... by Ernie Trory

Chapter Two - The Moscow Conference


Signatures of the Foreign Ministers

FROM THE 19TH TO THE 30TH OCTOBER 1943, the foreign secretaries of Britain, the USA and the USSR (Anthony Eden, Cordell Hull and Vyacheslav Molotov) met twelve times in Moscow. The principal questions before them were: military action for speedy victory, political steps to ensure democracy after victory, and the punishment of war criminals. At the end of their deliberations they issued a document that included the following declaration on atrocities:

"The United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union have received from many quarters evidence of atrocities, massacres and cold-blooded mass executions which are being perpetrated by the Hitlerite forces in many of the countries they have over-run and from which they are now being steadily expelled. The brutalities of Hitlerite domination are no new thing, and all people or territories in their grip have suffered from the worst form of government by terror. What is new is that many of these territories are now being redeemed by the advancing armies of the liberating powers and that, in their desperation, the recoiling Hitlerite Huns are redoubling their ruthless cruelties. This is now evidenced with particular clearness by the monstrous crimes of the Hitlerites on the territory of the Soviet Union which is being liberated from the Hitlerites, and on French and Italian territory.

"Accordingly, the aforesaid three Allied Powers, speaking in the interests of the 32 United Nations, hereby solemnly declare and give full warning of their declaration as follows: At the time of the granting of any armistice to any government which may be set up in Germany, those German officers and men and members of the Nazi Party who have been responsible for or have taken a consenting part in the above atrocities, massacres and executions will be sent back to the countries in which their abominable deeds were done in order that they may be judged and punished according to the laws of those liberated countries and of the free governments which will be erected therein."

The Three-Power Conference was widely acclaimed among the populations of the allied nations fighting against German fascism. In Britain, however, Palme Dutt thought it necessary to sound a note of warning in the December 1943 issue of Labour Monthly. He wrote:

"It is not enough to acclaim the decisions of the Moscow Conference; it is necessary to ensure their fulfilment in action. Recent developments in this country, such as the release of Mosley... illustrate how actively the enemy manoeuvres continue, and how necessary it is to combat them. The fight for the principles adopted by the three governments at Moscow has still to be carried through to completion."

Hitler reacted in a speech, which, with its frantic proclamation of resistance to the last, revealed that the Moscow Conference had dealt a severe blow to his plans for extricating German imperialism from ultimate defeat through political manoeuvres based on dividing the Allies. He must surely have taken heart when he heard that, in spite of the almost universal acclamation, there were slumps on the London Stock Exchange and on Wall Street on receipt of the news of the Moscow Conference decisions.

Meeting in Teheran from the 28th November to the 1st December 1943, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin all put their names to a document confirming the decisions of the Moscow Conference and expressing their determin- ation to "work together in war and in the peace that will follow." Once again there was a slump on the London Stock Exchange. Said Palme Dutt in the Febru- ary 1944 issue of Labour Monthly: "We cannot afford to underestimate the dangerous forces that are still at work, also after Teheran, to undermine its outcome and reverse its policy."

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