The Assistant Secretary of War to the President’s special assistant
Cairo, 25 November 1943
Memorandum for Mr. Harry Hopkins:
I did not get a chance to give you all the information I had gathered from the British Joint Secretaries on this matter of Civil Affairs. I did not think that I could or should talk very much at lunch in front of Lord Leathers.
Brigadier Redman told me this morning that the Prime Minister had been “strongly” briefed on the question and was going to take the matter up with the President at an early date and that the matter would not be referred to the Combined Chiefs of Staff until after the Prime Minister had his talk with the President. He also indicated that the Prime Minister’s line would be the foreign office approach, namely the introduction into the occupied area of civilians following the “forward zone” of military operations and the establishment in London of a Combined Civil Affairs Committee to do the operating from there rather than via the Combined Chiefs of Staff and Washington. The obvious implication was that the President should be briefed to prepare himself for the Prime Minister’s presentation.
The British Combined Chiefs of Staff, I find, likewise agree with us and so does Sir John Dill. I had dinner with Cunningham and Brooke last night and they gave every indication of their concurrence. I am seeing Eden in the morning and in the meantime I am giving you herewith two papers which I believe could serve as the basis for the briefing of the President. I have an idea that the Prime Minister is going to bring the matter up on the way north. Don’t allow any commitments to be made until the President understands all the implications. I hope that Eden, Winant and I can work out something. In the meantime, I will stick around and await further word from you as to what if any help I can be on this or any other subject.
JOHN J. McCLOY
Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of War
There has been a very definite and noticeable effort in the past few months on the part of the British government to transfer to London all determinations of our occupational and post-hostility policy. It has been the policy of the American government to base considerations of civil administration in liberated or occupied territory primarily on military policy so long as the war continues. On the American side provision was made for obtaining the views of the political and economic side of the government but the machinery for this was lodged in the Combined Chiefs of Staff. The British were, of course, a part of this machinery and by means of the Combined Civil Affairs Committee a program was carried out with respect to Sicily and Italy, which was mutually satisfactory. As the program developed, however, and issues arose which had to be referred to London, a strong tendency on the part of London developed to limit the activities of the CCAC, ending in what amounted to a complete frustration of the committee. As to Western Europe, London took the position that no matters at all could be discussed, and even in respect to Italy methods were employed to avoid consideration of such matters by the Committee. Examples of this circumvention were the Norwegian Agreement and the comprehensive surrender terms for Italy.
Today we are at an impasse in getting work done because of this conflict and presumably some attempt will be made at the forthcoming conference to settle it.
There is more involved than the usual conflict of jurisdiction between agencies. It is, or may be a development that may affect the attitude of the U.S. toward all post-hostility policy. The introduction at Moscow of the plan for the Advisory Commission on European Affairs with its site in London is of large significance and it was particularly so as Eden first proposed the plan. There was no great enthusiasm for it on the part of the Soviet Union and certainly the U.S. representatives there had a very restricted view of its powers. However, as the thing is now developing, and the scope of the matters which appear to be on the verge of consideration by it increases, it seems inevitable that its conclusions will have gathered such momentum that it will be most difficult either to disregard them or to relegate them to minor importance.
It should always be recognized, however, that in the long run the prejudice of the American people to European conferences is profound; that there is a constant fear that the Atlantic theater of war will be weighted against the Pacific, and that the nature and extent of our participation in Europe and world politics have yet to be determined. As the war progresses toward a favorable conclusion two great tendencies will develop. One is the desire, stimulated on the part of our soldiers by their wish to get home, to liquidate the European involvement. The national reaction which followed the last war both in the U.S. and Canada will set in again though presumably with considerably less chance of success. The other great tendency will be the feeling on the part of other countries that now that the war is on its way to being won and the invader is no longer at the door, the dependence on the U.S. should promptly be liquidated except in matters of relief. The development of both tendencies is fatal to both British and American interests. The Prime Minister has written it down as one of the great achievements of his career that his policy was so guided as to make it clear to America that she must enter the war on the side of Britain – “But westward lo the sky is bright.” It may be more of an achievement and of more importance to Britain, in the long run, to convince America that she must enter the administration of the peace.
Twice within a generation Britain has had to have American aid in order to cope with a European attack. The resources on which she must draw are, in great quantity, located on the American continent and strong as Britain may feel herself to be after each successful war, other wars are coming and there is no certainty of either avoiding or winning them without the fullest communion with America. People on both sides give firm utterance to this sentiment, but it takes doing. One of the best ways to do it is to convince the United States, not only its leaders, but its citizens, that the United States has a major part in directing the war.
It is vitally necessary to indoctrinate the American people to a recognition of the national responsibility of the country in world affairs. It is essential that the people of America become used to decisions being made in the United States. On every cracker barrel in every country store in the U.S. there is someone sitting who is convinced that we get hornswoggled every time we attend a European conference. European deliberations must be made in the light of the concepts of the new continent because that continent has now, for better or for worse, become a determining factor in the struggles of the older one. What may be lost through not moving to London in the way of better and more accessible records or a greater familiarity with local conditions, will be made up in a readier assumption of responsibility on the part of the U.S. and perhaps in a greater objectivity of decision.
All this and more can be said against the spirit which motivates the London tendency. One cannot control the shift of power (if that is the heart of the matter) by such artificial devices in any event.
The immediate question, however, is what machinery to erect which will most satisfactorily take into account these imponderables and yet get the necessary work done in time to be of effect.
The British proposal to shift the Combined Committee to London is no solution as it merely accentuates the tendency. The British proposal would leave the American Committee to determine only matters of supply, which is no concession whatever as the U.S. will have to make by far the greater contribution of material in any event. In all other purposes the American Committee would become no more than a sort of amanuensis for the decisions of the London Committee. The proposal is basically objectionable. Moreover, there is no procedural or practical need for it.
The CCAC has operated efficiently. Even the British members have testified to the directness and highly satisfactory character of the decisions and the discussions which it produces. It affords a very simple method by which the attitude of the American Government on all occupational and cessation of hostility questions can be learned. In Mr. Dunn the Committee has a State Department representative very close to Mr. Hull and through the Chairman prompt definitions of American policy where needed can be cleared by the Secretary of War, Mr. Hopkins, or Admiral Leahy. General Hilldring enjoys the confidence and respect of General Marshall and has ready access to him. The Committee’s connections with the Treasury are excellent, and Treasury policy is always available.
The Committee is an adjunct of the Combined Chiefs of Staff. It is military in its aspect although the Chairman is the Assistant Secretary of War. In his absence General Hilldring or General MacCready [Macready] succeeds to the chair. The connection of the Committee with the Combined Chiefs of Staff and its military aspect are consistent with the American point of view that during the progress of the war the introduction to all political decisions should be based on military consideration.
In short, the existing Committee has functioned well in the past, has prompt means of clearing American policy, and is readily available to the Combined Chiefs of Staff as it should be.
It is readily recognized, however, that all decisions cannot be made from Washington and there must be set up in London a machinery whereby detailed plans can be made and on-the-spot questions settled.
It has never been the policy of the Washington Committee to do more than prescribe the bare outline of the policy to be followed in each country. The general directive, e.g., the HUSKY directive, does not purport to do anything more. For the day-to-day planning for civil affairs the people on the ground must have the responsibility. That planning, to be effectively tied into the operations, must take place in the particular headquarters involved, e.g., for France in COSSAC. It will become the duty of that headquarters to take the Combined Chiefs of Staff directive, put it in force with such additions as local circumstances require. It will thus be made available for use by the commanders of the operation and the chief civil affairs officer of the expedition.
In practice no need has developed for a London Combined Committee except at the detailed planning level. The overall policy will be established by the advisory council as it is cleared by the respective governments. That policy is communicable to the Combined Chiefs of Staff and the CCAC of that body can translate it into military directives as it has in the past. If the Washington Committee had been permitted to function no difficulty would have ensued and none will ensue if London permits the British members of it to operate. On the other hand to center in London the Advisory Council, the Combined Committee and the detailed planning centralizes too much authority on vital post-war questions in London for the interests of both the U.S. and Britain.
Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of War
Cairo, 22 November 1943
At the Moscow Conference there was established the European Advisory Commission composed of representatives of the U.S., U.K., and Soviet Governments. The commission will sit in London as soon as possible to make recommendations with respect to matters connected with the cessation of hostilities in occupied and liberated countries. As the matters falling within the jurisdiction of the commission are closely connected with military considerations it becomes necessary to establish a procedure [by?] which the Combined Chiefs of Staff may be advised of and can act upon such policies as are recommended by such Council and are approved by the respective governments.
a. The European Advisory Commission will be called upon for recommendations as to the terms of surrender to be imposed upon each of the European enemy states and as to the machinery required to execute these terms. It will also deal with such policy questions relating to Axis-occupied friendly nations as are referred to it. It is indicated further that the Commission will study [such?] other questions connected with and flowing from the cessation of hostilities in Europe as are referred to it by agreement of the three governments.
b. With respect to all of its deliberations, the Commission has no executive power and is confined to the position of making recommendations within its field to the respective governments.
When the Commission starts operating, it is envisaged that each Government will examine and reconcile the recommendations of the Commission with its own national policies and transmit its views as so reconciled to the Combined Chiefs of Staff.
It will become the responsibility of the Combined Chiefs of Staff to resolve these views into military directives for the appropriate Supreme Allied Commander. In conforming to this responsibility, it is contemplated that the Combined Civil Affairs Committee of the Combined Chiefs of Staff will combine to perform the function of preparing suggested forms of directives based upon the necessary political and military considerations and conforming to the reconciled views of the respective governments. It will also combine to act in an advisory and planning capacity to the Combined Chiefs of Staff on all matters relative to civil affairs. It has been suggested that the Combined Civil Affairs Committee be transferred to London or that a new committee performing substantially the same functions be set up in London.
This is objectionable from the U.S. point of view for the following reasons:
a. In order to perform its functions adequately and expeditiously it is necessary that the Committee should be near the Combined Chiefs of Staff which must remain in Washington.
b. The military aspect of the initial stages of civil affairs planning should continue to be emphasized as long as either the war against Germany or Japan lasts. To establish a Combined Committee on a ministerial level would be inconsistent with this policy. The existing committee is merely an adjunct of the Combined Chiefs of Staff.
c. The existing committee is experienced and well known; it has facilities for promptly clearing U.S. national policy and has operated (until recently when its activities were restricted through the limitations imposed on the British representatives) efficiently and expeditiously.
As it is not the function or intention of the Combined Chiefs of Staff to do any more than prescribe to the broadest terms of the policies under which the commanders in the field are to be guided there is no force to the argument that all procedures be transferred to London as greater information and contacts are available there. The methods and details by which the policy is to be carried out and as to which the information contacts and skills will be most useful are matters for the Civil Affairs Division of the appropriate headquarters to work out. (In the case of France and the Low Countries, presumably COSSAC).
The existing arrangement whereby the Combined Chiefs of Staff operating from Washington and utilizing the services of the Combined Civil Affairs Committee furnish basic directives governing civil affairs and matters relating to the cessation of hostilities to the appropriate combined commanders should be continued.
The U.K. and U.S. Governments should state to the Combined Chiefs of Staff their views in matters relating to civil affairs and the cessation of hostilities; these matters may be referred to the Combined Chiefs of Staff either on their own initiative or as a result of the action taken of the European Advisory Commission.
The Combined Chiefs of Staff in any directives carried to the appropriate commanders shall follow the normal practice of confining such directives to basic matters, leaving to the commanders and their staff the duty of working out the methods and details by which the policies as stated in such directives shall be executed.
It is recommended that the two governments agree to the conclusions set forth above and that for this purpose the Combined Chiefs of Staff transmit to the two governments a letter in substantially the form attached hereto as Enclosure A.