740.00119 EW/10–1645

Record of a Meeting of the Secretaries of State, War, and the Navy, October 16, 1945, 10:30 a.m.

Present: The Secretary of State
The Secretary of War,82 accompanied by Colonel Charles McCarthy83
The Secretary of the Navy,84 accompanied by Major Correa85
Mr. Matthews86

. . . . . . .

American Forces in Czechoslovakia

Mr. Patterson raised the question of the presence of American troops in Czechoslovakia. He said that he understood the State Department wanted to keep approximately two divisions there for the present. The Army had scheduled these two divisions for redeployment to the United States by November 15. If they are to stay there beyond that date it must be for some time. He pointed out that failure to bring them back in view of the growing demand to get our boys home might be subject to some criticism. Mr. Byrnes said that he proposed to suggest to Marshal Stalin that Russian and American troops be withdrawn simultaneously. This he understood was in accordance with Czechoslovak wishes. The Russian troops are living off the land and are therefore becoming increasingly unpopular in Czechoslovakia. If Stalin does not agree to our proposal we would, he felt, be in no worse position and could then make our independent decision whether to withdraw or not. Mr. Byrnes said that he thought our suggestion for simultaneous withdrawal might [Page 497] make it more difficult for Stalin to refuse and there was just a chance that he might agree. He did not, however, wish to present this message to Stalin until another message on the question of future procedure for the Council of Foreign Ministers and the making of peace had been transmitted to him and Harriman had not been able to present his first message owing to Stalin’s absence from Moscow.87 He therefore asked for another week’s delay. He said that, if necessary, he would take the responsibility of asking our Staff to retain our troops in Czechoslovakia.

Mr. Patterson said that he understood that our object is to get both Soviet and U. S. forces out of Czechoslovakia and that the State Department is trying to bring about Soviet action in this sense. He would, meanwhile, agree to mark time.

. . . . . . .

  1. For another portion of the record of this meeting, see vol. ii, p. 59.
  2. Robert P. Patterson became Secretary of War on September 27, 1945.
  3. Col. Frank McCarthy, Secretary of the War Department General Staff.
  4. James V. Forrestal.
  5. Maj. Mathias F. Correa, U. S. Marine Corps, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy.
  6. H. Freeman Matthews, Director of the Office of European Affairs.
  7. For text of the message from President Truman to Marshal Stalin regarding the future procedure of the Council of Foreign Ministers, see telegram 2152, October 12 to Moscow, vol. ii, p. 562. Ambassador Harriman delivered the message to Stalin at the Black Sea coast resort of Gagri on October 24; for record of the meeting between Ambassador Harriman and Marshal Stalin, see ibid., p. 567.