Churchill to Curtin

Cablegram D540 LONDON, 3 April 1945, 12.35 p.m.


1. You have no doubt seen the announcement issued from the White House on 29th March to the effect that the United Kingdom and Soviet representatives at the Crimea Conference agreed that the United States and its possessions should, if it so desired, have three votes on the assembly to be set up in the world organisation if the Conference agreed to Soviet Republics having three votes.

2. We were not consulted by the United States Government beforehand on the terms or occasion of this announcement.

3. As to Russia see my telegram 10th February D. No. 263 [1] para- graph 5(B) regarding White Russia and Ukraine.

4. As to the United States, the position is that when the United Kingdom and United States delegations at Crimea agreed to support the Soviet request for the admission of White Russia and Ukraine as founder members, the United States President pointed out to the Prime Minister and Mr. Stalin that if he were to ensure whole- hearted acceptance by Congress and the people of the United States of United States participation in world organisation, it might be necessary to ask for additional votes in the Assembly for the United States in order to secure parity. The United States delegation were not at that time able to define the form which this request would take. They asked for time and secrecy. We complied. It was therefore understood that it was left ‘that the United States should propose the form in which their undisputed equality with every other member state should be expressed’.

5. This was as far as we could get at Yalta and no definite proposal has yet been put before us. We were not certain whether the United States would think it worth while to press their claim or not. If they should, the only alternatives evidently were either that they should nominate three members to represent the United States vicariously or that they should assign two of the members to some of the small places under their control. Of the two choices the former apparently adopted by the United States seems preferable.

6. It cannot be overlooked that Russia demanded seventeen seats (sixteen republics as well as the Union) which her population and variety of races and newly adopted form of Federalism justified in her eyes. It was very difficult to deny to Russia the greatly reduced demand she put in for only three instead of seventeen.

These two, White Russia and the Ukraine, are mighty countries with over fifty million people and they have suffered terrible losses probably several millions, during the war. Refusal to consider their claims in any way though so greatly reduced would have drawn upon us a very severe examination of the position of the British Commonwealth.

7. It must be remembered upon this subject that the fact that in two fearful wars the whole of the British Empire all over the world has declared war on the same impulse in the same cause and fought through to the end without wavering or flinching conveys to foreigners a sense of underlying unity which is undoubtedly true in spite of the most extreme interpretation of Dominion status under the statute of Westminster. The Dominions were subject to no pressure from His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom. They came in of their own free will for the sake of ideas dearer to them than life. We have also to consider the way others look at our affairs as well as the way we look at them ourselves. India for instance has a representative who is not chosen by India but only by the Viceroy who is the servant of Crown and Parliament.

Our two Allies of enormous concentrated power see the British Commonwealth with six seats in the Assembly of the new world organisation and their pride or public opinion demands some comparable representation. We therefore thought it better to endorse the reduced Russian demand and from that it followed that the United States should have the liberty referred to above.

8. We had, of course, assumed that if the President decided to put forward a proposal he would consult with us before doing so when it was our intention to discuss it with the other British Commonwealth Governments. We must think of his difficulties as well as our own. I therefore consider we did the best we could and ask that our work should be endorsed. [2]


1 Document 32.

2 Evatt preferred to postpone replying to Churchill’s message until the matter had been dealt with at the Conference. See his cablegram EC5 to Hood, dispatched 3 April. On file AA:A1066, H45/771.


[AA:A1066, H45/771]