Bohlen Collection

Bohlen Minutes
top secret

Subjects: World Security Organization
Periodic Meetings of Foreign Ministers
Yugoslavia and Greece

The President opened the meeting by stating that he understood the Foreign Secretaries could report complete success and he wished [Page 772] to congratulate them on their work and to ask Mr. Eden to report to the Conference.

Mr. Eden then read the report of that morning’s meeting of the Foreign Secretaries:

“Report by Foreign Secretaries to Plenary Meeting of Conference on World Organization questions.

The Foreign Secretaries met on February 8th
To consider the question of membership of [in] the World Organization of two (or three) of the Republics of the Soviet Union,
To recommend what states should be invited to the proposed United Nations Conference, and
To recommend the time and place at which that Conference should be held.
It was decided to make the following recommendations to the Plenary Meeting:
The United Nations Conference on the proposed World Organization should be summoned for Wednesday, 25th April, 1945, and should be held in the United States of America,
The United Nations, as they existed on February . . . .,* 1945, i. e. those who had at that date signed the United Nations Declaration, would be the only states invited to the Conference on World Organization. It will be for the Conference to determine the list of original members of the Organization. At that stage the Delegates of the U. K. and U. S. A. will support the proposal to admit to original membership two Soviet Socialist Republics.1
The Foreign Ministers’ meeting has established a sub-committee to examine further details in connection with the proposals for a World Organization and will report shortly to the Plenary Meeting.”2

Mr. Eden concluded by saying that they were glad to accept the invitation of the United States Government to hold the meeting on April 25 in the United States. He added that he hoped that the next meeting of Foreign Ministers would, therefore, take place in London. Mr. Eden stated, in commenting on the report, that the British Delegation did not think it right for others to share the status of United Nations membership merely in order to participate in the Conference, but he understood that the United States Delegation had other views. He said a sub-committee was considering the details.

Marshal Stalin said that among the states which would be represented at the conference there were ten who had no diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. He said that it was somewhat strange for the Soviet Government to attempt to build future world [Page 773] security with states which did not desire to have diplomatic relations with it. He asked what could be done about this matter.

The President replied that he knew that most of these states would like to have relations with the Soviet Union but had just not gotten around to doing anything about it. There were a few, however, where the reasons were different and where the influence of the Catholic Church was very strong. He said that he would like to point out, however, that the Soviet Union had sat down with these states at Bretton Woods and UNRRA conferences.

Marshal Stalin replied that this was correct but that at this conference they were to consider the vital question of the establishment of world security.

The President then said that he would have to go back a bit into history. Three years ago the then Acting Secretary of State, Mr. Welles, had told these few American Republics that it was not necessary to declare war on Germany but only to break diplomatic relations.3 Therefore, there were five or six South American countries who felt that they had taken the advice of the United States Government and were, therefore, in good standing. It was a fact, he added, that these states had helped us a great deal in the war effort. He said, speaking frankly, this advice had been a mistake and that a month ago the Secretary of State had brought up with him this embarrassing question. As a result he had sent letters to the presidents of these six countries urging them to declare war against the common enemy. Ecuador had already done so and Peru’s declaration could be expected at any time, and he hoped the others before long.

Marshal Stalin then inquired about Argentina.

The President said that we are considering a conference of United Nations and Associated Nations who had helped in the war effort.

Marshal Stalin said he had no love for Argentina but he felt that there was a contradiction in logic. He inquired what was the criteria [sic] for admission of states and mentioned in this connection Turkey. He said he felt there were nations who had really waged war and had suffered, and there were others who had wavered and speculated on being on the winning side.

The President replied that it was his idea that only those Associated Nations who had declared war should be invited and he suggested that the time limit should be the first of March.

Marshal Stalin agreed with this suggestion.

The Prime Minister said he recommended the President’s suggestion that only those countries who had declared war would be [Page 774] invited. He said he sympathized with the point of view of Marshal Stalin and pointed out that many countries had played a poor part. He felt, however, there would be some advantage of having a whole new group of nations declare war on Germany for the effect on German morale.

The President remarked that in addition to the South American countries there was, of course, Iceland, the newest of the United Nations Republics.

The Prime Minister said that in the case of Egypt, she had on two occasions wished to declare war but had been advised against it by the British Government, who had felt that it would be more useful and convenient to have Egypt a non-belligerent in order to protect Cairo from systematic bombings. He said that the Egyptian army had rendered good service to the cause. They had maintained good order, guarded bridges, etc. He felt that if Egypt now desired to declare war she should have the opportunity. He said Iceland had rendered valuable service at a time when the United States had not entered the war and had permitted the entry of British and United States troops, thus violating her neutrality in a marked manner, at the same time assuring a vital lane of communications to the British Isles.

Marshal Stalin remarked that this did not apply to former enemy states who had recently declared war on Germany.

The President and The Prime Minister heartily agreed.

The Prime Minister said that he certainly did not include Eire among the possible candidates, since they still maintained German and Japanese missions. He said he would refer to a new one that would not be greeted with universal approbation, namely Turkey. Turkey, however, had made an alliance with Great Britain at a very difficult time, but after the war had been in progress she had discovered she would not be up-to-date for modern war. Her attitude had been friendly and helpful, although she had not taken the chance provided them a year ago to enter the war.

Marshal Stalin replied that if Turkey declared war before the end of February he agreed to her being invited to the conference.

The Prime Minister expressed gratification with the Marshal’s attitude.

The President then said that there remained the question of Denmark, that they had been over-run by the enemy in one night and that the King had been virtually a prisoner and that only the Danish Minister in Washington, Mr. De Kauffman had voiced the sentiments which he knew all Danes felt and had repudiated the actions of his government.

[Page 775]

Marshal Stalin observed that he thought Denmark should wait.

The President and The Prime Minister agreed and the latter added that once she was liberated she would certainly have the right to join the organization.

Marshal Stalin remarked, however, that Denmark had let the Germans in.

Marshal Stalin then said he hoped that in the recommendations of the Foreign Ministers it would be possible to name the Soviet Republics, that is, the Ukrainian and White Russian Republics. This was accepted.

Mr. Molotov then asked would it not facilitate the admission of these two Soviet Republics as members of the assembly if they signed the United Nations Declaration before the first of March.

The President reverting to the list of countries to be invited to the conference proposed that it be the United Nations, the Associated Nations and Turkey, provided the latter declared war before the first of March and signed the United Nations Declaration.

The Prime Minister remarked that it would not seem quite right to him to take in small countries who had done so little, simply by the expedient of their declaring war and to exclude the two Soviet Republics from the meeting. He said he had very much in mind the martyrdom and sufferings of the Ukraine and White Russia.

Marshal Stalin said he also thought it was illogical and stated that although the three Powers had agreed to recommend that the Ukraine and White Russia be members of the assembly, might not the fact that they had not signed the United Nations Declaration serve as an excuse for excluding them.

The President and Mr. Stettinius assured Marshal Stalin that this would not occur.

The Prime Minister remarked that he had preferred confining the conference to the United Nations but if others would be added he thought the Soviet Republics should also be added.

Marshal Stalin said “I don’t want to embarrass the President, but if he will explain his difficulties we will see what can be done.”

The President then said that it was a technical question but an important one. Up to the present they had been discussing the question of invitations to separate states, that is, new countries to be added to the list but that now it was not a question of a new country but of giving one of the Great Powers three votes instead of one in the assembly and that he felt that was a matter which would be put before the conference and that we had all three agreed to support the Soviet request.

Marshal Stalin inquired would it not be all right if the Ukraine and White Russia signed the United Nations Declaration.

[Page 776]

The President replied that he did not think this would overcome the difficulty.

Marshal Stalin then said he withdrew his proposal.4

The President expressed gratification at the Marshal’s decision.

The Prime Minister then remarked that he had had time to study yesterday’s report of the meeting of the Foreign Ministers and that he could give it his approval.

The President then turned to the question of the proposals which he had sent to the British and the Soviet Delegations this morning in regard to Poland.5 He said he had noticed they were very close to those of Mr. Molotov but would like to have his comments.

Mr. Molotov inquired whether the last point of the President’s proposal in regard to the recognition of a Government of National Unity would mean that the London Government would then disappear.

The Prime Minister replied that when we recognize the new government, we would of course withdraw our recognition of the London Government.

Marshal Stalin replied that when we recognized the new government, what would happen then to the property and resources of the London Government. Would they remain in the possession of Arcieszewski?

The Prime Minister replied that he thought that the withdrawal of recognition would take care of that and, [sic.]

The President said that in his opinion the property would go to the new government.

There was then declared a short recess.

The Prime Minister said that the British had put in a paper on Poland6 but that he did not know whether it had been studied by the other Delegations. He said that with some slight amendments, if a decision in principle was reached he was prepared to accept the President’s proposals which have been under discussion.

Mr. Molotov said he had some observations to make on the President’s proposals. He said that their proposals made yesterday7 had been based on certain realities existing in Poland. It was impossible to ignore the existence of the present Polish government and he said that the Soviet Government had felt that it would be useful to have discussions on the basis of enlarging that government with the addition of other democratic elements from within Poland and abroad. He said that the Lublin, or Warsaw, government stands at the head of the Polish people and enjoys great prestige and popularity [Page 777] in the country. The Poles would never agree to any solution which would greatly change the Provisional Government. We might have some success if we start from the basis that the present Provisional Government should be enlarged. The people who now compose the Polish Provisional Government have been closely connected with the great events of the liberation of Poland, but Messrs. Mikolajczyk, Grabski and Witos have not been directly connected with these events. Therefore, if we wish to achieve a practical result it should be done on the basis of the enlargement of the present government, but how many and who they should be is the subject we should talk about. He said his observations apply not only to the question of a new government but also to the proposed presidential committee. It was a difficult question, admittedly, but it stemmed from the Polish people, and he said he had grave doubts as to whether it would be feasible. He said we might be creating additional difficulty through a presidential committee since there already existed a national council, Kavaya Rada, which of course could be enlarged. He was sure, however, that it was better to discuss the whole question on the basis of the existing situation. It must be borne in mind that both the National Council and Provisional Government are temporary, and he had noted in all three proposals one common point of view, namely the holding of free elections in Poland, but during the temporary period pending such elections it was extremely important to insure stable rule in Poland.

Mr. Molotov said in regard to the question of frontiers he was glad to note the complete agreement on the eastern boundary, namely the Curzon Line with slight modifications, but he also noted that on the western boundary there was no unanimity. He said that they knew that the Provisional Government stood for the western frontier as outlined in the Soviet proposals. He added that they will have to ask the Poles about this, but he was in no doubt that they would categorically support this frontier.

Mr. Molotov said with reference to negotiations in Moscow between himself, Mr. Harriman and Sir Archibald Clark Kerr we are all agreed it would be desirable to have these three talk with the Poles. He said that in so far as he knew, the Provisional Government always sent three persons to speak for the Government—Bierut, Osobka-Morawski, and General Rola-Zymierski. As for the Poles from the other side, it seems to him that the President’s proposals yesterday8 seemed more acceptable. He said he did not exclude the possibility that some Poles from abroad could be involved, but he is not a bit sure about Mikolajczyk, especially after the autumn talks in Moscow. Yesterday the President had proposed five names. He thought it [Page 778] would be a good idea to invite the three members of the Provisional Government mentioned above and two from the President’s list of other Poles submitted yesterday.

The President inquired whether Mr. Molotov meant that the presidential committee or an interim government should be avoided.

Mr. Molotov replied that he thought it would be better to avoid the presidential committee and to enlarge the National Council and the Provisional Government.9 He and Mr. Harriman and Sir Archibald could discuss the question of how to enlarge the Council and Government with three representatives from the Polish Provisional Government and two persons from the President’s list of other Poles. The results of these discussions could then be submitted to the three Governments. He concluded that he had only discussed the American proposals and had not touched on the Prime Minister’s ideas.

The Prime Minister said that we were now at the crucial point of this great conference. He said we would be found wanting by the world should we separate recognizing different Polish governments. This would be accepted by the world as evidence of a breach between Great Britain and the United States on one hand and the Soviet Union on the other hand, with lamentable consequences in the future. It was stamping this conference with a seal of failure, and nothing else we did here would overcome it. He admitted, on the other hand, that we take different views of the same basic facts. According to the information of the British Government, the Lublin, or Warsaw, government does not commend itself to the overwhelming masses of the Polish people, and it is certainly not accepted abroad as representative of the people. If the British Government brushed aside the London government and went over to the Lublin government there would be an angry outcry in Great Britain. There was, in addition, the problem of the Poles outside Poland. He reminded the conference that on the Western and Italian fronts there was a Polish army of about 150,000 men who had fought steadily and very bravely for our cause. He did not believe that this army would be reconciled to the transfer of the British Government’s support from the government with which it had dealt since the beginning of the war. It would be regarded as an act of betrayal of Poland. As Marshal Stalin and Mr. Molotov knew, he had no special feeling for the Polish government in London, which in his opinion had been foolish at every stage, but a formal act of transfer of recognition would cause the very greatest consequences. He pointed out that the group forming the new provisional government was only about one year old.

[Page 779]

The Prime Minister made it clear that, speaking only for Great Britain, it would be said that the British Government had given away completely on the frontiers, had accepted the Soviet view and had championed it. To break altogether with the lawful government of Poland which had been recognized during all these five years of war would be an act subject to the most severe criticism in England. It would be said that we did not know what was going on in Poland— that we could not even get anyone in there to find out what was going on and that we had accepted in toto the view of the Lublin government. Great Britain would be charged with forsaking the cause of Poland and he was bound to say that the debates in Parliament would be most painful and he might add most dangerous to Allied unity. He added that all the above was on the supposition that they might find it possible to agree to Mr. Molotov’s proposal. He said if they were to give up the London government it must be evident that a new start had been made on both sides from equal terms. Before such transfer of recognition His Majesty’s Government would have to be convinced that a new government, representative of the Polish people, had been created, pledged to an election on the basis of universal sufferage by secret ballot with the participation of all democratic parties and the right to put up their candidates. When such elections were held in Poland, he said Great Britain would salute the government which emerges without regard for the Polish government in London. He concluded with the statement that it is the interval before such elections that is difficult and alarming.

Mr. Molotov suggested that perhaps the talks in Moscow might give some result, but it was very difficult to discuss the Polish question without participation with the Poles.

The Prime Minister remarked it was frightfully important that agreement should be reached on the question and that we should part over a signed agreement.

The President said we were all agreed on the necessity of free elections and that the only problem was how Poland was to be governed in the interval.

Marshal Stalin said that he had heard complaints from the Prime Minister that he had no information in regard to the situation in Poland. Mr. Churchill could get this information and he did not see why Great Britain and the United States could not send their own people into Poland. He said in regard to the popularity of the Provisional Government he could assure the conference that the people running the government were popular. The three leaders, Bierut, Osobka-Morawski and Rola-Zymierski had not fled from Poland but had stayed on in Warsaw and had come from the underground. It is necessary to bear in mind the psychology of people [Page 780] under occupation—their sympathies are with those who stayed and not with those who left the country. Marshal Stalin said that he did not claim that the men in the Provisional Government were geniuses—indeed, it is possible that there are cleverer people in the Polish government in London—he did not know. Perhaps the feeling of the Polish people in this respect was somewhat primitive, but it exists. What puzzles the Polish people is that a great event—the liberation of their country by the Red Army has occurred. This changes the mentality of the people. For many years the Poles had hated the Russians and with reason, since three times the Czarist government had participated in the partitioning of Poland. With the advance of the Soviet troops the liberation of Poland had changed the attitude of the Polish people toward Russia and old resentments had disappeared and good will had taken their place. He said it was his impression that the driving out of the Germans by the Red Army had been received by the Poles in the light of a great national holiday. The people had been surprised that the Polish government in London had not had any part in this great holiday. They inquire, “We of the National Council and Provisional Government participated in this holiday, but where are the London Poles?” These two circumstances lay at the base of the great popularity of the members of the Provisional Government, although they may not be great men. He said he did not think we could ignore these facts nor fail to take into account the feelings of the people. Mr. Churchill worries that we will leave here without an agreement. What therefore can we do? We have different information—the best method, therefore, would be to summon the Poles from the different camps and to learn from them. It would, of course, be better if free elections could be held right off, but up to now the war has prevented this, but the day is drawing near, however, when such elections could take place and the people could express their view in regard to the Provisional Government. He said he saw little difference between the position of de Gaulle and that of the Polish Provisional Government. Neither had been elected, and he could not say which one enjoyed the greatest degree of popularity—yet we all had dealt with de Gaulle and the Soviet Government concluded a treaty with him. Why should we be so different with regard to the Polish government, and why could we not deal with an enlarged Polish government. He added that de Gaulle had done nothing to arouse popular enthusiasm, whereas the Polish government had carried out a number of land reforms that had been most popular. The situation is not so tragic as Mr. Churchill pictured it. He felt the situation could be settled if we concentrated on the essential points. He said it would be better to deal with the reconstruction of the Provisional Government rather than to attempt [Page 781] to set up a new one. He said he felt Mr. Molotov was right, and rather than a presidential committee we might agree on increasing the Provisional Government.

The President asked how long it would be, in the Marshal’s opinion, before elections could be held in Poland.

Marshal Stalin replied it might be possible in a month provided no catastrophes occurred on the front and the Germans began to beat them.

The Prime Minister said of course they would welcome free elections but would not ask for anything that would hamper military operations.

The President proposed that the matter be referred to the Foreign Ministers for study, and this was agreed to.

The Prime Minister said there was one small matter he wished to bring up before adjournment, and that was the periodic meeting of Foreign Ministers every three months.

The President said he was in favor of this idea, but he knew that Mr. Stettinius was very busy with some of the Latin American countries and he felt it would be best to say they would meet when necessary and not fix any definite period for the meetings.

The Prime Minister said he hoped that the first of these meetings could be in London, to which the President and Marshal Stalin agreed.

Marshal Stalin then said he had one small matter which he would like to bring up. He would like to know what is holding back the formation of a unified government in Yugoslavia. He would also like to know what was going on in Greece. He said he had no intention of criticizing British policy there but he would merely like to know what was going on.

The Prime Minister said that Greece would take a great deal of time to explain and he would reserve it for the next meeting. He said in regard to Yugoslavia that the King had been persuaded, or even forced, to agree to a regency. Subasic was leaving soon, if he had not left already, for Yugoslavia to appoint the regents and form the government. The Prime Minister said that Mr. Eden tells him that there are two slight amendments, which he will take up with Mr. Molotov, to the agreement reached between Subasic and Tito. He added that he had always made it plain, both privately and publicly, that if the King would not agree to a regency he would be bypassed. He felt that in regard to the two amendments, if Marshal Stalin had said two words to Tito the matter would be settled.

Marshal Stalin replied that Tito is a proud man and he now was a popular head of a regime and might resent advice.

[Page 782]

The Prime Minister replied that he felt that Marshal Stalin could risk this.

Marshal Stalin answered that he was not afraid.

The Prime Minister said that in regard to Greece he was hopeful peace would come on the basis of amnesties except for those who committed crimes against the laws of war. He doubted that a government of all the parties could be established since they hated each other so much.

Marshal Stalin said that the Greeks had not yet become used to discussion and therefore they were cutting each others’ throats.

The Prime Minister concluded he would be glad to give information on Greece. He said that recently Sir Walter Citrine and five members of the trades unions had gone to Greece and they might have their report. He said that they had had rather a rough time in Greece and they were very much obliged to Marshal Stalin for not having taken too great an interest in Greek affairs.

Marshal Stalin repeated that he had no intention of criticizing British actions there or interfering in Greece, but merely would like to know what was going on.

The conference adjourned until four p. m. tomorrow.

  1. N. B. The blank represents the date of the end of the Conference. [Footnote in the original.]
  2. For a subsequent memorandum on the negotiation of this decision, see post, pp. 991992. See also post, pp. 791792.
  3. Copies of the text as read by Eden were found in the UNA Files and in the Hiss Collection.
  4. The Hopkins note, post, p. 791, was apparently passed to the President at about this point.
  5. Cf. Post, pp. 990992.
  6. Post, pp. 792793.
  7. Post, pp. 869870.
  8. Ante, p. 716.
  9. Ante, pp. 727728.
  10. For a facsimile of a note opposing merely enlarging the Lublin Government, which Stettinius passed to Roosevelt at this point, see Stettinius, p. 215.