Oral History Interview with
Specialist Eastern Europe, State Department, 1942-46; secretary U.S. delegation, political advisor Council of Foreign Ministers, also Paris Peace Conference, 1946; political advisor, U.S. delegation Danube Conference, 1948; officer in charge of Balkan affairs, member Policy Planning Staff, State Department, 1949-55.
John C. Campbell
New York, New York
June 24, 1974
by Richard D. McKinzie
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.
Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate
the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Opened November, 1979
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
Oral History Interview with
John C. Campbell
New York, New York
June 24, 1974
by Richard D. McKinzie
MCKINZIE: Would you begin by telling a little of your background and how you got into Government service?
CAMPBELL: I was trained for a teaching career. I had begun teaching at the University of Louisville in 1940, at the time of the second reelection of President Roosevelt. The coming of the war had a good deal to do with turning me from teaching to Government service.
Teaching jobs were not available at that time, and there was this tremendous series of
world events. As one who had been in the field of modern European history, I found history taking place at the time.
I'd spent two years in Europe during the thirties. I had tried to get into the State Department after finishing my graduate work, but without success; they didn't have room for a Balkan expert, and the State Department had not begun its wartime expansion.
After finishing my temporary teaching job in Louisville, I came here to the Council on Foreign Relations on a fellowship to work on contemporary international affairs. It was natural that I would be open to any chance to go to Washington.
I had talked to Laurence Duggan, who was Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America. (Duggan also worked on Latin-American affairs here at the Council.) This was not my background, but one couldn't go to Europe in 1940. (A large
number of scholars had migrated to Latin America to become specialists in that field.) I undertook a study in nationalism in Latin America, because I had been trained in nationalism in Eastern Europe. I came to know both Duggan and his principal assistant, Harley [Arthur] Notter, who, with Leo Pasvolsky, had begun the study of postwar problems in the State Department. The conclusions of their study convinced Mr. [Cordell] Hull and Mr. [Sumner] Welles that this kind of study should be conducted inside the Department rather than outside, as in 1918 with Colonel House's inquiry [a project by President Wilson to enlist the aid of professional experts]. They were assembling a staff, and they were interested in me for work in European affairs. My old colleague, [Philip] Mosely, had already agreed to join Pasvolsky's staff and it was through his intervention that I was brought in there during the summer of 1942. So, it was during the latter Roosevelt period that I came into Government service.
No one really thought of going back to teaching as long as the war was going on, but most of us hadn't made up our minds to stay in Government service after the war. There was a large influx of academics both into the State Department postwar planning divisions and the Research and Analysis Branch of the OSS. Both of them were filled with students of history, political science, and so on, just out of the graduate schools.
MCKINZIE: Did you have the feeling there was a kind of new mentality about the Department as a result of this influx?
CAMPBELL: Well, there was obviously a difference between the old-line Foreign Service officers and these university people who were brought in to "plan the peace," so to speak. There obviously was a different outlook, a different experience, and so forth. We had, from time to time, a few
Foreign Service officers assigned to our division, then called the Division of Special Research. (It later was broken down and got different names. A few Foreign Service officers became accustomed to some of the university ways of looking at problems, and we began to learn a good deal about the operations of active day-to-day conduct of foreign relations. Of course, the war was a special period in which we didn't have normal day-to-day operations, particularly in dealing with Europe, which was then occupied by the Germans. We dealt with the future of Europe. So far as there were official relations, they were with exile governments which were not in Europe. We were dealing with the possibilities of eventual liberation; in some cases, where there were or would be no recognized governments, we would have to discover somebody with whom to renew relations and sign agreements. We were also dealing with the possibilities of getting agreements with the major allies, the British
and the Russians particularly, as to what the shape of postwar Europe was to be. In that respect, the career Foreign Service officers had a good deal to offer, just as the scholar types had different kinds of knowledge and ideas to offer. I spent two years there (we were across the street, we weren't in the main State Department Building) writing more or less theoretical papers about what the postwar map of Europe would look like, where the boundaries ought to run, what kind of arrangements should be put into armistice and peace agreements, and so forth. Much of this must have seemed quite academic to the people who were sitting on the desks for Soviet affairs or Polish affairs. Nevertheless, we did establish a kind of continuing working relationship with them, both directly and through the major committees, which Mr. Welles organized. Isaiah Bowman, who was President of Johns Hopkins and had been in the old Inquiry group, really took
charge of that whole operation. Our papers were prepared for these committees, on which Mr. [Adolf A., Jr.] Berle, other Assistant Secretaries, and people who were intimately involved in the ongoing affairs of the Department would sit. So, we were not operating wholly independently, as the Inquiry had been in 1917-18 without much contact with the actual operational officers.
As the Russians approached Europe from the East, all these problems began to arise in actual diplomatic contacts with the Soviet Union, Eden's trip to Russia in '42 and Anglo-American discussion on how to raise questions connected with Eastern Europe in dealing with Stalin. Finally it came to the point where in Moscow in '43 there was the first tripartite conference really devoted to postwar problems. We had a great deal to do with the preparations for that conference. Phil Mosely, from our staff, attended the conference and advised Mr. Hull on various points which came
up in connection with the future shape of the peace. From that time on we were more and more drawn into the actual decision making process, and were going more into operational matters. Our division began to break up into a new organizational pattern as the war went on, in a way that would allow us at least to look forward to the actual facing of these problems at the peace table. We still thought that there would be a big peace table like Paris in 1918-19. We didn't realize that there never was going to be a peace conference in the classical sense, so we were all ready for that. We had all the papers and we had positions on where we would stand on the Hungarian-Rumanian frontier, what we thought about the South Tyrol, what should happen to East Prussia, and all such territorial questions. None of the papers was really of a great deal of use when it came to actual decisions, because those decisions were made, some of them anyway,
under the stress of military situations which arose on the Continent of Europe. Others were simply never made because they were postponed; there never was any German peace treaty. They were just postponed indefinitely and dealt with in other ways. There's a great mass of these documents, some of which have been published in the Foreign Relations series, though I'm sure there are much more in the Archives which historians should look at someday. We had all kinds of detailed studies, more than we needed. Just to take an example, we thought we might have a major role in Hungary after the war. The victorious allied powers would have to do something about the feudal regime in Hungary, which obviously would go down with Hitler. We had rather detailed schemes of land reform for Hungary: modern agriculture, land for the peasants, and what not. However, the land reform for Hungary that was put in effect was drawn up in Moscow by Imre Nagy, who later became Prime Minister of Hungary, and we had absolutely
nothing to say about it. That was an example of one of the problems, where we had a young fellow wasting six months doing a detailed paper on land reform in Hungary. It was one of the ironies of our work.
MCKINZIE: You may be aware of some of the revisionist consequences of that work. There is a school of thought which says that the people who were doing that postwar planning were doing it with particular zeal; that they were, indeed, building a world modeled on the ideals of Cordell Hull and Will Clayton. These revisionists contend that this would have benefited the only industrial power left after the war, the United States, and that there are economic overtones in this kind of planning. Was there a kind of feeling that you were rebuilding the world according to American ideas of decency, human equality, and political democracy?
CAMPBELL: I think this is so, without any thought of
the way it's often presented in revisionist literature that our main concern was extending an American-dominated economic system or making the world over to fit the economic needs of America and other capitalist countries. It seemed to me that the prevailing approach which we had was to attempt to improve on what had happened the previous time, not to make the mistakes of the Wilsonian effort at peacemaking. This was largely the President's philosophy and, I think, one of the main reasons for the President's and Mr. Hull's insistence on not making secret treaties or setting frontiers or making political decisions on Europe's future by prearrangement before having a full discussion of the issues at a peace conference. We wanted to make a more democratic peace, one which would really apply self-determination better than it was applied at the time of the post-World War I settlement. All our studies on boundaries and territorial
questions were directed to make what we would have called a more just, more fair, and more stable set of relations among the countries of Europe. Of course, in Eastern Europe they'd all been put under the Nazis, briefly under the Soviets, and then under the Nazis again. We felt that if there was to be built a peace which had any promise of stability and would not repeat the problems of the twenties and the thirties, we would have to do better. We would have to reduce the number of minorities living under countries of a different nationality, have treaty arrangements which would work better than the treaty arrangements in the inter-war period, and make sure that aggression would not pay. We wanted a territorial and a political settlement which would produce a peaceful Europe, and a peaceful world, if you look at it on a larger scale. While it's quite true that we thought there must be trading arrangements that are not
discriminatory, we were also thinking of all the principles which later came to pass more or less in the Bretton Woods system on the financial and trading side: the World Bank, UNRRA [United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration], and stable monetary arrangements. To say that this was somehow an idea of either preventing the Russians from enjoying security or having a position to which they were entitled as one of the great victorious powers, seems to me, something which was not a part of our thinking and our approach.
We were looking, particularly in the case of Eastern Europe, at the possibilities of Soviet domination. The Soviets had taken some of these territories in 1939 and 1940, and we knew that there probably wasn't very much that we could do about the Soviet return to roughly the frontiers which they had had at the time they were attacked by Hitler. Still, we wrote papers
about this, saying that it would be desirable if we could have a compromise in Poland and they wouldn't keep all of that territory that they'd taken. It would be desirable if they would be gentle with Finland and make a peace which would not deprive the Finns of obviously Finnish territory. We were clearly not going to make a big issue with the Soviets about their western border as approximating the border of June 22, 1941, but when it came to the question of what kind of a government was going to exist in Poland or Czechoslovakia or Hungary and so forth, we took a rather idealistic line. Somehow there was a right on the part of those peoples who had been overrun by Hitler to exercise self-determination. We began thinking along the lines of free elections, provisional governments which would be broadly representative, and all these things which eventually found their way into the Yalta Declaration on Liberated Europe. In a way
that document was a kind of a distillation, if you like, of much of the thinking that had gone into our approach to what would happen when Europe was liberated. In what ways should we go about trying to establish a peace settlement and give the peoples of Europe a share in that peace settlement? We should not just have it dictated by three outside great powers which were not European powers (except if by definition you include Russia in Europe) so far as the central core of European nations were concerned. That was, I think, a basic approach.
Reading the revisionist literature later, it sometimes strikes me as being an utterly new and invented interpretation of what people were thinking at the time. I know that some of them have been able to go back and find something Mr. Acheson said at one time and create a whole history on it. But by just trying to recapture some of the atmosphere in which we were working
at the time, unless you define as American imperialism what really was continued Wilsonian approach to the problem of reorganization of world peace, one can see that the theory doesn't apply.
MCKINZIE: Did this commitment to Wilsonian ideals seem to dominate the people with whom you worked in this postwar planning unit?
CAMPBELL: Well, it was there. We didn't write papers saying, "Here is the philosophical basis on which we think the peace should be built." The fact was that we divided ourselves into roughly two branches of research and activity. One was world organization, in which Mr. Pasvolsky was most interested. Harley Notter, Durward Sandifer, and many others were all involved in this to write the United Nations Charter, to create a new League of Nations in effect and make it better than the old League of Nations. This was
obviously a question of how to improve specific institutions. Once you had the basic decision (which it was rather clear that Congress would go along with this time) that the United States would participate in a world organization, then we could go about trying to write the best charter we could think of, something which would work and on which we might have some chance of getting the approval of the other Allied powers, including if possible the Soviet Union.
The other half of the operation was called political and economic studies. We broke down the political part into territorial and other studies. The work of this division, in which I was, was all directed towards the nature of the territorial and the political settlement.
MCKINZIE: It was a kind of modern day Inquiry?
CAMPBELL: That's right. It was an attempt to create what we would call a system of states, in which
all the members would have full sovereign equality but, nevertheless, a cooperative relationship in over-all world organization designed to keep the peace. In order to minimize the number of conflicts which might arise to threaten the peace, we tried to look toward relationships between nations which would have some permanence and stability. This was why we kept looking at the map trying to figure out how we should throw the weight of the United States
We didn’t presume that the United States was going to dictate the shape of the map, but we knew that it would have a great deal of influence, as Wilson had had in 1918. Therefore, we were prepared to use whatever the American voice was worth in favor of the arrangements which seemed to us the best. So far as the internal affairs of other nations was concerned, the degree to which we would influence what would happen within France or Hungary wasn’t really clear.
Perhaps, we overstepped the bounds of what we would be likely to be able to do. Nevertheless we felt that, at a time when the map was blank and when Hitler was in occupation of the whole of Europe, we at least had to look at the political forces. We did any number of papers on political forces, in France, Belgium, Austria, Yugoslavia, Poland, and so on, in order to determine what we were to be faced with; what kinds of parties, what kinds of movements, and what kinds of groups would be coming to the fore.
In the case of the French, of course, the main question was that of the relations with the de Gaullist movement and with those who followed [Henri Honore] Giraud. Much of this was in the realm of current policy and really wasn't so much the concern of postwar planning as it was of how to deal with De Gaulle and Giraud in the politics of French North Africa in 1942 and '43
The President was deeply involved in that. Nevertheless, we were visibly writing papers about these things and about how government would be reestablished in France; how resistance committees, the Gaullist provisional government and other forces would fall into place. The problem was with whom the United States would be dealing at the time, because we had not yet recognized De Gaulle as a provisional government. This kind of problem may have perhaps gone beyond what we could logically have taken as our mandate, but it seemed to us that at least we could draw the horizon on a very wide basis, because we didn't know what the future held. We felt that the President and State Department should at least be as well informed as possible and able to make whatever choices had to be made between different groups. It was an attempt to foresee, as best we could, what kind of decisions we'd have. I have used France here just as an example. We had the same
task for many countries.
MCKINZIE: You dealt with such matters as the colonial holdings of France and colonial holdings of Italy in the postwar period? Of course, you had over you the Roosevelt predisposition to dismantle all colonial holdings. Were you consciously influenced by the knowledge that the President wished to end the colonial holdings as soon as possible?
CAMPBELL: Generally there was the same disposition in our divisions. I wasn't intimately connected with all those questions, but we did have a dependent areas section and looked at the future of the various colonial territories. Many of these also had been overrun by the enemy, mainly in the Far East. Generally, I think that academic people -- most of us were academic -- tended to be rather anti-colonial, as compared to the career Foreign Service officers who had been Europe
oriented. This difference of view and difference of approach carried on all through and long after the war. For example, the successor to our research division which dealt with international organization and dependent areas problems became what was later the UNA, the United National Affairs Bureau in the Department. Some of these people carried over from that wartime period, and generally they were in conflict with the views of the Bureau of European Affairs, which had to be concerned with relations with the Dutch, the French, the Belgians, and the British. There was, I think, an inclination which was similar to the President's about the colonial areas. Now, one would have to go back and look at the specific papers we did on Indochina, for example. It might be an interesting thing to look at -- I suppose somebody has -- to see what some of our experts said about what should be the future of Indochina, Indonesia, and the other colonial
countries. These conflicts were fought out later within the Department and involved, after the setting up of a Bureau of African Affairs, the same kind of conflict between those involved with the Europeans and those concerned with the Asians and the Africans.
MCKINZIE: You had done some work on Rumania. Were you able to continue those studies in the Department?
CAMPBELL: Yes. Actually, I was brought in to work on Eastern Europe, particularly the Balkans. We had a group there of about four or five who were dealing with that area, and I did most of the work on the Rumanian and Yugoslav questions. We had Cyril Black, who is now a history professor at Princeton, and his experience was with Bulgaria, and we had a few others who dealt with Hungary, Poland, and so on. I was talking about how in 1944 it came time to break up some of these
research divisions. As individuals, many of us went over to the operating geographical divisions of the State Department in roughly the spring of 1944. I and Cyril Black went over to the Division of Southern European Affairs, of which the Chief was then Cavendish Cannon, later Ambassador to Yugoslavia and a lot of other places. I worked with him through 1944 and 1945. This was a fascinating time because the map of Europe was beginning to change. The Russians came into Rumania in about April, 1944. We then had negotiations for armistice agreements which were carried on with the British and the Russians. We had, in the Department, drawn up our own draft armistice which more or less had to be discarded, because it didn't fit the kinds of drafts the Russians were producing. Since they were the operating military force in that area, obviously they had a veto on what the armistice terms might be.
Nevertheless, there were genuine negotiations for the three armistice agreements with Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary carried on in late '44. This became a central part of my activities at the time, because I was the drafting officer for all the communications back and forth to Cairo for the negotiations on Rumania. The Rumanian opposition had sent people out to Cairo to negotiate with the Allies, and the American, British and Soviet Ambassadors in Cairo were the negotiators. Our communications were between Washington and Ambassador Lincoln MacVeagh in Cairo. He was accredited to two governments in exile (Yugoslavia and Greece). The Bulgarian one was somewhat different but also ended up in Cairo, because they sent emissaries out who first went to Turkey and then later went to Cairo. Cyril Black handled those negotiations. Again, I should say that our responsibilities were on the drafting side; policy decisions were for those higher up.
One thing that struck me at the time, however, and strikes me also in looking back to it, was the level at which these fairly important negotiations were conducted. They involved the terms under which these countries would be occupied and what rights the occupying powers would or would not have. Although there was, I think, some occasional pro forma clearance with Mr. Hull, for the most part it was Mr. [James Clement] Dunn, who was then Assistant Secretary; Doc [H. Freeman] Matthews, his deputy; and Mr. Cannon who made the decisions on all our outgoing telegrams to Ambassador MacVeagh. All this was pretty much done on what I would call a working level in the Department, in BUR, because larger things were happening on the international stage. The terms on which the Axis satellites, as they were then called, came out of the war was not considered of the utmost importance. The United States Government didn't really, at that time, make a big issue of these things, partly because the war was still
going on. If these Axis satellites wished to get out of the war, well, they could surrender unconditionally. We really couldn't face the issue of what was to be the political future of these countries in the armistice negotiations, even though some of us knew that this was actually happening. This was evident in the role which the Russians took; the way in which they cast aside some of the proposals made by the British and the Americans in these armistice terms; and the way in which they insisted on certain specific reparation payments in the armistice terms, not waiting for the peace settlement. We made strong arguments to eliminate those clauses from the armistices, saying that they were proper for the peace settlement but not for the armistice agreements. Armistice should be cease-fire and terms of occupation, and we should set up an Allied Control Commission and wait until the peace settlement before dealing
with these other things such as territorial problems and reparation. The Russians put a settlement of the Rumanian-Hungarian territorial problem into the Rumanian armistice terms, which we opposed but they wouldn't yield. Finally we had them add "subject to confirmation at the peace settlement." They accepted that and this saved our theory, so to speak, but actually it didn't change the de facto situation. The armistice agreements, in that sense, did settle some of the permanent parts of the postwar status of these countries. We were not in a bargaining position, we felt at that time, to do anything about it. I think that perhaps the decision was made by Mr. Dunn and Doc Matthews not to try to involve the Secretary in making any plea to the President to take a different line than we did; we decided at the Assistant Secretary level, more or less. We may well have checked with Ben Cohen, who was then Counselor. I remember being struck at the time that very
important agreements involving the position of the Soviet Union in the former allies of Nazi Germany were being decided in a rather casual way. We were handicapped, I think, from that time on. The Russians saw that we deferred to them and gave them a preferred position; there was no question that they were going to have a preferred position. I don't think they really expected we had any right to take a stronger line or to tell them how much they should charge the Rumanians in reparation for what the Rumanians had done by way of devastation in the Soviet Union. They said they were being very modest, as a matter of fact, and it was very difficult for us to disagree. I remember that one time Mr. Cannon said, "Well, we don't like this reparation clause in the Rumanian armistice and we've tried to get the Russians to eliminate it or to cut it down, but, after all, the Rumanians did fight a kind of a private war with the Soviet Union." They were also technically
at war with us, but they didn't do much to us. They had gone along with the Germans, raised hell in the Soviet Union, and destroyed Soviet cities. They had occupied the province on the other side of the river from Bessarabia, governed it, and despoiled it. It was very difficult, from a political and moral view, for us to say to the Russians, "You can't ask these Rumanians not to pay for the fact that they were invading the Soviet Union and were allies of Hitler." We found ourselves not in a position to take a very strong line. We thought it was a question of principle that matters like reparation should be dealt with in the peace rather than the armistice, but it wasn't a question which you would go to President Roosevelt about and say, "Stand up to Stalin on this." The decisions were made in the Department to yield on some of those points.
MCKINZIE: What did it do to the tenor of opinion in the Department regarding future Soviet actions? Would you say that Mr. Dunn, Mr. Matthews, and yourself, were at all apprehensive as a result of these Soviet insistences, or did you believe that there were legitimate Russian concerns in Rumania, which, once satisfied, might lead them to take more compromising positions later on?
CAMPBELL: Well, I think we tended to give them the benefit of the doubt. It seemed to me to follow from the fact that they had carried the burden of the war there and logically would be the major occupying power in these countries. Since the war with Germany was still going on, these territories would become part of their military areas for operations. When they came into Rumania, Molotov made a statement saying, "We're not going to dominate or change the internal situation of Rumania, this is for the
Rumanians," and so on. This was obviously a declaration that they had no intention of living up to. Nevertheless, at this time the President was trying to establish the basis for the best possible relations with the Soviets in dealing with European and world problems. It didn't seem to us that we should expect the worst, though some of us did. We had some people in the Department who had been in the Soviet Union and had had experience in the Soviet field.
[Elbridge] Durbrow, then an the Polish desk, was the fiercest anti - Soviet fellow, and still is. I just saw some quotes from him the other day. Chip [Charles] Bohlen was, I think, more judicious in his thinking, but nevertheless felt very strongly about it. Norris Chipman, who had been in our research division, had also served in Moscow and had no faith in the possibility of Soviet moderation in Eastern Europe. There was a great cynicism about the Soviets and a fear that the President didn't know how to deal with them.
This view was quite prevalent in EUR. Some of us agreed with that, although, again, it seemed to me that there was a kind of idealistic or hopeful streak, in some of us who'd come out of academic life, in dealing with the particular set of issues with the Russians in 1944. At least, we tended to believe that the resistance forces in Yugoslavia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, though led by Communists, represented the masses of people, and that the exiled governments should have less to say about the future of those countries. There was a tendency, both in the OSS [Office of Strategic Services] and in the research divisions of the Department, staffed largely by academic types, to hope for the best, to think the best, and generally to support Roosevelt and at least go along with the idea of cooperation with the Russians until it was proved otherwise. I think that in the light of history this was probably what the U.S. Government had to do. The whole Yalta experience
was that kind of experiment.
MCKINZIE: You said just a moment ago that you were afraid that the President wouldn't know how to deal with it. This raises that very foggy issue about just what part the State Department did expect to play. I read periodically that people in the State Department were quite demoralized; even Cordell Hull is alleged to have thought about resignation because his views and the views of the Department were either not considered or taken rather cavalierly by Roosevelt. Of course, Cordell Hull was never invited to any of the top kinds of conferences. As you were doing this kind of postwar planning and dealing with the Soviets on the matter of the armistice in Eastern Europe, did you anticipate that the Department was really going to have any important influence? How were you advised about White House thinking as the war moved across Eastern Europe?
CAMPBELL: Well, we would occasionally get echoes of the fact that Mr. Hull was not able to prevail on this or that point. I think we gradually came to think that Mr. Hull was not going to have any substantial influence. As long as Sumner Welles was there, we felt that he would have some influence with the President, but he left in '43, I think. Mr. Welles, in a way, had been the one who set up our whole operation. By the time I'd moved over to the operating side of the Department, he was gone and [Edward] Stettinius had come in as Under Secretary and in late 1944 became Secretary. Nobody had any particular regard for him as having any knowledge of foreign affairs. He was just, in a way, an object of jokes, including one which maybe I can put on the record.
At the time of San Francisco we'd been unable to settle the Polish question. The Polish Ambassador in Washington, [Jan] Ciechanowski, was just beside himself at the inability to get
the State Department to come down on his side, because this business was going on and on as to how the Yalta decisions on Poland were going to be carried out. The Russians were just sticking firm, in effect, with the Lublin regime, and we weren't able to get the democratic Poles added to that regime. It was a total deadlock on the thing. The Polish Ambassador came in to see Secretary of State Stettinius. The Secretary was always a rotarian type, and with a big smile he slapped the Polish Ambassador on the back and said, "Well, Ambassador, I hope you send a fine big delegation to the San Francisco Conference."
And the Ambassador said, "But Mr. Secretary, that's just the question."
We got some echoes, and it was obvious that the President was in charge in ways which tended to leave the Department out. There was a famous instance of the proposal for spheres
of influence, the proposals that the Russians should play the hand in Rumania and that the British should play the hand in Greece.
MCKINZIE: This is as a result of the October meeting between...
CAMPBELL: No, this is before that; it was made in July and it finally came to Mr. Hull, and Mr. Hull tells about it in his memoirs. He objected to it, but he discovered that the President had already told Churchill that it was okay. Churchill had proposed it to the Russians and the Russians, surprisingly, had said, "Well, let's see what the Americans say and what President Roosevelt says about this." President Roosevelt, meanwhile, tentatively agreed with Churchill, and Mr. Hull finally came into the picture. I remember Cavendish Cannon showing me the telegrams. I was the desk officer, and generally this kind of great high level thing didn't get down to that level. He said, "Well,
we’re going to have to tell the Secretary to fight against this. We don’t like any of this and this has to be all left over to a peace conference.”
Finally Hull persuaded the President to tell Churchill that we’d agreed to it for three months as an experimental arrangement. About the time the three months expired, Churchill went to Moscow and had the famous October agreement. It was a matter which Hull felt very strongly about; this business of spheres of influence, agreeing on them secretly, and precluding the peace conference from having all the issues to be dealt with properly and openly.
The President had, in a cavalier way, just agreed with Churchill, and the Department had to fight very hard to get him to modify the position which he took. This was an instance where we felt that the Department might not have a full
say and that things would be happening, possibly by presidential decision, where it didn’t make any difference how many papers we’d written; somehow they wouldn’t get to him. There was some suspicion of Harry Hopkins on the part of all the boys in the Russian field. “’Harry the Hop,’ what does he know about Stalin and how can he possibly deal with the Russians without knowing the nature of their strategy and what they were trying to do?” There was certainly a feeling of isolation from the top-level decision makers. Yalta was later. We worked very hard to prepare all the black books for Yalta, and they were never looked at.
MCKINZIE: At the Tehran Conference and then at Yalta, what preparations were you able to make for the delegations?
CAMPBELL: I remember that we were set to work writing background papers and position papers
for the Yalta Conference. We had to do the same thing for Potsdam and the same thing for the London Conference in September '45. It’s not entirely clear in my mind what subjects we dealt with, but I can recall that we sent a large number of our old research papers on Eastern European questions. We had a series of papers on developments within Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary; how the armistice agreements had been negotiated, what the Russians had done as occupying powers, and particularly the way in which our representatives had been cavalierly and badly treated on the Allied Control Commissions We had representatives that had just gone into Hungary, because the Hungarian armistice was signed January 20, 1945. The Rumanian and the Bulgarian armistices were signed in September and October '44, and we had had some months of experience there in which the Russians had paid no attention to our people at all. They had just gone about giving orders to the Rumanians
and Bulgarians and maybe or maybe not reporting it to the British and American representatives on the Allied Control Commissions. Of course, the Russians said, "We're the high command here; read the armistice agreements." The armistice agreements make reference to the orders of the Allied (Soviet) High Command. We took that phrase, when we negotiated, to mean that the military command there just happens to be a Soviet general, but it doesn't mean that they do everything without regard to the wishes of the other two members of the Control Commission, the British and the American generals. All these different things had arisen in a number of instances, and, of course, we were being bombarded in the Department and the Pentagon by cables from our people saying, "What kind of an Allied Control Commission is this? We don't have any say about anything. The Russians are running the whole show." Of course, I don't think that the Russians ever intended anything different.