also.

The meeting adjourned at 8 p. m. after determining that the next meeting should be held at 4 tomorrow afternoon, and that the world organization should be taken up first and Poland second.

  1. For citations to pertinent documents, see the preceding Bohlen minutes of this meeting.