840.50/4–145: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Harriman )

768. 1. After full discussion, it is Department’s present view that tripartite conversations in Moscow along the lines suggested in Eden’s memorandum delivered to Secretary at Yalta46 would not serve a useful purpose now. This memorandum suggested discussions between [Page 1083] the US, UK and USSR on the maintenance and stimulation of food and other essential production in liberated and enemy territories, particularly Eastern Germany, Hungary and Rumania, and discussions about coordinating imports into deficiency areas both from overseas and from surplus areas. The factors which prompt Department’s views are as follows:

2. The maintenance and stimulation of production in the Southeastern European ex-enemy countries could not be discussed as a supply problem only since there would be involved the policies of the control commissions and the execution of armistice terms. The same subject as applied to Eastern Germany would fall within the scope of the European Advisory Commission and also would be related to the scheduled reparations discussions in Moscow. The European Economic Committee, whose creation is now being discussed in London, would have within its proposed scope some aspects of this problem as well as the coordination of distribution of surpluses. Concurrent talks in Moscow would seem to be a partial duplication, at least. Likewise, the movement of supplies from Eastern Germany would directly involve reparations problems.

3. Qualified observers doubt whether there will be surpluses available for distribution to deficiency areas outside the Soviet zone of operations from areas liberated by Soviet Army due not only to that Army’s practice of living off the land, but also to shipments now being made from those areas into the Soviet Union and the probability that forthcoming production of essential commodities in those areas will be greatly reduced.

4. In addition to the reasons given above, it is considered very doubtful that factual discussions on supply availability could now be held in Moscow. Such discussions would probably be used as an occasion for raising political and other collateral issues which should be handled in another manner. It is believed that the creation of a new three party discussion group would produce added complications out of all proportion to the results that could be anticipated.

5. Accordingly, Department proposes to send memorandum to London for delivery to British Government expressing the view that it would not be desirable to follow up the proposals of the Eden memorandum at this time but rather to leave them in abeyance until the completion of the discussions on the European Economic Committee unless during the course of the reparations discussions it appears advisable for the subject to be brought up there. Please transmit urgently any comments which you would care to make.

6. Seriousness of supply situation, particularly of food, and increasing requirements necessitate however a critical review of exports [Page 1084] from US, including protocol shipments,47 It is probable that the shortness of supply will limit future commitments and may affect performance on outstanding programs. Reference War Department’s cable, March 29, to you from Protocol Committee discussions are proceeding here as to action to be taken in the circumstances with respect to protocol negotiations which will soon take place and also as to what steps, if any, can be taken to minimize requirements stated against US supply. You will be kept informed.

Repeated to London as no. 2517.

  1. Memorandum of February 11, p. 1067.
  2. For text of the Fourth Protocol, covering the period from July 1, 1944, to June 30, 1945, signed on April 17, 1945, by the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Soviet Union, see Department of State, Soviet Supply Protocols, p. 89. There were three former agreements of this kind signed in October 1941, October 1942, and October 1943. The Protocol covered the provision of supplies to the Soviet Union in furtherance of the war against the common enemy. For further documentation on wartime and postwar assistance to the Soviet Union by the United States, see vol. v, pp. 937 ff.