KC Johnson

Week of Sept. 28

September 28. The United States and the World at War (1939-1941)

  • Noriko Kawamura, “Emperor Hirohito and Japan’s Decision to Go to War with the United States: Reexamined,” Diplomatic History 31 (2007), pp. 51-79.
  • Douglas M. Charles, “Informing FDR: FBI Political Surveillance and the Isolationist-Interventionist Foreign Policy Debate, 1939–1945 Diplomatic History 24 (2000), pp. 211-232.

FDR, Arsenal for Democracy” speech, Dec. 1940:

This is not a fireside chat on war. It is a talk on national security; because the nub of the whole purpose of your President is to keep you now; and your children later, and your grandchildren much later, out of a last?ditch war for the preservation of American independence and all of the things that American independence means to you and to me and to ours.

Tonight, in the presence of a world crisis, my mind goes back eight years ago to a night in the midst of a domestic crisis. It was a time when the wheels of American industry were grinding to a full stop, when the whole banking system of our country had ceased to function.

I well remember that while I sat in my study in the White House, preparing to talk with the people of the United States, I had before my eyes the picture of all those Americans with whom I was talking. I saw the workmen in the mills, the mines, the factories; the girl behind the counter; the small shopkeeper; the farmer doing his spring plowing; the widows and the old men wondering about their life’s savings.

I tried to convey to the great mass of American people what the banking crisis meant to them in their daily lives.

Tonight, I want to do the same thing, with the same people, in this new crisis which faces America.

We met the issue of 1933 with courage and realism.

We face this new crisis-this new threat to the security of our Nation-with the same courage and realism.

Never before since Jamestown and Plymouth Rock has our American civilization been in such danger as now.

For, on September 27, 1940, by an agreement signed in Berlin, three powerful nations, two in Europe and one in Asia, joined themselves together in the threat that if the United States interfered with or blocked the expansion program of these three nations-a program aimed at world control-they would unite in ultimate action against the United States.

The Nazi masters of Germany have made it clear that they intend not only to dominate all life and thought in their own country, but also to enslave the whole of Europe, and then to use the resources of Europe to dominate the rest of the world.

Three weeks ago their leader stated, “There are two worlds that stand opposed to each other.” Then in defiant reply to his opponents, he said this: “Others are correct when they say: `With this world we cannot ever reconcile ourselves.’ . . . I can beat any other power in the world.” So said the leader of the Nazis.

In other words, the Axis not merely admits but proclaims that there can be no ultimate peace between their philosophy of government and our philosophy of government.

In view of the nature of this undeniable threat, it can be asserted, properly and categorically, that the United States has no right or reason to encourage talk of peace until the day shall come when there is a clear intention on the part of the aggressor nations to abandon all thought of dominating or conquering the world.

At this moment, the forces of the states that are leagued against all peoples who live in freedom are being held away from our shores. The Germans and Italians are being blocked on the other side of the Atlantic by the British, and by the Greeks, and by thousands of soldiers and sailors who were able to escape from subjugated countries. The Japanese are being engaged in Asia by the Chinese in another great defense.

In the Pacific is our fleet.

Some of our people like to believe that wars in Europe and in Asia are of no concern to us. But it is a matter of most vital concern to us that European and Asiatic war-makers should not gain control of the oceans which lead to this hemisphere.

One hundred and seventeen years ago the Monroe Doctrine was conceived by our Government as a measure of defense in the face of a threat against this hemisphere by an alliance in continental Europe. Thereafter, we stood on guard in the Atlantic, with the British as neighbors. There was no treaty. There was no “unwritten agreement”.

Yet, there was the feeling, proven correct by history, that we as neighbors could settle any disputes in peaceful fashion. The fact is that during the whole of this time the Western Hemisphere has remained free from aggression from Europe or from Asia.

Does anyone seriously believe that we need to fear attack while a free Britain remains our most powerful naval neighbor in the Atlantic? Does any one seriously believe, on the other hand, that we could rest easy if the Axis powers were our neighbor there?

If Great Britain goes down, the Axis powers will control the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia, and the high seas–and they will be in a position to bring enormous military and naval resources against this hemisphere. It is no exaggeration to say that all of us in the Americas would be living at the point of a gun-a gun loaded with explosive bullets, economic as well as military.

We should enter upon a new and terrible era in which the whole world, our hemisphere included, would be run by threats of brute force. To survive in such a world, we would have to convert ourselves permanently into a militaristic power on the basis of war economy.

Some of us like to believe that. even if Great Britain falls, we are still safe, because of the broad expanse of the Atlantic and of the Pacific.

But the width of these oceans is not what it was in the days of clipper ships. At one point between Africa and Brazil the distance is less than from Washington to Denver-five hours for the latest type of bomber. And at the, north of the Pacific Ocean, America and Asia almost touch each other. Even today we have planes which could fly from the British Isles to New England and back without refueling. And the range of the modern bomber is ever being increased.

During the past week many people in all parts of the Nation have told me what they wanted me to say tonight. Almost all of them expressed a courageous desire to hear the plain truth about the gravity of the situation. One telegram, however, expressed the attitude of the ,small minority who want to see no evil and hear no evil, even though they know in their hearts that evil exists. That telegram begged me not to tell again of the ease with which our American cities could be bombed by any hostile power which had gained bases in this Western Hemisphere. The gist of that telegram was: “Please, Mr. President, don’t frighten us by telling us the facts.”

Frankly and definitely there is danger ahead-danger against which we must prepare. But we well know that we cannot escape danger, or the fear of it, by crawling into bed and pulling the covers over our heads.

Some nations of Europe were bound by solemn non?intervention pacts with Germany. Other nations were assured by Germany that they need never fear invasion. Non?intervention pact or not, the fact remains that they were attacked, overrun, and thrown into the modern form of slavery at an hour’s notice or even without any notice at all. As an exiled leader of one of these nations said to me the other day: “The notice was a minus quantity. It was given to my government two hours after German troops had poured into my country in a hundred places.”

The fate of these nations tells us what it means to live at the point of a Nazi gun.

The Nazis have justified such actions by various pious frauds. One of these frauds is the claim that they are occupying a nation for the purpose of “restoring order”. Another is that they are occupying or controlling a nation on the excuse that they are “protecting it” against the aggression of somebody else.

For example, Germany has said that she was occupying Belgium to save the Belgians from the British. Would she hesitate to say to any South American country, “We are occupying you to protect you from aggression by the United States”?

Belgium today is being used as an invasion base against Britain, now fighting for its life. Any South American country, in Nazi hands, would always constitute a jumping-off place for German attack on any one of the other republics of this hemisphere.

Analyze for yourselves the future of two other places even nearer to Germany if the Nazis won. Could Ireland hold out? Would Irish freedom be permitted as an amazing exception in an unfree world? Or the islands of the Azores which still fly the flag of Portugal after five centuries? We think of Hawaii as an outpost of defense in the Pacific. Yet, the Azores are closer to our shores in the Atlantic than Hawaii is on the other side.

There are those who say that the Axis powers would never have any desire to attack the Western Hemisphere. This is the same dangerous form of wishful thinking which has destroyed the powers of resistance of so many conquered peoples. The plain facts are that the Nazis have proclaimed, time and again, that all other races are their inferiors and therefore subject to their orders. And most important of all, the vast resources and wealth of this hemisphere constitute the most tempting loot in all the world.

Let us no longer blind ourselves to the undeniable fact that the evil forces which have crushed and undermined and corrupted so many others are already within our own gates. Your Government knows much about them and every day is ferreting them out.

Their secret emissaries are active in our own and neighboring countries. They seek to stir up suspicion and dissension to cause internal strife. They try to turn capital against labor and vice versa. They try to reawaken long slumbering racial and religious enmities which should have no place in this country. They are active in every group that promotes intolerance. They exploit for their own ends our natural abhorrence of war. These trouble?breeders have but one purpose. It is to divide our people into hostile groups and to destroy our unity and shatter our will to defend ourselves.

There are also American citizens, many of them in high places, who, unwittingly in most cases, are aiding and abetting the work of these agents. I do not charge these American citizens with being foreign agents. But I do charge them with doing exactly the kind of work that the dictators want done in the United States.

These people not only believe that we can save our own skins by shutting our eyes to the fate of other nations. Some of them go much further than that. They say that we can and should become the friends and even the partners of the Axis powers. Some of them even suggest that we should imitate the methods of the dictatorships. Americans never can and never will do that.

The experience of the past two years has proven beyond doubt that no nation can appease the Nazis. No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it. There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness. There can be no reasoning with an incendiary bomb. We know now that a nation can have peace with the Nazis only at the price of total surrender.

Even the people of Italy have been forced to become accomplices of he Nazis; but at this moment they do not know how soon they will e embraced to death by their allies.

The American appeasers ignore the warning to be found in the ate of Austria, Czechoslovakia., Poland, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, and France. They tell you that the Axis powers re going to win anyway; that all this bloodshed in the world could be saved; and that the United States might just as well throw its influence into the scale of a dictated peace, and get the best out of it that we can.

They call it a “negotiated peace”. Nonsense! Is it a negotiated peace if a gang of outlaws surrounds your community and on threat of extermination makes you pay tribute to save your own skins?

Such a dictated peace would be no peace at all. It would be only another armistice, leading to the most gigantic armament race and the most devastating trade wars in history. And in these contests the Americas would offer the only real resistance to the Axis powers.

With all their vaunted efficiency and parade of pious purpose in his war, there are still in their background the concentration camp and the servants of God in chains.

The history of recent years proves that shootings and chains and concentration camps are not simply the transient tools but the very altars of modern dictatorships. They may talk of a “new order” in he world, but what they have in mind is but a revival of the oldest end the worst tyranny. In that there is no liberty, no religion, no hope.

The proposed “new order” is the very opposite of a United States if Europe or a United States of Asia. It is not a government based upon the consent of the governed. It is not a union of ordinary, self-respecting men and women to protect themselves and their freedom and their dignity from oppression. It is an unholy alliance of power and pelf to dominate and enslave the human race.

The British people are conducting an active war against this unholy alliance. Our own future security is greatly dependent on the outcome of that fight. Our ability to “keep out of war” is going to be affected by that outcome.

Thinking in terms of today and tomorrow, I make the direct statement to the American people that there is far less chance of the United States getting into war if we do all we can now to support the nations defending themselves against attack by the Axis than if we acquiesce in their defeat, submit tamely to an Axis victory, and wait our turn to be the object of attack in another war later on.

If we are to be completely honest with ourselves, we must admit there is risk in any course we may take. But I deeply believe that the great majority of our people agree that the course that I advocate involves the least risk now and the greatest hope for world peace in the future.

The people of Europe who are defending themselves do not ask us to do their fighting. They ask us for the implements of war, the planes, the tanks, the guns, the freighters, which will enable them to fight for their liberty and our security. Emphatically we must get these weapons to them in sufficient volume and quickly enough, so that we and our children will be saved the agony and suffering of war which others have had to endure.

Let not defeatists tell us that it is too late. It will never be earlier. Tomorrow will be later than today.

Certain facts are self-evident.

In a military sense Great Britain and the British Empire are today the spearhead of resistance to world conquest. They are putting up a fight which will live forever in the story of human gallantry.

There is no demand for sending an American Expeditionary Force outside our own borders. There is no intention by any member of your Government to send such a force. You can, therefore, nail any talk about sending armies to Europe as deliberate untruth.

Our national policy is not directed toward war. Its sole purpose is to keep war away from our country and our people.

Democracy’s fight against world conquest is being greatly aided, and must be more greatly aided, by the rearmament of the United States and by sending every ounce and every ton of munitions and supplies that we can possibly spare to help the defenders who are in the front lines. It is no more unneutral for us to do that than it is for Sweden, Russia, and other nations near Germany to send steel and ore and oil and other war materials into Germany every day.
We are planning our own defense with the utmost urgency; and in its vast scale we must integrate the war needs of Britain and the other free nations resisting aggression.

This is not a matter of sentiment or of controversial personal opinion. It is a matter of realistic military policy, based on the advice of our military experts who are in close touch with existing warfare. These military and naval experts and the members of the Congress and the administration have a single?minded purpose-the defense of the United States.

This Nation is making a great effort to produce everything that is necessary in this emergency-and with all possible speed. This great effort requires great sacrifice.

I would ask no one to defend a democracy which in turn would not defend everyone in the Nation against want and privation. The strength of this Nation shall not be diluted by the failure of the Government to protect the economic well-being of all citizens.

If our capacity to produce is limited by machines, it must ever be remembered that these machines are operated by the skill and the stamina of the workers. As the Government is determined to protect the rights of workers, so the Nation has a right to expect that the men who man the machines will discharge their full responsibilities to the urgent needs of defense.

The worker possesses the same human dignity and is entitled to the same security of position as the engineer or manager or owner. For the workers provide the human power that turns out the destroyers, the airplanes, and the tanks.

The Nation expects our defense industries to continue operation without interruption by strikes or lock-outs. It expects and insists that management and workers will reconcile their differences by voluntary or legal means, to continue to produce the supplies that are so sorely needed.

And on the economic side of our great defense program, we are, as you know, bending every effort to maintain stability of prices and with that the stability of the cost of living.

Nine days ago I announced the setting up of a more effective organization to direct our gigantic efforts to increase the production of munitions. The appropriation of vast sums of money and a well-coordinated executive direction of our defense efforts are not in themselves enough. Guns, planes, and ships have to be built in the factories and arsenals of America. They have to be produced by workers and managers and engineers with the aid of machines, which in turn have to be built by hundreds of thousands of workers throughout the land.

In this great work there has been splendid cooperation between the Government and industry and labor.

American industrial genius, unmatched throughout the world in the solution of production problems, has been called upon to bring its resources and talents into action. Manufacturers of watches, of farm implements, linotypes, cash registers, automobiles, sewing machines, lawn mowers, and locomotives are now making fuses, bomb-packing crates, telescope mounts, shells, pistols, and tanks.

But all our present efforts are not enough. We must have more ships, more guns, more planes-more of everything. This can only be accomplished if we discard the notion of “business as usual”. This job cannot be done merely by superimposing on the existing productive facilities the added requirements for defense.

Our defense efforts must not be blocked by those who fear the future consequences of surplus plant capacity. The possible consequence of failure of our defense efforts now are much more to be feared.

After the present needs of our defense are past, a proper handling of the country’s peacetime needs will require all of the new productive capacity-if not more.

No pessimistic policy about the future of America shall delay the immediate expansion of those industries essential to defense.

I want to make it clear that it is the purpose of the Nation to build now with all possible speed every machine and arsenal and factory that we need to manufacture our defense material. We have the men the skill, the wealth, and above all, the will.

I am confident that if and when production of consumer or luxury goods in certain industries requires the use of machines and raw materials essential for defense purposes, then such production must yield to our primary and compelling purpose.

I appeal to the owners of plants, to the managers, to the workers, to our own Government employees, to put every ounce of effort into producing these munitions swiftly and without stint. And with this appeal I give you the pledge that all of us who are officers of you Government will devote ourselves to the same whole?hearted extent to the great task which lies ahead.

As planes and ships and guns and shells are produced, your Government, with its defense experts, can then determine how best to us them to defend this hemisphere. The decision as to how much shall be sent abroad and how much shall remain at home must be made on the basis of our over?all military necessities.

We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice, as we would show were we at war.

We have furnished the British great material support and we will furnish far more in the future.

There will be no “bottlenecks” in our determination to aid Great Britain. No dictator, no combination of dictators, will weaken that determination by threats of how they will construe that determination.

The British have received invaluable military support from the heroic Greek Army and from the forces of all the governments in exile. Their strength is growing. It is the strength of men an women who value their freedom more highly than they value the: lives.

I believe that the Axis powers are not going to win this war. I base that belief on the latest and best information.

We have no excuse for defeatism. We have every good reason for hope-hope for peace, hope for the defense of our civilization and for the building of a better civilization in the future.

I have the profound conviction that the American people are now determined to put forth a mightier effort than they have ever yet made to increase our production of all the implements of defense, to meet the threat to our democratic faith.

As President of the United States I call for that national effort. I call for it in the name of this Nation which we love and honor and which we are privileged and proud to serve. I call upon our people with absolute confidence that our common cause will greatly succeed.


FDR, Churchill: Atlantic Charter, Aug. 1941:

The President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, representing His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, being met together, deem it right to make known certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world.

First, their countries seek no aggrandizement, territorial or other;

Second, they desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned;

Third, they respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them;

Fourth, they will endeavor, with due respect for their existing obligations, to further the enjoyment by all States, great or small, victor or vanquished, of access, on equal terms, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity;

Fifth, they desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the object of securing, for all, improved labor standards, economic advancement and social security;

Sixth, after the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny, they hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in all lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want;

Seventh, such a peace should enable all men to traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance;

Eighth, they believe that all of the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside of their frontiers, they believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise aid and encourage all other practicable measure which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armaments.


Map–Europe just before the German invasion of the USSR, summer 1941:


September 30. World War II (1941-1945)

  • Sarah Ellen Graham, “American Propaganda, the Anglo-American Alliance, and the ‘Delicate Question’ of Indian Self-Determination,” Diplomatic History 33 (2009), pp. 223-259.
  • Geoffrey Roberts, “Stalin at the Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam Conferences,” Journal of Cold War Studies 9 (2007), pp. 6-40.

map, Europe at height of German conquests, 1942:


FDR, Churchill, and Stalin discuss colonialism and French Indochina, at Tehran Conference, 1943

The President [FDR] said that Mr. Churchill was of the opinion that France would be very quickly reconstructed as a strong nation, but he did not personally share this view since he felt that many years of honest labor would be necessary before France would be re-established. He said the first necessity for the French, not only for the Government but the people as well, was to become honest citizens.

Marshal [Josef] Stalin agreed and went on to say that he did not propose to have the Allies shed blood to restore Indochina, for example, to the old French colonial rule. He said that the recent events in the Lebanon [where the French ended their mandate] made public service the first step toward the independence of people who had formerly been colonial subjects. He said that in the war against Japan, in his opinion, that in addition to military missions, it was necessary to fight the Japanese in the political sphere as well, particularly in view of the fact that the Japanese had granted the least nominal independence to certain colonial areas. He repeated that France should not get back Indochina and that the French must pay for their criminal collaboration with Germany.

The President said he was 100% in agreement with Marshal Stalin and remarked that after 100 years of French rule in Indochina, the inhabitants were worse off than they had been before. .

The President continued on the subject of colonial possessions, but he felt it would be better not to discuss the question of India with Mr. Churchill, since the latter had no solution of that question, and merely proposed to defer the entire question to the end of the war.

Marshal Stalin agreed that this was a sore spot with the British.


The Big Three discuss the fate of postwar Poland, at Tehran Conference, 1943:

Opened: 16.00; Closed: 19.40

Roosevelt: At this sitting I should like us to discuss the questions of Poland and Germany.

Stalin: And also the question of a communiqué.

Roosevelt: The Communiqué is already being prepared.

Molotov: Can we receive an answer now concerning the transfer to us of a part of the Italian merchant fleet and navy?

Roosevelt: The answer to this question is very simple. We have received a great number of Italian ships. They should, I think, remain in the temporary use of the United Nations and should be used in the best way. After the war they should be distributed among the United Nations.

Molotov: If these ships cannot be conveyed into our ownership we ask that they be given to us for temporary use. We shall use them in the interests of the allies and all the United Nations.

Stalin: If Turkey does not enter the war, the Italian ships transferred to us cannot be sailed into the Black Sea, and we should then like to have them in the North Sea. We are aware that Great Britain and the United States are in need of ships, but we are not asking for many.

Churchill: I am for it.

Roosevelt: I am also for it.

Churchill: I should like to see these ships in the Black Sea.

Stalin: We also prefer to have them in the Black Sea.

Churchill: It may be well to send the Italian ships handed over to the Soviet Union into the Black Sea with the British ships to help the Soviet Navy.

Stalin: All right, please.

Churchill: We must settle the matter of transferring the ships with the Italians, because they are helping us with their fleet. Some Italian ships are fighting, others are patrolling. The submarines are being used for supply. Of course, it is desirable to put the Italian fleet to the best possible use instead of having it against us. That is why I request two months in which to settle with the Italians the question of transferring the Italian ships the Soviet Union. This is a delicate matter and it is necessary to go about it like a cat with a mouse.

Stalin: Can we then receive these ships by the end of January of next year?

Roosevelt: I agree.

Churchill: I agree.

Stalin: Our crews will man these ships.

Churchill: We should like to help the Russian Navy in the Black Sea with our own ships. In addition, we should be happy to help in repairing the Soviet naval base in the Black Sea, for instance, Sevastopol. We should also be happy if the Soviet Government considers it useful to send four or five submarines into the Black Sea to sink the Rumanians and Germans there. I must say that we have neither claims nor interests in the Black Sea.

Stalin: Very well, we shall be grateful for any assistance extended to us.

Churchill: There is one point we could make use of in the event Turkey joins the war. If Turkey is afraid to enter the war but will agree to stretch her neutrality, Turkey may permit several submarines to pass through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles into the Black Sea with supply ships for them. American submarines are sinking many Japanese ships in the Pacific Ocean; our submarines sank a great number of German and Italian ships in the Mediterranean; now our submarines could help in the Black Sea.

Stalin: Have we finished with this question?

Churchill: Yes.

Roosevelt: I should like to discuss Poland. I wish to express the hope that the Soviet Government will be able to start talks and restore its relations with the Polish Government.

Stalin: The agents of the Polish Government, who are in Poland, are connected with the Germans. They are killing partisans. You cannot imagine what they are doing there.

Churchill: That is a big issue. We declared war on Germany because Germany attacked Poland. I was surprised when Chamberlain failed to fight for the Czechs in Munich, but suddenly in April 1939 gave Poland a guarantee. I was surprised when he rejected more favourable opportunities and returned to the policy of war. But at the same time I was also pleased with this fact. For the sake of Poland and in pursuance of our promise we declared war on Germany, although we were not prepared, with the exception of our naval forces, and played a big part in inducing France to enter the war. France has collapsed. But we turned out to be active fighters thanks to our insular position. We attach great importance to the reason for which we entered the war. I understand the historical difference between ours and the Russian standpoint on Poland. But at home we pay a great deal of attention to Poland, for it was the attack on Poland that prompted us to undertake the present effort. I was also very well aware of the Russian position at the start of the war, and considering our weakness at the beginning of the war, and the fact that France went back on the guarantees she gave in Munich, I understand that the Soviet Government could not at the time risk its life in that struggle. But now the situation is different, and I hope that if we are asked why we entered the war we shall reply that it happened because we gave Poland a guarantee. I want to return to my example of the three matches, one of which represents Germany, another Poland, and the third, the Soviet Union. All these three matches must be moved to the West in order to settle one of the main problems facing the allies: to ensure the Soviet Union’s Western borders.

Stalin: Yesterday there was no mention of negotiations with the Polish Government. Yesterday it was said that the Polish Government must be directed to do this, and that I must say that Russia, no less than the other Powers, is interested in good relations with Poland, because Poland is Russia’s neighbour. We stand for the restoration and strengthening of Poland. But we draw a line between Poland and the emigre Polish Government in London. We broke off relations with that Government not out of any whim on our part, but because the Polish Government joined Hitler in slandering the Soviet Union. All that was published in the press. What are the guarantees that the emigre Polish Government in London will not do the same thing again? We should like to have a guarantee that the agents of the Polish Government will not kill partisans, that the emigre Polish Government will really call for struggle against the Germans, instead of engaging in machinations. We shall maintain good relations with any Government that calls for active struggle against the Germans. But I am not at all sure that the present emigre Government in London is such as it should be. If it sides with the partisans and if we are given a guarantee that its agents will not have ties with the Germans in Poland, we shall be prepared to start talks with it.

Churchill mentioned three matches. I should like to ask him what it means.

Churchill: It would be a good thing now at the round table to hear the views of the Russians on Poland’s borders. I think Eden or I could then make them known to the Poles. We believe that Poland unquestionably should be satisfied at the expense of Germany. We are prepared to tell the Poles that this is a good plan, and that they cannot expect a better one. After this we could raise the question of restoring relations. But I should like to emphasise that we want a strong independent Poland, friendly to Russia.

Stalin: The question is that the Ukrainian lands should go to the Ukraine, and the Byelorussian, to Byelorussia, i.e., the 1939 border established by the Soviet Constitution should exist between us and Poland. The Soviet Government stands for this border and considers that this is correct.

What other questions are there for discussion?

Roosevelt: The question of Germany.

Stalin: What are the proposals on this matter?

Roosevelt: The partition of Germany.

Churchill: I am for partitioning Germany. But I should like to consider the question of partitioning Prussia. I am for separating Bavaria and the other provinces from Germany.

Roosevelt: In order to stimulate our discussion on this question, I want to set forth a plan for partitioning Germany into five states, which I personally drew up two months ago.

Churchill: I should like to stress that the root of evil in Germany is Prussia.

Roosevelt: I should like us to have a picture of the whole before we speak of the separate components. In my opinion, Prussia must be weakened as far as possible, and reduced in size. Prussia should constitute the first independent part of Germany. The second part of Germany should include Hannover and the north-western regions of Germany. The third part — Saxony and the Leipzig area. The fourth part — Hessen Province, Darmstadt, Kassel and the areas to the south of the Rhine, and also the old towns of Westphalia. The fifth part — Bavaria, Baden, Württemberg. Each of these five parts would be an independent state. In addition, the regions of the Kiel Canal and Hamburg should be separated from Germany. These regions would be administered by the United Nations, or the four Powers. The Ruhr and the Saar must be placed either under the control of the United Nations or under the trusteeship of the whole of Europe. That is my proposal. I must add that it is merely exploratory.

Churchill: You have said a mouthful. I think there are two questions: one — destructive, the other — constructive. I have two ideas: the first is to isolate Prussia from the rest of Germany; the second is to separate Germany’s southern provinces — Bavaria, Baden, Württemberg, the Palatinate, from the Saar to Saxony inclusive. I would keep Prussia in strict condition. I think it would be easy to sever the southern provinces from Prussia and include them in a Danubian federation. The people who live in the Danube basin are not the cause of war. At any rate, I would give the Prussians harsher treatment than the other Germans. The southern Germans will not start a new war.

Stalin: I do not like the plan for new associations of states. If it is decided to partition Germany no new associations need be set up. Whether it is five or six states, and two regions into which Roosevelt proposes to divide Germany, this plan of Roosevelt’s to weaken Germany can be examined. Like us, Churchill will soon have to deal with great masses of Germans. Churchill will then see that it is not only the Prussians who are fighting in the German Army but also Germans from the other provinces of Germany. Only the Austrians, when surrendering, shout “I’m Austrian”, and our soldiers accept them. As for the Germans from Germany’s other provinces they fight with equal doggedness. Regardless of how we approach the partitioning of Germany there is no need to set up some new association of Danubian states lacking vitality. Hungary and Austria must exist separately. Austria existed as a separate state until it was seized.

Roosevelt: I agree with Marshal Stalin, in particular, that there is no difference between Germans from the various German provinces. Fifty years ago there was a difference but now all German soldiers are alike. It is true that this does not apply to the Prussian officers.

Churchill: I should not like to be understood as not favouring the partition of Germany. But I wanted to say that if Germany is broken up into several parts without these parts being combined then, as Marshal Stalin said, the time will come when the Germans will unite.

Stalin: There are no steps that could exclude the possibility of Germany’s unification.

Churchill: Does Marshal Stalin prefer a divided Europe?

Stalin: Europe has nothing to do with it. I don’t know that there is need to set up four, five or six independent German states. This question must be discussed.

Roosevelt: Should a special committee be set up to study the question of Germany, or should it be referred to the London Commission?

Stalin: This question could be referred to the London Commission, in which there are representatives of our three states.

Churchill: I should now like to return to the Polish question, which appears to me to be more urgent because the Poles can make a great deal of noise. I should like to read out my following proposals on the Polish question. I am not asking you to agree with it in the form in which I have drawn it up, because I have not yet taken a final decision myself.

My proposal says:

“It was agreed in principle that the hearth of the Polish state and people must be situated between the so-called Curzon Line and the line of the Oder River, including Eastern Prussia and the Oppeln Province as part of Poland. But the final drawing of the boundary line requires thorough study and possible resettlement in some points.”

Stalin: The Russians have no ice-free ports on the Baltic. That is why the Russians would need the ice-free ports of Königsberg and Memel and the corresponding part of the territory of Eastern Prussia, particularly since these are age-old Slav lands. If the British agree to the transfer of the said territory to us, we shall agree to the formula proposed by Churchill.

Churchill: This is a very interesting proposal which I will make a point of studying.


Poland discussed at Yalta (multi-page document, advance through pages on arrow at bottom), 1945

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