740.00119 EW/3–2045: Telegram

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

652. Please convey to Molotov the following communication69 which has been approved by the Joint Chiefs and the President in [Page 736] reply to Molotov’s letter quoted in your Army cable M 23247.69a You should concert delivery with the British Ambassador who is being instructed to reply along similar lines.

  • “1. The reply of the Soviet Government to Mr. Harriman’s letter of March 16th concerning the contact at Bern is received and this Government is surprised at the tenor of this communication. There appears to be a misunderstanding on the part of the Soviet Government as to the purpose of a contact in Bern between the representatives of Field Marshal Alexander and German General Wolff. No negotiations whatever are to take place in Bern and the Bern meeting is solely for the purpose of establishing contact with a view to getting authorized representatives of the German Command to come to Field Marshal Alexander’s headquarters where the details of the surrender will be discussed. The British and American officers attending this meeting are merely Staff officers of Field Marshal Alexander representing him for the sole purpose of obtaining this subsequent meeting. They were selected by him without consultation with this Government and the American officer thus selected, General Lemnitzer, has had no instructions whatever from the U.S. Government.
  • “2. Furthermore the discussions in the subsequent meeting to be conducted at Allied Forces Headquarters at Caserta, Italy, will be limited to the purpose of effecting an unconditional military surrender of the German forces in Northern Italy and these discussions will be conducted by Field Marshal Alexander. The suggested presence of your officers at the Caserta meeting conveyed to you through Mr. Harriman was for the purpose of assuring you that no other matters than the terms of such a military surrender were being discussed between us. It is our view that courtesy and good faith between the Soviet, British and American Allied Powers, would be best promoted by such presence.
  • “3. It goes without saying that whenever occasions may arise for the discussion between our three Powers of political as distinguished from purely military matters of surrender, each of the Three Powers should be fully represented and participate in the discussions.
  • “4. Assuming this fully explains to you the character of our proposal, we will proceed with the matter along the lines already indicated and hope your officers will be present at any meeting at Caserta.”
  1. The message set forth below is identical with a draft transmitted to Assistant Secretary of State Dunn under cover of a memorandum from Maj. Gen. John E. Hull on March 17 (not printed). The memorandum read in part: “The attached represents the views of the War and Navy Departments and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the question of the Soviet reply to Mr. Harriman’s note of March 16. This has been gone over carefully by Mr. Stimson personally.

    “The view of Admiral Leahy and, I believe, the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (General Marshall being out of the city today) is that Mr. Harriman should be supported. It is realized that this must be coordinated with the British and their views if contrary to the ones expressed in this paper must, of course, be considered. Admiral Leahy feels very strongly that it must be coordinated with the British prior to final action.” (740.00119 EW/3–1745)

  2. Dated March 16, p. 731.