President Roosevelt to the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Soviet Union (Stalin)83
222. I have received with astonishment your message of April 3 containing an allegation that arrangements which were made between Field Marshals Alexander and Kesselring at Bern, “permitted the Anglo-American troops to advance to the East and the Anglo-Americans promised in return to ease for the Germans the peace terms.”
In my previous messages to you in regard to the attempts made in Bern to arrange a conference to discuss a surrender of the German Army in Italy, I have told you that,
- No negotiations were held in Bern;
- That the meeting had no political implications whatever;
- That in any surrender of the enemy army in Italy there could be no violation of our agreed principle of unconditional surrender;
- That Soviet officers would be welcomed at any meeting that might be arranged to discuss surrender.
For the advantage of our common war effort against Germany, which today gives excellent promise of an early success in a disintegration of the German armies, I must continue to assume that you have the same high confidence in my truthfulness and reliability that I have always had in yours.
I have also a full appreciation of the effect your gallant army has had in making possible a crossing of the Rhine by the forces under General Eisenhower84 and the effect that your forces will have hereafter on the eventual collapse of the German resistance to our combined attacks.
I have complete confidence in General Eisenhower and know that he certainly would inform me before entering into any agreement with the Germans. He is instructed to demand and will demand unconditional surrender of enemy troops that may be defeated on his front. Our advances on the Western Front are due to military action. Their speed has been attributable mainly to the terrific impact of our air power resulting in destruction of German communications, and to the fact that Eisenhower was able to cripple the bulk of the German Forces on the Western front while they were still West of the Rhine.[Page 746]
I am certain that there were no negotiations in Bern at any time, and I feel that your information to that effect must have come from German sources which have made persistent efforts to create dissension between us in order to escape in some measure for responsibility for their war crimes. If that was Wolff’s purpose in Bern your message proves that he has had some success.
With a confidence in your belief in my personal reliability and in my determination to bring about together with you an unconditional surrender of the Nazis, it is astonishing that a belief seems to have reached the Soviet Government that I have entered into an agreement with the enemy without first obtaining your full agreement.
Finally I would say this, it would be one of the great tragedies of history if at the very moment of the victory, now within our grasp, such distrust, such lack of faith should prejudice the entire undertaking after the colossal losses of life, materiel and treasure involved.
Frankly I cannot avoid a feeling of bitter resentment toward your informers, whoever they are, for such vile misrepresentations of my actions or those of my trusted subordinates.
- Copy of telegram obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y. A marginal notation indicates that this telegram was dispatched from the White House Map Room in Washington on April 4 at 8:17 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time.↩
- General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force. The Rhine river was first crossed by Allied troops on March 7.↩