Franklin D. Roosevelt

Joint Press Conference with Prime Minister Churchill at Casablanca

January 24, 1943

THE PRESIDENT: This meeting goes back to the successful landing operations last November, which as you all know were initiated as far back as a year ago, and put into definite shape shortly after the Prime Minister's visit to Washington in June.

After the operations of last November, it became perfectly clear, with the successes, that the time had come for another review of the situation, and a planning for the next steps, especially steps to be taken in 1943. That is why we came here, and our respective staffs came with us, to discuss the practical steps to be taken by the United Nations for prosecution of the war. We have been here about a week.

I might add, too, that we began talking about this after the first of December, and at that time we invited Mr. Stalin to join us at a convenient meeting place. Mr. Stalin very greatly desired to come, but he was precluded from leaving Russia because he was conducting the new Russian offensive against the Germans along the whole line. We must remember that he is Commander in Chief, and that he is responsible for the very wonderful detailed plan which has been brought to such a successful conclusion since the beginning of the offensive.

In spite of the fact that Mr. Stalin was unable to come, the results of the staff meeting have been communicated to him, so that we will continue to keep in very close touch with each other.

I think it can be said that the studies during the past week or ten days are unprecedented in history. Both the Prime Minister and I think back to the days of the first World War when conferences between the French and British and ourselves very rarely lasted more than a few hours or a couple of days. The Chiefs of Staffs have been in intimate touch; they have lived in the same hotel. Each man has become a definite personal friend of his opposite number on the other side.

Furthermore, these conferences have discussed, I think for the first time in history, the whole global picture. It isn't just one front, just one ocean, or one continent—it is literally the whole world; and that is why the Prime Minister and I feel that the conference is unique in the fact that it has this global aspect.

The Combined Staffs, in these conferences and studies during the past week or ten days, have proceeded on the principle of pooling all of the resources of the United Nations. And I think the second point is that they have reaffirmed the determination to maintain the initiative against the Axis powers in every part of the world.

These plans covering the initiative and maintenance of the initiative during 1943 cover certain things, such as united operations conducted in different areas of the world. Second, the sending of all possible material aid to the Russian offensive, with the double object of cutting down the manpower of Germany and her satellites, and continuing the very great attrition of German munitions and materials of all kinds which are being destroyed every day in such large quantities by the Russian armies.

And, at the same time, the Staffs have agreed on giving all possible aid to the heroic struggle of China—remembering that China is in her sixth year of the war—with the objective, not only in China but in the whole of the Pacific area, of ending any Japanese attempt in the future to dominate the Far East.

Another point. I think we have all had it in our hearts and our heads before, but I don't think that it has ever been put down on paper by the Prime Minister and myself, and that is the determination that peace can come to the world only by the total elimination of German and Japanese war power.

Some of you Britishers know the old story—we had a General called U.S. Grant. His name was Ulysses Simpson Grant, but in my, and the Prime Minister's, early days he was called "Unconditional Surrender" Grant. The elimination of German, Japanese, and Italian war power means the unconditional surrender by Germany, Italy, and Japan. That means a reasonable assurance of future world peace. It does not mean the destruction of the population of Germany, Italy, or Japan, but it does mean the destruction of the philosophies in those countries which are based on conquest and the subjugation of other people.

While we have not had a meeting of all of the United Nations, I think that there is no question—in fact we both have great confidence that the same purposes and objectives are in the minds of all of the other United Nations—Russia, China, and all the others.

And so the actual meeting— the main work of the Conference—has been ended. Except for a certain amount of resultant paper work, it has come to a successful conclusion. I call it a meeting of the minds in regard to all military operations, and, thereafter, that the war is going to proceed against the Axis powers according to schedule, with every indication that 1943 is going to be an even better year for the United Nations than 1942.

THE PRIME. MINISTER: I agree with everything that the President has said, and I think it was a very happy decision to bring you gentlemen here to Casablanca to this agreeable spot, Anfa Camp, which has been the center—the scene—of much the most important and successful war conference which I have ever attended or witnessed. Nothing like it has occurred in my experience, which is a long while—the continuous work, hours and hours every day from morning until often after midnight, carried on by the staffs of both sides, by all the principal officers of the two Nations who are engaged in the direction of the war.

This work has proceeded with an intensity, and thoroughness, and comprehensiveness, the like of which I have never seen, and I firmly believe that you will find that results will come from this as this year unfolds. You will find results will come from it which will give our troops, and soldiers, and fliers the best possible chance to gather new victories from the enemy. Fortune turned a more or less somber face upon us at the close of last year, and we meet here today at this place we have been meeting here—which in a way is the active center of the war direction. We wish indeed it was possible to have Premier Stalin, and the Generalissimo, and others of the United Nations here, but geography is a stubborn thing; and the difficulties and the preoccupations of the men engaged in fighting the enemy in other countries are also very dear obstacles to their free movement, and therefore we have had to meet here together.

Well, one thing I should like to say, and that is—I think I can say it with full confidence- nothing that may occur in this war will ever come between me and the President. He and I are in this as friends and partners, and we work together. We know that our easy, free conversation is one of the sinews of war—of the Allied powers. It makes many things easy that would otherwise be difficult, and solutions can be reached when an agreement has stopped, which would otherwise be impossible, even with the utmost good will, of the vast war machinery which the English-speaking people are operating.

I think that the press here have had rather a hard, provoking time, because it isn't possible to have everything organized at once when you throw yourselves on a shore. Some of our earliest and brightest hopes have not yet been fulfilled, and you gentlemen have no doubt felt baffled in the work you want to do, and therefore a trial is imposed upon you. I beg you to rise to the level of that; namely, not to allow the minor annoyances of censoring, et cetera, make you exaggerate these details. To keep your sense of proportion is a patriotic duty.

Tremendous events have happened. This enterprise which the President has organized- and he knows I have been his active lieutenant since the start—has altered the whole strategic aspect of the war. It has forced the Germans to fight under the very greatest difficulties. And I think that it gives us in a very marked way the initiative. Once we have got that precious treasure into our hands, we must labor hard to keep it. Hitler said you never could tell what would happen, because he wasn't dealing with competent military experts but with military idiots and drunkards. He said he didn't know where he was, and that was a preliminary forecast of the explanation which he will no doubt offer to the Nazi Party for the complete manner in which he has been hoodwinked, fooled, and outmaneuvered by the great enterprise which was launched on these shores.

We are still in full battle, and heavy action will impend. Our forces grow. The Eighth Army has taken Tripoli, and we are following Rommel—the fugitive of Egypt and Libya—now wishing, no doubt, to represent himself as the deliverer of Tunisia. The Eighth Army has followed him a long way—1,500 miles—from El Alamein where I last saw them, now to Tripoli. And Rommel is still flying before them. But I can give you this assurance- everywhere that Mary went the lamb is sure to go.

I hope you gentlemen will find this talk to be of assistance to you in your work, and will be able to build up a good and encouraging story to our people all over the world. Give them the picture of unity, thoroughness, and integrity of the political chiefs. Give them that picture, and make them feel that there is some reason behind all that is being done. Even when there is some delay there is design and purpose, and as the President has said, the unconquerable will to pursue this quality, until we have procured the unconditional surrender of the criminal forces who plunged the world into storm and ruin.

THE PRESIDENT: I think, the Prime Minister having spoken of the Eighth Army, that you should know that we have had a long talk with General [Harold R. L. G.] Alexander, Admiral [Sir Andrew] Cunningham, [Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur] Tedder. [Lieutenant] General [Dwight D.] Eisenhower has been here, as has [Major] General [Carl] Spaatz—[Lieutenant] General [Mark W.] Clark too. We have had a pretty good picture of the whole south shore of the Mediterranean, at firsthand.

This afternoon there will be given to each of you a communique from the Prime Minister and myself, which is really the formal document stating the history of this conference, and the names of all the people who have taken part; nothing very much in it in addition to what we have talked about as background for you all.

You will want to know about the presence of General [Henri Honors] Giraud, and General [Charles] de Gaulle. I think that all that should be said at this time is that the Prime Minister and I felt that here we were in French North Africa and it would be an opportune time for those two gentlemen to meet together- one Frenchman with another Frenchman. They have been in conference now for a couple of days, and we have emphasized one common purpose, and that is the liberation of France. They are at work on that. They are in accord on that, and we hope very much that as a result of getting to know each other better under these modern, new conditions, we will have French armies, and French navies, and French airmen who will take part with us in the ultimate liberation of France itself.

I haven't got anything else that relates to the United Staffs conferences, but—it is purely personal—but I might as well give it to you as background. I have had the opportunity, during these days, of visiting a very large number of American troops. I went up the line the other day and saw combat teams and the bulk of several divisions. I talked with the officers, and with the men. I lunched with them in the field, and it was a darn good lunch. We had to move the band, because it was a very windy day, from leeward to windward, so we could hear the music.

From these reviews we went over to a fort. Actually, it was at the mouth of Port Lyautey where the very heavy fighting occurred and where a large number of Americans and Frenchmen were killed. Their bodies, most of them, lie in a joint cemetery- French and American. I placed a wreath where the American graves are, and another wreath where the French graves are.

I saw the equipment of these troops that are ready to go into action at any time; and I wish the people back home could see it, because those troops are equipped with the most modern weapons that we can turn out. They are adequately equipped in every way. And I found them not only in excellent health and high spirits, but also a very great efficiency on the part of officers and men, all the way from top to bottom. I am sure they are eager to fight again, and I think they will.

I'd like to say just a word about the bravery and the fine spirit of the French whom we fought- many of whom were killed. They fought with very heavy losses, as you know, but the moment the peace came and fighting stopped, the French Army and Navy, and the French and Moroccan civil population have given to us Americans wholehearted assistance in carrying out the common objective that brings us to these parts- to improve the conditions of living in these parts, which you know better than I do have been seriously hurt by the fact that during the last two years so much of the output, especially the food output of French North Africa, has been sent to the support of the German Army. That time is ended, and we are going to do all we can for the population of these parts, to keep them going until they can bring in their own harvests during this coming summer.

Also, I had one very delightful party. I gave a dinner party for the Sultan of Morocco [Sidi Mohammed] and his son. We got on extremely well. He is greatly interested in the welfare of his people, and he and the Moroccan population are giving to us the same kind of support that the French population is.

So I just want to repeat that on this trip I saw with my own eyes the actual conditions of our men who are in this part of North Africa. I think their families back home will be glad to know that we are doing all we can, not only in full support of them, but in keeping up the splendid morale with which they are working at the present time. I want to say to their families, through you people, that I am mighty proud of them.

This is not like a press conference in Washington. We have 200 to 250 that crowd into one rather small room, and it is almost impossible there to meet everyone personally. You are an elite group, and because it is not too big a group, the Prime Minister and I want to meet all of you.

One thing, before we stop talking—on the release date of this thing—sometimes I also am under orders. I have got to let General McClure decide the release date. There are certain reasons why it can't be for a few days, but as I understand it, one of your problems is the bottleneck at Gibraltar. I think you have enough background to write your stories and put them on the cables, and General McClure will decide what the actual release date will be. I told him that it should be just as soon as he possibly could.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Joint Press Conference with Prime Minister Churchill at Casablanca Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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