740.00114 EW/2–545

The British Foreign Secretary ( Eden ) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Secretary of State: As you know, one of the matters which we agreed should be discussed with the Russians during the present Conference is the question of concluding a Reciprocal Agreement with them about the treatment of Soviet citizens liberated by the Allied Armies in western and southern Europe and British and American nationals liberated by the Soviet forces in eastern Europe. The British Chiefs of Staff approved the draft text of such an agreement yesterday and I understand that the Combined Chiefs of Staff will be taking it [up] today. If, as I hope, the text is approved by the Combined Chiefs of Staff, we shall be in a position to take the matter up with the Russians as soon as possible.

In present circumstances where the Soviet forces are overrunning the sites of British and United States prisoners of war camps very fast, and we know that a number of British prisoners of war (though not exactly how many) are in Soviet hands, and no doubt some United States prisoners of war also, it is really urgent to reach agreement with the Soviet Government on this draft Agreement during Argonaut . I intend therefore to ask M. Molotov for discussions to be opened between the experts of the three parties concerned at once, in order to reach agreement upon a satisfactory text.

There is one further point, however, which I should like to mention. It is clear, as S.H.A.E.F. have already reported, that the only V real solution to the problem of the Soviet citizens who are likely to fall into British and American hands shortly is to repatriate them as soon as possible. For this shipping is required and we have already sent 10,000 back from the United Kingdom and 7,500 from the Mediterranean.

It seems to me that it would materially help the proposed negotiations if we could inform the Russians at a suitable moment of our plans to repatriate their citizens. From the British point of view I can say that we have found shipping to send back from the United Kingdom a further 7,000 of these men during the latter part of this month and it is hoped that we can provide further ships to take some 4,000 a month from the Mediterranean during March, April and May, even though the Soviet citizens in the southern part of France and half of those liberated in Italy are primarily the responsibility of the United States. I am however without any information on the United States plans on this. General Eisenhower has recently pressed the Combined Chiefs of Staff once again to provide two ships to take 3,000 each from Marseilles until the present large numbers have been [Page 692] cleared. No doubt your experts have been examining the position in the light of General Eisenhower’s telegram, and I should be very glad if you could tell me whether you will be in a position to make any statement to the Russians about the United States plans.

Whilst it is clear that the discussions should not be delayed in order that a statement can be made on the shipping position, I would be very glad to know as soon as possible whether you can give the Russians any information on the lines I hope to give him from the British point of view, since the sooner this information can be provided the better are the chances of reaching an agreement during this Conference.

Yours sincerely,

Anthony Eden