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Stalin’s Views on Jews Revealed in Records of Yalta Conference

March 18, 1955
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Jewish problems were discussed among President Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the late Soviet Premier Stalin during the historic Yalta conference which took place in February, 1945, it was learned here following publication last night of the records of the conference.

President Roosevelt told Stalin that he was a Zionist and asked if Stalin was one. Stalin replied that he was one in principle but he recognized the difficulty. The exchange of these remarks was preceded by a statement by President Roosevelt telling Stalin that he had three kings waiting for him in the Near East, including Ibn Saud.

Stalin said that the Jewish problem was a very difficult one that they had tried to establish a national home for the Jews in Birobidzhan but that they had only stayed there two or three years and then scattered to the cities. He said the Jews were natural traders but much had been accomplished by putting small groups in some agricultural areas.

(The New York Times said it is not entirely clear from the text as released why Stalin began talking about the Jewish problem. “A line of asterisks preceding Stalin’s statement seems to raise the possibility that one of Stalin’s high-level colleagues may have initiated the discussion of Jews with a statement that has been censored from the published text,” the Times said.)

During the same dinner-meeting–which took place on February 10–President Roosevelt said that he recalled that there had been an organization in the United States called the Ku Klux Klan that had hated the Catholics and the Jews, and once when he had been on a visit in a small town in the South he had been the guest of the president of the local Chamber of Commerce. He had sat next to an Italian on one side and a Jew on the other and had asked the president of the Chamber of Commerce whether they were members of the Ku Klux Klan, to which the president had replied that they were, but that they were considered all right since everyone in the community knew them.

President Roosevelt remarked that it was a good illustration of how difficult it was to have any prejudices, racial, religious or otherwise if you really knew people. Marshal Stalin said he felt that this was very true.


Pre-conference documents released in the Yalta records reveal that J. W. Pehle, executive director of the War Refugee Board, advised Secretary of State Edward Stettinius a month before the Yalta conference that “recently the War Refugee Board has received several urgent requests from Jewish organizations in this country for the issuance of a United Nations’ warning to the German Government and the German people against further extermination and other forms of persecution of Jews in Germany and German-occupied territory.

“It occurs to me,” Mr. Pehle wrote, “that, if you find it feasible to do so, this matter might be raised by you at the conference, As you know, we have never been able to get the Russians to join us in any of our past statements, other than the Moscow statement on atrocities issued on November 1, 1943. It is my feeling that if a new warning to the Germans were issued by President Roosevelt, Mr. Churchill and Marshal Stalin, it might have a marked effect, particularly at this stage of the war.”

Alternative suggested drafts were enclosed in the Pehle letter. In one draft it was said that “there are indications that German troops and officials, previous to retreating, prepare to exterminate large numbers of local inhabitants and of Jewish deportees and internees in the territories still occupied by Germany, and that they prepare to extend this policy of mass extermination.”

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