740.00119 EW/3–2345: Telegram

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

867. ReDepts 652, March 20, 1 p.m. I have tonight March 22 received a reply from Molotov to my communication to him concerning [Page 737] the meeting at Bern70 reading in paraphrase translation as follows:

Your letter of March 21 concerning the meeting between the officers of Field Marshal Alexander’s Staff with General Wolff in Bern has been received. I must state that I see no basis for your statement to the effect that the Soviet Government has incorrectly understood the reasons for the contact between Wolff and Field Marshal Alexander’s representatives in Bern since in the present case it is not a question of incorrect understanding of the objectives of this contact or of misunderstanding—it is something worse.

The German General Wolff and the persons accompanying him, according to your letter of March 12,71 arrived in Bern in order to carry on conversations with representatives of the American and British Command concerning the surrender of German troops in the north of Italy. When the Soviet Government stated that representatives of the Soviet Military Command should participate in these conversations the Soviet Government received a refusal in this respect. During the last two weeks, therefore, in Bern, behind the back of the Soviet Government which has been carrying on the main burden of the war against Germany, representatives of the American and British Command on the one part and representatives of the German Military Command on the other are carrying on negotiations. The Government of the USSR considers that this is absolutely inadmissible and insists on the fulfillment of the statement of the Soviet Government contained in my letter of March 16.72

End of Molotov’s letter.73

  1. Telegram 852, March 21, 10 p.m., from Moscow, reported that the communication supra had been delivered “early this afternoon,” and that a British note “along similar lines had been sent shortly thereafter.” (740.00119 EW/3–2145)
  2. See telegram 564, March 11, to Moscow, p. 723.
  3. See telegram M 23247, March 16, from Moscow, p. 731.
  4. In telegram 904, March 25, 10 a.m., from Moscow, Ambassador Harriman observed that this reply only confirmed views that he had already expressed in recent telegrams. “The only new light shed to explain the Soviet attitude is Molotov’s contention appearing for the first time I believe in an official communication, that the Soviets have carried the main burden of the war against Germany. It would seem that he regards this as a justification for insistence that we should accept Soviet proposals and interpretations without question.” (740.00119 EW/3–2545)