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247 Note by Bruce of Conversation with Churchill

At the monthly meeting [1] with the Prime Minister I raised the
question of the future of Germany. I told the Prime Minister that
I was afraid that a situation might arise in which some of the
Dominions held views about the future of Germany differing from
the view of the United Kingdom Government.

The Prime Minister asked me what was my own view about the future
of Germany. I answered him by referring to the latest report from
the Chiefs of Staff Organisation to the effect that the
dismemberment of Germany would be in our strategic interest, but
to which they added a proviso-'provided it is likely that the
United Nations will retain the will permanently to enforce it'.

The view taken, I continued, was that unless this proviso were
fulfilled dismemberment involved the risk of leading to the very
thing it was designed to prevent, namely the re-emergence of a
strong and aggressive Germany, which is obviously undesirable from
a strategic point of view.

I said that from my knowledge of the British people I could not
feel anything like certain that after ten, fifteen or twenty years
they would retain the will permanently to enforce the
dismemberment of Germany.

If, I continued, the British had the only say as to the future of
Germany and our judgment were unfettered, my advice would be not
to dismember Germany but to rely on the results of complete and
continued disarmament. We had, however, to take into consideration
the views of the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. If we found the Russians and
Americans absolutely determined on dismemberment, I would in that
case not be prepared to create a serious breach with our Allies
and I would acquiesce, although doubtingly, in their decision,
hoping for the best as regards the continued determination of the
British people with regard to enforcing dismemberment.

The Prime Minister then said: 'I know what I think but one can
never do what one wants'. I then pressed him further for his view
and he said that his ideal would be a Europe divided into groups
of roughly 40 millions of people. He instanced France plus part of
Belgium, a Danubian Federation, a Scandinavian Union, etc. I said
that I assumed he had in mind breaking Germany with her present
population of about 80 millions into two parts. To this the Prime
Minister said that the parts did not matter so much; we must
destroy Prussianism. I asked the Prime Minister if his view was
that East Prussia should go to Poland. He replied Yes and the
Poles should have whatever they want up to the Oder.

To this I replied that I did not believe the Poles could cope with
this increased territory extending into Germany.

The Prime Minister said that the large German populations of the
areas ceded to Poland would be transferred to the Reich and he
used a metaphor about picking up trout from one pool and putting
them in another. I said that if that were done I could foresee a
real Lebensraum difficulty in Germany and I repeated my belief
that the Poles could not handle the territory it was proposed to
give them. The Prime Minister said: 'Well, all this will have to
be settled later'. It was obvious that we were not getting
anywhere but I felt that I had an obligation to press my point

The Prime Minister then went into a long dissertation, saying that
he was being harassed on all sides to settle everything now-the
whole future economic policy of the world, all sorts of details of
the World Authority, and the whole post-war internal policy of the
United Kingdom. All the big questions could be settled when we
were sitting round the Conference table. Meanwhile, the Prime
Minister went on, 'How can I run the war with so many fronts, cope
with the flying bomb problem and work out all these questions?' To
this I replied that I was not talking about 'all these questions'
but that I was trying to do something towards meeting a danger
which I clearly foresaw arising over one specific question of
transcending importance.

I then said: 'At the moment you say that the Americans are in
favour of dismembering Germany'.

The Prime Minister broke in: 'We discussed the question at Tehran
and I suggested some form of partition, say two or three States.

Stalin and Roosevelt both laughed at my suggestion. They wanted a
great many little pieces.'
I replied that the Prime Minister had himself said that there was
not any very serious discussion at Tehran and I did not believe
that the Americans were going to back up President Roosevelt's

I then said suppose the Russians took one view, that is to say
they favoured dismemberment, and the Americans took the exactly
opposite view. Suppose, too, that the United Kingdom reluctantly
fell in with the Russian view. Then it might well be that some of
the Dominions agreed with the United States attitude. A most
difficult position would then arise and I felt that we should be
fore-armed to meet it.

To this the Prime Minister said: 'We'll tell you all about it at
the right time', and he repeated: 'It is clear that Germany must
be disarmed and it is clear that she has got to be broken up'.

I repeated that I felt he should get the Dominions into the
picture but all the Prime Minister said was: 'We can't divide the
lion's skin before we kill him'.

I pointed out that the Prime Minister had himself just divided the

S. M. B.

[AA:M100, AUGUST 1944]

1 i.e. at the monthly meeting with High Commissioners.

[LONDON], 3 August 1944
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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