Agreement of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France to publish a series of volumes of documents on German foreign policy, 1918–1945

[Continued from Foreign Relations, 1945, volume III, pages 1099 ff. In an aide-mémoire of March 7, 1946, the Department of State informed the British Embassy that the United States Government was prepared to enter into preliminary discussions suggested by the British Government on February 13 with regard to the “proposal for official publication under quadripartite auspices of an authoritative collection” of German Foreign Office documents and other German political documents. The aide-mémoire further stated that in view of the “importance that this Government attaches to the objective publication of the German political documents so as to forestall any subsequent publication of a tendentious nature by German sources,” the Department was ready, if a quadripartite publication did not prove feasible, “to consider joint British-American publication of these documents, or, if need be, independent publication.” (840.414/2–1346)

Further discussions took place, and on May 29, 1946, Under Secretary of State Acheson and other officials approved a memorandum recommending affirmative answers to the following questions: “1. Does the Department favor proceeding with the publication of German diplomatic documents concerning such matters as Soviet negotiations with Nazi Germany in 1939 over the possible strong objections of the Russians? 2. Is the Department prepared to support a policy of complete disclosure of German diplomatic documents even though some of them such as the Bullitt correspondence may prove to be somewhat embarrassing to this Government?” (862.414/5–2847)

A paper entitled “Proposals for Publishing German Official Papers agreed at Anglo-American Meetings held at Foreign Office, London, June 11–18, 1946” was signed on June 19 by E. Wilder Spaulding, Chief of the Division of Research and Publication, Department of State, and E. J. Passant, Librarian of the Foreign Office. It set forth in detail the scope and conditions of the project and stated that “the work shall be performed on the basis of highest scholarly objectivity.” (862.414/6–1946)

For text of a press release of October 3 describing a program of documentary publication by the Department of State under the direction of Raymond J. Sontag, see Department of State Bulletin, October [Page 201] 13, 1946, p. 690. A statement on British plans for publication was made in the House of Commons on January 22, 1947, by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Christopher Paget Mayhew.

By aide-mémoire of April 3 and May 2, 1947, the French Embassy informed the Department of State that the French Government agreed to participate in the project on the terms given in the Department’s note of March 20, 1947. (862.414/4–347, 5–247) Similar correspondence took place between the Governments of France and the United Kingdom.

For additional information on the origins and development of the project and the principles governing the selection and editing of documents, see the Prefaces to the various volumes in the series Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, published at Washington by the Government Printing Office and at London by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.]