740.00119 EW/3–1745: Telegram

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

790. While the reasons motivating the Soviets to take such a strong position insisting on their participation in the Bern meeting are not clear, I thought it might be of some interest to you to have our speculations from Moscow.

It is possible that (1) they are suspicious of us, (2) they have some undisclosed motives or plans in connection with Germany, or (3) it is a matter of general prestige. It is entirely possible that they do not believe us when we say the Bern negotiations are for the sole purpose of attempting to bring Kesselring’s authorized representatives to Caserta. They may think that the real negotiations will be at Bern with the Caserta meeting as a rubber stamp. This is a procedure, which we have experienced, they themselves are capable of following. On the other hand they may be fearful or have information that in addition to the armies in north Italy there may be other groups of Germans who are considering surrendering to us with a view of protecting themselves and their future whereas the Soviets may have been approached by similar groups with a view of surrendering to Russia for a similar purpose. We have been given no information on what the activities of their Freies Deutschland Committee63 may be. I cannot take seriously the implication in the last sentence of Molotov’s letter that the Soviets would refrain from having any conversations with Germans without our participation.

We have seen in their activities in Rumania, Bulgaria and Iran that they have appeared in the first instance to be frank and open with us whereas when their plans have unfolded it has been clear that they have been motivated from the beginning by objectives which [Page 734] were not disclosed to us and were contrary to our understanding. In these cases they have failed to advise us in advance of the action they contemplated taking, as in the case of declaring war on Bulgaria, did so an hour before acting.

From our previous experience and their reaction in this case it would seem that they intend to attempt to dominate all matters relating to Germany in ways not yet fully disclosed.

The question of prestige may also be involved. They have contended to their people and the world that Germany has been defeated almost entirely through the efforts of the Red Army. It may be that with the thaws their advance in the East may be bogged down for a couple of months and if there is a break in Italy leading to one in the West they wish to insure being full participants in any major surrender.

  1. For documentation on the activities of the Soviet sponsored Nationalkomitee Freies Deutschland, see pp. 1033 and 1035.