The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to the Secretary of State
M 23247.59 Request following be urgently delivered to Secretary of State.
I have received the following letter from Molotov tonight in reply to my letter delivered 24 hours ago regarding Soviet participation in the proposed talks in Bern:
“In connection with your letter received by me March 16th concerning negotiations in Bern, I communicate to you the following:
On March 12th you informed me that on March 9th in Bern there arrived the German General Karl Wolff and his companions Dollmann and Zimmer, for discussion with representatives of the Armies of the United States and Great Britain of the question of the capitulation of the German Armed Forces in Northern Italy. You further communicated that Field Marshal Alexander had been directed to detail his officers to Bern for a meeting with these persons and you inquired the point of view of the Soviet Government on this question.
On that same day, the 12th of March, I informed you that the Soviet Government did not object to negotiations with General Wolff in [Page 732] Bern as long as officers representing the Soviet Military Command would take part in these negotiations. In giving this answer the Soviet Government did not doubt that the Government of the United States would take an affirmative attitude to its proposal for the participation of Soviet officers in negotiations with the German General Wolff in Bern, and it named its representatives then and there.
Today, the 16th of March, I received from you a letter from which it appears that the Government of the United States refuses to the Soviet Representatives the right to participate in the negotiations in Bern. The refusal of the Government of the United States to admit the participation of the Soviet Representatives in the negotiations in Bern was for the Soviet Government utterly unexpected and incomprehensible from the point of view of Allied relations between our countries. In view of this the Soviet Government considers it impossible to give its agreement to negotiations of American and British Representatives with representatives of the German Commander in Bern and insists that the negotiations already begun in Bern be broken off.
The Soviet Government, furthermore, insists that also from now on all possibility of the conduct of separate negotiations by one or two of the Allied Powers with German Representatives without the participation of the third Allied Power be ruled out.”
Clark Kerr60 has received an identical letter. I will comment in a subsequent message.