Roosevelt and Churchill begin Casablanca Conference
On this day, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt meet in Casablanca, Morocco, along with the Combined Chiefs of Staff, to discuss strategy and study the next phase of the war. This meeting marked the first time an American president left American soil during wartime. Participants also included leaders of the French government-in-exile, General Charles de Gaulle and General Henri Giraud, who were assured of a postwar united France.
The success of the North Africa invasion, which resulted in the defeat of Vichy French forces, compelled President Roosevelt to meet with Prime Minister Churchill (Joseph Stalin, president and dictator of the USSR, declined an invitation to attend) to confer on how best to push forward an end to the war. Top priority was given to destroying German U-boat patrols in the Atlantic and launching combined bombing missions. Most important, in a controversial declaration, they announced that the Allies would accept only unconditional surrender from the Axis powers, a decision that caused consternation on all sides as too extreme and allowing too little room for political maneuvering. The meeting was kept secret–even by newspapers that knew about it–until the participants left Morocco on January 27.