CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 2063

Memorandum of Conversation, by Charles E. Bohlen, Assistant to the Secretary of State 60

top secret
Participants: Secretary Byrnes
Mr. Benjamin V. Cohen
Mr. Charles E. Bohlen
Mr. Molotov
Mr. Vyshinsky
Mr. Pavlov

The following is a summary of the conversation by subjects which took place before and after the dinner given by the Secretary for Mr. Molotov:

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

German Treaty

The Secretary recalled that as far back as September he had suggested to Mr. Molotov that the United States, contrary to its tradition, would be prepared to conclude a twenty-five year treaty with the four principal powers represented at the Council in order to safeguard against a resurgence of German militarism; that he had discussed this question with Generalissimo Stalin in December, who had expressed himself strongly in favor of such a treaty; on February 6 a draft of such a treaty had been communicated to the Soviet Government, to which we had not even received an acknowledgment. The Secretary added that he had hoped that this United States initiative would meet with a more favorable response from the Soviet Government since he thought that it might serve as a reinsurance against any Soviet fears of a renewed attack by Germany and thus remove any element of doubt of the United States bearing its full share in safeguarding the peace. He said that, frankly, there were many people in the United States who were unable to understand the exact aim of the Soviet Union—whether it was a search for security or expansionism. Such a [Page 147] treaty as had been proposed and also the similar treaty suggested for Japan he had felt would effectively take care of the question of security. He said he wished to know what were the objections that Mr. Molotov had referred to in his reply to the Secretary’s message just before they left Washington.61

Mr. Molotov said that their objection was that the proposed treaty appeared to postpone the question of German disarmament until after the occupation was over whereas there already was in existence a joint agreement that Germany should be immediately disarmed. He said he thought what should be done now was to appoint a commission to verify how the agreement already reached on German disarmament was being carried out. Once this process was completed, the question of future controls could be embodied in a separate treaty. He stated definitely, however, that the Soviet Union was in favor of a twenty-five year demilitarization treaty both for Germany and Japan, but emphasized that the most important matter was to carry out the previous agreement for immediate disarmament of Germany.

There followed a long discussion, in which the Secretary and Mr. Cohen pointed out that our draft treaty did not postpone the disarmament of Germany, but, on the contrary, assumed that this would be completed in the immediate future and merely prolonged this demilitarization for twenty-five years. It was emphasized that such a continuance of controls would serve as a stabilizing influence on the European situation and should remove any fears of the recrudescence of German militarism.

Although Mr. Vyshinsky did tell Mr. Bohlen that provided the actual demilitarization of Germany, as already agreed, was pressed with vigor and the progress verified, the Soviet Government would be prepared to conclude these treaties immediately, Mr. Molotov continued to place the emphasis upon the immediate demilitarization of Germany and did not commit himself as to the desirability of concluding the twenty-five year treaties as soon as possible. He professed to fear that these treaties might supersede or even impede the actual immediate reduction of German war potential. He did, however, state again that the USSR was in principle in favor of twenty-five year treaties for demilitarization of Germany and Japan.


In reply to the Secretary’s question, Mr. Molotov restated the Soviet objection to the consideration of a treaty or arrangement with Austria at this session. He emphasized particularly that the Soviet delegation was not prepared to discuss this point, and that they felt that five peace [Page 148] treaties were more than enough for this session. Mr. Vyshinsky stated, however, that the process of denazification in Austria had not proceeded far enough to consider final settlement with that country. He said the present Austrian Government had not shown itself capable of cleaning out all the remnants of Naziism in Austria.

The Secretary pointed out the anomaly of leaving Austria in a worse situation than the satellite countries, particularly in view of the Moscow Declaration. Mr. Molotov indicated that in their view it might be necessary to leave troops in Austria for another year, that is, two years in all from the end of the war.

  1. The portions of the memorandum omitted here, dealing with Bulgaria and Iran, are printed in vol. vi, p. 100 and vol. vii, p. 441.
  2. Reference is to Molotov’s message of April 20 to Secretary Byrnes, p. 83.