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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Stalin's conversations with Allied leaders Oct 14-17, 1944. From Library of Congress, H H Arnold papers, box 225



October 23, 1944.


Dear Hap:

As I agreed this afternoon, I am attaching the memoranda of the conversations with Marshal Stalin on military matters which took place during the middle of October. You will see that these conversations set out in more detail the information contained in General Deane's and my cables.


[George Marshall]


Notes of Meetings

October 14, 1944
October 15, 1944
October 17, 1944
General H. H. Arnold,
Commanding General,
Army Air Forces,
Room 3-E -- 1009
Pentagon Building.


Conversation, October 14, 1944


Marshal I. V. Stalin
Mr. V. M. Molotov, People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs
General of Armies A. I. Antonov
Lieutenant General Shevchenko
Mr. Pavlov, Soviet Interpreter

The British Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill

Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke
General Sir Henry Hastings Ismay
Major General Jacob
General Burrows
Major A. H. Birse, Second Secretary of British Embassy

The American Ambassador, Mr. Harriman

Major General John R. Deane
Mr. Edward Page, Second Secretary of Embassy

Subject: The Military Situation


Field Marshal Brooke gave a detailed explanation of the Allied military operations in western Europe, Italy, and Burma. A copy of his remarks as taken down by General Jacob is attached hereto.


General Deane gave a full account of the Pacific operation of the Allies. A copy of the statement made by him is attached hereto.


General Antonov gave the following account of the Russian military operations:


After successful operations in liberating White Russia, in advancing to the East Prussian frontier and to the Vistula River, and in defeating the German groupings in Rumania which resulted in the withdrawal of Rumania from the war, the Soviet armies started flanking operations in the Baltic and in Rumania, the latter continuing on into Hungary. It was decided that before invading Germany the Baltic must be entirely cleaned up of enemy groupings which were still looming over the Soviet forces, since it was believed by the Soviet High Command that it would be most difficult to invade Germany until the Baltic had been completely liberated. For this reason operations were conducted from Siauliai westward to Memel and from Valk westward to Riga. At the same tine operations were carried on to liberate the islands of Osel and Dago. Soviet forces advancing from Siauliai have arrived on the Baltic seacoast north and south of Memel. Now all the German communications from the Baltic leading into Germany have been taken. In addition Riga was occupied yesterday. The operations in the islands of Osel and Dago have almost been completed, There are small enemy groupings in the southern part of Osel. As a result of the Baltic operations about 30 German divisions have been entrapped in the coastal regions between Riga and Memel. As these divisions are still intact, the Baltic operations cannot be considered as completed. These German groupings must be liquidated.

In the south the Soviet armies have reached the Tisza River on a broken front reaching from Solnok to the junction of the Tisza and the Danube. On October 14 Soviet forces were fighting southwest of Debretsen where the main German groupings are concentrated. Three German tank divisions and numerous infantry divisions are located in this locality. As a result of the Soviet troops reaching Debretsen and the Tisza, the enemy groupings northeast and south of Kluj are in a difficult position. They are forced to retreat in order to avoid encirclement.

In Yugoslavia Soviet forces fighting with Tito have reached the outskirts of Belgrade. (Earlier in the conversation Marshal Stalin stated that the Red Army would not advance farther west in Yugoslavia after capture of Belgrade but would concentrate on occupying Hungary and on encircling as many as possible of the German forces there. He explained that the drive in this sector would be through Austria to take Vienna. This would open up a route into Germany to the west of Czechoslovakia and then to the northwest in the direction of the Oder at Breslau.)


It may appear at first sight that the enemy has freedom of movement on the central front. This is not true in fact. On this front, although there are no operations with major objectives, the enemy forces are tied down. They are being contained by continuous battles. The purpose of these operations is to sound out the enemy defenses, especially on the East Prussian frontier.

In reply to a question raised by the Prime Minister, it was stated that the total German strength on all fronts numbered 180 divisions dispersed as follows: in the Baltic, 30 divisions (encircled); in Hungary, 22 to 23; in the north, 8; in the center, 120.

In addition the Hungarians have 26 divisions at their disposal.

Opposing these enemy forces are 300 Soviet divisions.

With respect to the Hungarian forces, the Hungarian Government was not carrying out the preliminary armistice conditions accepted several days ago. If they failed to do so within two days, the Soviet armies would advance. In any event, the Hungarian divisions were almost encircled.

At the present time the main task is clear -- to clean up the Baltic and to force Hungary to withdraw from the war . When this was done, the Soviet armies would be faced with their main objective - the invasion of Germany. It is hard to say in which direction this invasion will take place. Much will depend on the result of the operations now going on. In any case it may be stated that the success of the Soviet operations in Hungary opens up a new route into Germany from the south. Consequently invasion can come from both the east and the south. It may possibly turn out that the southern route will be more feasible since the Germans have no prepared defenses there.

In reply to a question raised by the Prime Minister, General Antonov stated that it was hard to give an indication of the timing of the invasion. The strong groupings in the Baltic must be wiped out. It was now autumn in Hungary and weather conditions were bad. The Soviets were faced with the same communications difficulties which Marshal Brook had mentioned. Roads and railroads had been destroyed and they must be repaired.

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The Prime Minister inquired whether, broadly speaking, it could be anticipated that the Germans would be unable to move their forces from the east to the west.

Marshal Stalin now actively entered the conversation. He said that he believed that operations would proceed more rapidly than General Antonov anticipated. The Baltic divisions, which he said were 38 in number, were out of commission and tied down in the area between Memel and Riga. It was very difficult to move them out and embarrassing for the Germans to operate without them. If the Soviets were to place against these divisions 50 divisions, which it was easy to do since the Soviet Government had a superiority and "could indulge in such a luxury", these German divisions were doomed. In addition, the Germans were obliged to disperse their forces over the entire front which the Soviet armies were keeping alive. The fact that the Soviets had encircled these 38 divisions obviously assisted the Russians elsewhere. At the present time large areas were exposed to Soviet blows and it was unlikely that the Germans could hold out. This was also true in the south. The Soviet High Command anticipated cutting off another large German grouping and then advancing on a line to Bratislava, Vienna, and the Moravian Gate. All the German groupings in this area would be encircled. This of course would facilitate blows in the north. But it was not thought by Marshal Stalin that the Germans would be finished off this year. The Soviet armies would probably have a winter campaign after a short breathing spell, and after January it would be easier to say when Germany would collapse. In any case the two difficult German positions in the north and south "testify to the fact that they (the Germans) would not be able to move any forces from the east to the west". Since the Soviet High Command expected to knock out Hungary by persuasion or by force, the German position would be very embarrassing. Czechoslovakia would be exposed and the Russians would be able to advance right up to Breslau. If the British and Americans as Allies requested the Russians to release certain German divisions, the Russians would refuse to do so.

Marshal Stalin then turned to the Warsaw situation. He explained that operations there resembled the operations against Kiev. The Dniepr River, for example, was 600 meters in width, whereas the Vistula was 700 meters. Both Kiev and Warsaw were situated on heights on the eastern bank. If the Soviet forces attempted to take Warsaw by a frontal attack, they would be oblige to destroy the city, This they did not wish to do, In addition they were unable to make full use of


their air forces because of their reluctance to destroy Warsaw. They were planning to outflank the city like Stalingrad. The timing of the encirclement of Warsaw and the attack on East Prussia would of course depend upon the progress of operations on the two flanks mentioned by General Antonov.

The Prime Minister remarked that the Germans had 7 or 8 divisions in Finland. Marshal Stalin stated that at the present time the Red Army was only two miles from Petsamo and expected to take the area any day now. There were remnants of three German divisions in this area which might attempt to withdraw through Sweden into Norway. In addition there were five German divisions in the Rovanarvi (?) area in the north central part of Finland. An offensive was planned also against these divisions which were not up to full strength but were well equipped. They also might request the Swedes to let them through. Marshal Stalin suggested the possibility of a joint British and Russian operation in Norway to cut off these divisions. The Prime Minister explained that the British had no more ground forces available but were ready to discuss any feasible manner of assisting the Russians by naval cooperation. He requested the Marshal to let him know what the British could do. The Marshal said that be would do so after Petsamo had been captured.

Marshal Stalin handed to the Prime Minister and the American Ambassador a note which was being transmitted to the head of the Hungarian Mission in Moscow. A copy of this note is attached. It was agreed that the next meeting, at which time Russian participation in the war against Japan would be discussed, would take place at six o'clock tomorrow.

EP: nn

Copy for General Deane
DOD DIR. 5200.0




The Hungarian truce representative, Colonel Utasi Lourend, who has arrived in Szeged from Budapest, is an utterly uninformed person, and, in virtue of this, is unable to carry on negotiations with the representatives of the Soviet Command regarding the fulfilment by the Hungarian Government of the preliminary armistice conditions.

The Hungarian Government requested the Soviet Government to discontinue the offensive in the sector towards Budapest in order that it might remove a part of its troops from this sector and send them to Budapest.

The Soviet Government granted this request of the Hungarian Government, yet the latter not only did not remove its troops from the River Tisa in order to send them to Budapest, but resumed operations especially in the Szolnok area.

The aforementioned circumstances show that the Hungarian Government has apparently started on the course of non-fulfilment of the preliminary armistice conditions undertaken by it.

With reference to the above, the High Command of the Soviet forces requires that the Hungarian Government, within 48 hours of receipt of these present demands, shall fulfil the obligations which it has undertaken regarding the preliminary armistice conditions and above all:

  1. Break off any relations whatsoever with the Germans and begin active military operations against their troops;
  2. Set about the withdrawal of Hungarian troops from the territories of Roumania, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia;
  3. Send in the same way as before, via Szeged, by 0800 hours on the 16th October, full information of the dispositions of German and Hungarian troops to the representatives of the Soviet Command, and, at the same time, report to the aforementioned Soviet representatives on the progress that has been made in carrying out the preliminary armistice conditions.

14th October, l944.

By authority of the Supreme High Command of the Soviet Forces: Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Red Army, army General ANTONOV.



Detailed explanation of the Allied military operations in western Europe, Italy, and Burma, as given by Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke at a meeting held in the Kremlin on October 14, l944. Referred to in paragraph I of memorandum of conversation.


(a) Western Front

Sir Alan Brooke explained, with the help of a map, the present position of the armies on the Western front. He pointed out that the speed of the advance was now dependent upon the organization of supplies. The armies were still depending largely on Cherbourg, and were served by a road and rail system which had not yet been properly restored. It was of very great importance to get the use of Antwerp as soon as possible. We had secured the port intact, but had not yet got the sea approaches, and operations were now in progress directed to clearing the Germans from the islands on the North of the Scheldt, and from the bridgehead which they still held on the South bank. At the sane time, operations were in progress Northward from Antwerp and Eastward from the Corridor, in order to clear the country West and South of the Meuse. Meanwhile 15,000 Germans were invested in Dunkirk, and other garrisons were in Lorient, St. Nazaire, Bordeaux and the Channel Islands.

On the main front of the armies there were some 60 German Divisions, though these were not up to full strength. The Allies now had 60, and would have 78 by the end of the year -thanks to the flow of American Divisions.

Mr. Churchill remarked that the Allied Divisions were strong Divisions. If allowance was made for Corps troops, Army troops, and the appropriate proportion of line of communication troops, the overall strength of a British Division worked out at about 40,000, and an American Division at about 50,000 men.

Marshal Stalin enquired what we thought was the equivalent strength of the German Divisions.

Sir Alan Brooke said that if they were up to strength, they could be reckoned at more than 25,000. We were not being held back by lack of men, but purely by maintenance facilities. A large quantity of ammunition would be required for the forcing of the Siegfried. Line, and this had not yet been accumulated the front. The Allied plan

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was first to reach the Rhine, then to force a crossing North and South of the Ruhr, with the object of encircling the industrial area. The main axis of the Allied advance would then be directed on Berlin. Simultaneously there would be an advance on the Southern front towards Frankfurt, and then North Eastward towards Leipzig. The advance would, however, depend upon the progress of the main thrust in the North. On the extreme right of the line, the American and French Armies which had advanced from Marseilles would operate through the Belfort Gap, seize crossings over the Rhine, and move East. This, however, was more in the nature of a feint. We expected difficulties in forcing the crossing of the Rhine, but hoped to achieve it with the help of airborne divisions. At the present moment Aachen was surrounded, and fighting was proceeding in the streets.

Mr. Churchill emphasised that the Allies in the West had a large superiority of force once the communications could be developed to the pitch of enabling this force to be deployed and supplied. We hoped to be able to cut off about 150,000 Germans in Holland, and would then

drive steadily towards Berlin. All this, however, depended upon the Russian Armies on the Eastern front holding great German forces now deployed there. Any large switch of German Divisions from East to West would alter the position.

Marshal Stalin enquired whether the operations which had been described scald take place in the near future.

Sir Alan Brooke said that they would be continuous.

Marshal Stalin said that the Germans would not be to switch Divisions from East to West, as they would not be able to switch Divisions from East to West, as they would be fully engaged. The Russians had had the same kind of difficulties when approaching Warsaw as the Allies had had on the Western front. They had not found it possible to get into Warsaw on the heels of the Germans. The Ger-mans had had time to strengthen the defences of the approaches. The Russians well knew what it was to have to operate over communications which had been well destroyed.

(b) Southern Front

Sir Alan Brooke said that General Alexander's advance had now carried him beyond the Gothic Line along almost the whole front. His forces were now moving down into the Po Valley towards Bologna, the 8th Army on the Adriatic Flank and the 5th Army through the center. We hoped to drive the Germans across the Po. Kesselring would then have to withdraw his divisions from northwest Italy. These would have to move northeast as they could not go north except into Switzerland.

Mr. Churchill said that if the Germans did withdraw into Switzerland, we should, of course, follow them.

Sir Alan Brooke said that Kesselring would probably hold the line of the Adige which covered both his lines of retreat through the Brenner and Ljubljana Passes. Kesselring had 28 divisions now on the Italian Front and if he went back to the Adige he might be able to send 6 or 8 away to other fronts. In view of the general shortage of forces, the Germans might well be tempted to withdraw, in order to shorten the line and release divisions. On the other shore of the Adriatic, the German intentions were not yet clear. One defence line had been selected in front of Vienna, which ran along the Austrian Frontier and the foot of the Alps. The Germans might, however, hold a more forward line in Yugoslavia, while holding the Adige in Italy so as to deny us the use of the ports of Trieste and Fiume. The Germans in Yugoslavia and Greece might get back, but many would be cut off.

Mr. Churchill said that they were certainly trying to escape and the Russian Westward advance was thus of great value.

Sir Alan Brooke said than an amphibious operation against the Istrian Peninsula was being prepared. Mean-while, we should continue the offensive in Italy, though weather would make progress difficult.

Mr. Churchill said that although we were now nearly through the mountains we would find fresh difficulties confronting us in the Valley of the Po, which was much intersected by water courses. The ground in winter would be waterlogged.

Marshal Stalin enquired whether the defences of Pisa had been taken yet. Sir Alan Brooke said that the 5th Army were now well beyond Pisa. General Wilson would soon require to be able to coordinate the action of his forces with those of the Russians advancing in Hungary and Yugoslavia. Marshal Stalin said that the Russians did not propose to advance Westward in Yugoslavia. They would prefer to join hands with General Alexander's forces in Austria.

Mr. Churchill said that he agreed with this idea. The Russians would soon be n Budapest, but he could no tell how soon General Alexander would be in Vienna, though he would push forward as quickly as he could. If the Western Front broke, the Italian Front would break too. Marshal Stalin said that a break in the West would decide the war.

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Mr. Churchill said that he could assure Marshal Stalin that the fighting on the Western and Southern Fronts would be continuous. There were 28 German divisions in Italy and about 20 in various parts of the Balkans. Unless there was some change in plan due to weather, British forces would be landing in Athens the following morning. Small British detachments had been introduced into the Pelopponese where some sections of the population had been very friendly.

Marshal Stalin enquired about the situation in Crete. Sir Alan Brooke said that the Germans now had one division left there. Mr. Churchill said that the Germans were trying to escape from all the islands in the Aegean and those that could not escape would be left to rot.

The landing on Athens would be first with airborne troops, followed closely by a seaborne expedition. About l5,000 men would be taking part and we might possibly add a division and a Greek brigade from Italy later on. The Germans had announced that Athens was being left an open city.

Marshal Stalin enquired whether there were any sub-marines in the Mediterranean. The Prime Minister said that he believed that only one was left. We had complete command of sea and air in the Mediterranean. He had spent three or four days on the Italian Front and had not seen a single German aircraft He attached great importance to the Istrian operation, but it would be necessary first to get further forward in Italy. The landing craft too would have to be brought round from the South of France. Marshal Stalin enquired whether the Germans had many U-Boats operating elsewhere. Mr. Churchill said that their U-Boats had been driven from the Biscay and were not* operating from Norway. They certainly had more than 250 operational. We were no longer afraid of the U-Boat menace owing to the great improvements in our anti U-Boat technique. We had hardly had any losses in the previous month. The U-Boats might get more dangerous again, but events on the Western Front should put an end to the menace.


(a) Burma

Mr. Churchill said that before asking Sir Alan Brooke to deal with the campaign in Burma, he desired to give Marshal Stalin a picture of the lay-out of the British forces in the various theatres of war. There were now

* sic. Should probably read "now".

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the equivalent of 20 British divisions in France, totaling some 900,000 men. The Americans had about 1,400,000 men in France and their strength would grow rapidly as between 200,000 and 300,000 men monthly were conveyed without loss or interference across the Atlantic. There were 16 British or British-controlled divisions in Italy. There were 15 or 16 British, British-Indian and African divisions totaling some 300,000 men on the Burma front. Six Australian and one New Zealand division were a operating in the South West Pacific. There was thus a total of a nearly 60 divisions engaged with the enemy on the various fronts. In addition, there were the forces in Britain, the garrisons of the overseas bases, the forces in the Middle East, in Persia and Iraq, on the North West Frontier of India and in India itself. The grand total was about the equivalent of 90 divisions, of which 60 were actively engaged. We had between 800,000 and 900,000 men in the Navy and about a million in the Royal Air Force. These figures showed that we were strained to the utmost and were putting our whole effort into the war.

In Burma our Army was employed in shielding India and protecting the American air transport route to China. The Japanese had 10 divisions in Burma and this year had tried to invade India. There had been continuous fighting all the year in one of the most unhealthy countries in the world. The British battle casualties had been about 40,000 but 288,000 in addition had fallen victims to the various diseases of the jungle. The great bulk of these returned to the Army within a few months, but the figure indicated the terrible drain that was caused by sickness in the Burma Army.

Sir Alan Brooke explained the general features of the theatre of operations in Burma.. The front on which the 14th Army was operating extended for about 850 kilometers, all of which was heavy forest, jungle and swamp. The American 'hump' route passed over the high mountains to Chungking. The average monthly tonnage conveyed by this route during the year had been 14,000 tons, but this figure had risen to 23,000 tons in August. During their offensive early this year, The Japanese had penetrated to Kohima and Imphal. We had driven them back and were continuing to advance southward. What we were very anxious to do was to make an air and seaborne landing near Rangoon and thus cut the communications of all the Japanese Armies

In Burma. We could not find the resources for this operation, however, until Germany had been beaten.

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Sir Alan Brooke explained "The situation in China, where the American 14th Air Force had established air bases near Kweilin from which to attack Japanese shipping off the

China Coast and from which to give air support for the westward advance across the Pacific. The Japanese were now attacking the Kweilin area from the North and South. The Japanese Armies had not yet effected a junction and the Chinese had said that they thought that they could hold them apart. We were doubtful of this, however, as the Chinese Army were short of equipment and food.

Mr. Churchill said that the Chungking Government had been disinclined to equip a large army for fear part of it might be used against them. They had therefore preferred to concentrate on the build-up of the American Air Force.

Sir Alan Brooke then gave the British estimate of the distribution of Japanese forces in the south as follows:

Burma 10 divisions
Malaya and Sumatra 2-3 divisions
Indo-China l division
South West Pacific 10 divisions

General Deane's account of Pacific operations of the Allies referred to in paragraph II of memorandum of conversation Oct. 14, 1944.



During the six months' period following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Allies in the Pacific paid a full price for the unpreparedness which Marshal Stalin has so aptly described as the natural law of peace loving nations.

In early 1942, strategic control of the combined Anglo-American operations were centered in the newly formed combined Anglo American Chiefs of Staff under the direction of the Prime Minister and the President. They at once divided the Pacific into several theaters of operations. The Central and Northern Pacific Theaters were recognized as spheres of American operations, whereas the Southwest and South Pacific were areas in which the operations of Australian, New Zealand, Dutch, and American forces were to be of a combined nature. All these areas have since been placed under American commanders who carry on the Pacific operations under the strategic direction of the Combined Anglo-American Chiefs of Staff. Each of the Allies in the Pacific has exerted its maximum efforts towards the speedy defeat of Japan, consistent with the overall strategy of the war.

At each of their successive meetings, the British-American Chiefs of Staff, with the approval of the Prime Minister and the President, have expressed the Pacific strategy as follows: First, while bringing about at the earliest possible date the unconditional surrender of Germany, to maintain and extend unremitting pressure against Japan for the purpose of continually reducing her military power and attaining positions from which her ultimate surrender can be forced; and secondly, upon the defeat of Germany, in cooperation with other Pacific powers and with Russia, to direct the full resources of the United States and Great Britain to bring about at the earliest possible date the unconditional surrender of Japan.

In the period immediately following Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces dominated both the sea and the air in the Western Pacific and were in complete possession of the initiative. At the high-point of her aggression in May 1942, Japan stood along a four-thousand-mile frontier ex ending from the Malay Peninsula. through the Dutch East Indies along the north coast of New Guinea, into the Solomon Islands, and north through the Pacific islands toward Pearl Harbor. Her forces were in position to threaten the remaining Dutch possessions, Australia, and the islands to its north and east.


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During this period of Japanese aggression, the United States was collecting and concentrating its forces towards preserving the island line of communications between the United States and Australia which was considered vital to all future planned operations. In May 1942, the Japanese naval thrust into the Coral Sea resulted in the first costly defeat to Japan. In June, Japanese attempt to penetrate towards Midway resulted in Japan's second costly defeat. These two battles broke Japan's carrier and naval air supremacy and somewhat restored the balance of sea power in the Pacific to the United States.

In June 1942 and coincident with the battle of Midway, the Japanese dispatched a task force against our Aleutian Islands. She was successful in occupying the islands of Kiska, Attu, and Agattu. Strategically the occupation of these barren islands was unimportant at the time, but had we permitted the infiltration to be extended, the consequences might have. been serious. Further infiltration along the island chain might have eventually permitted the enemy to operate against our sea routes along the southwestern coast of Alaska and would have endangered the delivery of supplies to the Soviet Union. Our successes at the battle of Midway enabled us to divert forces in sufficient strength to successfully accomplish the recapture of our Aleutian possessions. Kiska was the last of these islands to be retaken, and this occurred in August of 1942. Since that date there have been no operations in the Alaskan-Aleutian area.

The Allies' offensive plan was first to proceed through the Solomon Islands and New Guinea toward the Philippines. The first step in this plan was the capture of Guadalcanal in August 1942. While the advance through the Solomons and New Guinea was in progress, it became apparent that a second line of approach through the central Pacific could be logistically supported. As a result, a more direct route to the Philippines was started through the central Pacific islands which eventually led to the capture of the Gilbert Islands, the Marshalls, the Carolines, the Marianas and finally the Palau Islands on 15 September of this year. The southern line of advance has meanwhile reached the northern island of Halmahera.

At the last meeting of the Anglo-American Chiefs of Staff in Quebec, they reiterated the general strategic policy with regard to the war with Japan, but they were able to express the overall objective in two phases somewhat more concisely as follows: First phase -- to force the unconditiona1 surrender


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of Japan by first lowering Japanese ability and will to resist by establishing a sea and air blockade, conducting extensive air bombardment, and destroying Japanese air and naval strength; second phase -by invading and seizing objectives in the industrial heart of Japan.

The general plan for the accomplishment of the above objectives is as follows: After seizing a position in the central Philippines in the near future, we intend to occupy Luzon late this year. Subsequent operations will be directed toward seizure of more advance positions in the furtherance of the first phase of the overall objectives as stated above. Our operations on the China coast are intended to he those which will contribute to the blockade and air bombardment phase and limited to those objectives which can be attained without commitment to major land campaigns. We intend that the operations conducted in the furtherance of Phase l of the overall objective shall include severance or interdiction of sea communications and the mainland of Asia.

The operations for the fulfillment of Phase 2 of the overall objective are tentatively planned for the latter part of 1945. They are, of course, dependent upon the development of the overall strategic situation and upon the release of forces and resources incident to the end of the war in Europe.

The most important factor in the development of the overall strategic situation will be in the part which the Soviet Union is to play. Plans have been developed for all possible lines of approach against Japan from the east, south and west. However, the United States Chiefs of Staff, and I feel certain that the British Chiefs of Staff will agree, consider that these plans can be most effectively selected and applied if they are thoroughly concerted with plans to be developed for operations against Japan from the north.

In this connection, Marshal Stalin has recently asked Mr. Harriman for the opinion of the United States military authorities as to ho-the armed forces of the Soviet Union could best be utilized in the war against Japan. The United States Chiefs of Staff have replied that based on the information available to them at this time they are only prepared to recommend a broad strategic concept of Russian participation. They feel that this concept should be aimed at the following objectives in order of priority:


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First, securing the Trans-Siberian Railroad and the Vladivostock Peninsula, secondly, setting up American and Soviet strategic air forces for operation against Japan from the Maritime Provinces and the Kamchatka Peninsula; third, interdiction of lines of communication between Japan proper and the Asiatic mainland; fourth, the destruction of Japanese ground and air forces in Manchuria; and fifth, securing the Pacific supply route in which Soviet participation would include: First, making available for United States use Petropavlovsk as a naval support and supply base, and areas on the Kamchatka Peninsula for airbases; secondly, neutralization by air of southern Sakhalin and Hokkaido; third, improvement of port facilities and inland transportation at Nikolaevsk, Magadan, Petropavlovsk, and Sovietskaya Gavan; fourth, military occupation of southern Sakhalin; and fifth, Soviet naval cooperation with the United States Navy as the situation dictates.

Naturally, from the military viewpoint, the United States Chiefs of Staff hope for Russia's entry into the war against Japan at the earliest possible date. They consider it a matter of the most urgent importance that planning for the combined operations should be undertaken at once. They feel that whatever preparatory measures are practicable should be started now . These might include build-up of supply stock levels, selection and construction of airdromes, improvement of port facilities, improvement of inland transportation, and other matters in all of which the United States is prepared to render all possible assistance consistent with her commitments in the war against Germany. As for the operations themselves, the United States Chiefs of Staff consider it as important for planning to be undertaken in which there would be a free interchange of available information to each other.

In order to round out all plans and with a view to concerting them with the Russians, the United States Chiefs of Staff feel it is essential to have answers to the following questions as soon as they may be obtained:

  1. How long aster the defeat of Germany may we expect Soviet-Japanese hostilities to commence?
  2. How much time will be required to build up Soviet forces in the Par East to enable Soviet forces to take the offensive?
  3. How much of the capacity of the Trans-Siberian Railroad can be devoted to building up and support of strategic air forces?
  4. Is the Soviet Government prepared to start immediately on the build up of a strategic air force and to initiate a program for its training? In this connection, the United States is ready to assign four-engine bombers as soon as an answer to this question is received.

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I have given a very hasty review of the Pacific situation in general terms. I think it is apparent that the strategy as now envisaged is leading toward the strangulation of the Japanese islands by sea and air blockade. The successful capture of the Philippines or Formosa obviously cuts of all of the Japanese area of conquest from her main islands. The strategy also prepares for air bases from which the main islands of Japan can be heavily bombed. Through this strangulation and by the efforts of aerial bombardment, it is hoped to create conditions whereby the complete subjugation of Japan proper can be effected at the earliest possible date.

Marshal Stalin enquired how many Divisions the Japanese had altogether.

Sir Alan Brooke said that the Japanese forces were believed to consist of:

88 Divisions
10 Depot Divisions
54 Brigades
19 Garrison Units
2 Cavalry Brigades
14 Independent Tank Regiments

Mr. Churchill said that we hoped next year to destroy the Japanese in Burma. We should continue to act on a large scale in the South East Asia Command with the object of diverting forces from the main operations in the Pacific. Meanwhile, the Australian troops would be operating under General MacArthur, and the best part of the British Fleet would go to the Pacific and take part in the main operations under the United States Command.

Marshal Stalin said that all the Japanese lines of communication were exposed. If the route to the Southwest and South was cut, the Japanese garrisons would be isolated and would run short of ammunition, and the places they were occupying would fall of their own accord. Mr. Churchill agreed and said that the capture of the Philippines would go a long way to sever all the communications of the Japanese to the Southwest .

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The above material has been researched by David Irving for the third volume of his Churchill biography, "Churchill's War", vol. iii: "The Sundered Dream."

Extracts from Anthony Eden's pencilled diary | Stalin's conversations with Eden and others, Oct 15, 1944

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