4-484 Memorandum for General Handy, August 18, 1944

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 18, 1944

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for General Handy

August 18, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]


Subject: Recommendations regarding records

for Combined operations.1

I am not prepared to express an opinion in this matter and I should like you to consider it further.

It seems to me important that a number of the records of both the Combined and U.S. Chiefs of Staff should be maintained on a continued basis of secrecy. For example, the publication or the reference in historical writings to the bitter discussions which have arisen from time to time over various plans of campaign, allocations of materiel, etc., etc., and particularly the views of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and of their advisers regarding matters pertaining to the British or other Allied nations, would be highly inadvisable in the future. Otherwise we should sow definite seeds of bitterness that would be exaggerated and continued for years to come, to the great disadvantage of all possible British-American accord.

We find an example of the action I am proposing in that followed by the members of the Constitutional Convention, where, under the guidance of Washington and Franklin, complete secrecy was maintained as to what actually took place in the discussions, the members realizing that the publication of the debates or altercations would in all probability have made impossible the adoption of the Constitution.

Another example: General Pershing has held in his office, I think, some of the most important and confidential files of the AEF which have never been released to historians.

I don’t think we should become involved in any loose decisions in this matter until all the consequences are considered.2

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. On June 20, 1944, the director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Fred W. Shipman, had written to the president concerning the disposition of enemy records after the end of the war. He concluded: “We should also have a policy regarding the disposition of records of joint operations to which we are a party.” Roosevelt sent Shipman’s memorandum to Secretary of War Stimson, who sent it to G-2, which noted that the War Department had no policy regarding the disposition of enemy records and no assurance that the department would receive all records of combined operations. The Joint Logistics Committee prepared a report with proposals regarding these issues—J.C.S. 950—recommending that the important records of the Combined Chiefs of Staff and Joint Chiefs of Staff be duplicated for preservation purposes with an eye to future publication. It became immediately apparent that numerous British and American agencies as well as various theater headquarters would be affected if a comprehensive records collection was to be produced. The records concerning this issue are in NA/RG 165 (OPD, 318, Case 249).

2. For further consideration of this issue, see Marshall Memorandum for the Assistant Secretary of War, September 7, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-501 [4: 576-77].

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 554-555.

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