One of the more noticeable phenomena of WW2 was the number of conferences between the Allied Leaders. Without Facebook and Facetime they just had to meet physically; they did have scrambled telephone calls though, unbeknown to the Allies, the Germans were listening in to the calls. This article details six of these conferences because there were Soviet spies present at each and they exercised far more influence than they should have been allowed.
A spy is a shadowy figure who steals secrets, usually military, and supplies them to a foreign power. Or so the theory goes but what if the “spy” was in a senior position and able to influence strategy, that would be a real coup would it not. The US Administration of FDR was so compromised Stalin was able to almost dictate policy for them. Soviet agents in Washington were pushing for others of their ilk to accompany FDR even if they were not the most suitable candidates for the job. Alger Hiss being a prime example and afterwards he tried to make out he was little more than a clerk taking notes.
14 Jan 1943 Casablanca
FDR met with Churchill, de Gaulle and Henri Giraud (another French General). This was where the Italian campaign was being planned, D-Day discussed and the first sign of the “unconditional surrender” demand of the Germans. The unconditional surrender requirement was not popular with everyone. It was thought it would encourage the Germans to fight to the bitter end, long after they might have agreed a ceasefire. This of course played right into Stalin’s hands. He wanted the Allies to keep fighting as long as possible and was terrified the Allies would get together with the Germans and take on the Russians, a wish dear to the heart of some of the German High Command and a few on the Allied side.
Stalin had been invited but was much too busy with the Battle for Stalingrad. In fact the furthest he travelled was to Tehran later on. He really didn’t trust his people in Moscow to remain loyal in his absence.
The unconditional surrender demand came from FDR who thought the Germans should be kept busy and then punished when beaten. He also didn’t want Stalin to make a separate peace with Germany. Churchill’s opinion was that if they could get rid of Hitler, his replacement might be prepared to make peace.
17 Aug 1943 Quebec I
FDR, Churchill and MacKenzie King, the Canadian PM. D-Day set for 1944 and an agreement on limiting the sharing of nuclear information. Unknown to the Allies was that Stalin knew as much about the atomic bomb as they did themselves. As was usually the case, Stalin had been invited to attend but was reluctant to leave the USSR.
23 Nov 1943 Cairo
This was a weird one between FDR, Churchill and Chiang Kai-Shek. It was held a few days before the Tehran meeting where they intended to discuss the situation in China but Chiang and Stalin did not get on at all. This was a way to give Chiang a chance to have his say before the Americans threw him to the wolves.
At this point Stalin needed to have Chiang as someone who could keep the Japanese (with whom he had a non-aggression pact) busy and away from Russia. Later, as Japan was fully occupied by the Allies, support would be switched to the Communist rebels in Yenan.
At this meeting FDR offered French Indo China to Chiang as part of his anti Imperialist stance, Chiang declined.
There were 4 Americans at the meeting who were opposed to Chiang and promoters of Mao. They were General Jospeh Stilwell, the Allied Army Commander in China, John Paton Davis diplomat and China expert, Harry Dexter White and his assistant Solomon Adler. At least the latter pair were Soviet agents. The way Chiang was to be pushed aside was by not supplying his forces with weapons or money. Stalin’s ultimate aim was to have the Communists rebels win in China but he was careful to use the Nationalists while it served his purpose.
Oddly, neither White nor Adler were scheduled to be at the Cairo meeting but just happened to be passing as the conference took place. This passing was assisted by their fellow Soviet agents in Washington.
28 Nov 1943 Tehran
One of the really big meetings during the War, Stalin took part outside the USSR for the first time. A definite commitment to a second front was made, a plan for Yugoslavia, operations against Japan and the post war settlement were also discussed.
FDR was accompanied by Averell Harriman and Harry Hopkins. Harry was his top advisor and was working for Stalin while Harriman was at the least sympathetic to the Soviet cause.
Stalin was desperate for the Allies to open a second front and was not impressed with the excuses for not doing so being offered up. He had no intention of opening a second front against the Japanese with whom he had a non aggression pact, while it suited him.
In Yugoslavia Stalin was supporting Tito rather than Mihailovich. Soviet agent James Klugmann, another from the Cambridge stable, was coordinating British efforts there and was doctoring the intelligence heavily in favour of Tito. When Churchill told Stalin that Tito was keeping twenty or more German divisions busy in the Balkans, Stalin replied that it was no more than 8. So successfully was London being duped. The Americans were also supporting Tito. When the OSS looked for combat people to help Tito they mostly chose American veterans of the Spanish Civil War, Communists to a man.
It was the post war preparations where Stalin really got his way. Soviet agent Harry Hopkins was pushing the view that after the defeat of Germany, the USSR would be the strongest power in Europe so the Americans must have good relations with them, giving Stalin everything he wanted was the best way to achieve this. Roosevelt had been happily giving the USSR everything possible under the Lend-Lease agreement, perhaps even more than he realised with Harry Hopkins directing efforts. There were some preliminary discussions about the founding of the United Nations, German reparations including Stalin’s desire to use German slave labour, the creation of free and fair elections in the liberated countries and their associated spheres of influence. Stalin’s agents made sure FDR heard what he wanted to hear and assured him of Stalin’s intentions to abide by any agreements. This would all come to fruition at Yalta.
FDR was not a healthy man at the Teheran conference, by the time of Yalta he was severely affected by health issues. This must have affected his judgement. He was convinced Stalin was not an imperialist and that because the man of steel had trained as a priest, he was at heart a good man. Stalin killed more than Hitler so it seems FDR was not good at reading the signs.
12 Sep 1944 Quebec II
This was a meeting between FDR and Churchill where FDR attempted to tell Churchill what was going to happen. He sweetened the pill with an additional $6 Billion Lend-Lease agreement and Churchill was only able to make a few changes to what the Americans had planned.
The Morgenthau Plan for Post War Germany was proposed, it was eventually dropped but might have saved us from the Fourth Reich had it been implemented. This was also where the Allies decided to pool resources to develop atomic weapons and that co-operation should continue are Japan was defeated. This only lasted until January 1946 because Igor Gouzenko’s defection revealed that British spies in Canada had been betraying atomic secrets. This was rather unfair because even more people in the USA had been doing exactly the same though at the time, the Americans were not aware of this side of the story.
Although he gave his name to the plan, Secretary to the Treasury Henry Morgenthau was not the author. It was mostly written by Harry Dexter White under the watchful eye of Harry Hopkins, both Soviet agents. The objective was the reduction of Germany to a purely agricultural state in several pieces. The plan was eventually leaked much to the delight of that little shit Joseph Goebbels who made the most of it. There were various estimates of how many Army divisions it was worth to the German cause but it certainly made life much tougher for the Allies.
Stalin was delighted but eventually the plan came to little, one reason being Stalin had decided to pinch much of Eastern Germany (now the western half of Poland) and the reduction in size made the plan more difficult to implement. It was not accepted by all of FDR’s people but it lived a bit longer than it would have done with the support of the Communists in every nook and cranny of Washington.
4 Feb 1945 Yalta
The really really big one. FDR and Churchill met Stalin for the second time. Germany was on the ropes and they discussed the plan for Europe post war, the formation of the United Nations (incidentally its founding was done by Soviet agents) and the conditions for the USSR’s entry into the war against Japan.
FDR had his Secretary of State with him, Edward Stettinius Jr who had only been in the job 2 months and was totally without experience. Harry Hopkins had managed to wangle Alger Hiss to accompany Stettinius even though there were far better qualified people available but they would not have been a Soviet agent. FDR was very ill during this conference having problems to concentrate and stay awake. Hiss was in his ear all the time and getting the nod for just about anything he proposed to Roosevelt. Later, when testifying to the House, Hiss maintained that he was merely a taker of notes and had no input to any of the discussions. A total lie but only to be expected from a communist. He spent several years insisting that he spent all his time at Yalta planning the implementation of the United Nations.
Hiss was heavily involved in the Yalta discussions, his boss, Stettinius, was very inexperienced and relied on Hiss for much guidance. Hiss had input on the policy towards China (now moving in favour of Mao), how to govern Europe after the War, the division of German into zones and the use of German slave labour as a kind of reparation. Stettinius spent much time deferring to Alger Hiss on most matters, he was not aware of many of the details. Hiss of course, put forward views that had been previously agreed with his Soviet handlers in Washington. He could not be seen to be plotting with the Russians during the conference itself.
Unusually Hiss was an agent of Soviet Military Intelligence, or GRU as it is often known. For some reason most Soviet spying in Canada was done by the GRU whereas the NKVD (forerunner of the KGB) did most of the spying in the USA. The two services did overlap and Hiss was one of those overlaps. After the fall of Communism it allowed later senior KGB officers to state categorically that their records showed no sign of Hiss and some others because their records were kept by a different organisation.
Stalin’s agents had infiltrated many US Government departments and at many levels. Not only did the Soviets know what was going on but often influenced the direction of US actions in ways that were beneficial to Stalin’s view of the world. The Venona decrypts contain about 300 codenames of agents but only about 100 have been identified. This is from a relatively small percentage of the total messages.
Next the 1945 defection of Igor Gouzenko, a cipher clerk in the USSR Embassy in Ottawa and its ramifications.
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