The Casablanca Conference was held from January 14th through January 24th, 143 in Casablanca, Morocco at the Anfa Hotel. The primary goal of the meeting between U.K. Prime Minister Winston Churchill, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Generals Charles de Gaulle and Henri Giraud from the Free French Forces was to discuss and plan the strategy for the Allied Forces in the European Theater for the next phase of the war. Although invited, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin declined attendance due to the ongoing battle in/around Stalingrad.
Primary Agenda of the Casablanca Conference
- Primary Agenda of the Casablanca Conference
- Casablanca Conference Timeline
- What were the Topics of Discussion at the Casablanca Conference?
- Casablanca Conference Video
- What were the Results of the Casablanca Conference?
- Who was Responsible for the Unconditional Surrender Doctrine?
- Casablanca Conference Conclusions
- Casablanca Conference References
Despite the absence of Stalin, the conference agenda continued unfettered. The primary agenda of the conference was to discuss a number of matters to include the combined allocation of resources by the Allies, specific tactical approaches to be used, and diplomatic policy to be pursued in the next phase of World War II. The ensuing debate over the 10 day conference and negotiations between the Allies produced what would later become known as the “Casablanca Declaration.” This was the first time during the war that the Allies published the doctrine of unconditional surrender of the Axis Powers. This doctrine would ultimately come to resemble the Allied will to fight the Axis to their full annihilation and defeat.
Casablanca Conference Timeline
January 13th, 1943 Casablanca Conference between President Roosevelt, Sir Winston Churchill, General Charles de Gaulle, and General Henri Giraud
January 24th, 1943 The Casablanca Conference concluded with the formal announcement of the unconditional surrender of the Axis Powers being required to end WW2.
What were the Topics of Discussion at the Casablanca Conference?
Throughout the 10 days of the conference, there were a number of topics discussed amongst the Allies. Some of the primary topics of discussion included logistical issues, the pending European invasion, and the leadership of the Free French Forces.
Logistical issues would remain a key sticking point in the European Theater both for the remainder of World War 2 well into the Cold War. During the conference, the Allies spent a significant amount of time discussing the major issues expected over the coming months and years of the war. These included providing significant aid to the Russian offensive on the Eastern Front, continuing assessment of the German U-Boat dangers in the Atlantic, and how the Allies soldiers, planes, and ships should be deployed across the various theaters of WW2.
Despite U.S. President Roosevelt preferring to press for a cross-channel invasion of Europe from the U.K. as recommended by Admiral Ernest King, U.S. CNO and General George C. Marshall, U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Sir Winston Churchill continued to press for an Allied invasion of Sicily moving on through Italy. During the conference, President Roosevelt felt as though the British were not providing a full commitment against the Japanese forces in the Pacific in order to help alleviate pressure on the Chinese. In order to obtain a compromise between the Americans and British, President Roosevelt agreed to Churchill’s approach on the European invasion plan. In return, Churchill promised to provide additional resources and forces to the Pacific Theater and Burma specifically to aid Chiang Kai-Shek against the Japanese. The U.S. would give additional assistance to the British in the AOR through the supply of both landing craft and supply escorts.
The third significant topic of the conference dealt with the leadership of the Free French Forces. Although Henri Giraud and Charles de Gaulle each preferred to be appointed as the sole leader of the forces, the Allies decided to recognize a joint leadership team of the two gentlemen who pledged their mutual support for the other.
Casablanca Conference Video
What were the Results of the Casablanca Conference?
The most famous result of the conference was the publication of the Casablanca Declaration. This would serve as the formal announcement to the world that the Allied Powers were going to accept nothing less than the unconditional surrender of the Axis in order to conclude World War 2. In the construction of the declaration, President Roosevelt borrowed the unconditional surrender term from U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant who took this stance against the Confederate Army commander at Forts Donelson and Henry during the U.S. Civil War.
Shortly after the conference was over, on February 12th, 1943, President Roosevelt further defined the main facets of what was meant by the unconditional surrender declaration by the Allies during a radio address:
“In our uncompromising policy we mean no harm to the common people of the Axis nations. But we do mean to impose punishment and retribution upon their guilty, barbaric leaders.”
Who was Responsible for the Unconditional Surrender Doctrine?
In private, the United Kingdom and the United States did not fully agree to see the unconditional surrender ultimatum through to the end of the war. Churchill would later share with military analyst and correspondent, Drew Middleton, after the war that he was surprised by Roosevelt’s public announcement of the declaration. Despite this surprise, he publicly supported Roosevelt and the United States on the matter. Some believed that there were two ultimate goals of the announcement by Roosevelt: 1 – To keep the Soviet and German forces engaged on the Eastern Front of the war to continue to deplete German forces and resources, and 2 – To keep Stalin from pursuing a separate peace with the Germans.
Casablanca Conference Conclusions
The Casablanca Conference (code named Symbol) would mark the final transition point by historians of United States taking over as the leading World power from the United Kingdom. The beginning of this process occurred during World War, and in 1943 the United States was demonstrating its ability to project power across both major oceans on multiple fronts during World War 2. By this point in the war, all of the Allies had come to rely heavily upon the United States, and the conference would serve as one of the last meetings between the leaders of the two countries where the British Prime Minister held significant power or leverage over the American President.
Casablanca Conference References
Casablanca Conference of 1943, Yale Law School Avalon Project, Last Accessed: 19 November 2013.
Casablanca Directive, Allied Strategic Bombing Directive Issued Post-Conference (Wikipedia), Last Accessed: 19 November 2013.
United States Department of State Foreign Relations of the United States. The Conferences at Washington, 1941–1942, and Casablanca, 1943. Last Accessed: 19 November 2013.