Editorial Note

In view of the fact that this volume is to be published prior to the annual Foreign Relations volumes for the years 1944 and 1945 it was felt desirable to present in this chapter a collection of documents designed to show in broad outline the pre-conference status of the principal subjects which came up for discussion at Malta or Yalta. In general, the pre-conference period as defined for the purposes of this volume is the period, extending back into the mid-autumn of 1944, during which the plans and policies for the forthcoming tripartite conference were being developed. For all subjects treated in this chapter, the editors have endeavored to find and include primarily those key documents which highlight the nature of each problem and show the policy position taken by the United States Government on each major issue that subsequently came up for consideration at Malta and Yalta. In view of the present limitations of time and space, a fuller coverage of these subjects will have to await the appearance of the annual Foreign Relations volumes for the years of World War II.

Although the Combined Chiefs of Staff had an agenda for the military discussions at Malta and Yalta (post, pp. 424426) there was no fixed agenda for the political discussions at either conference. For several months preceding the conferences, however, a number of subjects were considered in the diplomatic correspondence and in correspondence within the United States Government as subjects which should be taken up at the forthcoming conference or conferences of the heads of government. All subjects of this type have been included in this chapter, and particular effort has been made to include under these topics all significant documents which were prepared in anticipation of the forthcoming “Big Three” meeting. For some subjects, of course, there were no significant, high-level negotiations in the several months immediately preceding the conferences.

Also included are papers from the so-called Yalta Briefing Book which was prepared for the use of Secretary Stettinius and President Roosevelt. The subjects treated in this chapter have been arranged in an order parallel to the order in which those subjects appear in the Briefing Book, except that Briefing Book papers on subjects that were not mentioned at Malta or Yalta have been omitted. [Page 42]Briefing Book papers will be found at the end of each subject dealt with in this chapter except for the last six subjects, on which there were no studies or recommendations in the Briefing Book.

The great majority of Briefing Book papers are undated. A number of them were completed as early as November 1944, as evidenced by the following excerpt from a memorandum, dated November 10, 1944, from the Director of the Office of European Affairs (Dunn) to Under Secretary Stettinius:1

“Preparation for Big Three Meeting

1. You now have the policy papers on U. S. policy and attitudes toward Eastern Europe, the Balkan area, and the Near East, which relate to possible clashes of interests between the Soviet and British Governments. These policy papers include the general position of the U. S. with respect to protection of the persons and property of its nationals in those areas and have specific recommendations with regard to the policy and attitudes we should pursue toward the Polish situation, the Yugoslav situation, Rumania, Hungary, Albania, and the countries of the Near and Middle East. I think these memoranda should be brought to the President’s attention, probably not long before his conference with the Prime Minister and Stalin. On the trip to the conference would be the ideal time to bring them to his attention as there would then be an opportunity to discuss these situations and the positions we should adopt in order to protect American interests.”

On January 10, 1945 the Executive Secretary of the Secretary’s Staff Committee (Rothwell) sent Assistant Secretary Rockefeller a memorandum of which the first paragraph read as follows:2

“At the Secretary’s Staff Committee meeting of January 10, the Secretary asked that all memoranda for the President on topics to be discussed at the Meeting of the Big Three should be in the hands of Mr. Alger Hiss not later than Monday, January 15. These memoranda should go to Mr. Hiss through Mr. Yost.”

Secretary Stettinius presented a copy of the Briefing Book to the President on January 18, 1945, and later that day sent to Roosevelt the following top-secret memorandum:3

“Memorandum for the President

Subject: Political matters for discussion at the forthcoming meeting

For your convenience I am attaching hereto an extra copy of the memorandum that I left with you in the black binder this morning [Page 43]covering the ten points which the State Department hopes can be satisfactorily dealt with in the forthcoming discussions.

E. R. Stettinius, Jr.

“United States Political Desiderata in Regard to the Forthcoming Meeting


1. Soviet-British agreement to compromise on the voting procedure of the Security Council along the lines of the United States proposal.

2. Soviet-British agreement to the proposed establishment of an emergency European high commission composed of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and France.

3. Soviet participation in working out a common allied political program for liberated Europe on the basis of which the emergency high commission would operate.

4. Soviet-British agreement to the short term and long term political and economic treatment of Germany as outlined in the United States proposals.

5. Soviet agreement to a solution of the Polish problem which would insure the emergence of a free, independent, and democratic Poland For this purpose pending elections in Poland the establishment of an interim government which would be broadly representative of the Polish people and acceptable to all the major allies.

6. Soviet agreement to permit UNRRA to carry out its functions of distribution and supervision of relief supplies in areas liberated by the Soviet Armies.

7. Soviet agreement to a clarification of the status and responsibilities of the United States representation on the Allied Control Commissions in former enemy countries which have surrendered to the Soviet Armies.

8. Soviet agreement, in accordance with the spirit of the Declaration on Iran of December 1, 1943,4 to respect the decision of the Iranian Government to postpone negotiations with foreign powers or companies regarding oil concessions until the termination of hostilities and the withdrawal of allied troops now on Iranian soil.

9. Soviet-British agreement to the desirability and the common interest of bringing about the maximum degree of unity in China and for this purpose Soviet undertaking to use their influence with the Chinese Communists to further an agreement between the national Government and the Chinese Communists along the lines of General Hurley’s efforts.

10. A common policy between the three countries in regard to the question of the rearming of the Western European democracies in the postwar period.”

  1. Matthews Files. For other excerpts from this memorandum, see post, pp. 4748, 283284.
  2. 740.0011 EW/1–1045.
  3. Roosevelt Papers. References to the preparation and utilization of the Briefing Book papers will be found in Stettinius, pp. 2930, and Byrnes, p. 23.
  4. Post, pp. 748749.