The British Prime Minister (Churchill) to President Roosevelt 12


905. 1. I feel sure that you will be as distressed as I am by recent events in Roumania. The Russians have succeeded in establishing the rule of a Communist minority by force and misrepresentation. We have been hampered in our protests against these developments by the fact that, in order to have the freedom to save Greece,14 Eden and I at Moscow in October recognised that Russia should have a largely preponderant voice in Roumania and Bulgaria while we took the lead in Greece.15 Stalin adhered very strictly to this understanding during the 30 days fighting against the Communists and ELAS16 in the city of Athens, in spite of the fact that all this was most disagreeable to him and those around him.

Peace has now been restored in Greece and, though many difficulties lie before us, I hope that we shall be able to bring about in the next [Page 506] few months free, unfettered elections, preferably under British, American and Russian supervision, and that thereafter a constitution and government will be erected on the indisputable will of the Greek people, which remains our supreme ultimate objective in all cases, and with which I know you are in sympathy.

2. Stalin is now pursuing the opposite course in the two Black Sea Balkan countries, and one which is absolutely contrary to all democratic ideas. Since the October Anglo-Russian conversations in Moscow Stalin has subscribed on paper to the principles of Yalta which are certainly being trampled down in Roumania. Nevertheless I am most anxious not to press this view to such an extent that Stalin will say “I did not interfere with your action in Greece, why do you not give me the same latitude in Roumania?”

This again would lead to comparisons between the aims of his action and those of ours. On this neither side would convince the other. Having regard to my personal relations with Stalin, I am sure it would be a mistake for me at this stage to embark on the argument.

3. Again I am very conscious of the fact that we have on our hands the much more important issue of Poland, and I do not therefore want to do anything as regards Roumania which might prejudice our prospects of reaching a Polish settlement. Nevertheless, I feel that he should be informed of our distress at the developments which led to the setting up by force of a government in Roumania of a Communist minority, since this conflicts with the conclusions of the declaration on liberated Europe upon which we were agreed at the Crimea conference.

More especially I am afraid that the advent of this Communist Government may lead to an indiscriminate purge of Anti-Communist Roumanians, who will be accused of Fascism much on the lines of what has been happening in Bulgaria. This is as good as foretold in the Moscow broadcast of yesterday, the text of which I have telegraphed to our Embassy.

I would suggest, therefore, that Stalin should be asked to see to it that the new government does not immediately start a purge of all political elements which are in opposition to their views on the ground that they have been encouraged to do so by the Yalta declaration.

We will, of course, give you every support, and if you will show me the text of any message you feel inclined to send Stalin, I will also send one to him supporting it. There is, of course, complete agreement between our representatives on the spot and yours. …

  1. Copy of telegram obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y.
  2. For the remainder of this message, see p. 147.
  3. For documentation regarding the policy of the United States with respect to the question of the political organization of Greece following liberation from German occupation, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. v, pp. 84 ff.
  4. In regard to the proposal to share wartime influence between the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom on the basis of proposed percentages in the Balkan countries, see ibid., pp. 113131, passim. See also The Memoirs of Cordell Hull (New York, 1948), vol. ii, pp. 14511459, and Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War: Triumph and Tradegy (Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1953), pp. 72–81, 226–235. The substance of the arrangements was given in Churchill’s speech of January 18, 1945, Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 408, cols. 398–399. For reports on discussions of Balkan affairs during Churchill’s visit to Moscow in October 1944, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, pp. 10061019, passim.
  5. Ethnikos Laikos Apeleftherotikos Stratos (National Popular Liberation Army).