Why does Molotov believe a “second front” should be opened in 1942?, history homework help
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Read Chapter 22 as well as the Transcript of the
Roosevelt-Molotov Meeting. Once all reading is complete, respond to the following items
with a minimum of 300 words, in your own words, no citing:
does Molotov believe a “second front” should be opened in 1942?
such a front is opened, what does Molotov predict?
such a front is not opened, what does he fear might occur?
that a second front in France was not opened until June, 1944, what do you
think the effect of that delay may have had no longer-term U.S.-Soviet
ROOSEVELT MOLOTOV MEETING MAY 30, 1942
May 30,1942,11 A. M.
Present: The President, Mr. Molotov, Admiral King, General Marshall,
Mr. Hopkins, Messrs. Pavlov and Cross
After a brief private conference between the President and Mr. Molotov,
conversations were resumed at 11 A.M. The President asked
Admiral King whether there was any special news from the Pacific. The Admiral replied that there was
nothing of importance save some momentary disagreement between General
Macarthur and Admiral Nimitz as
to an operation against the Solomon Islands. Admiral King thought this
difference was due to a misunderstanding, since Admiral Nimitz had in mind a specific project for destruction of
installations rather than anything like a permanent occupation.
Opening the general discussion, the
President remarked to Admiral King and General Marshall that he first wished to
place them au courant with the questions Mr.
Molotov had raised, and he hoped that Mr. Molotov himself would then put the situation before them in detail.
Mr. Molotov, the President continued, had just come from London, where he had been discussing with the
British authorities the problem
of a second (invasion) front in Western Europe. He had, the
President added, been politely received, but had as yet obtained no positive commitment from the British. There was
no doubt that on the Russian front the Germans had enough
superiority in aircraft and mechanized
equipment to make the situation precarious. The Soviets
wished the Anglo-American combination to land sufficient combat troops on the
continent to drive off 40 German divisions from the Soviet front. We
appreciated, he continued, the difficulties of the situation and viewed the
outlook as serious. We regarded it as our obligation to help the Soviets to the best of our ability, even if
the extent of this aid was for
the moment doubtful. That brought up the question, what we can do
even if the prospects for permanent success
might not be especially rosy. Most of our difficulties lay in the realm of ocean transport, and he would in
this connection merely remark
that getting any one convoy through to Murmansk was already a major
naval operation. The President then suggested that Mr. Molotov should treat the
subject in such detail as suited his convenience.
Molotov thereupon remarked that, though the problem of the second front was
both military and political, it was predominantly political.
There was an essential difference between the situation in 1942 and what it
might be in 1943. In 1942 Hitler was the master of all Europe save a few minor countries. He was the chief enemy of everyone. To be sure, as was devoutly to be
hoped, the Russians might hold and fight on all through 1942. But
it was only right to look at the darker
side of the picture. On the basis of his continental dominance, Hitler might throw in such
reinforcements in manpower and material that the Red Army might not be
able to hold out against the Nazis. Such a development would produce a
serious situation which we must face. The Soviet front would become
secondary, the Red Army would be
weakened, and Hitler’s strength would be correspondingly greater, since he
would have at his disposal not only more troops, but also the foodstuffs and
raw materials of the Ukraine and
the oil wells of the Caucasus. In such circumstances the outlook would be much
less favorable for all hands, and he would not pretend that such developments were all outside the range
of possibility. The war would
thus become tougher and longer. The merit of a new front in 1942
depended on the prospects of Hitler’s further advantage, hence the
establishment of such a front should not be postponed. The decisive element
in the whole problem lay in the question, when are the prospects better for the United Nations: in 1942 or in 1943.
Amplifying his remarks, Mr. Molotov observed that the
forces on the Soviet front were large, and,
objectively speaking, the balance in quantity
of men, aviation, and mechanized equipment was slightly in Hitler’s
favor. Nevertheless, the Russians were reasonably certain they could hold out. This was the most
optimistic prospect, and the Soviet morale was as yet
unimpaired. But the main danger lay in the probability that Hitler would try to deal the Soviet Union a
mighty crushing blow. If, then,
Great Britain and the United States, as allies, were to create a new front and to draw off 40 German
divisions from the Soviet front,
the ratio of strength would be so altered that the Soviets could
either beat Hitler this year or insure beyond question his ultimate defeat.
Molotov therefore put thisquestion frankly: could we under-take such offensive action as would draw off 40
German divisions whichwould be, to tell the truth, distinctly
second-rate outfits? If the answer should
be in the affirmative, the war would be decided in 1942.If negative, the Soviets would fight on alone, doing their best, and
no man would expect more from
them than that. He had not, Mr. Molotov added, received any positive
answer in London. Mr. Churchill had
proposed that he should return through London on his homeward journey from Washington, and had promised Mr.
Molotov a more concrete answer on his second visit. Mr. Molotov admitted he
realizedthat the British would have to bear the brunt of
the action if a second front
were created, but he also was cognizant of the role the United States plays and
what influence this country exerts in questions of major strategy. Without in
any way minimizing the risks entailed by a second front action this summer, Mr. Molotov declared his government
wanted to know in frank terms what position we take on the question of a second front, and whether we were
prepared to establish one. He requested a straight answer.
The difficulties, Mr. Molotov urged, would not
be any less in 1943. The chances of
success were actually better at present while the Russians still have a solid
front. “If you postpone your decision,” he said, “you will have eventually to bear the brunt
of the war, and if Hitler becomes
the undisputed master of the continent, next year will unquestionably be tougher than this one.”
The President then
put to General Marshall the query whether developments were clear enough so that we could say to Mr.
Stalin that we are preparing a second front. “Yes,” replied the General.
The President then authorized Mr. Molotov to inform Mr. Stalin that we expect
the formation of a second front this year.
Official American Press
Issued by the White House,
June 11, 1942
The People’s Commissar
of Foreign Affairs of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Mr. V. M.
Molotov, following the invitation of the President of the United States of
America, arrived in Washington on May 29 and was for some time the President’s
guest. This visit to Washington afforded an opportunity for a friendly
exchange of views between the President and his advisers on the one hand and
Mr. Molotov and his party on the other. Among those who participated in
the conversations were: The Soviet Ambassador to the United States, Mr.
Maxim Litvinoff; Mr. Harry Hopkins; the Chief of Staff, General George C.
Marshall; and the Commander in Chief of the United States Fleet, Admiral Ernest
J. King. Mr. Cordell Hull, Secretary of State, joined in subsequent
conversations on non-military matters.
In the course of the conversations full
understanding was reached with regard to the urgent tasks of creating a second
front in Europe in 1942. In addition, the measures for increasing and
speeding up the supplies of planes, tanks, and other kinds of war materials
from the United States to the Soviet Union were discussed. Also discussed
were the fundamental problems of cooperation of the Soviet Union and the United
States in safeguarding peace and security to the freedom-loving peoples after
the war. Both sides state with satisfaction the unity of their views on
all these questions.
At the conclusion of the visit the
President asked Mr. Molotov to inform Mr. Stalin on his behalf that he feels
these conversations have been most useful in establishing a basis for fruitful
and closer relations between the two governments in the pursuit of the common
objectives of the United Nations.
Official Soviet Press
711/6111/1 : Telegram. The translation of this
telegram was sent on June 13, 1942, to Secretary of State Hull by Ambassador
Litvinov. It was transmitted to President Roosevelt on June 17.
The People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union (Molotov) to
London, June 12, 1942.
Before returning to my country I
allow myself once more to express to you, Mr. President, the great satisfaction
I feel in having reached a full understanding concerning the urgent
tasks connected with the creation of a second front in Europe in 1942 for
speeding up the rout of Hitlerite Germany and concerning co-operation of our
countries in the post-war period in the interests of all freedom-loving
Please accept my sincere gratitude
for the cordial reception and hospitality offered to us by you, Mr. President,
and the Government of the United States of America, and my best wishes to you
personally and to the people of the United States of America.