C.F.M. Files: Lot M–88: Box 2063: US Delegation Minutes

United States Delegation Record, Council of Foreign Ministers, Second Session, Fourth Meeting, Paris, April 29, 1946, 4 p.m. 65


Mr. Byrnes proposed that the record of the previous meeting be considered.

M. Molotov requested that consideration of it be deferred until the next meeting.

Commission of Inquiry on Franco-Italian Frontier

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that in the draft terms of reference for the Commission of Inquiry which is to visit the Tenda-Briga area it is stated in paragraph 4 that the Commission will not invite a representative of the Italian Government to express views on the question, but that if such views are presented the Commission will take note of them. He suggested that this sentence be amended to read that the Commission will not take the initiative in inviting Italian representatives to express their views.

This amendment was agreed and the instructions were approved.66

Agenda of the Conference

M. Bidault posed the question of the agenda of the Conference. He said that it was important that the present uncertainty on this point be cleared up, as the Council was working without any agenda at all. At the first meeting the French Delegation had not insisted on the immediate adoption of an agenda but had shown its willingness to wait for a short period, as it had been understood that a decision would be made shortly. He pointed out that the time had come now to decide upon the agenda and put an end to the situation in which items were being discussed in a more or less haphazard way. He reminded his colleagues that at the session of the Council in September 1945 the German question had been placed on the agenda, and that the French Government had made its views known. It had then been suggested that the subject be pursued through diplomatic channels, to which the French Government had agreed. It was now time to put the item on the agenda of the present Conference since it had been left for seven months without being settled. [Page 154] France considered the German question to be the paramount problem in Europe today and insisted that it be placed on the agenda.

Mr. Byrnes said he thought the situation was quite clear to all the Delegations. At the first meeting the matter of adding items to the agenda other than the five peace treaties had been proposed. The German question had been brought up by the French Delegation, and the Austrian question had been proposed for discussion by the U.S. Delegation. At the end of the meeting it had been decided to go ahead with the discussion of the peace treaty for Italy, leaving until somewhat later the question of placing on the agenda the other two problems.

M. Bidault recalled that no agenda had been established. He said he knew that the Conference had before it the questions involved in the five peace treaties with Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Finland, and that those would be discussed; but this had been merely suggested as a method of starting on the work of the Conference. The French Delegation had made it clear that there could be no agenda which did not include the German question.

Mr. Byrnes said that the Potsdam Agreement had established the agenda for the work of the Council. It had specifically provided the order in which the peace treaties should be considered. Under that Agreement the Council was certainly justified in considering those questions in the order established by the Heads of Governments. Besides, the Council had adopted draft rules of procedure at its first meeting. It had been agreed that the Deputies would prepare the agenda for the Council. Pursuant to that agreement the Deputies had presented an agenda for the second and third meetings and for the present meeting.

Mr. Byrnes said that, as Chairman, he was willing to follow any course determined by the Council. He asked whether it was intended to submit some new proposal for changing the procedure under which they had been operating or for changing the agenda prepared by the Deputies.

M. Bidault maintained that the Deputies had merely prepared an agenda for each day’s discussion. There was as yet no agenda for the Conference. He repeated that the Conference must have an agreed agenda. He said that the French Delegation had agreed to wait, and to go ahead with the discussion of the Italian treaty because he knew that the Conference had much work to do. He submitted that the time had now come to settle the question.

Mr. Byrnes said that so far as he, as Chairman, was concerned, he was willing to discuss, after the items on the agenda for the present meeting had been considered, the question of an agenda for the Conference.

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M. Molotov had no objection to this procedure.

M. Bidault agreed to take up first the items on the agenda for the present meeting. He hoped that the agenda for the Conference would be agreed before the end of the meeting.

Report of the Deputies

Mr. Byrnes called on M. Vyshinsky, who had been chairman of the Deputies’ meeting in the morning, to present the Deputies’ Report.

M. Vyshinsky stated that the Deputies had discussed the instructions to be given to the Commission of Inquiry on the French-Italian frontier in the Tenda-Briga area. He reported that the Deputies had agreed on the agenda for today’s meeting of the Council as well as for the following meeting. The Deputies recommended that at this meeting the Council consider the question of the disposition of Italian colonies and that of the Dodecanese. The Deputies had agreed to recommend that the Council take up at its meeting on April 30 the subject of the Italian-Yugoslav frontier since by that time the Report of the Commission would have been received. For following meetings the Deputies suggested that the subjects of the Port of Trieste, the Austro-Italian frontier, and the Allied Inspectorate be considered.

The Report of the Deputies was approved.

Disposition of the Italian Colonies

Mr. Byrnes said that according to the information available to him the Deputies had been unable to arrive at an agreement on the question of the disposition of the Italian colonies in Africa. He referred to the proposal which he had made in September to the effect that the colonies should be placed under a United Nations trusteeship.67 The terms of that proposal were well known to the other members of the Council. He said that the U.S. Delegation was again submitting the same proposal. He was aware that there were divergent proposals for the disposition of the colonies and believed that the best solution would be to establish a trusteeship under the United Nations looking to independence for two of the colonies within ten years and at a later date for the third. He did not consider it necessary to revert to the arguments previously made in support of this proposal. He stated that objection had been voiced to the naming of any one Power as trustee for any of the colonies. The American plan was to give to the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations the power to name the [Page 156] Administrator for each colony. Each of the Governments represented on that Council, including all those represented here, would of course take part in the selection of each Administrator. The Governments which signed and subscribed to the Atlantic Charter had said that they did not seek additional territories for themselves. The present American proposal for trusteeship over the Italian colonies was an attempt to meet this obligation by granting the trusteeship to the United Nations Organization itself.

M. Bidault said that he had already at the September meeting given the French point of view on this subject. The French Government felt that the ultimate authority should of course rest with the United Nations but that the colonies should be placed under the administration of Italy as trustee. There should, however, be certain territorial rectifications since Italy had declared war and waged war against the United Nations. The French Government had taken this position with full knowledge of the views of the other interested Powers. It felt that, regardless of the merits of that solution, it represented the one chance of reaching an agreement. It was, of course, possible that the present discussion might alter that situation, but from information available to the French Government at the moment there seemed to be no other solution which would provide the possibility of agreement. The French plan was to place those colonies which had been Italian before the days of Fascism under a United Nations trusteeship with Italy having responsibility for their administration. M. Bidault said that he would be happy if some other solution satisfactory to all could be found but he had grave doubts that that would be possible.

M. Molotov thought that the French Delegation’s proposal contained a point worthy of attention, namely the idea that it was advisable not to keep Italy out of arrangements which were to be made for trusteeship over the colonies. He also considered the U.S. proposal worthy of attention but believed that it called for more concrete definition with a view to facilitating the application in practice of the principle of collective trusteeship. In the light of these two remarks the Soviet Delegation desired to put forward the following concrete proposal:

“With a view to creating favorable conditions for the free national development and establishing the State independence of the former Italian colonies in the shortest possible time, each of them shall be placed for a period of not more than ten years under the collective trusteeship of two countries, one of which shall be an Allied Power and the other Italy. Thus, the U.S.S.R. and Italy will be the trustees in the case of Tripolitania, the United States of America (or the United Kingdom) and Italy in the case of Cyrenaica, etc. [Page 157] The administrator accountable to the Trusteeship Council shall be appointed by the Government of the Allied Power and his deputy by the Italian Government. In setting up a collective trusteeship of two countries provision shall be made for the establishment of an Advisory Council of five members to assist the Administrator and his Deputy consisting of three representatives of those Allied Powers (U.S.S.R., U.S.A., U.K. and France), which do not appoint the Administrator for the trusteeship territory in question, and two representatives of the local population. Thus, in the case of Tripolitania, the Advisory Council shall consist of representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, France and two representatives of the local population.” (C.F.M. (46) 19)

Mr. Bevin said that the Governments of the United Kingdom and of the Dominions had given very serious consideration to this problem. They had instructed him to remind the Council that the bulk of the fighting in this territory during the war had been done by British and Dominion troops. These colonies had been conquered largely by them, and this had represented a significant contribution to the Allied victory. The Dominions and the United Kingdom were vitally concerned with the disposition of these territories; speaking quite frankly, they had a strong interest in communications in this general area. In the view of those Governments the best thing to do in the case of Libya (both Tripolitania and Cyrenaica) would be to provide for its immediate independence. The British Commonwealth did not intend to attempt to settle this question in the way that that of the Kurile Islands was settled, although these territories were just as vital to the British Commonwealth. They took the view that, in order to avoid difficulty among the Great Powers, the best thing to do was to provide for the immediate independence of Libya. This was an Ottoman province in a position somewhat similar to those of the other Arab states after the first World War and some of those other states are now independent. The U.K. and Dominion Governments believed that they must oppose any plan to hand these territories back to Italy. Italy had been at war with them and had brought the Germans into North Africa; this had almost resulted in the loss of Egypt and a junction between the Germans and the Japanese. At a critical moment the Senussi and the other Arab and Moslem inhabitants of this area had come to the assistance of the British Commonwealth. A large part of this fighting had been carried on when the British Commonwealth was alone in the field, in 1940–1941, when some of the other Powers represented at this table were not in the war. The British Government had made definite and distinct pledges to these people. The British Government had promised not to be a party to returning [Page 158] the Senussi to Italian rule, and they could not depart from that pledge. On the basis of that pledge, these people had rallied to the Allied side and many of them had lost their lives.

Mr. Bevin asked whether these people had no right to be consulted, whether these territories could be disposed of, to Italy or to other Powers, without consulting them. He had before him a recent pressing appeal from them. They were begging the British Government to live up to its pledges and were asking to be consulted. Mr. Bevin was not in a position to be a party to giving away these territories. He urged that the Council take a broad view. He did not mind what machinery, financial or otherwise, was devised to assist the inhabitants of Libya in attaining independence in the next few years. He reminded his colleagues that the Trusteeship Council had not yet been established.68 He felt there were two things in particular which could be done immediately: (1) the Council could take a decision to write into the treaty that Italy renounces these colonies; (2) the Council could take steps to promote without delay the independence of Libya as a whole, including both Tripolitania and Cyrenaica.

Mr. Bevin then referred to Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, which had not been mentioned at the present meeting. He did not think that they were in the same position as Libya. He mentioned the Ethiopian claim to Eritrea and thought that it must be heard. He did not give any definite opinion on the claim and was willing that a commission should examine the problem. The British Government looked on the question of the disposition of Eritrea and Italian Somaliland principally from the economic viewpoint. Regard should be had to the economic life of the people in these territories which are quite poor, especially the Italian Somaliland. He was willing to have a commission examine the possibilities of uniting Italian Somaliland, British Somaliland and the Ogaden in one unit, assuming that Ethiopia would get compensation in Eritrea, This was a matter of economics, not of power politics. It was a question of securing adequate grazing land for these people and for raising their standard of living. Looking at the facts, it was evident that all this territory was conquered from the Italians before 1941 by the troops of Great Britain, South Africa, Australia and India. Because of the willingness to put certain British territory into this unit and because of this military contribution, the British Government felt that it had a right to be heard on the question of placing the territory under British trusteeship. Mr. Bevin was quite willing that an expert committee should study the whole problem, [Page 159] either on behalf of the United Nations, a solution which he preferred, or on behalf of the Council of Foreign Ministers. The commission would investigate whether a straightening-out of those territories would create the chance for a better economic life for Ethiopia, Italian Somaliland, and British Somaliland. It was principally a matter of common sense and a problem which the British had tried to examine objectively. They were quite willing that the territory be demilitarized, so that it would menace no one, and were seeking the best solution for the populations concerned.69

Returning to the subject of Libya, Mr. Bevin repeated that he favored requiring Italy to renounce that territory and granting it immediate independence. Whatever the consequences, the British Government could not go back on the pledge which it had given to these peoples in a dire hour of British existence when Great Britain did not have many friends in the world. This pledge was solemnly given in the House of Commons and the British Government would stand by it.

Mr. Byrnes said that the Council now had before it the views of each of the Four Governments and that he would like to make a few comments. As he understood the situation, France preferred that administration of the colonies be intrusted exclusively to the Italian Government, and that Great Britain intended to stand by its pledge made early in the war that the Italian Government would not again be placed in control of these territories.

Mr. Bevin remarked that that pledge had been repeated in April of 1942.

Mr. Byrnes then reviewed the Soviet proposal and noted that, while providing for an Administrator in each territory appointed by an Allied Government with a Deputy appointed by the Italian Government, it contained provision for an Advisory Council as did the U.S. proposal. As he understood Mr. Bevin’s proposal, independence would be granted immediately to Libya, while Italian Somaliland would be merged with British Somaliland and a trusteeship would be arranged for the combined territory.

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Mr. Bevin said that what he had suggested was that he would be willing to have this question examined by a commission of the United Nations. He was anxious for Ethiopia to be heard on this question and also regarding its claims to Eritrea.

Mr. Byrnes said that, because of the disagreement apparent in these statements of views, he wanted to call attention again to the U.S. proposal solely in the hope of bringing together these divergent views. He noted that the U.S. proposal provided for an Administrator who would be named by the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations, presumably he would be a neutral and there would be no objection to his appointment on the part of any of the Four Governments. He would be selected in the same way as the Secretary-General of the United Nations. All Four Powers represented at the table are members of the Trusteeship Council and would have a vote in the selection of that individual. He would not be selected by any one Power as the Soviet Delegation had proposed. The Administrator would have an Advisory Council substantially the same as that proposed by the Soviet delegation. Under the U.S. proposal Libya, instead of being given immediate independence, would have the assurance of independence within ten years, substantially as was provided in the Soviet proposal. Eritrea, under the American proposal, would be treated in the same way.

Mr. Byrnes reminded his colleagues that the U.S. proposal also provided for a territorial rectification in favor of Ethiopia which would give the latter access to the sea through the port of Assab. In support of the proposal to appoint an Administrator with executive power, he wished to say that that would be a better plan than to have divided responsibility as was provided in the Soviet proposal. The Soviet Delegation had suggested, in Tripolitania, that there be a Soviet Administrator with an Italian Deputy, and that in another territory there would be a British Administrator with an Italian Deputy. The history of these colonies had shown that Italy had gone into the red every year in trying to administer them. It would be placing a burden upon a Government to assign to it the administration of any of these colonies rather than making a gift to that Government. Thus, if it were really intended to do what should be done, namely, to develop these areas and to aid their people in governing themselves, we must expect to spend money and to give something to these territories rather than to get anything out of them. When the United States put forward this proposed solution, it indicated that it recognized that some arrangement would have to be made for sharing the cost of administration, either by the United Nations or by the Powers directly concerned. The U.S. Government was prepared to contribute its share to meeting the costs of such an arrangement.

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Mr. Byrnes summarized the situation by saying that the Four Powers had considered this question since September. It was clear that Great Britain could not agree to the French proposal that Italy was to exercise authority as trustee. He saw no evidence that the Soviet Government would agree to the British proposal that Great Britain would administer the trusteeship over Italian and British Somaliland. He saw no prospect that any one of the four Governments would agree to let any of the others exercise the powers of trustee over these territories. Therefore, the logical solution was to agree to let the United Nations exercise the trusteeship and thus to settle this long-discussed question.

M. Molotov desired to give a further explanation of the Soviet proposal. It would mean that Italy would be deprived of the colonies, a step with which all were in agreement. On the other hand, the Soviet proposal contemplated that, when Italy had become a member of the United Nations, it would be given the opportunity to participate in the trusteeship. M. Molotov felt that it should be taken into account that we were now dealing with a new Italy, an Italy which was democratic and not fascist. Therefore Italy could not, as in the past, be looked on solely as a country which had participated in the war on the side of Germany. These changes should be taken into account and also the fact that Italy would become a member of the United Nations. He mentioned that it was known that the Soviet Union had preferred the application of individual rather than collective trusteeship in those countries. In spite of that, the Soviet Union had felt it necessary to take account of the views expressed in the Council of Foreign Ministers in favor of collective trusteeship for the former Italian colonies, and had therefore submitted the present proposal.

M. Molotov felt that the American proposal had one substantial shortcoming. It did not take care of the problem of who would be responsible for the situation in these colonies after the establishment of the trusteeship. He referred to Mr. Byrnes’ remark that the U.S. Government was ready to bear its share of responsibility with respect to the administration and expenses of these territories. But the question arose as to the share which the United States and other Powers would have in responsibility, especially if the people of the territories were not able to take the responsibility for their economic and financial development. It seemed clear that these were territories populated by an economically backward people. They would need assistance to develop their territories economically and along national lines. The question was who would help them, if the question of responsibility was not decided in specific terms as it should be. Without a clear decision on this, the situation in the colonies, far [Page 162] from improving, might deteriorate after the war. The responsibility for that might fall on the United Nations and that would be an undesirable occurrence. The question of who should be responsible for helping these peoples to achieve their national independence was one which required a clear reply, and in the Soviet view that reply was not given by the American proposal. M. Molotov said he would like to comment on the British proposal also, but unfortunately he did not have it in writing. He would be glad to comment when he did have the text.

Mr. Byrnes said, with respect to M. Molotov’s remarks regarding Italy, that in the U.S. proposal Italy was included as a member of the Advisory Council.

M. Molotov said that he now recalled that reference.

Mr. Byrnes pointed out that in Article 81 of the United Nations Charter there is a specific provision that “such authority, hereinafter called the Administering Authority, may be one or more states or the Organization itself”. The U.S. Delegation had proposed that there be a provision for an Administrator with full executive power, appointed by and responsible to the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations. Thus the responsibility would be fixed. It would be placed in an individual selected from a neutral country. The spotlight of the world would be on him. He would administer the territory and would be responsible to the Trusteeship Council, of which the Four Powders represented at the table were all members. All those Powers had shown enthusiasm for the United Nations. They wished to prove to the world that it could make progress toward maintaining peace. Here was a problem on which there was no agreement as to who was to administer these colonies. It could be solved by having the United Nations undertake that responsibility. The colonies would no longer be used to raise armies, as in the days when Italy was in control. They would be developed for the benefit of their inhabitants, in peaceful conditions. We would live to see those colonies independent and would be proud of our part in the action which was taken to bring that about.

M. Bidault said that his Government and the French Nation were very interested in these proposed solutions; he thought they were more closely concerned with this problem than any other country. He said it was quite clear that there were ideal considerations on which all Delegations were in agreement, but there were also concrete geographic considerations. He felt there was no need to develop this point. All knew that French Africa was contiguous to some of these territories. It would be well to remember that in the fighting against the Italians in these territories at a time when Metropolitan France was occupied by the Germans, French troops took part in the liberation of Eritrea, in [Page 163] the taking of Massawa, and in the fighting around Bir Hacheim in Libya. M. Bidault considered that he had the right to recall these facts. The French Delegation believed that what M. Molotov had said regarding collective trusteeship required consideration. He felt that it was something quite admirable in theory but that it was not known exactly what it meant. Therefore, it could not be judged accurately as it was not concrete. After all, account must be taken of the actual conditions in these territories, which have for the most part a nomadic population of only a few hundred thousands. M. Molotov’s proposal for collective trusteeship leading to independence and Mr. Bevin’s proposal for immediate independence for Libya both raised questions respecting the security of these colonies and their administration and a whole series of practical matters which he did not believe were met by any of the proposals which had been made by the other three Delegations.

M. Molotov asked when he would receive the British proposal in writing.

Mr. Bevin said that it would be available in the evening.70

Mr. Byrnes said that it was obvious that the four Delegations had not reached agreement on the question of the colonies up to the present time and that the only thing to do was to defer the question until a later date.

It was agreed to defer the question.


Mr. Byrnes asked for the views of his colleagues on the question of the disposition of the Dodecanese.

Mr. Bevin stated that the British had been in possession of those Islands since their liberation from the Germans. He said his position was clear. The British Government wished to terminate the occupation and hand the Islands over to Greece. He suggested they be ceded to Greece by the treaty. They were not colonies and they were inhabited by Greeks. The only possible solution was to terminate the present situation and cede them to Greece.

Mr. Byrnes recalled that in September the U.S. Delegation had proposed that the Islands be ceded to Greece and be demilitarized in a manner similar to that provided by the Treaty of Lausanne; that is, there should be no fortifications and no military bases. He said that the United States still held that position and hoped that all four Delegations could agree on it.

Mr. Bevin stated that he agreed.

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M. Bidault said that the French Delegation had agreed in general in September and did not intend to alter that position.

M. Molotov said that all Delegations agreed to certain basic proposals with respect to this question. All agreed that the Dodecanese should not be given back to Italy and that they should be handed over to Greece. The only remaining question was under what conditions that would take place. In his view, the question should be discussed when the other territorial questions concerning Italy were dealt with.

Mr. Bevin asked M. Molotov to explain what he meant. He could not see the connection between the Dodecanese and the other territorial problems relating to Italy.

M. Molotov said that the Council was discussing a number of territorial questions connected with the Italian peace treaty. The Soviet Delegation preferred to examine the question of the Dodecanese together with the other questions, not separately.

Mr. Bevin asked whether that was a bargaining point.

M. Molotov replied that that was a point worthy of attention.

Mr. Bevin said that the Council ought to deal with these questions on their merits.

M. Molotov re-stated his position that these questions should not be examined separately.

Mr. Byrnes regretted the Soviet position and said he did not know what it meant. He asked whether it meant that the Council could not consider any one question until all had been considered. If so, they could save time and put all the questions on the table now. He submitted that it was impossible to discuss all the questions at once and proposed taking them up one at a time right now. The question of the Dodecanese was before the Council. If it was impossible to make any headway with it, it had to be deferred; then if the next day the Yugoslav-Italian frontier was taken up, then apparently it would not be possible to discuss that by itself. If that scheme were followed, the Council would never make any headway at all. He remarked that the Council had been meeting since the previous Thursday and ought to be making progress. He requested M. Molotov to say what conditions he had in mind respecting the Dodecanese, in order that they might see whether those conditions could be agreed upon.

M. Molotov said that in his opinion they had made the most progress on the Dodecanese question as compared with all the other questions so far discussed. On the Dodecanese there was already agreement in principle, while on the other territorial questions there was no agreement in principle; for example, on the colonies, the Yugoslav-Italian frontier, and the Franco-Italian frontier. Many points remained obscure with respect to those questions. Commissions had been appointed to investigate them. But with respect to the Dodecanese [Page 165] agreement in principle had already been reached. Thus there was more agreement than on the other questions. The Soviet Delegation would state its views in due time on the remaining points related to the disposition of the Dodecanese.

Mr. Byrnes asked whether there was any use in pursuing further the discussion on the Dodecanese.

Mr. Bevin proposed that the Council record its decision in principle that the Islands should be returned to Greece, all questions of detail being left aside.

Mr. Byrnes asked if it were agreed in principle that the Islands should be demilitarized.

M. Molotov proposed that the Council confine itself to the preliminary exchange of views which had taken place at the present meeting. When it came time to discuss the whole question, then the final decision would be made.

Agenda of the Conference

Mr. Byrnes asked what subjects were suggested for the agenda of the Conference.

M. Bidault said that it was of course agreed that the peace treaties with Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Finland would be on the agenda. The French Delegation asked that the question of Germany also be placed on the agenda. For France, the German question was the most important European problem, and it was very important for the other Powers as well. This question had been placed on the Council’s agenda at the September meeting.

M. Molotov said that he thought agreement might be reached that the five peace treaties would first be examined and then the question raised by M. Bidault. The Soviet Delegation had no objection to discussing the question of Germany after the peace treaties had been dealt with.

Mr. Bevin agreed that the question of Germany could be discussed. He wanted to have the Austrian question also discussed, as the U.S. Delegation had proposed. He felt that it might be possible to get unanimous agreement to discuss both questions. All the Delegations were interested in Austria and ought to be willing to talk about it. He asked whether the French Delegation had any objection to discussing the question of Austria.

Mr. Byrnes asked whether the Soviet Delegation would not agree to permit Austria to be discussed after the consideration of the German question.

M. Molotov said that those were two independent questions; he was ready to discuss one but not the other.

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Mr. Byrnes said that of course one could be discussed without the other but that he had merely asked whether the Soviet Representative, at the conclusion of the discussion on Germany, would be willing to discuss Austria. It might be that it would prove impossible to reach agreement on Austria, but it should be profitable to all at least to discuss it.

M. Molotov replied that it would give him great pleasure to participate in a discussion of that question when the Soviet Government was ready to do so. At the present moment he was not ready. He would take steps to study the American proposal most attentively.

Mr. Byrnes said he was not going to object to a discussion of Germany after the peace treaties had been considered. He remarked that he had told the French Representative that he would do so. Mr. Byrnes said he was not going to hold up discussion of Germany just because he was unsuccessful in having the question of Austria discussed, but that when the discussion on Germany was completed he would again propose that Austria be considered.

Mr. Bevin said that it was his understanding that it was now agreed to hold a preliminary discussion on Germany.

M. Bidault said that of course there was no question of a treaty with a German Government, which fortunately does not exist.

Mr. Byrnes said that he wished to make a statement in connection with the German question. His feeling was that the Council had made little or no progress at its present series of meetings. He thought that most unfortunate, as the world was looking to this meeting to make further progress toward peace. Within a few days a year would have passed since the cessation of hostilities against Germany. Judging by what has happened by this afternoon’s meeting and at previous meetings, he feared that little progress would be made tomorrow.

Mr. Byrnes said that, at the September meeting of the Council, he had come to the conclusion that the United States could possibly render a service by offering to the Powers represented on the Council a guarantee that this time the United States was not going to leave Europe after the war. At Yalta he had heard Generalissimo Stalin say that twice in twenty-five years Germany had attacked Russia through Poland and Russia had suffered. He had been much impressed by M. Stalin’s statement that it was necessary for the Soviet Government to take steps to make itself secure against another such attack. France had expressed the same fears, and France’s experience justified these fears. The United States was interested in assisting its partners and Allies in the war to guard against the recurrence of aggression by Germany. President Wilson had wanted to do that after the last war but had been unable to do so because of sentiment in the United States. Today the one hope and aspiration of the American [Page 167] people was for peace. To preserve peace the American people were willing to assume obligations. They had demonstrated that by their wholehearted sponsorship of the United Nations and their willingness to do other things for the cause of peace.

Mr. Byrnes thought that the Governments represented on the Council should stop showing a lack of confidence in each other, as was evidenced by their disagreements over little things. There could be no peace unless we rose above the little things and took a larger view. If the views and attitudes of peoples were due to fear of German aggression and to lack of security, then the Powers represented here must get together to assure the world that there is no such lack of security. Twenty years ago we had permitted Germany to re-arm. That must not happen again. In the hope of contributing to that aim, the United States had, as far back as February of this year, submitted a draft of a proposed treaty providing for the demilitarization of Germany in the period following the termination of the occupation. That draft treaty provided that the Allied Control Council, while the occupation continued, should see to it that there was complete demobilization and disarmament. Nothing should prevent or delay that disarmament while the A.C.C. was still in control. If there was any doubt about this task being carried out now, this Council ought to see that action was taken for bringing about that disarmament. The proposed draft treaty also provides a system under which for twenty-five years the demilitarization and disarmament of Germany will continue. When Germany is discussed on the agenda of this Conference, Mr. Byrnes wished to have this draft treaty discussed at the same time. He said that if the Powers were interested in security, that was the best way to obtain it. He mentioned that he had changed one or two words in the draft since it was made available originally and that he would distribute the amended draft the next morning.71 He asked whether there was any objection to placing it on the agenda.

M. Molotov remarked that in a conversation the previous evening with Mr. Byrnes he had stated his views on this subject to him but that he would repeat them now for the benefit of his other colleagues. The draft treaty for the disarmament of Germany submitted by Mr. Byrnes met with serious objection on the part of the Soviet Government. This draft treaty raised the question of Germany’s disarmament over a twenty-five year period. This was not a new question to us or to the world. There existed a decision made by the Allied Powers, as well as by the A.C.C. in Germany, under which Germany was to be disarmed and a time limit for this disarmament fixed. How was it [Page 168] possible to postpone the question of Germany’s disarmament until after a new treaty had been concluded, when there already was an agreement for the disarmament of Germany? The United States proposal provided not for Germany’s disarmament but for the postponement of that disarmament. Therefore the draft was in conflict with the existing decision under which Germany was to be disarmed within a definite time limit, which in certain phases has already expired. For that reason it was necessary now to examine whether the existing decision regarding German disarmament, adopted by all Four Powers, was being carried out correctly and fully. The Soviet Government would naturally study the U.S. proposal carefully, but the Soviet Government considered the burning question at present to be that of examining whether, in all zones of Germany, the existing decision for German disarmament was being carried out in a correct manner. It was the Soviet Government’s view that the four Governments should instruct the A.C.C. to name a special commission to investigate in all four zones how much of the decision on Germany’s disarmament was being carried out. That commission should submit a report to the A.C.C., which in turn would report to the four Governments.

M. Molotov stated that the Soviet Government was one of the countries most interested in keeping Germany disarmed for a long time. The Soviet Union considered it most important that Germany’s disarmament not be postponed and that decisions already made should be executed. For that reason the Soviet Government had made its proposal for an investigation throughout Germany by a special commission which would report to the A.C.C. While the commission was doing its work, the Soviet Government would continue to study the American proposal for a treaty, with the amendments which Mr. Byrnes wished to submit. After the Council had a report from the special commission, it would be in a position to consider the proposed treaty.

Mr. Byrnes said that he must conclude that his Soviet friend had misunderstood the draft treaty handed to him some months ago. He asked that M. Molotov listen to the opening words of that draft treaty:

“On January [June] 5, 1945 the Governments of the U.S.A., U.S.S.R., the U.K., and the French Republic declared their intention to effect the total demilitarization and disarmament of Germany.72 In substantial measure this invention has already been fulfilled. Nothing shall delay or prevent the completion of the process.”

[Page 169]

Mr. Byrnes said that he had added the word “delay” so that there could be no excuse for any one’s misunderstanding the project. He mentioned that, in addition, Article E provided that the contracting parties agree that for the duration of the period of Allied occupation of Germany they shall, through the A.C.C. and in their respective zones, enforce strictly the disarmament and demilitarization provisions set forth in Article 1. Article 1 merely repeats the provisions of the Agreement of June 5, 1945. In this draft treaty there was nothing to justify the belief that it meant postponement or delay in the disarmament of Germany. On the contrary, it meant that disarmament should be carried out. The U.S. Delegation had no information to the effect that this was not being done. If M. Molotov had information to that effect, Mr. Byrnes would join him in taking steps for an investigation to see what had been done, he would have a report made, but it would be a great mistake to say that, because we have heard that in some aspects the disarmament of Germany is not complete, nothing should be said or done about the future. There was no conflict between requiring an investigation and report on this matter and making provision for the future. The Council could have an inspection made if it wished, but Mr. Byrnes took the position that in any case the Four Powers should agree that, after the termination of the occupation, for twenty-five years at least Germany should remain disarmed. Mr. Byrnes reminded M. Molotov that on the previous Christmas Eve in Moscow Generalissimo Stalin had told him that he wanted steps taken along this line. The United States had then proposed a draft treaty which, in his view, envisaged such steps as Mr. Byrnes understood Stalin to say he wished to support.

Mr. Bevin said that at Moscow the three Foreign Ministers had agreed that if any of the three Governments wished an inspection of zones in Germany under the occupation of other Governments, the matter should be raised in the A.C.C. They had agreed that each other’s zones could be visited on request. Mr. Bevin did not see any point in deciding here at the Council to ask for an inspection. Such action would be taken as indicating that something was wrong. It would be a reflection on the occupation authorities of the various zones. He certainly did not want to be a party to a resolution such as that which was not on the agenda at all. The question was one which should be raised through the A.C.C. under the terms of the Moscow Agreement.

With reference to the draft treaty proposed by the U.S. Government, Mr. Bevin reminded Mr. Byrnes that this treaty had been marked Top Secret and had been discussed only by a limited group [Page 170] within the British Government. He could say, in general terms, that the British Government approved the treaty in principle, but he wanted to have his experts with him if it should be decided to discuss the treaty clause by clause at the present Conference. He said he assumed that this was a matter which would arise formally when they came to the discussion on Germany.

Mr. Byrnes said that that was his proposal. He had asked the other Foreign Ministers to consider this proposal as Top Secret when it was communicated to them. He thought that now the situation had changed and that the time had come to discuss these things more openly and discover whether it was possible to get agreement on them.

Mr. Bevin asked if it would be in order for him to tell the British Government to give consideration to this draft treaty so that it might be in a position to instruct him on it when the Council reached the point of discussing the German question.

Mr. Byrnes said, on the subject of an inspection in Germany, that he was in agreement with what M. Molotov had said concerning the immediate disarmament of Germany. He recalled that the matter had been discussed in Moscow and referred to telegraphic messages which had been received at that time from the Commanding Officers of the British and Soviet Zones.73 Those messages had said that in the A.C.C. satisfactory arrangements had been made concerning inspection.

Mr. Bevin said that at Moscow he had suggested following the rule that if any one of the Allied Commanders in Germany had a complaint about the progress of disarmament in another zone, the matter should be brought up in the A.C.C. and a commission should be appointed. It had been suggested then that a commission be sent immediately to all the zones. Mr. Bevin had agreed to that. He believed now, therefore, that authority lay in the A.C.C. to take action in case of such complaints. The A.C.C. was in a position to act on the basis of the Agreement which had been reached at Moscow. It was not necessary to send any more instructions regarding a new inspection.

Mr. Byrnes asked whether his Soviet friend agreed with Mr. Bevin’s statement of what had occurred at Moscow. On that basis the Commanding Officer in the Soviet Zone might, if he desired to have an [Page 171] investigation made in another zone regarding disarmament, bring the matter up immediately before the A.C.C. Mr. Byrnes believed that there was no disagreement among the four Governments on what was actually desired.

M. Molotov said that there had been no decision on this point at Moscow in December. All the decisions made at Moscow had been published. What Mr. Bevin had read had been only the British record of the discussions. It was agreed by all that the Commanding Officer in any one zone in Germany was free to raise in the A.C.C. the question of a special commission to investigate disarmament, but the proposal of the U.S. Delegation related only to keeping Germany disarmed in the future. The Soviet Delegation proposed that before they discussed a treaty for keeping Germany disarmed in the future they ought to have an inspection to see whether the decisions already taken regarding German disarmament were being carried out. He had not dealt with the specific articles of the U.S. draft treaty because it seemed to him that the draft was based on the supposition that Germany was to be disarmed in the future. He felt that the main point was to proceed from the fact that decisions had already been adopted regarding German disarmament and that those decisions should be carried out. There should be an inspection to see how they were being carried out before the Council discussed any treaty relating to the future. If any of the Allied Commanders in Germany was free to raise the question of verifying the execution of the decisions on German disarmament, there was all the more reason for the Council to raise this same question, particularly if the Council proposed to discuss the question of arrangements to be made to keep Germany disarmed in the future. The Soviet Government was ready to consider the U.S. draft treaty for the demilitarization and disarmament of Germany, but before discussing it the Soviet Government considered it necessary to have an inspection to see how existing decisions for German disarmament were being carried out.

M. Bidault said that he had no remarks to offer concerning the decisions taken at Moscow, since France had not been present. He understood that there were two aspects of the question of disarmament, the present and the future. Without making reference to the decisions of Moscow he could say that the French Government was entirely in favor of the disarmament of Germany, both in the present and in the future. Despite the very secret character of the U.S. proposal, which the French Government had not examined in detail, he could say that his Government was on the whole in agreement with it. With regard to the present disarmament of Germany, he had no [Page 172] knowledge of what had been decided in the absence of France, but he had no objection to any inspection being carried out in the French Zone.

Mr. Bevin said that apparently none of the Delegations objected to getting a progress report from the A.C.C. on German disarmament. He felt that the Council was not concerned with the way in which that report was compiled, whether after an inspection or not. All the Four Powers had agreed to carry out their obligations. He thought there was no reason why the question of carrying out existing decisions should be used as a bar to discussion by the Council of a treaty for future disarmament of Germany. The peoples who had participated in the war wished to know what was to be done on this question, both in the present and in the future. It seemed logical to ask the A.C.C. for a progress report and at the same time go ahead with the discussion of the U.S. draft treaty.

Mr. Byrnes asked whether there was any objection to the proposal of Mr. Bevin.

M. Molotov said that he had made a different proposal, namely, to instruct the A.C.C. to carry out an inspection in all four zones of the execution of the decisions for German disarmament, and to ask the A.C.C. to report to the four Governments; after that the Council could discuss the American proposal for German disarmament in the future. At the same time he had no objection to discussing the French proposal regarding Germany after the Council had disposed of the five peace treaties.

Mr. Byrnes referred to his record of what had occurred at Moscow in December. He mentioned that M. Molotov had mentioned at the meeting of December 22 that he had received a telegram from Marshal Zhukov74 regarding the creation of a commission for investigating the progress of the disarmament of Germany. Mr. Byrnes considered that the A.C.C. was now fully informed on that question and suggested that if the Council requested information by telegraph the Allied Commanders would report immediately on the progress of disarmament. It could then be decided whether a special investigation was necessary. If only one of the four Allied representatives on the A.C.C. reported that he considered an investigation necessary, Mr. Byrnes felt sure that all four Governments would be willing to agree to it. If the Soviet Commandor should make such a recommendation, Mr. Byrnes would certainly join in naming a commission to investigate.

M. Molotov said that he had at hand his own version of the statement which he had made on December 22. According to that version [Page 173] reference had been made to the session of the A.C.C. on December 20 [21?] in which the question of disarmament of Germany had been discussed and Marshal Montgomery75 had expounded a plan for disbanding the German armed forces in January of the next year. The Foreign Ministers had discussed this specific case. The plans referred to would be carried out by January of the next year.

M. Molotov agreed that all four Governments were anxious to see Germany disarmed, both now and in the future. The Soviet Government considered it desirable to have an inspection to provide information on how and to what extent the decisions of the Four Powers and of the A.C.C. on disarmament were being executed in all four zones. He felt that such an inspection would help the Council to adopt the proper decisions regarding the future.

Mr. Bevin said that, without calling for an immediate report from the A.C.C., he could not join in any decision instructing that body to conduct an investigation. It seemed quite clear to him that it was intended that there should be no discussion of the U.S. draft treaty by the Council. It was better to leave it at that, since that was obviously what was intended. After all, an inspection such as was proposed would take a long time.

Mr. Byrnes agreed heartily with Mr. Bevin’s statement. He realized that there was no intention on the part of the Soviet Delegation to discuss the U.S. draft treaty during the present session of the Council. He was not going to agree that discussion of the treaty could be made conditional upon receipt of a report from the field at some indefinite time. In view of that situation he was willing to entertain a motion to adjourn.

M. Molotov had a further remark. He noticed that there was a great desire to discuss German disarmament in the future and an unwillingness to discuss the present-day disarmament of Germany. He felt that if Germany were effectively disarmed at present it would be an easy task to keep her disarmed in the future. Therefore it was necessary to find out, through an inspection, just how the decisions regarding German disarmament had been carried out up to the present.

Mr. Byrnes said that M. Molotov undoubtedly remembered that, many times in the course of the last hour, he had said that he was willing to have the A.C.C. called upon for a report on the progress of German disarmament. What he had objected to was making the receipt of a report from the field a condition to discussing the U.S. draft treaty for German disarmament.

The meeting adjourned at 9:00 p.m.

  1. For a list of persons present at this meeting, see the Record of Decisions, infra.
  2. The agreed Terms of Reference for the Commission to Investigate Rectification of the Franco-Italian Boundary in the Upper Roya Valley were circulated to the Council of Foreign Ministers as C.F.M.(46) 15, April 29, 1946, p. 175.
  3. The American proposal for a United Nations trusteeship for Italian colonies in Africa was included as Section III of the “Suggested Directive from the Council of Foreign Ministers to Govern Them in the Drafting of a Treaty of Peace with Italy”, memorandum by the United States Delegation, C.F.M.(45) 16, September 14, 1945, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, p. 179.
  4. The United Nations Trusteeship Council was not established until December 1946. For documentation regarding the policy of the United States on questions relating to non-self-governing territories and the establishment of an international trusteeship system under the United Nations charter, see volume i .
  5. Minister Cole in Addis Ababa was informed by the Department of State that the British had proposed to the Council of Foreign Ministers the formation of a Greater Somaliland, and he was asked by the Department for information on the possible reaction in Ethiopia to such a plan. In telegram 110, May 11, from Addis Ababa, sent to both Washington and Paris, Minister Cole expressed the view the British plan for a Greater Somaliland could never expect acceptance by the Ethiopian “literate classes” who would regard it as a national calamity. While the plan would probably not cause the dethronement of the Emperor, it would undermine his authority most seriously in forcing him to such direct action as was possible. Sporadic outbreaks of violence on the borders of the affected area could be expected. The Minister’s views were gained from informal discussions, since the Department had directed him not to discuss the British proposals with the Ethiopian Government (884.014/5–1146).
  6. The memorandum by the United Kingdom Delegation on the subject of the Italian colonies was circulated in the Council of Foreign Ministers as C.F.M.(46) 22, April 30, 1946, p. 194.
  7. The text of a draft treaty on the disarmament and demilitarization of Germany, which was circulated to the Council of Foreign Ministers as C.F.M.(46)21, April 30, 1946, p. 190.
  8. Reference here is to the Declaration Regarding the Defeat of Germany and the Assumption of Supreme Authority with Respect to Germany by the Governments of the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and France, signed at Berlin, June 5, 1945; for text, see Department of State Bulletin, June 10, 1945, p. 1051.
  9. The question of German military units in the British zone of occupation of Germany and the British proposal for investigation committees in the zones of occupation in Germany were considered by the Conference of Foreign Ministers at Moscow at their informal meeting on December 21, 1945, 2:30 p.m., and their Sixth Formal Session on December 22, 1945, 5:10 p.m. For the United States Delegation Minutes of these meetings, see Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. ii, pp. 710 and 734, respectively.
  10. Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov, Commander in Chief, Soviet Forces of Occupation in Germany and Soviet Member, Allied Control Council for Germany, July 1945–March 1946.
  11. Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, Military Governor, British Zone of Occupation in Germany and British Member, Allied Control Council for Germany.