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WWII Papers Reveal a Rift Between Allies

History: Churchill objected to Eisenhower's D-day security plans, an unsealed dossier shows.

July 21, 2002|From Associated Press

LONDON — Prime Minister Winston Churchill took U.S. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to task over D-day security plans and a proposed radio address to the German people in the closing months of World War II, according to documents unsealed Saturday.

Churchill objected to attempts by Eisenhower, then commander in chief of the Allied forces preparing to invade Normandy, to extend a diplomatic blackout -- a ban on diplomatic activity, designed to prevent D-day plans from being leaked -- beyond the day of the offensive in June 1944.

Churchill rejected Eisenhower's request because it would cause "enormous inconvenience and friction" for his Foreign Office, according to the dossier of wartime correspondence released by Britain's Public Record Office.

Writing to Eisenhower on May 31, 1944, Churchill said Britain would not agree to an "indefinite diplomatic ban" after D-day that Eisenhower requested.

"It was we who first suggested this ban, and we did so to reinforce the security measures for which you asked. The object was to prevent D-day direction, method, etc., from leaking out," Churchill wrote.

But he said Britain would not agree to prolong it "unless you are able to show some new facts."

"You probably have no idea of the enormous inconvenience and friction which this system has caused," Churchill said.

Churchill also objected to a proposed radio address to the German people toward the end of the war, telling Eisenhower that the War Cabinet was opposed "to this kind of propaganda."

It was unclear from the documents what the address contained, though it apparently touched on postwar arrangements for Germany. Churchill told the general that the script he had seen would be "ineffective and look like begging before we have won the battle."

"I could also show that we are not telling the truth to these people. The governments have not decided upon the many questions connected with the partitioning of Germany.

"The proposals which the British government put forward are very drastic, but they are child's play compared to those of the United States and Russia," he added.

Churchill's information minister, Brendan Bracken, also complained that American plans for a British Broadcasting Corp. radio service to Allied troops created "all sorts of difficulties" for the government and the BBC.

"It is, in fact, a nightmare to us," Bracken told Churchill in a memo forwarded to Eisenhower. Bracken and the BBC eventually agreed to the U.S. plans.

Other papers made public Saturday showed that Churchill suggested blocking any telegrams that Gen. Charles de Gaulle of France might send before D-day, to prevent him from revealing the invasion plans.

Documents released in June showed that the British prime minister told President Truman that the French leader was "one of the greatest dangers to European peace."

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