Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Occupied Areas (Saltzman) to the Under Secretary of State (Lovett)



We have an arrangement with the British, to which the French have recently adhered, providing for the publication, after editing by a group of scholars, of the documents contained in the captured German archives. There is an understanding between us and the British and French that any party will notify the others of its intention to publish any of the documents covered by this project. The Russians have not agreed to participate in this work but have independently published some of the captured German documents in their hands.

We have had numerous requests for the publication of these documents, particularly those relating to the Soviet-German pact of 1939. We have heretofore taken the position that we could not publish these documents separately.

The material concerned would in the normal course not be published until sometime in 1950. It is estimated that the ones relating to the Soviet Union could be edited and printed and be ready for release about the first of December of this year.

At a meeting of the interested Officers of the Department held in my office on October 2 it was decided to recommend the publication of these Russo-German papers shortly after the conclusion of the forthcoming meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers unless developments prior to that time should warrant our withholding them. It was [Page 646] realized that it is probable that the Russians will attempt to retaliate by publishing documents embarrassing to us or more probably the British. On balance, however, it was felt that United States interests would be served by the publication of these papers and that in view of the seriousness of the issues raised by current Soviet policies we would not be justified in further delaying their publication. In this connection it should be noted, however, that some of them have already been published unofficially and that Foreign Minister Bevin in October, 1946, confirmed the authenticity of the publication in a British paper of the secret protocol attached to the Soviet-German non-aggression pact of 1939.


That we inform the British and French of our intention to publish the important captured German documents covering Soviet-German relations from 1939 to June 1941, early in December unless developments at the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers should indicate the wisdom of further delaying their publication.
In view of the seriousness of this decision it is suggested that you obtain the approval of the Secretary.1
  1. Concurrences were shown by Messrs. Hickerson, Henderson, Oppenheimer (for Mr. Gross), Russell, and G. Bernard Noble, Chief of the Division of Historical Policy Research. Mr. Rusk wrote in the following note: “The question of when we tell the British and French must be considered by the Secretary in relation to British and French nervousness during present GA session. Otherwise, I concur. D. R.”

    On October 31 the Executive Officer, Office of Departmental Administration (McWilliams) informed Mr. Saltzman that the Secretary of State had approved the memorandum, in principle, but wished that implementing action be delayed until he had discussed the project with the President and the Cabinet (862.414/10–3147)