Documents on the Grand Alliance


Memorandum of Conference Held at the White House (May 30, 1942) | Letter from the Executive of the President’s Soviet Protocol Committee (Burns) to the President’s Special Assistant (Hopkins) (Aug. 10, 1943)
Tehran Conference:
Tripartite Dinner Meeting (Nov. 28, 1943) | Tripartite Dinner Meeting (Nov. 29, 1943) | Roosevelt Stalin Meeting (Dec. 1, 1943) | Tripartite Political Meeting (Dec. 1, 1943)

Memorandum of Conference Held at the White House

May 30, 1942
by Mr. Samuel H. Cross, Interpreter

PRESENT: The President, Mr. Molotov, Admiral King, General Marshall, Mr. Hopkins, Messrs. Pavlov and Cross

After a brief private conference between the President and Mr. Molotov, conversations were resumed at 11 A. M. The President asked Admiral King whether there was any special news from the Pacific. The Admiral replied that there was nothing of importance save some momentary disagreement between General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz as to an operation against the Solomon Islands. Admiral King thought this difference was due to a misunderstanding, since Admiral Nimitz had in mind a specific project for destruction of installations rather than anything like a permanent occupation.

Opening the general discussion, the President remarked to Admiral King and General Marshall that he first wished to place them au courant with the questions Mr. Molotov had raised, and he hoped that Mr. Molotov himself would then put the situation before them in detail. Mr. Molotov, the President continued, had just come from London, where he had been discussing with the British authorities the problem of a second (invasion) front in Western Europe. He had, the President added, been politely received, but had as yet obtained no positive commitment from the British. There was no doubt that on the Russian front the Germans had enough superiority in aircraft and mechanized equipment to make the situation precarious. The Soviets wished the Anglo-American combination to land sufficient combat troops on the continent to draw off 40 German divisions from the Soviet front. We appreciated, he continued, the difficulties of the situation and viewed the outlook as serious. We regarded it as our obligation to help the Soviets to the best of our ability, even if the extent of this aid was for the moment doubtful. That brought up the question, what we can do even if the prospects for permanent success might not be especially rosy. Most of our difficulties lay in the realm of ocean transport, and he would in this connection merely remark that getting any one convoy through to Murmansk was already a major naval operation. The President then suggested that Mr. Molotov should treat the subject in such detail as suited his convenience.

Mr. Molotov thereupon remarked that, though the problem of the second front was both military and political, it was predominantly political. There was an essential difference between the situation in 1942 and what it might be in 1943. In 1942 Hitler was the master of all Europe save a few minor countries. He was the chief enemy of everyone. To be sure, as was devoutly to be hoped, the Russians might hold and fight on all through 1942. But it was only right to look at the darker side of the picture. On the basis of his continental dominance, Hitler might throw in such reinforcements in manpower and material that the Red Army might not be able to hold out against the Nazis. Such a development would produce ’a serious situation which we must face. The Soviet front would become secondary, the Red Army would be weakened, and Hitler’s strength would be correspondingly greater, since he would have at his disposal not only more troops, but also the foodstuffs and raw materials of the Ukraine and the oil-wells of the Caucasus. In such circumstances the outlook would be much less favorable for all hands, and he would not pretend that such developments were all outside the range of possibility. The war would thus become tougher and longer. The merit of a new front in 1942 depended on the prospects of Hitler’s further advantage, hence the establishment of such a front should not be postponed. The decisive element in the whole problem lay in the question, when are the prospects better for the United Nations: in 1942 or in 1943.

Amplifying his remarks, Mr. Molotov observed that the forces on the Soviet front were large, and, objectively speaking, the balance in quantity of men, aviation, and mechanized equipment was slightly in Hitler’s favor. Nevertheless, the Russians were reasonably certain they could hold out. This was the most optimistic prospect, and the Soviet morale was as yet unimpaired. But the main danger lay in the probability that Hitler would try to deal the Soviet Union a mighty crushing blow. If, then, Great Britain and the United States, as allies, were to create a new front and to draw off 40 German divisions from the Soviet front, the ratio of strength would be so altered that the Soviets could either beat Hitler this year or insure beyond question his ultimate defeat.

Mr. Molotov therefore put this question frankly: could we undertake such offensive action as would draw off 40 German divisions which would be, to tell the truth, distinctly second-rate outfits? If the answer should be in the affirmative, the war would be decided in 1942. If negative, the Soviets would fight on alone, doing their best, and no man would expect more from them than that. He had not, Mr. Molotov added, received any positive answer in London. Mr. Churchill had proposed that he should return through London on his homeward journey from Washington, and had promised Mr. Molotov a more concrete answer on his second visit. Mr. Molotov admitted he realized that the British would have to bear the brunt of the action if a second front were created, but he also was cognizant of the role the United States plays and what influence this country exerts in questions of major strategy. Without in any way minimizing the risks entailed by a second front action this summer, Mr. Molotov declared his government wanted to know in frank terms what position we take on the question of a second front, and whether we were prepared to establish one. He requested a straight answer.

The difficulties, Mr. Molotov urged, would not be any less in 1943. The chances of success were actually better at present while the Russians still have a solid front. “If you postpone your decision,” he said, “you will have eventually to bear the brunt of the war, and if Hitler becomes the undisputed master of the continent, next year will unquestionably be tougher than this one.”

The President then put to General Marshall the query whether developments were clear enough so that we could say to Mr. Stalin that we are preparing a second front. “Yes,” replied the General. The President then authorized Mr. Molotov to inform Mr. Stalin that we expect the formation of a second front this year.

Letter from the Executive of the President’s Soviet Protocol Committee (Burns) to the President’s Special Assistant (Hopkins)

 August 10, 1943
Foreign Relations of the United States: The Conferences at Washington and Quebec, 1943, pp. 624-627.

Memorandum for Mr. HopkinsSubject: Russia

  1. A very high level United States military strategic estimate of Russia reads as follows:

    Russia’s Position 2 August, 1943.

    “Russia’s position in War II is in marked contrast with that which she occupied in War I. She collapsed before the termination of War I and had no effect whatsoever in the final defeat of Germany, which was accomplished by the Allies without her assistance. In War II Russia occupies a dominant position and is the decisive factor looking toward the defeat of the Axis in Europe. While in Sicily the forces of Great Britain and the United States are being opposed by 2 German divisions, the Russian front is receiving attention of approximately 200 German divisions. Whenever the Allies open a second front on the continent, it will be decidedly a secondary front to that of Russia; theirs will continue to be the main effort. Without Russia in the war, the Axis cannot be defeated in Europe, and the position of the United Nations becomes precarious.

    “Similarly, Russia’s post-war position in Europe will be a dominant one. With Germany crushed, there is no power in Europe to oppose her tremendous military forces. It is true that Great Britain is building up a position in the Mediterranean vis-à-vis Russia that she may find useful in balancing power in Europe. However, even here she may not be able to oppose Russia unless she is otherwise supported.

    “The conclusions from the foregoing are obvious. Since Russia is the decisive factor in the war, she must be given every assistance and every effort must be made to obtain her friendship. Likewise, since without question she will dominate Europe on the defeat of the Axis, it is even more essential to develop and maintain the most friendly relations with Russia.

    Finally, the most important factor in the United States has to consider in relation to Russia is the prosecution of the war in the Pacific. With Russia as an ally in the war against Japan, the war can be terminated in less time and at less expense in life and resource than if the reverse were the case. Should the war in the Pacific have to be carried on with an unfriendly, or negative attitude on the part of Russia, the difficulties will be immeasurably increased and operations might become abortive.”

  2. The conclusion reached is that Russia is so necessary to victory and peace that we must give her maximum assistance and make every effort to develop and maintain the most friendly relations with her.
  3. As you know, we are sending to Russia about the maximum amount of supplies that can be delivered by way of the Pacific and the Persian Gulf routes. Atlantic convoys to North Russia would permit us to send additional supplies. Assistance in the form of military action is in other hands.
  4. With reference to the question of friendly relations, the above conclusion apparently conforms to the President’s position for, in his recent speech, and referring to Russia, he stated:

    “…This country should always be glad to be a good neighbor and a sincere friend in the world of the future.”

  5. The question is-how can we establish and maintain such friendly relations?It is believed they are dependent upon a number of steps, taken from day to day, which will constantly prove to Russia that we are genuinely anxious to be real and sincere friend, not only in the present conflict but for many years to come.The task is not too difficult for the great masses of the Russian people admire and respect America and are instinctively friendly to us. It is believed they will respond generously to generous treatment by us.Of course, we should neither do nor promise anything that is not in the interests of the United States or that is not in harmony with our principles and policies.


  1. We now have a number of United States representatives in contact with Russian representatives who do not trust Russia and who do not follow a national policy of the “good neighbor and sincere friend” to Russia. They obviously do not develop mutual trust and friendliness. These should either be replaced or they should be required to pledge loyal support to the above policy.
  2. The recent public criticism of Russia by our Ambassador in Moscow with reference to her failure to acknowledge lend-lease aid and its resultant worldwide publicity had the effect of branding her as an ingrate before the world. The incident is believed to have left a scar because it hurt Russia’s pride. Very little has been done to correct this diplomatic mistake, although in fairness it should be succeeded by a top level civilian Ambassador who advocates the policy of the “good neighbor and sincere friend.”
  3. It is suspected that Russia feels England has established a position of such close relationship to America that it is quite difficult for us to treat Russia and England on a basis of equality. It is believed to be important that we maintain a reasonably independent position so that we can treat both of these countries as good neighbors and sincere friends and give fair consideration to the positions, aims, and aspirations of both.
  4. Speeches are sometimes made by high officials that we are fighting this war to eliminate dictatorships.
  5. Russia is a dictatorship-perhaps the most complete one the world has ever known. Russia is very proud of the achievements of her dictatorship and, in truth, without it Germany would probably have won the war.
  6. Admiral King recently made a simple but effective statement with reference to Russia. He said in substance that Russia, because of her geographical position, is carrying a great part of the war against Germany and we must therefore send to her all of the supplies we can and, in addition, must take military steps that will withdraw from her front the maximum amount of German strength. Such a statement is sure to help establish a feeling of friendship in Russia towards the American Navy.It is suggested that General Marshall send a telegram to the Red Army Chief of Staff congratulating the Red Army on it many achievements and recent victories and supporting commitments made by Admiral King. This should tend to establish a friendly feeling towards the American Army.
  7. One of the sore points with Russia is North Atlantic convoys. It is believed that heroic efforts should be made to send such convoys. It is realized this is a primarily a British problem but Admiral King’s statement indicates that he might advocate and even assist in such an effort.
  8. A frank and thorough discussion between top level United States and U.S.S.R. representatives with reference to war and post war aims should be very helpful, but it is realized that several unsuccessful efforts to arrange such a conference have been made. Perhaps further efforts are justified.
J. H. Burns
Major General, U.S. Army Executive

Tehran Conference: Tripartite Dinner Meeting

November 28, 1943
Roosevelt’s Quarters, 8:30 PM,
Soviet Embassy

President Roosevelt Prime Minister Churchill Marshal Stalin
Mr. Hopkins Foreign Secretary Eden Foreign Commissar Molotov
Mr. Harriman Sir Archibald Clark Kerr Mr. Pavlov
Mr. Bohlen Major Birse
Bohlen Minutes


During the first part of the dinner the conversation between the President and Marshal Stalin was general in character and dealt for the most part with a suitable place for the next meeting. Fairbanks seemed to be considered by both the most suitable spot.

MARSHAL STALIN then raised the question of the future of France. He described in considerable length the reasons why, in his opinion, France deserved no considerate treatment from the Allies and, above all, had no right to retain her former empire. He said that the entire French ruling class was rotten to the core and had delivered over France to the Germans and that, in fact, France was now actively helping our enemies. He therefore felt that it would be not only unjust but dangerous to leave in French hands any important strategic points after the war.

THE PRESIDENT replied that he in part agreed with Marshal Stalin. That was why this afternoon he had said to Marshal Stalin that it was necessary to eliminate in the future government of France anybody over forty years old and particularly anybody who had formed part of the French Government. He mentioned specifically the question of New Caledonia and Dakar, the first of which he said represented a threat to Australia and New Zealand and, therefore, should be placed under the trusteeship of the United Nations. In regard to Dakar, THE PRESIDENT said he was speaking for twenty-one American nations when he said that Dakar in unsure hands was a direct threat to the Americas.

MR. CHURCHILL at this point intervened to say that Great Britain did not desire and did not expect to acquire any additional territory out of this war, but since the 4 great victorious nations-the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and China-will be responsible for the future peace of the world, it was obviously necessary that certain strategic points throughout the world should be under the [their?] control.

MARSHAL STALIN again repeated and emphasized his view that France could not be trusted with any strategic possessions outside her own border in the post-war period. He described the ideology of the Vichy Ambassador to Moscow, Bergery, which he felt was characteristic of the majority of French politicians. This ideology definitely preferred an agreement with France’s former enemy, Germany, than with her former allies, Great Britain and the United States.

The conversation then turned to the question of the treatment to be accorded Nazi Germany.

THE PRESIDENT said that, in his opinion, it was very important not to leave in the German mind the concept of the Reich and that the very word should be stricken from the language.

MARSHAL STALIN replied that it was not enough to eliminate the word, but the very Reich itself must be rendered impotent ever again to plunge the world into war. He said that unless the victorious Allies retained in their hands the strategic positions necessary to prevent any recrudescence of German militarism, they would have failed in their duty.

In the detailed discussion between the President, Marshal Stalin and Churchill that followed Marshal Stalin took the lead, constantly emphasizing that the measures for the control of Germany and her disarmament were insufficient to prevent the rebirth of German militarism and appeared to favor even stronger measures. He, however, did not specify what he actually had in mind except that he appeared to favor the dismemberment of Germany.

MARSHAL STALIN particularly mentioned that Poland should extend to the Oder and stated definitely that the Russians would help the Poles to obtain a frontier on the Oder.

THE PRESIDENT then said he would be interested in the question of assuring the approaches to the Baltic Sea and had in mind some form of trusteeship with perhaps an international state in the vicinity of the Kiel Canal to insure free navigation in both directions through the approaches. Due to some error of the Soviet translator Marshal Stalin apparently thought that the President was referring to the question of the Baltic States. On the basis of this understanding, he replied categorically that the Baltic States had by an expression of the will of the people voted to join the Soviet Union and that this question was not therefore one for discussion. Following the clearing up of the misapprehension, he, however, expressed himself favorably in regard to the question of insuring free navigation to and from the Baltic Sea.

THE PRESIDENT, returning to the question of certain outlying possessions, said he was interested in the possibility of a sovereignty fashioned in a collective body such as the United Nations; a concept which had never been developed in past history.

After dinner when the President had retired, the conversation continued between Marshal Stalin and Mr. Churchill. The subject was still the treatment to be accorded to Germany, and even more than during dinner Marshal Stalin appeared to favor the strongest possible measures against Germany.

MR. CHURCHILL said that he advocated that Germany be permitted no aviation of any character-neither military [n]or civilian-and in addition that the German general staff system should be completely abolished. He proposed a number of other measures of control such as constant supervision over such industries as might be left to Germany and territorial dismemberment of the Reich.

MARSHAL STALIN to all of these considerations expressed doubt as to whether they would be effective. He said that any furniture factories could be transformed into airplane factories and any watch factories could make fuses for shells? He said, in his opinion, the Germans were very able and talented people and could easily revive within fifteen or twenty years and again become a threat to the world. He said that he had personally questioned German prisoners in the Soviet Union as to why they had burst into Russian homes, killed Russian women, etc., and that the only reply he had received was they had been ordered to do so.

MR. CHURCHILL said that he could not look more than fifty years ahead and that he felt that upon the three nations represented here at Teheran rested the grave responsibility of future measures of assuring in some manner or other that Germany would not again rise to plague the world during the [that?] period. He said that he felt it was largely the fault of the German leaders and that, while during war time no distinction could be made between the leaders and the people particularly in regard to Germany, nevertheless, with a generation of self-sacrificing, toil and education, something might be done with the German people.

MARSHAL STALIN expressed dissent with this and did not appear satisfied as to the efficacy of any of the measures proposed by Mr. Churchill.

MR. CHURCHILL then inquired whether it would be possible this evening to discuss the question of Poland. He said that Great Britain had gone to war with Germany because of the latter’s invasion of Poland in 1939 and that the British Government was committed to the reestablishment of a strong and independent Poland but not to any specific Polish frontiers. He added that if Marshal Stalin felt any desire to discuss the question of Poland, that he was prepared to do so and he was sure that the President was similarly disposed.

MARSHAL STALIN said that he had not yet felt the necessity nor the desirability of discussing the Polish question (After an exchange of remarks on this subject from which it developed that the Marshal had in mind that nothing that the Prime Minister had said on the subject of Poland up to the present stimulated him to discuss the question, the conversation returned to the substance of the Polish question).

MR. CHURCHILL said that he personally had no attachment to any specific frontier between Poland and the Soviet Union; that he felt that the consideration of Soviet security on their western frontiers was a governing factor. He repeated, however, that the British Government considered themselves committed to the reestablishment of an independent and strong Poland which he felt a necessary instrument in the European orchestra.

MR. EDEN then inquired if he had understood the Marshal correctly at dinner when the latter said that the Soviet Union favored the Polish western frontier on the Oder.

MARSHAL STALIN replied emphatically that he did favor such a frontier for Poland and repeated that the Russians were prepared to help the Poles achieve it.

MR. CHURCHILL then remarked that it would be very valuable if here in Teheran the representatives of the three governments could work out some agreed understanding on the question of the Polish frontiers which could then be taken up with the Polish Government in London. He said that, as far as he was concerned, he would like to see Poland moved westward in the same manner as soldiers at drill execute the drill “left close” and illustrated his point with three matches representing the Soviet Union, Poland and Germany.

MARSHAL STALIN agreed that it would be a good idea to reach an understanding on this question but said it was necessary to look into the matter further.

The conversation broke up on this note.

Bohlen Supplementary Memorandum


Memorandum of Marshal Stalin’s Views as Expressed during the Evening of November 28, 1943

During dinner and afterwards Marshal Stalin kept returning to the following subjects:


In regard to Germany, Marshal Stalin appeared to regard all measures proposed by either the President or Churchill for the subjugation and for the control of Germany as inadequate. He on various occasions sought to induce the President or the Prime Minister to go further in expressing their views as to the stringency of the measures which should be applied to Germany. He appeared to have no faith in the possibility of the reform of the German people and spoke bitterly of the attitude of the German workers in the war against the Soviet Union. As evidence of the fundamental German devotion to legality he cited the occasion in 1907 when he was in Leipzig when 200 German workers failed to appear at an important mass meeting because there was no controller at the station platform to punch their tickets which would permit them to leave the station. He seemed to think that this mentality of discipline and obedience could not be changed.

He said that Hitler was a very able man but not basically intelligent, lacking in culture and with a primitive approach to political and other problems. He did not share the view of the President that Hitler was mentally unbalanced and emphasized that only a very able man could accomplish what Hitler had done in solidifying the German people whatever we thought of the methods. Although he did not specifically say so, it was apparent from his remarks that he considered that Hitler through his stupidity in attacking the Soviet Union had thrown away all the fruits of his previous victories.

As a war-time measure Marshal Stalin questioned the advisability of the unconditional surrender principle with no definition of the exact terms which would be imposed upon Germany. He felt that to leave the principle of unconditional surrender unclarified merely served to unite the German people, whereas to draw up specific terms, no matter how harsh, and tell the German people that this was what they would have to accept, would, in his opinion, hasten the day of German capitulation.


Throughout the evening Marshal Stalin kept reverting to the thesis that the French nation, and in particular its leaders and ruling classes, were rotten and deserved to be punished for their criminal collaboration with Nazi Germany. In particular he reiterated that France should not be given back her Empire. He took issue with the Prime Minister when the latter stated that France had been a defeated nation and had suffered the horrors of occupation, and denied that France had been in effect defeated. On the contrary their leaders had surrendered the country and “opened the front” to the German armies. He cited as characteristic of French political thinking the views of Bergery, former Vichy Ambassador to Moscow. Bergery had felt that the future of France lay in close association with Nazi Germany and not in association with Great Britain and the United States. When the Prime Minister stated that he could not conceive of a civilized world without a flourishing and lively France, Marshal Stalin somewhat contemptuously replied that France could be a charming and pleasant country but could not be allowed to play any important role in the immediate post war world. He characterized De Gaulle as a representative of a symbolic and not a real France but one who nevertheless acted as though he was the head of a great power. He appeared to attach little importance to De Gaulle as a real factor in political or other matters.

Both in regard to German and French questions Stalin was obviously trying to stimulate discussion and to ascertain the exact views of the President and Prime Minister on these questions without, however, stating clearly what solutions he himself proposed. On all questions of future general security which arose in the discussion of the French and German questions he appeared desirous to ascertain exactly what form of security organization would be developed after the war and how far the United States and British governments were prepared to go in implementing the police power of such an organization.

Tehran Conference: Tripartite Dinner Meeting

November 29, 1943
Soviet Embassy, 8:30 PM

President Roosevelt Prime Minister Churchill Marshal Stalin
Mr. Hopkins Foreign Secretary Eden Mr. Berezhakov
Mr. Harriman Sir Archibald Clark Kerr
Mr. Bohlen Major Birse
Bohlen Minutes


The most notable feature of the dinner was the attitude of Marshal Stalin toward the Prime Minister. Marshal Stalin lost no oppor-tunity to get in a dig at Mr. Churchill. Almost every remark that he addressed to the Prime Minister contained some sharp edge, al-though the Marshal’s manner was entirely friendly. He apparently desired to put and keep the Prime Minister on the defensive. At one occasion he told the Prime Minister that just because Russians are simple people, it was a mistake to believe that they were blind and could not see what was before their eyes.

In the discussion in regard to future treatment of Germans, Marshal Stalin strongly implied on several occasions that Mr. Churchill nursed a secret affection for Germany and desired to see a soft peace.

Marshal Stalin was obviously teasing the Prime Minister for the latter’s attitude at the afternoon session of the Conference, he was also making known in a friendly fashion his displeasure at the British attitude on the question of OVERLORD.

Following Mr. Hopkins’ toast to the Red Army, Marshal Stalin spoke with great frankness in regard to the past and present capacity of the Red Army. He said that in the winter war against Finland, the Soviet Army had shown itself to be very poorly organized and had done very badly; that as a result of the Finnish War, the entire Soviet Army had been re-organized; but even so, when the Germans attacked in 1941, it could not be said that the Red Army was a first class fighting force. That during the war with Germany, the Red Army had become steadily better from [the] point of view of oper-ations, tactics, etc., and now he felt that it was genuinely a good army. He added that the general opinion in regard to the Red Army had been wrong, because it was not believed that the Soviet Army could reorganize and improve itself during time of war.

In regard to the future treatment of Germany, MARSHAL STALIN developed the thesis that he had previously expressed, namely, that really effective measures to control Germany must be evolved, other-wise Germany would rise again within 15 or 20 years to plunge the world into another war. He said that two conditions must be met:

(1) At least 50,000 and perhaps 100,000 of the German Commanding Staff must be physically liquidated.

(2) The victorious Allies must retain possession of the important strategic points in the world so that if Germany moved a muscle she could be rapidly stopped.

MARSHAL STALIN added that similar strong points now in the hands of Japan should remain in the hands of the Allies.

THE PRESIDENT jokingly said that he would put the figure of the German Commanding Staff which should be executed at 49,000 or more.

THE PRIME MINISTER took strong exception to what he termed the cold blooded execution of soldiers who fought for their country. He said that war criminals must pay for their crimes and individuals who had committed barbarous acts, and in accordance with the Moscow Document, which he himself had written, they must stand trial at the places where the crimes were committed. He objected vigorously, however, to executions for political purposes.

MARSHAL STALIN, during this part of the conversation, continuously referred to Mr. Churchill’s secret liking for the Germans.

With reference to the occupation of bases and strong points in the vicinity of Germany and Japan, THE PRESIDENT said those bases must be held under trusteeship.

MARSHAL STALIN agreed with the President.

THE PRIME MINISTER stated that as far as Britain was concerned, they do not desire to acquire any new territory or bases, but intended to hold on to what they had. He said that nothing would be taken away from England without a war. He mentioned specifically, Singapore and Hong Kong. He said a portion of the British Empire might eventually be released but that this would be done entirely by Great Britain herself, in accordance with her own moral precepts. He said that Great Britain, if asked to do so, might occupy certain bases under trusteeship, provided others would help pay the cost of such occupation.

MARSHAL STALIN replied that England had fought well in the war, and he, personally, favored an increase in the British Empire, particularly the area around Gibraltar. He also suggested that Great Britain and the United States install more suitable government[s] in Spain and Portugal, since he was convinced that Franco was no friend of Great Britain or the United States. In reply to the Prime Minister’s inquiry as to what territorial interests the Soviet Union had, MARSHAL STALIN replied “there is no need to speak at the present time about any Soviet desires, but when the time comes, we will speak.”

Although the discussion between Marshal Stalin and the Prime Minister remained friendly, the arguments were lively and Stalin did not let up on the Prime Minister throughout the entire evening.

Tehran Conference: Roosevelt-Stalin Meeting

December 1, 1943
Roosevelt’s Quarters, 3:20 PM
Soviet Embassy

President Roosevelt Marshal Stalin
Mr. Harriman Foreign Commissar Molotov
Mr. Bohlen Mr. Pavlov
Bohlen Minutes


THE PRESIDENT said he had asked Marshal Stalin to come to see him as he wished to discuss a matter briefly and frankly. He said it re-ferred to internal American politics.

He said that we had an election in 1944 and that while personally he did not wish to run again, if the war was still in progress, he might have to.

He added that there were in the United States from six to seven million Americans of Polish extraction, and as a practical man, he did not wish to lose their vote. He said personally he agreed with the views of Marshal Stalin as to the necessity of the restoration of a Polish state but would like to see the Eastern border moved further to the west and the Western border moved even to the River Oder. He hoped, however, that the Marshal would understand that for political reasons outlined above, he could not participate in any de-cision here in Tehran or even next winter on this subject and that he could not publicly take part in any such arrangement at the present time.

MARSHAL STALIN replied that now the President explained, he had understood.

THE PRESIDENT went on to say that there were a number of persons of Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian origin, in that order, in the United States. He said that he fully realized the three Baltic Republics had in history and again more recently been a part of Russia and added jokingly that when the Soviet armies re-occupied these areas, he did not intend to go to war with the Soviet Union on this point.

He went on to say that the big issue in the United States, insofar as public opinion went, would be the question of referendum and the right of self-determination. He said he thought that world opinion would want some expression of the will of the people, per-haps not immediately after their re-occupation by Soviet forces, but some day, and that he personally was confident that the people would vote to join the Soviet Union.

MARSHAL STALIN replied that the three Baltic Republics had no autonomy under the last Czar who had been an ally of Great Britain and the United States, but that no one had raised the question of public opinion, and he did not quite see why it was being raised now.

THE PRESIDENT replied that the truth of the matter was that the public neither knew nor understood.

MARSHAL STALIN answered that they should be informed and some propaganda work should be done.

He added that as to the expression of the will of the people, there would be lots of opportunities for that to be done in accordance with the Soviet constitution but that he could not agree to any form of international control.

THE PRESIDENT replied it would be helpful for him personally if some public declaration in regard to the future elections to which the Marshal had referred, could be made.

MARSHAL STALIN repeated there would be plenty of opportunities for such an expression of the will of the people.

After a brief discussion of the time of the President’s departure and that of Marshal Stalin, THE PRESIDENT said there were only two matters which the three of them had not talked over.

He said he had already outlined to the Marshal his ideas on the three world organizations but he felt that it was premature to con-sider them here with Mr. Churchill. He referred particularly to his idea of the four great nations, the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China, policing the world in the post-war period. He said it was just an idea, and the exact form would require further study.

MR. MOLOTOV said that at the Moscow Conference, in accordance with the Four Power Declaration, it had been agreed that the three governments would give further study as to the exact form of world organization and the means of assuring the leading role of the four great powers mentioned.

During the conversation, in reply to the President’s question, MARSHAL STALIN said that he had received the three papers which the President had handed him the day before yesterday, one in regard to air bases, and the other two in regard to secret contacts involving the Far East, but said he had not had time to study the documents carefully, but would take it up in Moscow with Ambassador Harriman.

At this meeting, STALIN, referring to his conversation with the President on November 28 [29] on the world organization, said that after thinking over the question of the world organization as outlined by the President, he had come to agree with the President that it should be world-wide and not regional.

Tehran Conference: Tripartite Political Meeting

December 1, 1943
Conference Room, 6:00 PM
Soviet Embassy

President Roosevelt Prime Minister Churchill Marshal Stalin
Mr. Hopkins Foreign Secretary Eden Foreign Commissar Molotov
Mr. Harriman Sir Archibald Clark Kerr Mr. Pavlov
Mr. Bohlen Major Birse
Bohlen Minutes


THE PRESIDENT stated he thought that there were two main questions to be discussed-the question of Poland and the treatment of Germany.

THE PRESIDENT, turning to the subject of Poland, said it was his hope that negotiations could be started for the re-establishment of relations between the Polish and Soviet Governments. He felt that the re-establishment of relations would facilitate any decisions made in regard to the questions at issue. He said he recognized the difficulties which lay in the way.

MARSHAL STALIN replied that the Polish Government in exile were closely connected with the Germans and their agents in Poland were killing partisans. He said it is impossible to imagine what is going on in Poland.

THE PRIME MINISTER said the great question before the English was the fact that they had declared war because of the German invasion of Poland.

He said he personally had been astonished when Chamberlain had given the guarantee in April, 1939 to Poland when he had refused to fight for the Czechs. He had been astonished and glad.

He said that England and France had gone to war in pursuance of this guarantee and it was not that he regretted it, but still it would be difficult not to take cognizance of the fact that the British people had gone to war because of Poland.

He said he had used the illustration of the three matches the other evening in order to demonstrate one possible solution of the questions.

He said that the British Government was first of all interested in seeing absolute security for the Western frontiers of the Soviet Union against any surprise assault in the future from Germany.

MARSHAL STALIN replied that Russia, probably more than any other country was interested in having friendly relations with Poland, since the security of Soviet frontiers was involved.

He said the Russians were in favor of the reconstitution and expansion of Poland at the expense of Germany and that they make distinction between the Polish Government in exile and Poland.

He added that they broke relations with Poland not because of a whim but because the Polish [Poles] had joined in slanderous propaganda with the Nazis.

He inquired what guarantee could there be that this would not be repeated. He said they would like to have a guarantee that the Polish Government in exile would cease the killing of partisans in Poland and secondly to urge the people to fight against the Germans and not to indulge in intrigues.

The Russians would welcome relations with a Polish Government that led its people in the common struggle but it was not sure that the Polish Government in exile could be such a government. However, he added, if the government in exile would go along with the partisans and sever all connections with the German agents in Poland, then the Russians would be prepared to negotiate with them.

THE PRIME MINISTER said he would like to obtain the views of the Soviet Government in regard to the frontier question, and if some reasonable formula could be devised, he was prepared to take it up with the Polish Government in exile, and without telling them that the Soviet Government would accept such a solution, would offer it to them as probably the best they could obtain. If the Polish Government refused this, then Great Britain would be through with them and certainly would not oppose the Soviet Government under any condition at the peace table. He said the British Government wished to see a Poland strong and friendly to Russia.

MARSHAL STALIN replied this was desirable, but it was not just for the Poles to try and get back the Ukraine and White Russia; that the frontiers of 1939 had returned the Ukrainian soil to the Ukraine and White Russian soil to White Russia. The Soviet Government adheres to the 1939 line and considers it just and right.

MR. EDEN said that was the line known as the Ribbentrop-Molotov Line.

MARSHAL STALIN said call it what you will, we still consider it just and right.

MR. MOLOTOV interjected to say that the 1939 frontier was the Curzon Line.

MR. EDEN said there were differences.

MR. MOLOTOV replied in no essential points.

There was then an examination of maps as to the exact location of the Curzon Line, and its location was finally established.

THE PRESIDENT inquired whether in the opinion of Marshal Stalin, East Prussia and the area between the old Polish frontier and the Oder was approximately equal to the former Polish territory acquired by the Soviet Union.

MARSHAL STALIN replied he did not know.

THE PRIME MINISTER said that if it was possible to work out some fair solution that it would be up to the Polish [Poles] to accept it.

MARSHAL STALIN replied that the Soviet Union did not wish to retain any regions primarily occupied by Poles even though they were inside the 1939 Line.

THE PRESIDENT inquired whether a voluntary transfer of peoples from the mixed areas was possible.

MARSHAL STALIN said that such a transfer was entirely possible. Turning to the question of Germany, THE PRESIDENT said that the question was whether or not to split up Germany.

MARSHAL STALIN replied that they preferred the dismemberment of Germany.

THE PRIME MINISTER said he was all for it but that he was primarily more interested in seeing Prussia, the evil core of German militarism, separated from the rest of Germany.

THE PRESIDENT said he had a plan that he had thought up some months ago for the division of Germany in five parts. These five parts were:

  1. All Prussia to be rendered as small and weak as possible.
  2. Hanover and Northwest section.
  3. Saxony and Leipzig area.
  4. Hesse-Darmstadt
  5. Hesse-Kassel and the area South of the Rhine
  6. Bavaria, Baden, and Wurtemburg [Württemberg]

He proposed that these five areas should be self-governed and that there should be two regions under United Nations or some form of International control. These were:

  1. The area of the Kiel Canal and the City of Hamburg.
  2. The Ruhr and the Saar, the latter to be used for the benefit of all Europe.

THE PRIME MINISTER said, to use an American expression, “The President had said a mouthful.”

He went on to say that in his mind there were two considerations, one destructive and the other constructive.

  1. The separation of Prussia from the rest of the Reich.
  2. To detach Bavaria, Baden, Wurtemburg [Württemberg] and the Palatinate from the rest of Germany and make them part of the Confederation of the Danube.

MARSHAL STALIN said he felt if Germany was to be dismembered, it should really be dismembered, and it was neither a question of the division of Germany in five or six states and two areas as the President suggested. However, he said he preferred the President’s plan to the suggestion of Mr. Churchill.

He felt that to include German areas within the framework of large confederations would merely offer an opportunity to the German elements to revive a great State.

He went on to say that he did not believe there was a difference among Germans; that all German soldiers fought like devils and the only exception was the Austrians.

He said that the Prussian Officers and Staffs should be eliminated, but as to the inhabitants, he saw little difference between one part of Germany and another.

He said he was against the idea of confederation as artificial and one that would not last in that area, and in addition would provide opportunity for the German elements to control.

Austria, for example, had existed as an independent state and should again. Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria likewise.

THE PRESIDENT said he agreed with the Marshal, particularly in regard to the absence of differences between Germans. He said fifty years ago there had been a difference but since the last war it was no longer so.

He said the only difference was that in Bavaria and the Southern part of Germany there was no officer cast[e] as there had been in Prussia. He agreed with Marshal Stalin that the Austrians were an exception.

THE PRIME MINISTER said he did not wish to be considered as against the dismemberment of Germany-quite the contrary, but he felt to separate the parts above would merely mean that sooner or later they will reunite into one nation and that the main thing was to keep Germany divided if only for fifty years.

MARSHAL STALIN repeated what he had said as to the danger of the re-unification of Germany. He said no matter what measures were adopted there would always be a strong urge on the part of the Germans to unite.

He said it was a great mistake to unite Hungary with Germans since the Germans would merely control the Hungarians and to create large frameworks within which the Germans could operate would be very dangerous.

He felt the whole purpose of any international organization to preserve peace would be to neutralize this tendency on the part of the Germans and apply against them economic and other measures and if necessary, force, to prevent their unification and revival. He said the victorious nations must have the strength to beat the Germans if they ever start on the path of a new war.

THE PRIME MINISTER inquired whether Marshal Stalin contemplated a Europe composed of little states, disjoined, separated and weak.

MARSHAL STALIN replied not Europe but Germany.

He supposed for example that Poland would be a strong country, and France, and Italy likewise; that Rumania and Bulgaria would remain as they always had; small States.

THE PRESIDENT remarked Germany had been less dangerous to civilization when in 107 provinces.

THE PRIME MINISTER said he hoped for larger units.

THE PRIME MINISTER then returned to the question of Poland and said he was not asking for any agreement nor was he set on the matter but he had a statement which he would like to have the Marshal examine.

This statement suggested that Poland should obtain equal com-pensation in the West, including Eastern Prussia and frontiers on the Oder to compensate for the areas which would be in the Soviet Union.

THE PRESIDENT interjected to say that one question in regard to Germany remained to be settled and that was what body should be empowered to study carefully the question of dismemberment of Germany.

It was agreed that the European Advisory Committee [Commis-sion] would undertake this task.

THE PRIME MINISTER said in his opinion the Polish question was urgent.

He repeated if it would be possible to work out a formula here, and then [sic] he could go back to the Polish Government in London and urge on them the desirability of at least attempting to reach a settle-ment along those lines, without however indicating any commitment on the part of the Soviet Government.

MARSHAL STALIN said that if the Russians would be given the northern part of East Prussia, running along the left bank of the Niemen and include Tils[i]t and the City of Konigsberg, he would be prepared to accept the Curzon Line as the frontier between the Soviet Union and Poland.

He said the acquisition of that part of Eastern Prussia would not only afford the Soviet Union an ice-free port but would also give to Russia a small piece of German territory which he felt was deserved.

Although nothing definitely was stated, it was apparent that the British were going to take this suggestion back to London to the Poles. is a project of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University

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