New College of the Humanities

The Most Ruinous Allied Policy of the Second World War

Thomas Fleming's comments on the many calls for 'unconditional surrender'.

From January 14th to 24th, 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met in the sunny resort of Anfa, a collection of luxurious villas around a hotel some three miles south of Casablanca. On the last day, reporters gathered in the courtyard of Roosevelt’s villa to hear the two leaders sum up the historic conclave. A beaming FDR declared that the allies had reached ‘complete agreement’ on the future conduct of the war. He and the prime minister, Roosevelt continued, had also hammered out a policy that would guarantee both victory and a peaceful world for generations to come – ‘the unconditional surrender of Germany, Italy and Japan’.

Winston Churchill chimed in with a hearty endorsement of their ‘unconquerable will’ to pursue total victory over the ‘criminal forces’ that had plunged the world into war. It may well have been his finest hour as a political performer. He later admitted, however, that he had been ‘dumbfounded’ by Roosevelt’s announcement – and dismayed by its probable impact on the conduct of the war.

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