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Digital Archive International History Declassified

September 23, 1944

THE PRESIDENT’S AND THE PRIME MINISTER’S MESSAGE TO MARSHAL STALIN REGARDING THE QUEBEC DECISIONS

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    Stalin, Kerr, and Harriman discuss plans for fighting in the Far East and the Pacific.
    "The President’s and the Prime Minister’s Message to Marshal Stalin regarding the Quebec Decisions," September 23, 1944, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Container 174, W. Averell Harriman Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/220029
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          THE AMBASSADOR

TOP SECRET

Conversation.   September 23, 1944.

Present: The American Ambassador, Mr. Harriman

Mr. Edward Page, Second Secretary of Embassy

The British Ambassador, Sir Archibald Clark Kerr

Major A. H. Birse, Second Secretary of Embassy

Marshal I. V. Stalin

Mr. V. M. Molotov, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs

Mr. Pavlov, Soviet interpreter

Subject: The President’s and the Prime Minister’s Message to Marshal Stalin regarding the Quebec Decisions.

The British Ambassador and I called on Marshal Stalin at 7:30 this evening primarily to deliver to him a message from the President and the Prime Minister regarding the Quebec decisions. An English and a Russian version of the message were handed to Marshal Stalin who read the Russian version. The British Ambassador stated that he had one slight addition to make to the joint message, i.e., as he had informed the Soviet Government yesterday, the Allies were contemplating landing operations in Greece in the near future. Marshal Stalin stated “good –it is high time” for such an operation.

I stated that the President, while fully realizing that it had been impossible up to now, was most anxious to have initiated with the Soviet authorities discussions on the Pacific operations. Marshal Stalin inquired how this could best be done. I replied that General Deane was authorized to discuss this question with the Soviet General Staff whenever it was ready or with any other officials Marshal Stalin so desired. The Marshal inquired as to exactly what matters should be discussed –was it aiquestion [sic] of making plans or fixing dates? I explained that it was a question of planning and that the dates depended upon the termination of the war with Germany. I said that, as I had explained on previous occasions, a very important aspect was the allocation of heavy bombers to the Soviet Union, which could only be decided when the question of their employment had been settled, and the use of air bases in the Maritime Provinces. Marshal Stalin replied that that was not the most important question. He continued that it would be necessary for the Red Army to move from 25 to 30 divisions with aircraft to the Far East and inquired whether he understood it correctly that the President still believed that Russia’s participation in the war against Japan was still essential. Was there any change in the thinking in this respect? I replied that I was satisfied that there was no change. I explained that the present military plans which had been made by the British and ourselves were based, however, on our own resources. As Marshal Stalin could see from one of the items in the joint message, our ultimate objective was the invasion of the Japanese homeland. Marshal Stalin remarked that no reference was made in the message to Russian participation in the Pacific operations. He appeared to be somewhat surprised that after the assurances he had given to the President at Tehran we had not taken such participation into account in our planning. I have explained that Russian participation could not have been taken into account since the Chiefs of Staff had no knowledge of the details, i.e. the role the Soviet Union would play. I remarked that the basing of aircraft in the Maritime Provinces would of course be of great help to us in the invading of Japanese islands. It would naturally be of great importance if our planners could take into consideration Soviet land and sea operations, as mentioned by Stalin last June, when formulating their strategy. But as I had said, our plans were based on our own resources. Marshal Stalin inquired whether he was correct in understanding that we not only desired the use of bases in the Far East but also the active participation of Soviet troops in the Pacific war. The Marshal remarked that the President had demanded (this word was later changed to “suggested”) Russian participation in the war against Japan. The Russians had agrees to such participation after the defeat of Germany. The Marshal stated that there was no change in Russia’s attitude as he had expressed it to the President during the Tehran conference. However, if the United States and Great Britain desired to bring the Japanese to their knees without Russian participation, the Russians were ready to agree to this. The British Ambassador and I both assured the Marshal that both the President and the Prime Minister were counting on Russian participation in the Far East but that no plans could be made for the use of Soviet resources until Marshal Stalin was ready to initiate discussions. Our plans could of course be changed to coordinate them with the Russians.

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