800.4016 DP/12–2745

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Eastern European Affairs (Durbrow)

Mr. Pares of the British Embassy called to discuss the most recent War Department directive to USFET relative to the repatriation of Soviet citizens under the Yalta agreement. A copy of the directive was made available to Mr. Pares informally on December 22. Mr. Pares submitted the attached paraphrase of a telegram from the Foreign Office41 containing the latter’s comments on the American directive. It will be noted that the British Government feels that it is obligated under the Yalta agreement to repatriate all Soviet citizens, using force if necessary. The British Government hopes, therefore, that the United States Government will agree with it that all Soviet citizens in our control will be sent back to the Soviet Union, using force if necessary.

I explained to Mr. Pares that this particular point was discussed at long length by the appropriate officials of the American Government, who were of the opinion that the Yalta agreement makes no provision whatsoever to use force to carry out its provisions but on the contrary definitely states that we will “facilitate” the repatriation of Soviet citizens. The United States Government, therefore, does not consider that Soviet citizens who are not traitors, deserters, renegades or quislings should be forced to return to the Soviet Union against their will. I further explained to Mr. Pares that since this particular point had been approved by all interested agencies of this Government I did not feel that it would be possible to change our position on this point. Mr. Pares expressed the hope that if the United States Government did not feel it could change its position in regard to the use of force in repatriating Soviet citizens, at least pending an arrangement for the SACMED area, we would have no objection to using force to repatriate Soviet citizens who are considered to be traitors, deserters, war criminals or renegades. I told Mr. Pares that since the directive had been sent to USFET and USFA I assumed the American military authorities in these areas were now repatriating persons in these three categories, using force if necessary. I stated that therefore I did not believe there would be any objection from the American point of view if force were used to repatriate persons in these three categories from the SACMED area. I added, however, that this of course was a decision that must be taken by the American military authorities.

In regard to the other problem referred to in the British telegram, namely, the question of permitting Soviet repatriation officers to visit [Page 1111] camps containing persons from areas incorporated in the Soviet Union after September 1, 1939, I explained to Mr. Pares that this provision had been included in the directive since this practice was already being carried out by the theater commanders on the basis of a theater directive of about two months ago. I added that the Soviet repatriation authorities had been informed that they could visit such camps and therefore it was felt that we should continue this practice.

Mr. Pares indicated that the British authorities on CCAC42 would bring up the two points mentioned in the attached telegram.

Elbridge Durbrow
  1. Not found attached.
  2. Combined Civil Affairs Committee.