66 Note by Bruce of Conversation with Cranborne

[LONDON], 7 March, 1944

I went to see Cranborne. The object of my visit was to draw his attention to the statement in the Prime Minister's note [1] on 'UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER' to the effect that he understood Roosevelt, the United Kingdom and the U.S.S.R. were agreed that Germany had to be broken up after the war.

I showed this paper of the Prime Minister's to Cranborne who obviously had not seen it before. His reaction was that no decision had been taken with regard to the future of Germany.

I pointed out to Cranborne that this was a question of the most vital importance from the point of view of all the Dominions. Upon this decision might depend the duration of the war and it would certainly have a tremendous effect upon the post-war situation and the possibility of a further world war. In these circumstances I urged him that if the matter came up at any meeting at which I was not present, that he had to take the strongest line with regard to it, reminding the Prime Minister that no decision has yet been taken on the subject by the War Cabinet here and also to make it clear that no decision can be final until the Dominions have been consulted and have had an opportunity of expressing their views.

Cranborne was as definite in his recollection as I was that the present position is that on the only occasion when this matter was discussed by the War Cabinet here, which was just prior to the Moscow Conference, the discussion was rather a deplorable one and opinion was divided in three different ways- 1. that Germany should continue after the war as before it 2. that she should be forcibly divided into small States, and 3. that the occupation should be on the basis of individual States in the hope that these would lead to the Germans themselves dividing the present German Reich into smaller States.

I reminded Cranborne that a decision with regard to Austria had been taken notwithstanding the views expressed by Australia and by Smuts. [2] I pointed out that in that case we had been confronted with a fait accompli and that although I had urged my Government to send a dignified protest they had decided not to do so. I said, however, that I had little doubt as to the violent reaction there would be if a decision were taken on the future of Germany without our having had an opportunity of expressing our views.

S. M. B.

1 For Churchill's note, dated 15 January, see Sir Llewellyn Woodward, British Foreign Policy in the Second World War, vol. V, HMSO, London, 1976, pp. 364-5.

2 See Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. VI, Documents 253, 286 and 288.

[AA:M100, MARCH 1944]