Between Churchill and Stalin: The Soviet Union, Great Britain, and the Origins of the Grand Alliance

By Steven Merritt Miner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
A DISMAL TALE OF CLUMSY DIPLOMACY DECEMBER 1941- APRIL 1942

B ritain's Soviet policy was in disarray when Eden arrived in Moscow. The War Cabinet was not of one mind concerning the desirable degree of cooperation with Soviet Russia. Churchill was inclined to limit the Anglo-Soviet partnership to military matters, leaving aside political and territorial problems until the war's end. The prime minister was concerned primarily with defeating Nazi Germany and, in the process, with forging a strong and lasting Anglo-American alliance -- thus, his voyage to Washington almost immediately after Pearl Harbor Churchill was actuated in part by a desire to strengthen the unity of the English-speaking peoples, but he also hoped that the democratic bloc would act as a counterweight against European dictatorships, Stalin's as well as Hitler's.

Other voices in the Cabinet sounded a markedly different note. Lord Beaverbrook persistently advocated an increase in material aid to the Soviet Union as well as the opening of a second front in Europe, and Anthony Eden believed that Stalin required assurances of Britain's good intentions. On November 29, 1941, Eden presented a memorandum to his Cabinet colleagues in which he argued that the object of his forthcoming trip to Moscow should be to assure Stalin that Britain did not desire an "Anglo-American peace" and that Great Britain intended to fight on until the destruction of German military might. (This latter point was designed

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