The Chairman of the Council of Peopled Commissars of the Soviet Union (Stalin) to President Roosevelt 75


I gave consideration to the question you raised before me in the letter of March 25 [24], 1945, and have found that the Soviet Government could not have given a different answer after the Soviet representatives were refused participation in the discussions in Bern with the Germans regarding the possibility of capitulation of German troops and opening the front to Anglo-American troops in Northern Italy.

I am not against and, more than this, I am fully for using the opportunity of disintegration in the German armies and to hasten their capitulation in any section of the front, to encourage them in the opening of the front for the Allies.

But I agree to negotiations with the enemy on such matter only in the case when these negotiations will not make the situation of the enemy easier, if there will be excluded a possibility for the Germans to maneuvre and to use these negotiations for shifting of their troops to other sections of the front and, first of all, to the Soviet front.

Only with the purpose of creating such a guarantee was the participation of representatives of the Soviet Military Command in such negotiations with the enemy considered necessary by the Soviet Government, no matter where they would take place—in Bern or Caserta. I cannot understand why representatives of the Soviet Command were refused participation in these negotiations and in what way could they cause inconvenience to the representatives of the Allied Command.

For your information I have to tell you that the Germans have already made use of the negotiations with the Allied Command and during this period have succeeded in shifting three divisions from Northern Italy to the Soviet front.

The task of coordinated operations with a blow upon the Germans from the West, South and East, announced at the Crimea Conference76 [Page 740] is to bind the troops of the enemy to the place of their location and not to give the enemy any possibility to maneuvre and shift troops in the necessary for him direction. This task is being carried out by the Soviet Command. This is being violated by Field-Marshal Alexander.

This circumstance is irritating the Soviet Command and creates ground for distrust.

“As a military man”, you write me, “you will understand, that it is necessary to act quickly in order not to miss an opportunity. It would be the same if your general at Koenigsberg or Danzig would be approached by the enemy with a white flag”. It is regretted that an analogy does not suit this case. German troops at Koenigsberg and Danzig are surrounded. If they surrender they will do it in order to avoid annihilation but they cannot open a front to the Soviet troops as the front has moved away from them far to the West, to the Oder. An entirely different situation is that of the German troops in Northern Italy. They are not surrounded and they do not face annihilation. If the Germans in Northern Italy, in spite of this seek negotiations in order to surrender and to open the front to Allied troops, this means that they have different, more serious aims relating to the fate of Germany.

I have to tell you, that if on the Eastern front, somewhere on the Oder, similar conditions of a possibility of capitulation of the Germans and opening the front to Soviet troops would arise, I would not hesitate to inform immediately the Anglo-American Military Command and to request it to send their representatives for participation in negotiations as in such cases the Allies should have no secrets from each other.

  1. Copy of telegram obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y.
  2. Reference is to section I of the Report of the Crimea Conference, February 12, 1945, Conferences at Malta and Yalta, p. 969.