Casablanca Conference

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Casablanca Conference
Casablanca-Conference.jpg
United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British prime minister Winston Churchill, and their advisors in Casablanca, 1943
DateJanuary 14, 1943 – January 24, 1943
Venue(s)Anfa Hotel
Cities Casablanca, French Morocco
Participants

The Casablanca Conference (codenamed SYMBOL) was held at the Anfa Hotel in Casablanca, French Morocco, from January 14 to 24, 1943, to plan the Allied European strategy for the next phase of World War II. In attendance were United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British prime minister Winston Churchill. Also attending and representing the Free French forces were Generals Charles de Gaulle and Henri Giraud, though they played minor roles and were not part of the military planning. Premier Joseph Stalin had declined to attend, citing the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad as requiring his presence in the Soviet Union.

Casablanca City / State in Casablanca-Settat, Morocco

Casablanca, located in the central-western part of Morocco and bordering the Atlantic Ocean, is the largest city in Morocco. It is also the largest city in the Maghreb region, as well as one of the largest and most important cities in Africa, both economically and demographically.

Allies of World War II Grouping of the victorious countries of World War II

The Allies of World War II, called the "United Nations" from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Contents

The conference agenda addressed the specifics of tactical procedure, allocation of resources, and the broader issues of diplomatic policy. The debate and negotiations produced what was known as the Casablanca Declaration, and perhaps its most historically provocative statement of purpose, "unconditional surrender". The doctrine of "unconditional surrender" came to represent the unified voice of implacable Allied will—the determination that the Axis powers would be fought to their ultimate defeat.

An unconditional surrender is a surrender in which no guarantees are given to the surrendering party. In modern times, unconditional surrenders most often include guarantees provided by international law. Announcing that only unconditional surrender is acceptable puts psychological pressure on a weaker adversary, but may also prolong hostilities. Perhaps the most notable unconditional surrender was by the Axis powers in World War II.

Axis powers Alliance of countries defeated in World War II

The Axis powers, also known as "Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis", were the nations that fought in World War II against the Allies. The Axis powers agreed on their opposition to the Allies, but did not completely coordinate their activity.

Casablanca Declaration of "unconditional surrender"

The conference produced a unified statement of purpose, the Casablanca Declaration. It announced to the world that the Allies would accept nothing less than the "unconditional surrender" of the Axis powers. Roosevelt had borrowed the term from General Ulysses S. Grant (known as "Unconditional Surrender" Grant [1] ), who had communicated that stance to the Confederate commander at Fort Donelson and Fort Henry during the American Civil War. [2] [3] So Roosevelt stated at the concluding press conference on 24 January that the Allies were demanding "unconditional surrender" from the Germans and Japanese (but not from the Italians). [1]

Ulysses S. Grant 18th president of the United States

Ulysses S. Grant was an American soldier, politician, and international statesman who served as the 18th president of the United States from 1869 to 1877. During the American Civil War, General Grant, with President Abraham Lincoln, led the Union Army to victory over the Confederacy. During the Reconstruction Era, President Grant led the Republicans in their efforts to remove the vestiges of Confederate nationalism, racism, and slavery.

Fort Donelson

Fort Donelson was a fortress built by the Confederacy during the American Civil War to control the Cumberland River leading to the heart of Tennessee, and the heart of the Confederacy. The fort was named after Confederate general Daniel S. Donelson.

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North (Union) and the South (Confederacy). The most studied and written about episode in U.S. history, the Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North, which also included some geographically western and southern states, proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.

In a February 12, 1943 radio address, Roosevelt explained what he meant by unconditional surrender: "we mean no harm to the common people of the Axis nations. But we do mean to impose punishment and retribution upon their guilty, barbaric leaders". [4] [5]

It has been claimed that behind the scenes, the United States and the United Kingdom were divided in the commitment to see the war through to Germany's capitulation and "unconditional surrender". But Churchill was consulted and had agreed in advance about “unconditional surrender”; he had cabled the War Cabinet four days earlier and they had not objected. And Marshall later accepted that he had been consulted; he had stated on 7 January that Allied morale would be accepted by the uncompromising demand, and Stalin’s suspicions allayed”. [1]

However some source material contradicts the official reported accord between Churchill and Roosevelt, claiming that Churchill did not fully subscribe to the doctrine of "unconditional surrender". The New York Times correspondent Drew Middleton, who was in Casablanca at the conference, later revealed in his book, Retreat From Victory, that Churchill had been "startled by the [public] announcement [of unconditional surrender]. I tried to hide my surprise. But I was his [Roosevelt's] ardent lieutenant". [6] [7]

<i>The New York Times</i> Daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 127 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 17th in the world by circulation and 2nd in the U.S.

According to former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Charles Bohlen, "Responsibility for this unconditional surrender doctrine rests almost exclusively with President Roosevelt". He guessed that Roosevelt made the announcement "to keep Soviet forces engaged with Germany on the Russian front, thus depleting German munitions and troops" and also "to prevent Stalin from negotiating a separate peace with the Nazi regime". [6] [7]

That the war would be fought by the Allies until the total annihilation of enemy forces was not universally welcomed. Diplomatic insiders were critical that such a stance was too unequivocal and inflexible, would prevent any opportunity for political maneuvering and would be morally debilitating to French and German resistance groups. [8]

The British felt that arriving at some accommodation with Germany would allow the German army to help fight off the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe. To Churchill and the other Allied leaders, the real obstacle to realising that mutual strategy with Germany was the leadership of Adolf Hitler. Allen Dulles, the chief of OSS intelligence in Bern, Switzerland, maintained that the Casablanca Declaration was "merely a piece of paper to be scrapped without further ado if Germany would sue for peace. Hitler had to go". [9]

There is evidence that German resistance forces, highly placed anti-Nazi government officials, were working with British intelligence, MI6, to eliminate Hitler and negotiate a peace with the Allies. One such man was Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of German intelligence, the Abwehr. His persistent overtures for support from the United States were ignored by Roosevelt. [10] [11]

Topics of discussion and agreements

European invasion

Roosevelt, with advice from General George C. Marshall, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, lobbied for a cross-Channel invasion of Europe. Churchill, with advice from the British Chiefs of Staff, led by General Sir Alan Brooke, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS, the professional head of the British Army), felt the time was not opportune, and favored an Allied assault on the island of Sicily followed by an invasion of mainland Italy. The British argument centred on the need to pull German reserves down into Italy where, due to the relatively poor north-south lines of communication, they could not be easily extracted to defend against a later invasion of northwest Europe. Additionally, by delaying the cross-Channel landing, it would mean that any invasion would be against a German army further weakened by many more months fighting on the Eastern Front against the Red Army.

Throughout the conference, Roosevelt's attention was prominently focused on the Pacific War front and he faulted the British for what he felt was not a full commitment against Japanese entrenchment. The Italian strategy was agreed upon, a compromise between the two leaders, Roosevelt acceding to Churchill's approach for Europe. Churchill, in turn, pledged more troops and resources to the Pacific and Burma to reinforce positions held by Chiang Kai-shek against the Japanese. The United States would provide assistance to the British in the Pacific by supplying escorts and landing craft. [12]

Logistical issues

Leadership of Free French forces

Leaders of the Free French forces: General Henri Giraud (L) and General Charles de Gaulle (R) at the Casablanca Conference. Degaulle-freefrench.png
Leaders of the Free French forces: General Henri Giraud (L) and General Charles de Gaulle (R) at the Casablanca Conference.

Charles de Gaulle had to be forced to attend, and he met a chilly reception from Roosevelt and Churchill. No Frenchmen were allowed to attend the military planning sessions. [13] [14]

The conference called for the official recognition of a joint leadership of the Free French forces by de Gaulle and Henri Giraud. There was notable tension between the two men, who limited their interactions to formalities like pledging their mutual support. [15] Roosevelt encouraged them to shake hands for the photographers eager for a photo opportunity, but the ritual handshake was with reluctance and done so quickly that they purportedly had to pose for a second shot. Roosevelt would later describe this meeting between the French leaders as a "shotgun wedding". [16]

In Elliott Roosevelt’s book, As He Saw It (1946), Elliott describes how Franklin Roosevelt wanted the French provisional government to be set up with Henri Giraud and Charles de Gaulle, “equally responsible for its composition and welfare.” [17] (89) This is because Franklin Roosevelt saw Charles de Gaulle as Churchill’s puppet, and Roosevelt thought Giraud would be more compliant with US interests. Complications arose with this because most people in the French Resistance considered de Gaulle the undisputed leader of the Resistance, and therefore Giraud was progressively dispossessed of his political and military roles. Roosevelt eventually recognized de Gaulle as the head of the Free French in mid-1944.

Plans for postwar northern Africa

The day before, Roosevelt became the first US President to visit the African continent by staying over at the city of Bathurst, Gambia. The abhorrent situation of the locals further increased his anti-colonialism leading him to further discuss and impress upon Churchill the need for an international trusteeship system that would advance colonies like Gambia towards independence. [18]

During the Conference, Roosevelt spoke with the French resident general at Rabat, Morocco, about postwar independence and Jewish immigrants in North Africa. Roosevelt proposed that:

"[t]he number of Jews engaged in the practice of the professions (law, medicine, etc.) should be definitely limited to the percentage that the Jewish population in North Africa bears to the whole of the North African population.... [T]his plan would further eliminate the specific and understandable complaints which the Germans bore towards the Jews in Germany, namely, that while they represented a small part of the population, over 50 percent of the lawyers, doctors, schoolteachers, college professors, etc., in Germany were Jews." [19] [20]

This disposition of the Jewish population harkened back to a mindset communicated in earlier years to Roosevelt by the American ambassador to Germany, William Dodd (1933–37). Dodd had appraised Germany's repression of Jews, and writing to Roosevelt, he said: "The Jews had held a great many more of the key positions in Germany than their number or talents entitled them to." [21]

Roosevelt presented the results of the conference to the American people in a radio address on February 12, 1943.

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 3 Roberts 2009, p. 343.
  2. Middleton, Drew, On This Day, "Roosevelt, Churchill Map 1943 War Strategy," January 24, 1943, retrieved August 27, 2012
  3. Yale Law School, "The Avalon Project: The Casablanca Conference: 1943," retrieved November 19, 2013
  4. Archived 2018-06-15 at the Wayback Machine , Yale Law School, "The Avalon Project: The Casablanca Conference: 1943," retrieved August 27, 2012
  5. "Casablanca Conference," Radio address, February 12, 1943, (The Public Papers of F.D. Roosevelt, Vol. 12, p. 71), retrieved November 19, 2013
  6. 1 2 Archived 2009-04-16 at the Wayback Machine , Chen, Peter C., "Casablanca Conference, 14 Jan. 1943," retrieved August 27, 2012
  7. 1 2 Middleton, Drew, On This Day, "Roosevelt, Churchill Map 1943 War Strategy," January 24, 1943, retrieved August 27, 2012
  8. This Day In History, "Roosevelt And Churchill Begin Casablanca Conference," retrieved November 19, 2013
  9. Vaughan, Hal, "Sleeping With The Enemy, Coco Chanel's Secret War," Alfred A. Knopf, 2011, p. 178
  10. "Admiral Wilhelm Canaris 1887-1945," Canaris worked with Roosevelt's Balkan representative in Instanbal, former Pennsylvania Governor George H. Earle, who communicated with Roosevelt through the diplomat pouch; retrieved August 28, 2012
  11. retrieved November 19, 2013
  12. nytimes.com. Middleton, Drew, On This Day, "Roosevelt, Churchill Map 1943 War Strategy," January 24, 1943, retrieved August 27, 2012
  13. Jonathan Fenby, The General: Charles De Gaulle and the France he saved (2010) pp 195-201
  14. Michael Howard, Grand Strategy, IV, August 1942–September 1943 (1972) pp 279-81.
  15. Rick Atkinson, An Army at Dawn
  16. Pratt, Julius W. “De Gaulle and the United States: How the Rift Began.” The History Teacher, vol. 1, no. 4, 1968, pp. 5–15, p. 11.
  17. Roosevelt, Elliott (1946). As he saw it. With a foreword by Eleanor Roosevelt. [On F.D. Roosevelt.] New York. OCLC   504739143.
  18. "That Hell-hole Of Yours". www.americanheritage.com. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  19. Manfred Jonas, Harold D. Langley, and Francis L. Lowenheim, eds., Roosevelt and Churchill: Their Secret Correspondence, New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Saturday Review Press, 1975, p. 308. This quote is taken from a conversation memorandum prepared by Captain John L. McCrae, Roosevelt's naval aide.
  20. "The American Experience.America and the Holocaust.Teacher's Guide - PBS".
  21. Larson, Erik, "In the Garden of Beasts," Crown, 2011, p. 39

Further reading

Preceded by
Cherchell Conference
October 21–22, 1942
World War II Conferences
Casablanca Conference
January 14–24, 1943
Succeeded by
Washington Conference (1943)
May 12–17, 1943