||Prime Minister Churchill
||Foreign Secretary Eden
||Foreign Commissar Molotov
||Sir Archibald Clark Kerr
December 1, 1943, 1 p.m.
During the first part of luncheon the text of a telegram to be dispatched to the British and American Ambassadors in Ankara to deliver orally an invitation to the President of Turkey to meet the President and Mr. Churchill in Cairo on December 3rd, 4th or 5th, was discussed and was agreed to.
Mr. Hopkins then stated that before any meetings with the Turkish President, it was essential that we were agreed as to exactly what form of military assistance could be rendered to Turkey in the event she agreed to enter the war.
The President agreed with Mr. Hopkins, and said that the American Staff had not yet worked out anything in detail on that question.
The Prime Minister said that he only intended to offer the Turks 20 squadrons, mostly of fighter aircraft, and some 3 anti-aircraft regiments, but he had no intention of offering any land forces at this time.
The President remarked that the big problem confronting his Staff was the number of available landing craft in the Mediterranean and how much would be needed for the Italian operations, those in Southern France and in England, as well as for the operations in the Indian Ocean.
Marshal Stalin then said that as he understood it, if Turkey entered the war there would only be made available the air force and anti-aircraft force mentioned by the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister agreed and spoke of the great assistance to the Allied cause that would result from obtaining Turkish air bases, with the possibility of continual bombing of the Ploesti oil fields. He added that he wanted landing craft only for the assault on the Island of Rhodes, which would be a temporary operation in the month of March.
The President stated that he desired to have military advice on the subject, as he did not know whether it would be possible to sandwich in, between the Italian and OVERLORD operations, for any operation in the Aegean, the landing craft which the Prime Minister desired.
The Prime Minister repeated that he had made no promises to Turkey, and would make none beyond the aircraft and anti-aircraft of which he had spoken.
He said if the Turkish President, which is possible, would be unable to come to Cairo, that he proposed himself to go to Ankara subsequently and present to him the ugly case which would result from the failure of Turkey to accept the invitation to join the war, and the unappetizing picture of what help could be afforded her if she did.
Mr. Hopkins again pointed out that the United States Chiefs of Staff had not given consideration to the detailed requirements of the Turkish operation. The whole of the Mediterranean was soon to come under the Combined Chiefs of Staff – hence the resources must be examined in the light of that fact.
It should be clearly understood that the American side believe that there are no landing craft available for an attack on Rhodes – and more important still that even if the landing craft were available, no decision has been reached as to whether or not the landing craft could not be used to better advantage in some other operation.
Under any circumstances it should be clearly understood that no mention can be made to President Inonu, implied or otherwise, that an amphibious landing can be made on Rhodes.
The Prime Minister said he thought we could have the precise information desired by Mr. Hopkins within three days, and in any event before any meeting with the Turkish President. He went on to say that landing craft was the bottleneck, and it might be possible to divert some from the Pacific theater, but that one thing was certain after yesterday’s decision, and that was that OVERLORD not suffer.
The President said, with reference to the Southwest Pacific, that it was absolutely impossible to withdraw any landing craft from that area. The distance alone from the Mediterranean would make it impossible, and besides all landing craft out there were urgently needed for the operations in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, and for the Burma campaign.
Mr. Eden then explained that in his conversations in November with the Turkish Foreign Minister in Cairo he had only asked for bases from Turkey, and had made no mention of any assistance other than the air forces mentioned by the Prime Minister, and no reference whatsoever to any other forces. He said that he had expressed the view that Turkey could make available these bases to the Allies without being attacked by Germany, but the Foreign Minister had not agreed with this opinion.
The Foreign Minister then repeated what he said about the advantages of acquiring bases in Turkey; that it would permit healthy battles with the German Air Force in that region, and in all probability starve out the German garrisons on the Aegean Islands. It might not even be necessary to take Rhodes by assault.
Marshal Stalin expressed agreement with this view, and felt that the German garrisons would be so demoralized following the loss of air superiority that they would be easy prey. He added, however, that he thought some bombers would be necessary for any such operations.
The President then said he was in favor of meeting the Turkish Prime Minister, but he intended to make no offer of any amphibious operations to Turkey whatsoever, and that any commitments should be confined to the air forces referred to by the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister then summed up the advantages to Turkey which would accrue if she accepted the invitation to join the war, and mentioned particularly the possibility of sitting alongside the Soviet Union at the peace table.
In reply to Mr. Eden’s question as to the exact attitude of the Soviet Union towards Bulgaria, which Marshal Stalin had referred to at the formal conference, Marshal Stalin replied that if Turkey declares war on Germany and Bulgaria, or if Bulgaria attacks or goes to war with Turkey, the Soviet Union will break relations or declare war on Bulgaria.
He also inquired what other assistance would be required of the Soviet Union in such an event.
The Prime Minister replied that they were seeking nothing more of the Soviet Union, but that it was obvious that if the Soviet Armies approached Bulgaria, the pro-German Bulgarian circles would be in great fear.
Marshal Stalin inquired what particularly the Turkish Army lacked in the way of armaments.
The Prime Minister replied that the present Turkish Army would have been a good army at the end of the last war, but that when they had seen the modern Bulgarian equipment received from French arsenals, the Turks realized that their army was not a modern one.
He pointed out that they had brave infantry, but lacked anti-tank guns, anti-aircraft, and airplanes. He mentioned that 25 million pounds worth of military equipment, mostly American, had been sent to Turkey.
Marshal Stalin then said it was possible that Turkey would not have to go to war if she granted bases to the Allies; that she need not attack; and that it was possible that neither the Bulgarians nor the Germans would do so.
The President then mentioned the case of Portugal as an example of the granting of bases without the involvement in war.
With reference to Mr. Eden’s remarks that the Turkish Foreign Minister had preferred to go right into war rather than to be dragged in by bases, The Prime Minister said that was Turkey’s usual behaviour. If you suggested a small move they said they preferred the big. And if you suggested the big, they said they were not ready. Mr. Churchill said that he personally preferred that we offer something substantial to the Turks, and that if they refused, then they would wash their hands of Turkey, both now and at the peace table.
In reply to Mr. Eden’s question, Marshal Stalin stated that it was expected that Turkey would declare war only on Germany, and not on Bulgaria. If Bulgaria attacks or declares war on Turkey, the Soviet Union goes to war with Bulgaria.
Marshal Stalin mentioned that there was one other possibility, and that was that if Turkey declared war on Germany, and Bulgaria refused to accede to German demands to go to war, the Germans might occupy Bulgaria. In which case Bulgaria might ask help from the Allies, and what then would be our position?
The Prime Minister replied that in such an event great strain would be put on Germany’s strength, and undoubtedly result in the removal of some German divisions from the Eastern front.
Mr. Molotov said that he had talked the day before yesterday with the Prime Minister, who had referred to the idea that if Turkey would refuse an invitation to enter the war, Great Britain would tell her that her interests in the Straits and in the Bosporus would be adversely affected. He wished to know what this meant.
The Prime Minister replied that he was far from his cabinet, but he personally favored a change in the regime of the Straits if Turkey proved obdurate.
Mr. Molotov said that he had merely meant to indicate that the Black Sea countries were very much interested in the regime of the Straits.
The President said he would like to see the Dardanelles made free to the commerce of the world and the fleets of the world, irrespective of whether Turkey entered the war or not.
After agreeing [after agreement had been reached?] that the Soviet Ambassador to Turkey would come to Cairo and Mr. Bushinsky [Vyshinsky] would come to Cairo from Algiers for the meeting with the Turkish President, if it occurred that the Turkish president was present, the President then said he would like to take up the question of Finland. He said that he wished to help in every way to get Finland out of the war, and he would like to have the views of Marshal Stalin.
Marshal Stalin replied that recently the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Boheman, had inquired of the Soviet Ambassador in Stockholm as to what were the Soviet Union’s intentions regarding Finland, saying that the Finns were afraid that the Russians intended to make good the Russian promise and destroy the independence of Finland, and added that the Finns would like an opportunity to talk to the Russians.
The reply from Moscow was to the effect that Russia had no designs on the independence of Finland, if Finland by its behaviour did not force Russia to do so. Also that the Soviet Government had no objection to the Finns coming to Moscow for conversations, but would like to have the conditions in [on?] which the Finns would negotiate, in advance.
He added that only today they had had word of a Finnish reply through the Swedish [Swedes], but did not yet have the full text. The gist of the reply was, however, to the effect that the Finns desired to take as a basis the 1939 frontier, and made no mention of disassociation from Germany. Stalin said in his opinion that this inacceptable reply indicated that the Finns were not anxious to conduct serious negotiations, since they knew that such conditions would be inacceptable.
The President said that the Marshal’s statement had been most interesting, but also unsatisfactory.
Marshal Stalin replied that the Finnish ruling groups obviously had hopes still of a German victory.
The President inquired whether Marshal Stalin thought it would be any help if the United States suggested that the Finns send a delegation to Moscow.
Marshal Stalin said he personally had no objections.
The Prime Minister outlined the change in his own and British feeling that had occurred toward Finland from 1939 to the present as a result of the Finnish associations and the German attack on Russia. He said that Great Britain was at war with Finland, and the first consideration was that the city of Leningrad would be secure, and also that the position of the Soviet Union as the leading naval and air power in the Baltic Sea should likewise be secure.
He said, on the other hand, he would greatly regret to see anything done to impair the independence of Finland, and would therefore welcome the Marshal’s statement on that point. He went on to say that an indemnity would not be much good from a country as poor as Finland.
Marshal Stalin expressed disagreement, and said that payments in kind over a period of from 5 to 8 years, such as timber, paper and other materials, would cover some of the damage done by Finland during the war, and that the Soviet Government intended to demand such reparation.
Mr. Churchill developed at some length the reasons why he did not consider reparations, in regard to such a country as Finland, either desirable or feasible. And he said in his ears there was an echo of the slogan “No Annexations and No Indemnities.”
Marshal Stalin laughed, and replied that he had already told Mr. Churchill that he was becoming a Conservative.
The Prime Minister stated that he attached a great importance to Finland’s being out of the war and Sweden’s being in, at the moment of the great attack in May.
To which Stalin expressed assent.
The President then inquired whether Marshal Stalin thought that the Finns could expel the Germans from their country by their own efforts.
Marshal Stalin replied that there were 21 Finnish divisions on the Soviet front, and that while they were expressing their desire to negotiate, they had recently increased their divisions to this number from 16.
Marshal Stalin agreed on the desirability of getting the Finns out of the war, but not at the expense of the interests of the Soviet Union.
Mr. Molotov pointed out that for 27 months the Finns and the Germans had had Leningrad under artillery fire.
The President said that according to his information the Finns were willing to remove the frontier a long distance from Leningrad, but hoped to have Vivorg [Viborg] (Marshal Stalin interrupted to say that this was impossible). The President went on to say that Hango should be demilitarized and made into a bathing beach.
The Prime Minister said he did not wish to press his Russian friends, but he would like to know what their conditions were; that the British Government was leaving the initiative entirely in the hands of the Russians.
Marshal Stalin replied that in February the Soviet Government had told the United States Government what the conditions were, and the British Government had been likewise informed, and that since the United States Government did not transmit these terms to the Finns it was obvious that it was not believed that the Finns would accept them.
The President agreed that at that time it was felt that the Finns would not go along with any proposals.
Marshal Stalin said that the Treaty of 1940 was broken and must be restored, but if Hango were belonging to the Finns he was willing to accept Petsamo instead, which would give them a common boundary with Norway. He added that Petsamo had been in the first instance a gift from Russia to Finland.
The Prime Minister said that the British Government desired first of all to see the Soviet Government satisfied with the border in the west, and secondly would like to see Finland remain independent.
Marshal Stalin thought that it was all right to let the Finns live as they wished, but they must pay half of the damages they had caused.
The President asked if it would be helpful if the Finns would go to Moscow without any reservations or conditions.
Marshal Stalin replied that if there was no prospect of success, such a move might play right into the hands of the Germans, since the reactionary group in Finland would exploit such a failure and pretend that it was impossible to talk with the Russians. He added, however, that if the President insisted, let the Finns come to Moscow, but who could they send?
Mr. Churchill interjected that the British Government was not insistent on anything regarding the Finns.
Marshal Stalin said that allies could occasionally use pressure on one another, and repeated that if the President thought it was worthwhile, an attempt might be made.
The President said that in his opinion the present Finnish Government was pro-German, and that nothing could be done with them, but that it might be possible to send other Finns.
Marshal Stalin replied that of course that would be better, that they had no objection to anyone the Finns wanted to send, even Ruti [Ryti], or even, he added, the devil himself. Stalin then outlined the Soviet terms, as follows:
The restoration of the Treaty of 1940, with the possible exchange of Petsamo for Hango. However, whereas Hango had been leased, Petsamo would be taken as a permanent possession.
Compensation for 50% of the damage done to the Soviet Union by the Finns, the exact amount to be discussed.
Break with Germany, and the expulsion of Germans from Finland.
Reorganization of the army.
The Prime Minister and Marshal Stalin entered into a friendly discussion as to the advisability of reparations from Finland, and Marshal Stalin made clear his determination that Finland should pay.
The meeting adjourned until 6 o’clock.
December 1, 1943
At the beginning of luncheon today after the President had mentioned to Marshal Stalin that his son, Colonel Elliott Roosevelt was in charge of 250 observation and scouting planes, Ambassador Harriman told the Marshal that Colonel Roosevelt was very anxious to obtain permission to land in the Soviet Union, thus flying straight through from Italy, photographing the Danube Basin, and landing in Russia.
Marshal Stalin agreed to give this permission, and said that the exact airfields and other details could be discussed with the United States Military Mission in Moscow.
He also agreed to make available for similar purposes fields in the Northern part of Russia, to permit through flying from England over enemy territory to the Soviet Union.