Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Stalin… indulged in a great deal of ‘teasing’ of me, which I did not at all resent until the Marshal entered in a genial manner upon a serious and even a deadly aspect of the punishment to be inflicted upon the Germans. The German General Staff, he said, must be liquidated. The whole force of Hitler’s mighty armies depended upon about fifty thousand officers and technicians. If these were rounded up and shot at the end of the war German military strength would be extirpated. On this I thought it right to say, ‘The British Parliament and public will never tolerate mass executions. Even if in war passion they allowed them to begin they would turn violently against those responsible after the first butchery had taken place. The Soviets must be under no delusion on this point

Stalin, however, perhaps only in mischief, pursued the subject ‘Fifty thousand’, he said, ‘must be shot’. I was deeply angered, ‘I would rather’, I said, ‘be taken out into the garden here and now and be shot than sully my own and my country’s honour by such infamy.’

[Roosevelt] had a compromise to propose. Not fifty thousand should be shot, but only forty-nine thousand. By this he hoped, no doubt, to reduce the whole matter to ridicule. Eden also made signs and gestures intended to reassure me that it was all a joke. But now Elliot Roosevelt rose in his place at the end of the table and made a speech, saying how cordially he agreed with Marshal Stalin’s plan and how sure he was that the United States Army would support it. At this intrusion I got up and left the table, walking off into the next room, which was in semi-darkness.

I had not been there a minute before hands were clapped upon my shoulders from behind, and there was Stalin, with Molotov at his side, both grinning broadly, and eagerly declaring that they were only playing, and that nothing of a very serious character had entered into their heads.

- Tehran 1943

Teasing: A Conceptual Analysis and Empirical Review