Summits with RussiaPosted: July 16, 2018
Tehran, 1943. FDR and Stalin joke (?) around with Churchill about the idea of executing German officers:
When they had disposed of Germany, Stalin threw off care; he was, the Ambassador said, in superb form, pulling the P.M.’s [Winston Churchill’s] leg all the evening. I asked the Ambassador:
“Was Stalin’s ragging a cat-like instinct to play with a mouse, or was he just in great spirits now that he had gained his end?”
He did not answer. The P. M. had not, he said, tumbled to Stalin’s game. The Ambassador was full of Stalin’s talk.
Stalin: “Fifty thousand Germans must be killed. Their General Staff must go.”
P.M. (rising and pacing the room): “I will not be a party to any butchery in cold blood. What happens in hot blood is another matter.”
Stalin: “Fifty thousand must be shot.”
The P.M. got very red in the face.
P.M.: “I would rather be taken out now and shot then disgrace my country.”
The President, said the Ambassador, then joined in the fun.
Roosevelt: “I have a compromise to propose. Not fifty thousand, but only forty-nine thousand should be shot.”
The Prime Minister got up and left the room. Stalin followed him, telling him he was only joking. They came back together. Stalin had a broad grin on his face.
The Ambassador is Sir Archibald Clark Kerr, quoted in: