Memorandum by the Representatives of the British Chiefs of Staff to the Combined Chiefs of Staff 55
[ Washington ,] 15 March 1945.
- The British Chiefs of Staff have now considered the views of the United States Chiefs of Staff as set out in C.C.S. 797.
- The British Chiefs of Staff agree that Field Marshal Alexander should be instructed to establish contact forthwith with the Germans at Berne for the purpose of arranging for accredited representatives of the German Commander to go to A.F.H.Q. They agree that the Russians should not be represented at Berne.
- The British Chiefs of Staff also agree that all matters concerning the surrender of the German Army in Italy should be discussed [Page 730] at A.F.H.Q. and that the Russians should be invited to attend. The Russians have, in fact, asked to “take part in proposed talks” and the only point at issue is what status the Russian representatives will have at the discussions at Field Marshal Alexander’s headquarters.
- The British Chiefs of Staff consider that Field Marshal Alexander, as Supreme Allied Commander in this Anglo-American theatre, should alone be responsible for conducting negotiations and reaching decisions. The position of the Russians will thus be virtually that of “observers.” The Foreign Office are anxious to avoid the word “observers” as they consider that this would antagonise the Soviet Government. Moreover, they point out that whatever we do now will undoubtedly set up a precedent for the treatment which we may expect at Russian hands in the event of a similar situation arising on the Eastern Front.
- For these reasons the British Chiefs of Staff feel that the reply which is sent to the Russians should clarify this question of the status of their representatives.
- To sum up the British Chiefs of Staff recommend that the Combined
Chiefs of Staff should:
- ask the State Department and the Foreign Office to despatch the revised draft message at Enclosure “A”.56 It will be seen that this revised draft embodies the points put forward by the United States Chiefs of Staff and clarifies the status of the Russian Representatives.
- in order to save time, despatch from Washington the message at Enclosure “B”57 to Field Marshal Alexander, incorporating the text of the instructions sent to Moscow and asking him to proceed at once with the contact at Berne.
- The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary concur in the foregoing.
- This memorandum was sent to the Secretary of State under cover of a letter from the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy, March 15, not printed. The letter concurred in the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the message sent in telegram 596, March 15, 1 p.m., to Moscow, infra, be dispatched by the Department.↩
- Not printed. The draft message was identical with the one sent in telegram 596, March 15, 1 p.m., to Moscow, infra.↩
- Not printed.↩