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United States Department of State / Foreign relations of the United States. Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945

III. The Yalta Conference,   pp. [547]-996 PDF (155.3 MB)

Page 572

Rhine the current was so strong with floating ice that it made it very
difficult for pontoon operations, but that General Eisenhower felt
once he reached the Rhine he would be able to cross it, but he did Dot
expect this before March. He added that the British had wanted
to make a major crossing of the Rhine on the north sector in Holland,
but since we had four times the number of men in France that the
British had we felt we were entitled to have an alternative, which
would be either through Holland or in the region of Mainz.
  THE PRESIDENT then inquired how Marshal Stalin had gotten
along with General de Gaulle.
  MARSHAL STALIN replied that he had not found do Gaulle a very
complicated person, but he felt he was unrealistic in the sense that
France had not done very much fighting in this war and de Gaulle
demanded full rights with the Americans, British and Russians who
had done the burden of the fighting.
  THE PRESIDENT then described his conversation with de Gaulle in
Casablanca two years ago when de Gaulle compared himself with
Joan of Arc as the spiritual leader of France and with Clemenceau as
the political leader.
  MARSHAL STALIN replied that de Gaulle does not seem to under-
stand the situation in France and that in actual fact the French
contribution at the present time to military operations on the Western
Front was very small and that in 1940 they had not fought at all.
  THE PRESIDENT replied that he recently decided to arm eight new
French divisions composed of Frenchmen who had had previous
military training.
  MARSHAL STALIN said that was good insofar as it would help the
American armies but at present he felt the de Gaulle army was very
  THE PRESIDENT said he had recently heard that the French Gov-
ernment did not plan to annex outright any German territory but
they are willing to have it placed under international control.
  MARSHAL STALIN replied that was not the story de Gaulle had told
in Moscow-there he said the Rhine was the natural boundary of
France and he wished to have French troops placed there in
  THE PRESIDENT said he would now tell the Marshal something
indiscreet, since he would not wish to say it in front of Prime Minister
Churchill, namely that the British for two years have had the idea of
artificially building up France into a strong power which would have
200,000 troops on the eastern border of France to hold the line for
the period required to assemble a strong British army. He said the
British were a peculiar people and wished to have their cake and eat
it too.

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