Gentlemen, this is an informal occasion. I have not prepared any speech. This is merely a feeling on my part that I would like to shake hands with you. I should like to be able to go out to Dumbarton Oaks, to take a part in your discussions.
A conference of this kind always reminds me of an old saying of a gentleman called Alfred E. Smith, who used to be Governor of New York. He was very, very successful in settling any problem between capital and labor, or anything that had to do with the State Government in which there was a controversy.
He said if you can get the parties into one room with a big table and make them take their coats off and put their feet up on the table, and give each one of them a good cigar, you can always make them agree. Well, there was something in the idea.
You have a great responsibility. In a way, it is a preliminary responsibility. But after all we learn from experience, and what I hope is that in planning for the peace that is to come we will arrive at the same good cooperation and unity of action as we have in the carrying on of the war. It is a very remarkable fact, that we have carried on this war with such great unanimity.
I think that often it comes down to personalities. When, back in 1941, at the time of the Atlantic Charter, just for example, I did not know Mr. Churchill at all well. I had met him once or twice very informally during the first World War. I did not know Mr. Eden. But up there in the North Atlantic-three or four days together, with our two ships lying close together-we got awfully fond of each other. I got to know him, and he got to know me. In other words, we met, and you cannot hate a man that you know well.
Later on Mr. Molotov came here and we had a grand time together. Then during the following year, at Teheran, the Marshal and I got to know each other. We got on beautifully. We cracked the ice, if there ever was any ice; and since then there has been no ice. And that's the spirit in which I know you are going about your work.
I was just talking with the Secretary of War, Mr. Stimson. He was saying that one of the tasks we face is making this conference of ours—and the successor conferences—something that will last, last a long time. He said that unfortunately in Germany the young people, the young Nazis favor an idea which will be dangerous to the peace of the world just as long as they have anything to say about it.
The prisoners of 17, 18, 20, that we are capturing now— both on the French front and the Soviet front—these German prisoners of that age are even worse in their Nazism than the prisoners of 40 or 45. And, therefore, as long as these young men have anything to say about it, the peril of Nazism will always be before us.
And we have got to make, not merely a peace but a peace that will last, and a peace in which the larger Nations will work absolutely in unison in preventing war by force. But the four of us have to be friends, conferring all the time—the basis of getting to know each other—"putting their feet up on the table."
And so I am very hopeful that it can be done because of the spirit that has been shown in the past in getting together for the winning of the war. But that is the spirit that we have learned so well in the last few years. It is something new, this close relationship between the British Empire and the United States. This great friendship between the Russian people and the American people—that is new. Let's hang on to both friendships, and by spreading that spirit around the world, we may have a peaceful period for our grandchildren to grow up in.
All I can do is to wish you every possible success in this great task that you have undertaken. It will not be a final task, but at least it gives us something to build on, so that we can accomplish the one thing that humanity has been looking forward to for a great many hundreds of years.
It is good to see you. Good luck.