The first edition of the Correspondence Between the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the U.S.S.R. and the Presidents of the U.S.A. and the Prime Ministers of Great Britain During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 published in 1957 has become a bibliographical rarity despite its large printing.
In view of this it was decided to put out a second edition of the correspondence of the heads of the three Great Powers of the anti-Hitler coalition. This book reproduces the second Russian edition with a preface written by A. A. Gromyko.The present edition, like the first, contains the full texts of all the documents available in the Soviet Union of J. V. Stalin’s correspondence with Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Winston S. Churchill and Clement R. Attlee during the period in question. Certain messages quoted or otherwise mentioned in publications abroad are missing from this book as their texts have not been found in the Soviet archives. In searching for the missing texts it was found that some of them – for instance, a Roosevelt message transmitted to Stalin by U.S. Ambassador Standley on April 23, 19421 and a Truman message to Stalin of June 19452 – had been conveyed orally by the respective representatives during meetings with Stalin. Concerning a Roosevelt message to Stalin in July 19413 and another sent, according to Cordell Hull, between February and April 1942,4 there is no record in the Soviet archives that would indicate that they were transmitted in any form whatever to Stalin or were ever received in the Soviet Union. This is also true for Churchill's message to Stalin of June 23, 1945,5 which, according to Churchill, was by way of reply to a Stalin message of June 21, 1945 (see Volume One of this book, Doc. No. 493); in the Soviet archives there is a reply from Churchill to the above-mentioned Stalin message, but its contents are different (see Volume One, Doc. No. 497). It appears that in his war memoirs Churchill presented not the final text but one of the drafts of his reply to Stalin. This is borne out by the fact that Churchill dated his message June 23, 1945, whereas the message received by Stalin in reply to his message of June 21, 1945, is dated June 24, 1945.
The Roosevelt message to Stalin concerning deliveries, of October 13, 1941, mentioned by Sherwood,6 was evidently sent to Churchill in copy for perusal and afterwards was handed in this shape to the Soviet Ambassador in London by the British Minister Beaverbrook, who was in charge of deliveries, in October 1941; but there is nothing in the archives to confirm transmission of the message directly by U.S. representatives to the Soviet side.
Volume One includes the correspondence with Winston S. Churchill and Clement R. Attlee, and Volume Two, the correspondence with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman – the correspondence with Roosevelt began at a later date than that with Churchill.
The correspondence between the heads of the Governments published here was conducted chiefly by exchanging code messages through the Soviet Embassies in Washington and London and through the Embassies of the U.S.A. and Great Britain in Moscow. The messages were decoded in the respective Embassies and their texts delivered to the addressee generally in the original language. Some of the messages were delivered by diplomatic post or by authorised representatives of the Powers concerned.The messages of the Presidents of the USA and the Prime Ministers of Great Britain appear in their original wording, with the exception of some documents available in the Soviet Union in Russian translation only. In this volume they are Nos. 2, 11, 24, 25, 46, 52, 58, 59, 61, 62, 67, 68 and 332, Nos. 2, 11, 58, 61, 62, and 68 were printed in various British and American publications, and their English texts are given in this volume according to those publications. Others, i.e., Nos. 24, 25, 46, 52, 59, 67 and 332, for which the original English texts are not available, have been translated back from the Russian.
The ordinal numbers under which the messages appear in this collection have been supplied by the Editors.
An asterisk in the title of a message denotes that the document had no title and that the title used has been furnished by the Editors.
The dates on which the messages were signed are reproduced when available in the lower left-hand corner under the text. Where the date is missing in the original the date given in this book is that of despatch or receipt.
Brief reference notes and photostats are appended.
Compilation was handled by the Department of Diplomatic History of the USSR Foreign Ministry.
2 Mentioned in James F. Byrnes’ Speaking Frankly, London, 1947, p. 64. Byrnes does not give the exact date of the message.
3 Quoted in The White House Papers of Harry L. Hopkins by Robert E. Sherwood, Vol. I, London, 1948-1949, pp. 321-322. Sherwood does not give the exact date of the message.
4 Mentioned in The Memoirs of Cordell Hull, Vol. II, New York, 1948, p. 1170. Hull does not give the exact date of the message.
5 Quoted in Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. VI, London, 1954, pp. 488-489.
6 Robert E. Sherwood, The White House Papers of Harry L. Hopkins, Vol. I, London, 1948-1949, p 399.
This second two-volume edition of the Correspondence Between the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR and the Presidents of the USA and the Prime Ministers of Great Britain During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 has come off the press thirty years after the victory of the powers of the anti-Hitler coalition and the freedom-loving nations over German fascism and Japanese militarism.
This historic victory made a profound impact on all subsequent world developments and has been a decisive factor in the destinies of many peoples, in the struggle for a revolutionary renovation of human society, and for lasting world peace.
The greatness of this event has now been brought into even bolder relief by the profound changes it has produced in the world.
Thirty years ago, the Soviet people, in alliance with other peoples, won the battle against fascism, mankind’s most vicious enemy – a battle stupendous in scale and unprecedented in the exertion of effort it entailed and the number of casualties. The rout of world imperialism’s strike force as personified by German fascism and aggressive Japanese militarism, the Soviet Union’s decisive contribution to their defeat and to the final victory, brought about cardinal changes in the correlation and alignment of forces on the international scene, and led to tremendous social and political change throughout the world.
The Soviet Union’s victory in the war was not only a triumph of its Armed Forces over the armies of Hitler Germany, militarist Japan and their satellites, but also a triumph of the Soviet foreign policy of peace.
In the postwar period the Soviet Union’s principled and flexible foreign policy based on Lenin’s behests contributed to the political consolidation of the military successes scored by its Armed Forces on the battlefield.
Soviet diplomacy exerted great effort to ensure durable international peace and security after the war, and to lay democratic foundations in Europe and Asia.
As a result of its intensive and consistent struggle on the diplomatic front, the Soviet Union has scored important successes in determining the main directions of the world’s postwar organisation and cooperation among states.
The victory over Hitler Germany and militarist Japan has led to a considerable change in the relation of forces between capitalism and socialism, in favour of the latter.
The Soviet Union, which the capitalist world was not always willing to reckon with before the war, has become the most significant and determining factor in the postwar world. It is now quite impossible to resolve international problems without the USSR, let alone regardless of it.
The Soviet Union’s decisive victory over fascism and militarism has enabled a number of European and Asian countries to embark on the road of revolutionary transformations and has created favourable external conditions for national-democratic revolutions.
The Soviet Army, in combat cooperation with the People’s Liberation Army of Yugoslavia, the armies and units formed in Soviet territory by patriots of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Romania, and with the active assistance of the Resistance forces and troops of Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Albania, cleared the countries of Central and Southeast Europe of the nazi invaders and helped restore their freedom and independence, while Soviet foreign policy consistently laid the foundation of peace and friendship with these countries. Setting out to liberate Poland, the Soviet Government declared that it regarded the Soviet Army’s military operations in its territory as operations in the territory of a sovereign, friendly and allied state. After the entry of Soviet forces into Polish territory, the relations between the Soviet Supreme Command and the Polish Administration became the object of a special agreement between the Government of the USSR and the Polish Committee of National Liberation.
A similar agreement was concluded with the Czechoslovak Government. The Soviet Government and the National Committee for the Liberation of Yugoslavia reached agreement on the temporary entry of Soviet troops into Yugoslav territory to conduct military operations against the nazi troops.
All this contributed to the establishment between the USSR and its allies – Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia – of relations of equality and friendship, based on respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and on non-interference in their internal affairs.
At the end of the war, a new political situation arose in Europe. To restore historical justice the Soviet Union handed over to the Polish people lands on the Oder, the Neisse and the Baltic coast once forcibly taken from them by German invaders. Simultaneously, at international conferences Soviet diplomats vigorously promoted Poland’s right to these lands and its recognition by the other powers of the anti-Hitler coalition. By so doing the Soviet Union upheld the Polish people’s vital state interests and security. All this is reflected in the pages of the present publication.
The rout of German fascism and the weakening of the reactionary forces in the countries of Eastern Europe created favourable conditions for the rapid maturing of a revolutionary situation. The Soviet Union rendered these countries inestimable assistance by preventing foreign interference in their internal affairs, forestalling export of counter-revolution, and safeguarding the road of genuinely democratic development chosen by their peoples.
In the course of an intense diplomatic struggle, the Soviet Union succeeded in repelling the dogged attempts by Britain and the United States to impose the old order on the Polish people; to return to Poland the government-in-exile alien to the Polish people, which had abandoned the country in its hour of need and tided over the war years in London; to bring back to Yugoslavia monarchist reactionaries concerned only with preserving their class privileges, and to reinstal in Czechoslovakia the rule of the men of Munich. The treaties of friendship and mutual assistance concluded by the Soviet Union with Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia in 1943-1945 were a dependable support for the democratic forces of the countries.
Guided by the peaceful and democratic principles of its foreign policy, the Soviet Union was a magnanimous victor towards the Hitler Germany’s former allies, countries whose armies had taken part in the war against the USSR. At the cost of great sacrifice, the Soviet Army freed these countries from their imposed “alliance” with Hitlerism and expelled the fascist troops from their territories. Since the big bourgeoisie and the landowners of these countries had collaborated with the fascist invaders, the rout of German fascism also meant the defeat of reaction at home.
In an intensive struggle against Western negotiators, Soviet diplomats upheld the right of these countries to sovereignty and independent development, and protected them against encroachment by the imperialist circles of the West, which sought to prevent any weakening of the foundations of capitalism in Europe, and therefore resisted the progressive social reforms in Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria. The Soviet Union’s firm stand frustrated the attempts of the United States and Britain to impose decisions that would enable the imperialist powers to interfere in the internal affairs of these countries and restore the capitalist order there.
An important part in ensuring favourable external conditions for the development of the people’s democratic revolutions in these countries was played by the equitable and democratic armistice agreements drawn up with the active participation of the USSR.
The Soviet Union’s far-sighted and humane policy toward Hitler Germany’s former satellites soon yielded fruit. Relations of equality based on trust were established between the USSR and these states, later formalised in treaties of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance.
Questions connected with the fate of countries liberated from fascism hold an important place in the correspondence between the heads of government of the USSR, the USA and Britain. The documents conclusively show the Soviet Union’s consistent policy of safeguarding their freedom, independence and security.
Special importance attaches to the liberation from fascism of the German people themselves. Of historic significance was the proclamation, in 1949, of the German Democratic Republic, which has become a major and stable factor strengthening socialism, peace and security in Europe.
The countries of Central and Southeast Europe are now members of a powerful socialist community, which exercises a determining influence on world politics, and acts decisively to defend the interests of universal peace and security, and protect the independence of nations.
The Soviet Union also consistently upheld the right to free and democratic development of the West European countries liberated by the Allied forces from the Hitler tyranny. Soviet diplomacy devoted considerable effort to preventing Anglo-US dictate from being imposed on France and Italy. Although imperialism, with the help of the Anglo-US armies and the use of its economic power and political pressure, was able to suppress the revolutionary movement which could have led to the establishment of the people’s power in the West European countries, it proved incapable of preventing a powerful upswing of the communist and working-class movement. The CPSU Central Committee’s Decision “On the 30th Anniversary of the Victory of the Soviet People in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945” said in part: “The victory over fascism created favourable conditions for the further development of the working-class movement in the capitalist countries, for the growth and consolidation of the communist and workers’ parties, which are the most active champions of the cause of the working class and all working people. The international communist movement has become the most influential political force of today.”
Before our eyes there is taking place a radical restructuring – on the principles of peaceful coexistence – of the entire system of international relations, many elements of which had begun to take shape when the battle against German fascism and Japanese militarism was still in progress.
In the course of the Second World War a broad democratic coalition of countries and peoples was set up, headed by the USSR, the USA and Great Britain. The creation and consolidation of the anti-Hitler coalition was an objective necessity dictated by life itself. The coalition was an effective military-political alliance, whose formation testified to the correctness and far-sightedness of Soviet foreign policy on the eve of the Second World War, a policy directed to giving a collective rebuff to the aggressors, and to collective guarantees of security.
Even before the outbreak of the war, the Soviet Union had deemed it possible and necessary for the freedom-loving nations to join effort to avert war. Therefore, after the war had broken out, and Britain and the United States expressed their readiness to join forces with the Soviet Union, the anti-Hitler coalition was formed fairly quickly, although not without difficulties. This was graphic confirmation of the validity of the Leninist principles of Soviet foreign policy, which provides for cooperation with any state that so wishes, regardless of its social system, on the basis of mutual respect for independence and in the interests of peace.
Many important aspects of the Soviet Union’s relations with its Western partners in the anti-Hitler coalition are dealt with in the present publication. An enumeration of only a few of the questions touched upon in the documents published shows how extensive was the sphere of war-time cooperation between the USSR, the USA and Great Britain: the partners in the coalition found common ground for joint action against Hitler Germany and later against militarist Japan; they agreed on the principles on which the Soviet Union was to receive some quantity of the means of war from the United States and Britain, worked out a common policy in relation to Italy’s withdrawal from the war, agreed on the attitude to the national liberation struggle of the peoples in the nazi-occupied European states, on the main principles of the United Nations, the principles of the postwar peace settlement, and on a number of other complex questions of common interest to the USSR, USA and Great Britain. These documents graphically testify to the existence of close contacts and businesslike cooperation between the three Great Powers on a number of major military and political problems.
Needless to say, the discussion and solution of questions which arose during the war did not proceed without difficulties. The documents show that there were differences between the USSR, USA and Britain. At times, they were of a highly acute nature. The policy of the Western powers was burdened by old concepts aimed at infringing on the interests of the USSR, profiting from a mutual weakening of Germany and the USSR in the war, a desire to shift the main burden of the war effort onto the Soviet Union, and so on. But it is a fact that the desire to cooperate for victory and the establishment of a stable peace after the war proved stronger than all obstacles and led to solutions of the most complex questions of the war and the postwar settlement to the satisfaction of all the parties concerned. The documents published are a reminder – and this accounts for their major importance – that any difficulties and obstacles along the road to a lasting peace can and must be overcome when mankind’s destiny is at stake, and a great goal has to be achieved.
The cooperation between the member states of the anti-Hitler coalition was an example of active implementation of the basic principles of the policy of peaceful coexistence. In a speech on February 14, 1975, on the occasion of British Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s visit to Moscow, Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, very accurately defined the essence of that coalition, saying that “it was not only an alliance of governments but a combat alliance of our armies and our peoples, a historic example of successful cooperation regardless of the difference in social systems.”
The Soviet Union regarded the broad and fruitful wartime cooperation with the capitalist member countries of the anti-Hitler coalition as a promising long-term arrangement. Tested in the crucible of war, it assumed ever greater importance in peace time. The basis for such cooperation was to have been provided by a joint programme of the future organisation of the world and guaranteed international security.
As Leonid Brezhnev said in his speech at the meeting commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Soviet people’s victory in the Great Patriotic War, “The experience of the war period showed that different social systems are no bar to the pooling of efforts in fighting aggression and working for peace and international security. In the war years we cooperated with each other, and did so fairly well, in order to end the war in the shortest time possible. We are now tackling another, equally important and perhaps more complicated task, that of developing cooperation in order to prevent another worldwide disaster.”
The agreements and accords reached during the war have served – and are still serving today – as the foundation of a postwar peace settlement in Europe. To put them into effect means recognising the inviolability of the existing European boundaries and the political realities resulting from the Second World War and postwar development, and producing dependable guarantees of security in the European continent.
The inviolability of European borders has now been recognized by all European states, as well as by the United States and Canada, who, in Helsinki on August 1, 1975, signed the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. This agreement is of historic importance and constitutes a great contribution of the cause of peace.
The success of the European Conference – an unprecedented event in the history of the continent which was the main theatre of two world wars – has opened a new stage in Europe’s history; it signifies a victory for the peace forces and cannot but have a beneficial effect on the development of international relations throughout the world.
For three decades mankind has been spared a world war. This is a great achievement of the peace forces. Europe, and the world as a whole, have drawn nearer to the attainment of the great goal the peoples of the anti-Hitler coalition aspired to, and for which scores of millions of lives were sacrificed – to secure a stable, just and democratic peace. The principles of equality, sovereignty, renunciation of the use of force, settlement of disputes by negotiation, regular consultations, long-term economic cooperation, and exchange of scientific and cultural achievements are gradually taking root in relations between states.
Never has so much been done for the cause of peace as in recent years, when the efforts of Soviet foreign policy and diplomacy were directed to implementing the impressive Peace Programme advanced by the 24th Congress of the CPSU. Addressing the 25th CPSU Congress, Leonid Brezhnev said: “Its main purpose was to achieve a turn in international relations with reliance on the might, unity and dynamism of world socialism, on its closer alliance with all progressive and peace-loving forces – a turn from cold war to peaceful coexistence of states with different social systems, a turn from-explosive tensions to detente and normal, mutually beneficial cooperation.”
The achievements in this most important field during the five years between the 24th and 25th Congresses of the CPSU are truly tremendous. The situation on the international scene has changed substantially thanks to the consistent peace policy of the socialist states, the vigorous efforts of the democratic and peace forces in all countries, and the more sober-minded attitude of the governments of many capitalist states, which have realised the danger of continuing the cold war and tensions.
The treaties and agreements signed in recent years, with the Soviet Union participating, have formalised the fruits of the victory over fascism and created more reliable requisites for developing fruitful and peaceful cooperation between European states, as well as with the United States. Leonid Brezhnev stated at the 25th CPSU Congress: “The most important results of the liberation struggle of the European peoples during and after the Second World War have been formalised. Conditions have been created for stable peace and good-neighbour cooperation in Europe and beyond it.”
The 25th Congress of the CPSU charted a programme of further action directed toward solving the key problems of modern international life, on whose settlement mankind’s peaceful future depends.
Received on July 8, 1941
We are all very glad here that the Russian armies are making such strong and spirited resistance to the utterly unprovoked and merciless invasion of the Nazis. There is general admiration for the bravery and tenacity of the Soviet soldiers and people. We shall do everything to help you that time, geography and our growing resources allow. The longer the war lasts the more help we can give. We are making very heavy attacks both by day and night with our Air Force upon all German-occupied territories and all Germany within our reach. About 400 aeroplanes made daylight sorties overseas yesterday. On Saturday night over 200 heavy bombers attacked German towns, some carrying three tons apiece, and last night nearly 250 heavy bombers were operating. This will go on. Thus we hope to force Hitler to bring back some of his air power to the West and gradually take some of the strain off you. Besides this the Admiralty have at my desire prepared a serious operation to come off in the near future in the Arctic, after which I hope that contact will be established between the British and Russian Navies. Meanwhile by sweeping along the Norwegian coast we have intercepted various supply ships which were moving north against you.
We welcome the arrival of the Russian Military Mission in order to concert future plans.1
We have only got to go on fighting to beat the life out of the villains.
Received on July 10, 1941
Ambassador Cripps having reported his talk with you and having stated the terms of a proposed Anglo-Russian agreed declaration under two heads, namely,
(1) mutual help without any precision as to quantity or quality, and
(2) neither country to conclude a separate peace,
I have immediately convened the War Cabinet, including Mr Fraser, Prime Minister of the Dominion of New Zealand, who is with us now. It will be necessary for us to consult with the Dominions of Canada, Australia, and South Africa, but in the meanwhile I should like to assure you that we are wholly in favour of the agreed declaration you propose. We think it should be signed as soon as we have heard from the Dominions, and published to the world immediately thereafter.2* Quoted from Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. III London, 1950, pp. 341-342.
Allow me to thank you for your two personal messages.
Your messages have initiated agreement between our two Governments. Now, as you with every justification put it, the Soviet Union and Great Britain have become fighting Allies in the struggle against Hitler Germany. I have no doubt that our two countries are strong enough to defeat our common enemy in the face of all difficulties.
It may not be out of place to inform you that the position of the Soviet troops at the front remains strained. The results of Hitler’s unexpected violation of the Non-Aggression Pact and the sudden attack on the Soviet Union, which have placed the German troops at an advantage, are still affecting the position of the Soviet armies. It is quite obvious that the German forces would have been far more advantageously placed if the Soviet troops had had to counter the blow, not along the line Kishinev-Lvov-Brest-Bialystok-Kaunas and Vyborg, but along the line Odessa-Kamenets Podolsk-Minsk and the vicinity of Leningrad.
It seems to me, furthermore, that the military position of the Soviet Union, and by the same token that of Great Britain, would improve substantially if a front were established against Hitler in the West (Northern France) and the North (the Arctic).
A front in the North of France, besides diverting Hitler’s forces from the East, would make impossible invasion of Britain by Hitler. Establishment of this front would be popular both with the British Army and with the population of Southern England. I am aware of the difficulty of establishing such a front, but it seems to me that, notwithstanding the difficulties, it should be done, not only for the sake of our common cause, but also in Britain’s own interest. The best time to open this front is now, seeing that Hitler’s forces have been switched to the East and that he has not yet been able to consolidate the positions he has taken in the East.
It would be easier still to open a front in the North. This would call for action only by British naval and air forces, without landing troops or artillery. Soviet land, naval and air forces could take part in the operation. We would be glad if Great Britain could send thither, say, one light division or more of Norwegian volunteers, who could be moved to Northern Norway for insurgent operations against the Germans.
July 18, 1941
Received on, July 21, 1941
I am very glad to get your message and to learn from many sources of the valiant fight and many vigorous counter-attacks with which the Russian armies are defending their native soil. I fully realise the military advantage you have gained by forcing the enemy to deploy and engage on forward Western fronts, thus exhausting some of the force of his initial effort.
Anything sensible and effective that we can do to help will be done. I beg you, however, to realise the limitations imposed upon us by our resources and geographical position. From the first day of the German attack upon Russia, we have examined the possibilities of attacking occupied France and the Low Countries. The Chiefs of Staff do not see any way of doing anything on a scale likely to be of the slightest use to you. The Germans have forty divisions in France alone, and the whole coast has been fortified with German diligence for more than a year and bristles with cannon, wire, pill-boxes and beach mines. The only part where we could have even temporary air superiority and air fighter protection is from Dunkirk to Boulogne. This is one mass of fortifications, with scores of heavy guns commanding the sea approaches, many of which can fire right across the Straits. There is less than five hours of darkness, and even then the whole area is illuminated by searchlights. To attempt a landing in force would be to encounter a bloody repulse, and petty raids would only lead to fiascos, doing far more harm than good to both of us. It would all be over without their having to move, or before they could move, a single unit from your fronts.
You must remember that we have been fighting all alone for more than a year, and that, although our resources are growing, and will grow fast from now on, we are at the utmost strain both at home and in the Middle East by land and air, and also that the battle of the Atlantic, on which our life depends, and the movements of all our convoys in the face of the U-boat and Focke-Wulf blockade, strain our naval forces, great though they be, to the utmost limit.
It is however to the North that we must look for any speedy help that we can give. The Naval Staff have been preparing for three weeks past an operation by sea-borne aircraft upon German shipping in Northern Norway and Finland, hoping thereby to destroy the enemy’s power of transporting troops by sea to attack your Arctic flank. We have asked your Staff to keep a certain area clear of Russian vessels between July 28th and August 2nd, when we shall hope to strike. Secondly, we are sending forthwith some cruisers and destroyers to Spitzbergen, whence they will be able to raid enemy shipping in concert with your naval forces. Thirdly, we are sending submarines to intercept German traffic on the Arctic coast, although owing to perpetual daylight this service is particularly dangerous. Fourthly, we are sending a mine-layer with various supplies to Archangel. This is the most we can do at the moment. I wish it were more. Pray let the most extreme secrecy be kept until the moment when we tell you that publicity will not be harmful.
There is no Norwegian Light Division in existence, and it would be impossible to land troops, either British or Russian, on German-occupied territory in perpetual daylight without having first obtained reasonable fighter air cover. We had bitter experiences at Namsos3 last year, and in Crete this year,4 of trying such enterprises.
We are also studying, as a further development, the basing of some British fighter air squadrons on Murmansk. This would require first of all a consignment of anti-aircraft guns, in addition to ground staff and equipment, then the arrival of the aircraft, some of which could be flown off carriers and others crated. When these were established our Spitzbergen squadron might possibly come to Murmansk. As soon as our naval forces are known to be in the North, we are under no delusion but that the Germans will immediately follow their invariable practice of opposing our forces with a strong force of dive-bombers, and it is therefore necessary to proceed step by step. All this, however, will take weeks.
Do not hesitate to suggest anything else that occurs to you, and we will also be searching earnestly for other ways of striking at the common foe.
Received on July 26, 1941
I am glad to inform you that the entire War Cabinet have decided, despite the fact that this will seriously deplete our fighter resources, to send to Russia as soon as possible two hundred Tomahawk fighter aeroplanes. One hundred and forty of these will be sent from here to Archangel, and sixty from our supplies in the United States of America. Details as to spare parts and American personnel to erect the machines have still to be arranged with the United States Government.
From two to three million pairs of ankle boots should shortly be available in this country for shipment. We are also arranging to provide during the present year large quantities of rubber, tin, wool and woollen clothes, jute, lead and shellac. All your other requirements from raw materials are receiving careful consideration.5 Where supplies are impossible or limited here, we are discussing matters with the U.S.A. Details will of course be communicated through the usual official channels.
We are watching with admiration and emotion all your armies’ magnificent fight, and all our information shows the heavy losses and concern of the enemy. Our air attack on Germany will continue with increasing strength.
Received on July 28, 1941
As regards your request for rubber, we will deliver the goods from here or the U.S.A. by the best and quickest route. Please say exactly what kind of rubber, and which way you wish it to come. Preliminary orders are already given.
Mr Harry Hopkins has been with me these days. Last week he asked the President to let him go to Moscow. I must tell you that there is a flame in this man for democracy and to beat Hitler. A little while ago, when I asked him for a quarter of a million rifles, they came at once. He is the nearest personal representative of the President. The President has now sent him full instructions, and he leaves my house tonight to go to you. You will be advised of his arrival through the proper channels. You can trust him absolutely. He is your friend and our friend. He will help you to plan for the future victory and for the long-term supply of Russia. You could talk to him also freely about policy, strategy and Japan.
The grand resistance of the Russian armies in the defence of their soil unites us all. A terrible winter of bombing lies before Germany. No one has yet had what they are going to get.
The naval operations mentioned in my last telegram to you are in progress.
Thank you very much for your comprehension, in the midst of your great fight, of our difficulties in doing more. We will do our utmost.
Received on August 1, 1941
Following my personal intervention, arrangements are now complete for the despatch of ten thousand tons of rubber from this country to one of your northern ports. In view of the urgency of your requirements we are taking the risk of depleting to this extent our metropolitan stocks, which are none too large and will take time to replace.
The British ships carrying this rubber and certain other supplies will be loaded within a week, or at most ten days, and will sail to one of your northern ports as soon as the Admiralty can arrange a convoy.
This new amount of 10,000 tons is additional to 10,000 tons of rubber already allotted from Malaya. Of this latter amount, 2,651 tons have already sailed on July 20th in the s.s. Volga from Port Swettenham for Vladivostok. The s.s. Arktika has also sailed from Malaya with 2,500 tons on board. The s.s Maxim Gorki, which left Shanghai on July 25th, and the s.s. Krasny Partizan, due to sail from Hong Kong on August 1st, should reach Malaya early in August and pick up additional cargoes of rubber which, added to those carried in the first two ships, will raise the amount to 10,000 tons in addition to the 10,000 tons mentioned in the first paragraph above.
Received on August 15, 1941
We have taken the opportunity afforded by the consideration of the report of Mr Harry Hopkins on his return from Moscow7 to consult together as to how best our two countries can help your country in the splendid defence that you are putting up against the Nazi attack. We are at the moment cooperating to provide you with the very maximum of supplies that you most urgently need. Already many shiploads have left our shores and more will leave in the immediate future.
We must now turn our minds to the consideration of a more long-term policy, since there is still a long and hard path to be traversed before there can be won that complete victory without which our efforts and sacrifices would be wasted.
The war goes on upon many fronts and before it is over there may be yet further fighting fronts that will be developed. Our resources, though immense, are limited and it must become a question of where and when those resources can best be used to further to the greatest extent our common effort. This applies equally to manufactured war supplies and to raw materials.
The needs and demands of your and our armed services can only be determined in the light of the full knowledge of the many facts which must be taken into consideration in the decisions that we take. In order that all of us may be in a position to arrive at speedy decisions as to the apportionment of our joint resources, we suggest that we prepare a meeting which should be held at Moscow, to which we would send high representatives who could discuss these matters directly with you. If this conference appeals to you, we want you to know that pending the decisions of that conference we shall continue to send supplies and material as rapidly as possible.
We realise fully how vitally important to the defeat of Hitlerism is the brave and steadfast resistance of the Soviet Union, and we feel therefore that we must not in any circumstances fail to act quickly and immediately in this matter of planning the programme for the future allocation of our joint resources.
Received on August 30, 1941
I have been searching for any way to give you help in your splendid resistance pending the long-term arrangements which we are discussing with the United States of America and which will form the subject of the Moscow Conference. M. Maisky has represented that fighter aircraft are much needed in view of your heavy losses. We are expediting the despatch of the 200 Tomahawks about which I telegraphed in my last message. Our two squadrons should reach Murmansk about September 6th, comprising 40 Hurricanes. You will, I am sure, realise that fighter aircraft are the foundation of our home defence, besides which we are trying to obtain air superiority in Libya and also to provide Turkey so as to bring her in on our side. Nevertheless I could send 200 more Hurricanes, making 440 fighters in all, if your pilots could use them effectively. These would be eight- and twelve-gun Hurricanes, which we have found very deadly in action. We could send 100 now and two batches of fifty soon afterwards, together with mechanics, instructors, spare parts and equipment, to Archangel. Meanwhile arrangements could be made to begin accustoming your pilots and mechanics to the new type if you send them to our squadrons at Murmansk. If you feel that this would be useful, orders will be given here accordingly, and a full technical memorandum is being telegraphed through our Military Air Mission.
The news that the Persians have decided to cease resistance is most welcome.8 Even more than safeguarding the oil-fields, our object in entering Persia has been to get another through route to you which cannot be cut. For this purpose we must develop the railway from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian and make sure that it runs smoothly with reinforcements of railway material from India. The Foreign Secretary has given to M. Maisky for you the kind of terms which we should like to make with the Persian Government so as to have a friendly people and not be compelled to waste a number of divisions merely guarding the railway line. Food is being sent from India, and if the Persians submit we shall resume the payment of oil royalties now due to the Shah. We are instructing our advance guards to push on and join hands with your forces at a point to be fixed by the military commanders somewhere between Hamadan and Qazvin. It would be a good thing to let the world know that the British and Soviet forces had actually joined hands. In our view it would be better at this moment for neither of us to enter Tehran in force,9 as all we want is a through route. We are making a large-scale base at Basra, and we hope to make this a well-equipped warm water reception port for American supplies, which can thus surely reach the Caspian and Volga regions.
I must again express the admiration of the British nation for the wonderful fight which the Russian armies and the Russian people are making against the Nazi criminals. General MacFarlane was immensely impressed by all he saw at the front. A very hard time lies before us, but Hitler will not have a pleasant winter under our ever-increasing air bombardment. I was gratified by the very firm warning which Your Excellency gave to Japan about supplies via Vladivostok.10 President Roosevelt seemed disposed when I met him11 to take a strong line against further Japanese aggression, whether in the South or in the North-west Pacific, and I made haste to declare that we would range ourselves upon his side should war come. I am most anxious to do more for General Chiang Kai-shek than we have hitherto felt strong enough to do. We do not want war with Japan, and I am sure that the way to stop it is to confront these people, who are divided and far from sure of themselves, with the prospect of the heaviest combination.
Sent on September 3, 1941
Please accept my thanks for the promise to sell to the Soviet, Union another 200 fighter aeroplanes in addition to the 200 fighters promised earlier. I have no doubt that Soviet pilots will succeed in mastering them and putting them to use.
I must say, however, that these aircraft, which it appears we shall not be able to use soon and not all at once, but at intervals and in groups, cannot seriously change the situation on the Eastern Front. They cannot do so not merely because of the scale of the war, which necessitates the continuous despatch of large numbers of aircraft, but also, and chiefly, because during the last three weeks the position of the Soviet troops has considerably deteriorated in such vital areas as the Ukraine and Leningrad.
The fact is that the relative stabilisation of the front, achieved some three weeks ago, has been upset in recent weeks by the arrival of 30-34 fresh German infantry divisions and enormous numbers of tanks and aircraft at the Eastern Front, and also by the activisation of 20 Finnish and 26 Roumanian divisions. The Germans look on the threat in the West as a bluff, so they are moving all their forces from the West to the East with impunity, knowing that there is no second front in the West nor is there likely to be one. They think it perfectly possible that they will be able to beat their enemies one at a time – first the Russians and then the British.
As a result we have lost more than half the Ukraine and, what is more, the enemy is now at the gates of Leningrad.
These circumstances have led to our loss of the Krivoi Rog iron ore area and a number of iron and steel works in the Ukraine, to the evacuation by us of an aluminium plant on the Dnieper and another in Tikhvin, a motor plant and two aircraft plants in the Ukraine and two motor and two aircraft plants in Leningrad, which cannot begin production on their new sites before seven or eight months.
This has resulted in a lessening of our defence capacity and has confronted the Soviet Union with mortal danger.
Here it is pertinent to ask – what is the way out of this more than unfavourable situation.
I think the only way is to open a second front this year somewhere in the Balkans or in France, one that would divert 30-40 German divisions from the Eastern Front, and simultaneously to supply the Soviet Union with 30,000 tons of aluminium by the beginning of October and a minimum monthly aid of 400 aeroplanes and 500 tanks (of small or medium size).
Without these two kinds of aid the Soviet Union will be either defeated or weakened to the extent that it will lose for a long time the ability to help its Allies by active operations at the front against Hitlerism.
I realise that this message will cause Your Excellency some vexation. But that cannot be helped. Experience has taught me to face up to reality, no matter how unpleasant it may be, and not to shrink from telling the truth, no matter how unpleasant.
The matter of Iran came off well indeed. 8 Joint operations by the British and Soviet troops settled the issue. And so it will be in the future, as long as our forces operate jointly. But Iran is merely an episode. It is not in Iran, of course, that the outcome of the war will be decided.
The Soviet Union, like Britain, does not want war with Japan. The Soviet Union does not deem it possible to violate treaties, including the treaty of neutrality with Japan. But should Japan violate that treaty and attack the Soviet Union, she will be properly rebuffed by Soviet troops.
In conclusion allow me to thank you for the admiration you have expressed for the operations of the Soviet troops, who are waging a bloody war against Hitler’s robber hordes for our common liberation cause.
Received on September 6, 1941
I reply at once in the spirit of your message. Although we should shrink from no exertion, there is in fact no possibility of any British action in the West, except air action, which would draw the German forces from the East before the winter sets in. There is no chance whatever of a second front being formed in the Balkans without the help of Turkey. I will, if Your Excellency desires, give all the reasons which have led our Chiefs of Staff to these conclusions. They have already been discussed with your Ambassador in conference today with the Foreign Secretary and the Chiefs of Staff. Action, however well-meant, leading only to costly fiascos would be no help to anyone but Hitler.
2. The information at my disposal gives me the impression that the culminating violence of the German invasion is already over and that winter will give your heroic armies a breathing-space. This however is a personal opinion.
3. About supplies. We are well aware of the grievous losses which Russian industry has sustained, and every effort has been and will be made by us to help you. I am cabling President
Roosevelt to expedite the arrival here in London of Mr Harriman’s Mission, and we shall try even before the Moscow Conference to tell you the numbers of aircraft and tanks we can jointly promise to send each month, together with supplies of rubber, aluminium, cloth, etc. For our part we are now prepared to send you, from British production, one-half of the monthly total for which you ask in aircraft and tanks. We hope the United States will supply the other half of your requirements. We shall use every endeavour to start the flow of equipment to you immediately.
4. We have given already the orders for supplying the Persian railway with rolling-stock to raise it from its present capacity of two trains a day each way up to its full capacity, namely, twelve trains a day each way. This should be reached by the spring of 1942, and meanwhile will be steadily improving. Locomotives and rolling-stock have to be sent round the Cape from this country after being converted to oil-burners, and the water supply along the railway has to be developed. The first forty-eight locomotives and 400 steel trucks are about to start.
5. We are ready to make joint plans with you now. Whether British armies will be strong enough to invade the mainland of Europe during 1942 must depend on unforeseeable events. It may be possible however to assist you in the extreme North when there is more darkness. We are hoping to raise our armies in the Middle East to a strength of three-quarters of a million before the end of the present year, and thereafter to a million by the summer of 1942. Once the German-Italian forces in Libya have been destroyed all these forces will be available to come into line on your southern flank, and it is hoped to encourage Turkey to maintain at the least a faithful neutrality. Meanwhile we shall continue to batter Germany from the air with increasing severity and to keep the seas open and ourselves alive.
6. In your first paragraph you used the word “sell.” We had not viewed the matter in such terms and have never thought of payment. Any assistance we can give you would better be upon the same basis of comradeship as the American Lend-Lease Bill,12 of which no formal account is kept in money.
7. We are willing to put any pressure upon Finland in our power, including immediate notification that we will declare war upon her should she continue beyond the old frontiers. We are asking the United States to take all possible steps to influence Finland.
4 September, 1941* Quoted from Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. III, London, 1950, pp. 405-406.
Sent on September 13, 1941
In my last message I set forth the views of the Government of the U.S.S.R. on the opening of a second front as the chief means of promoting our common cause. In reply to your message in which you reaffirm the impossibility of opening a second front at the moment, I can only repeat that its absence is playing into the hands of our common enemies.
I have no doubt that the British Government wants the Soviet Union to win and is searching for ways to attain that goal. If at the moment the opening of a second front in the West seems unfeasible to the British Government, then perhaps some other means could be found of rendering the Soviet Union active military aid against the common enemy. It seems to me that Britain could safely land 25-30 divisions at Archangel or ship them to the southern areas of the U.S.S.R. via Iran for military cooperation with the Soviet troops on Soviet soil in the same way as was done during the last war in France. That would be a great help. I think that help of this kind would be a severe blow to the Hitler aggression.
Please accept my thanks for the promise of monthly British aid in aluminium, aircraft and tanks.
I can but be glad that the British Government contemplates this aid, not as a transaction of selling and buying aircraft, aluminium and tanks, but in the shape of comradely cooperation.
It is my hope that the British Government will have not a few opportunities of satisfying itself that the Soviet Government knows how to appreciate help from its Ally.
A few words about the Memorandum transmitted by British Ambassador Cripps to V. M. Molotov on September 12, 1941. The Memorandum says: “If the Soviet Government were compelled to destroy its naval vessels at Leningrad in order to prevent their falling into the enemy hands, His Majesty’s Government would recognise after the war claims of the Soviet Government to a certain compensation from His Majesty’s Government for the restoration of the vessels destroyed.”
The Soviet Government is aware of and appreciates the British Government’s readiness to compensate for part of the damage that would be caused to the Soviet Union in the event of the Soviet vessels at Leningrad being destroyed. There can be little doubt that, if necessary, Soviet people will actually destroy the ships at Leningrad. But responsibility for the damage would be borne, not by Britain but by Germany. I think, therefore, that Germany will have to make good the damage after the war.
Received on September 19, 1941
Many thanks for your message. The Harriman Mission has all arrived, and is working all day long with Lord Beaverbrook and his colleagues. The object is to survey the whole field of resources, so as to be able to work out with you a definite programme of monthly deliveries by every available route and thus help to repair as far as possible the losses of your munition industries. President Roosevelt’s idea is that this first plan should cover up till the end of June, but naturally we shall go on with you till victory. I hope that the Conference may open in Moscow on the 25th of this month, but no publicity should be given till all are safely gathered. Routes and methods of travel will be signalled later.
2. I attach great importance to the opening of the through route from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian, not only by railway, but by a great motor road in the making of which we hope to enlist American energies and organisation. Lord Beaverbrook will be able to explain the whole scheme of supply and transportation; he is on the closest terms of friendship with Mr Harriman.
3. All possible theatres in which we might effect military co-operation with you have been examined by the Staffs. The two flanks North and South certainly present the most favourable opportunities. If we could act successfully in Norway, the attitude of Sweden would be powerfully affected, but at the moment we have neither the forces nor the shipping available for this project. Again, in the South the great prize is Turkey; if Turkey can be gained, another powerful army will be available. Turkey would like to come in with us, but is afraid, not without reason. It may be that the promise of considerable British forces and supplies of technical material in which the Turks are deficient will exercise a decisive influence upon them. We will study with you any other form of useful aid, the sole object being to bring the maximum force against the common enemy.
4. I entirely agree that the first source from which the Russian Fleet should be replenished should be at the expense of Germany. Victory will certainly give us control of important German and Italian naval vessels, and in our view these would be most suitable for repairing the losses to the Russian Fleet.
My dear Premier Stalin,
The British and American Missions have now started, and this letter will be presented to you by Lord Beaverbrook. Lord Beaverbrook has the fullest confidence of the Cabinet, and is one of my oldest and most intimate friends. He has established the closest relations with Mr Harriman, who is a remarkable American, wholeheartedly devoted to the victory of the common cause. They will lay before you all that we have been able to arrange in much anxious consultation between Great Britain and the United States.
President Roosevelt has decided that our proposals shall, in the first instance, deal with the monthly quotas we shall send to you in the nine months period from October 1941 to June 1942 inclusive. You have the right to know exactly what we can deliver month by month in order that you may handle your reserves to the best advantage.
The American proposals have not yet gone beyond the end of June 1942, but I have no doubt that considerably larger quotas can be furnished by both countries thereafter, and you may be sure we shall do our utmost to repair as far as possible the grievous curtailments which your war industries have suffered through the Nazi invasion. I will not anticipate what Lord Beaverbrook will have to say upon this subject.
You will realise that the quotas up to the end of June 1942 are supplied almost entirely out of British production, or production which the United States would have given us under our own purchases or under the Lease and Lend Bill.12 The United States were resolved to give us virtually the whole of their exportable surplus, and it is not easy for them within that time to open out effectively new sources of supply. I am hopeful that a further great impulse will be given to the production of the United States, and that by 1943 the mighty industry of America will be in full war swing. For our part, we shall not only make substantially increased contributions from our own existing forecast production, but also try to obtain from our people an extra further effort to meet our common needs. You will understand, however, that our Army and its supply which has been planned is perhaps only one-fifth or one-sixth as large as that of yours or Germany’s. Our first duty and need is to keep open the seas, and our second duty is to obtain decisive superiority in the air. These have the first claims upon the man-power of our 44,000,000 in the British Islands. We can never hope to have an Army or Army munitions industries comparable to those of the great Continental military Powers. None the less, we will do our utmost to aid you.
General Ismay, who is my personal representative on the Chiefs of the Staffs Committee, and is thoroughly acquainted with the whole field of our military policy, is authorised to study with your Commanders any plans for practical cooperation which may suggest themselves.
If we can clear our western flank in Libya of the enemy, we shall have considerable forces, both Air and Army, to cooperate upon the southern flank of the Russian front.
It seems to me that the most speedy and effective help would come if Turkey could be induced to resist a German demand for the passage of troops, or better still, if she would enter the war on our side. You will I am sure attach due weight to this.
I have always shared your sympathy for the Chinese people in their struggle to defend their native land against Japanese aggression. Naturally we do not want to add Japan to the side of our foes, but the attitude of the United States, resulting from my conference with President Roosevelt, has already enforced a far more sober view upon the Japanese Government. I made haste to declare on behalf of His Majesty’s Government that should the United States be involved in war with Japan, Great Britain would immediately range herself on her side. I think that all our three countries should, so far as possible, continue to give aid to China, and that this may go to considerable lengths without provoking a Japanese declaration of war.
There is no doubt that a long period of struggle and suffering lies before our peoples, but I have great hopes that the United States will enter the war as a belligerent, and if so, I cannot doubt that we have but to endure to conquer.
I am hopeful that as the war continues, the great masses of the peoples of the British Empire, the Soviet Union, the United States and China, which alone comprise two-thirds of the entire human race, may be found marching together against their persecutors; and I am sure the road they travel will lead to victory.
With heartfelt wishes for the success of the Russian Armies, and of the ruin of the Nazi tyrants,
September 21, 1941
I am most anxious to settle our alliance with Persia and to make an intimate, efficient working arrangement with your forces in Persia. There are in Persia signs of serious disorder among the tribes, and of a break-down of Persian authority. Disorder, if it spreads, will mean wasting our divisions in holding down these people, which again means burdening road and railway communications with the movements and supplies of the aforesaid divisions, whereas we want to keep the line clear and improved to the utmost in order to get supplies through to you. Our object should be to make the Persians keep each other quiet while we get on with the war. Your Excellency’s decisive indications in this direction will speed forward the already favourable trend of our affairs in this minor theatre.
October 1st, 1941
My dear Prime Minister Churchill,
The arrival of the British and American Missions in Moscow and particularly the fact that they were led by Lord Beaverbrook and Mr Harriman, had a most favourable effect. As for Lord Beaverbrook, he did his utmost to expedite consideration and, possibly, solution of the most pressing problems discussed at the Moscow Tripartite Conference13 and to make them fruitful. I can say the same for Mr Harriman. I wish therefore to convey to you and Mr Roosevelt the sincere gratitude of the Soviet Government for sending such authoritative representatives to Moscow.
I admit that our present requirements in military supplies, arising from a number of unfavourable circumstances on our front and the resulting evacuation of a further group of enterprises, to say nothing of the fact that a number of issues have been put off until final consideration and settlement in London and Washington, transcend the decisions agreed at the conference. Nevertheless, the Moscow Conference did a great deal of important work. I hope the British and American Governments will do all they can to increase the monthly quotas and also to seize the slightest opportunity to accelerate the planned deliveries right now, since the Hitlerites will use the pre-winter months to exert the utmost pressure on the U.S.S.R.
With regard to both Turkey and China I agree with the considerations you have stated. I hope the British Government is displaying the proper activity at the moment in both directions, because this is particularly important now that the U.S.S.R.’s opportunities are naturally limited.
As regards the prospects of our common struggle against the bandits’ lair of Hitlerites, who have entrenched themselves in the heart of Europe, I am confident that despite the difficulties we shall secure the defeat of Hitler in the interest of our freedom-loving peoples.
October 3, 1941
I am glad to learn from Lord Beaverbrook of the success of the Tripartite Conference at Moscow. “Bis dat qui cito dat.” We intend to run a continuous cycle of convoys leaving every ten days. The following are on their way and arrive at Archangel on October 12th: 20 heavy tanks, 193 fighters (pre- October quota). The following will sail on October 12th, arriving October 29th: 140 heavy tanks, 100 Hurricanes, 200 Bren carriers, 200 anti-tank rifles and ammunition, 50 2-pounder guns and ammunition. The following will sail on October 22nd: 200 fighters, 120 heavy tanks. The above shows that the total October quota of aircraft and 280 tanks will arrive in Russia by November 6th. The October quota of Bren carriers, anti-tank rifles and 2-pounder tank guns will all arrive in October. 20 tanks have been shipped to go via Persia and 15 are about to be shipped from Canada via Vladivostok. Total of tanks shipped will therefore be 315 which is 19 short of our full quota. This number will be made up in November. Above programme does not take into account goods from the United States.
In arranging this regular cycle of convoys we are counting on Archangel to handle the main bulk of deliveries. I presume this part of the job is in hand.
October 6th, 1941
I thank you for your letter of October 3rd.
I have given incessant directions to accelerate the deliveries at Archangel, as reported to you in my telegram of October 6th. Your request for three thousand lorries will be met immediately from our army stocks, but the deliveries must not impede the flow of tanks and aircraft. We are asking Mr Harriman to arrange a larger long-term programme from the United States.
About Persia. Our only interests there are: first, as a barrier against German penetration eastwards, and secondly as a through route for supplies to the Caspian basin. If you wish to withdraw the five or six Russian divisions for use on the battle front, we will take over the whole responsibility for keeping order and maintaining and improving the supply route. I pledge the faith of Britain that we will not seek any advantage for ourselves at the expense of any rightful Russian interest during the war or at the end of it. In any case the signing of the tripartite treaty14 is urgently required to avoid internal disorders growing, with the consequent danger of choking the supply route. General Wavell will be at Tiflis on October 16th, and will discuss with your generals any questions which you may instruct them to settle with him.
Words are useless to express what we feel about your vast, heroic struggle. We hope presently to testify by action.
October 12th, 1941
Received on November 7, 1941
In order to clear things up and to plan for the future I am ready to send General Wavell, the Commander-in-Chief in India, Persia and Iraq, to meet you in Moscow, Kuibyshev, Tiflis of wherever you will be. Besides this, General Paget, our new Commander-in-Chief designate for the Far East, will come with General Wavell. General Paget has been in control of things here, and will have with him the latest and best opinions of our High Command. These two officers will be able to tell you exactly how we stand, what is possible and what we think is wise. They can reach you in about a fortnight. Do you want them?
We told you in my message of September 6th that we were willing to declare war on Finland. Will you, however, consider whether it is really good business that Great Britain should declare war on Finland, Hungary and Roumania at this moment? It is only a formality, because our extreme blockade is already in force against them. My judgment is against it because, firstly, Finland has many friends in the United States and it is more prudent to take account of this fact. Secondly, Roumania and Hungary: these countries are full of our friends: they have been overpowered by Hitler and used as a cat’s-paw. But if fortune turns against that ruffian they might easily come back to our side. A British declaration of war would only freeze them all and make it look as if Hitler were the head of a Grand European Alliance solidly against us. Do not, pray, suppose that it is any want of zeal or comradeship that makes us doubt the advantage of this step. Our Dominions, except Australia, are reluctant. Nevertheless if you think that it will be a real help to you and worthwhile I will put it to the Cabinet again.
I hope our supplies are being cleared from Archangel as fast as they come in. A trickle is now beginning through Persia. We shall pump both ways to our utmost. Please make sure that our technicians who are going with the tanks and aircraft have full opportunity to hand these weapons over to your men under the best conditions. At present our Mission at Kuibyshev is out of touch with all these affairs. They only want to help. These weapons are sent at our peril, and we are anxious that they shall have the best chance. An order from you seems necessary.
I cannot tell you about our immediate military plans any more than you can tell me about yours, but rest assured that we are not going to be idle.
With the object of keeping Japan quiet we are sending our latest battleship, the Prince of Wales, which can catch and kill any Japanese ship, into the Indian Ocean, and are building up a powerful battle squadron there. I am urging President Roosevelt to increase his pressure on the Japanese and to keep them frightened, so that the Vladivostok route will not be blocked.
I will not waste words in compliments, because you know already from Lord Beaverbrook and Mr Harriman what we feel about your fight. Have confidence in our untiring support.
I should be glad to hear from you direct that you have received this telegram.
Sent on November 8, 1941
Your message reached me on November 7.
I agree with you that we need clarity, which at the moment is lacking in relations between the U.S.S.R. and Great Britain. The unclarity is due to two circumstances: first, there is no definite understanding between our two countries concerning war aims and plans for the post-war organisation of peace; secondly, there is no treaty between the U.S.S.R. and Great Britain on mutual military aid in Europe against Hitler. Until understanding is reached on these two main points, not only will there be no clarity in Anglo-Soviet relations, but, if we are to speak frankly, there will be no mutual trust. To be sure, the agreement on military supplies to the Soviet Union is of great positive significance, but that does not settle the issue, nor does it fully cover the question of relations between our two countries.
If General Wavell and General Paget, whom you mention in your message, come to Moscow to conclude agreements on the main points stated above, I shall be willing, naturally, to meet them and consider these points. If, however, the mission of the two Generals is to be restricted to information and examination of secondary issues, then I see no need for keeping them from their duties, nor can I myself go out of my way to engage in talks of that nature.
2. Concerning a British declaration of war on Finland, Hungary and Roumania I think that the situation is intolerable. The Soviet Government placed this matter before the Government of Great Britain through secret diplomatic channels. Then, unexpectedly for the U.S.S.R., the whole matter, beginning with the Soviet Government’s request to the Government of Great Britain all the way to its consideration by the U.S. Government, has got into the press, both friendly and hostile, and is now the subject of all kinds of speculation. For all that the British Government declares that it takes a negative view of our proposal. What is the explanation? Can it be that the purpose is to demonstrate that there is disagreement between the U.S.S.R. and Great Britain?
3. You may rest assured that everything is being done to ensure that the arms delivered to Archangel from Britain reach their destination in time. The same will be done with regard to Iran. I must add, however, even though it is a trifling matter, that the tanks, guns and aircraft are badly packed, some parts of the guns come in different ships and the aircraft are so badly crated that we get them in a damaged state.
Received on November 22, 1941
Many thanks for your message just received. At the very beginning of the war I began a personal correspondence with President Roosevelt which has led to a very solid understanding being established between us and has often helped in getting things done quickly. My only desire is to work on equal terms of comradeship and confidence with you.
About Finland. I was quite ready to advise the Cabinet to contemplate declaring war on Finland when I sent you my telegram of September 5th. Later information has made me think that it will be more helpful to Russia and the common cause if the Finns can be got to stop fighting and stand still or go home, than if we put them in the dock with the guilty Axis Powers by a formal declaration of war and make them fight it out to the end. However, if they do not stop in the next fortnight and you still wish us to declare war on them we will certainly do so. I agree with you that it was very wrong that any publication should have been made. We certainly were not responsible.
Should our offensive in Libya result, as we hope, in the destruction of the German and Italian armies there, it will be possible to take a broad survey of the war as a whole with more freedom than has hitherto been open to His Majesty’s Government.
For this purpose we shall be willing in the near future to send Foreign Secretary Eden, whom you know, via the Mediterranean to meet you at Moscow or elsewhere. He would be accompanied by high military and other experts, and will be able to discuss every question relating to the war, including the sending of troops not only into the Caucasus but into the fighting line of your armies in the South. Neither our shipping resources nor our communications will allow large numbers to be employed, and even so you will have to choose between troops and supplies across Persia.
I notice that you wish also to discuss the post-war organisation of peace. Our intention is to fight the war, in alliance with you and in constant consultation with you, to the utmost of our strength and however long it lasts, and when the war is won, as I am sure it will be, we expect that Soviet Russia, Great Britain and the U.S.A. will meet at the council table of victory as the three principal partners and as the agencies by which Nazism will have been destroyed. Naturally the first object will be to prevent Germany, and particularly Prussia, from breaking out upon us for a third time. The fact that Russia is a Communist State and that Britain and the U.S.A. are not and do not intend to be is not any obstacle to our making a good plan for our mutual safety and rightful interests. The Foreign Secretary will be able to discuss the whole of this field with you.
It may well be that your defence of Moscow and Leningrad, as well as the splendid resistance to the invader along the whole Russian front, will inflict mortal injuries upon the internal structure of the Nazi regime. But we must not count upon such good fortune but simply keep on striking at them to the utmost with might and main.
Sent on November 23, 1941
Thank you for your message.
I sincerely welcome the desire, expressed in your message, to cooperate with me through personal correspondence on a basis of collaboration and trust, and I hope it will contribute in many respects to the success of our common cause.
As to Finland, the U.S.S.R. does not suggest anything – at least for the time being – but cessation of military operations and her withdrawal from the war. If, however, Finland does not do this within the brief time stipulated by you, I consider a British declaration of the state of war with Finland advisable and necessary.15 Otherwise the impression might be created that we lack unity in the war against Hitler and his more zealous accomplices and that the accomplices in the Hitler aggression may continue to commit their infamous deeds with impunity. As regards Hungary and Roumania, I suppose we can wait.15
I fully support your proposal for sending Mr Eden, your Foreign Secretary, to the U.S.S.R. in the near future. Discussion and approval of an agreement on joint operations by the Soviet and British troops on our front and the speedy execution of that task would be of great positive significance. It is quite true that the discussion and adoption of a plan for the post-war organisation of peace should be designed to keep Germany, above all Prussia, from again breaking the peace and plunging the nations into a new bloodbath.
I also agree that difference of political system in the U.S.S.R., on the one hand, and of Great Britain and the U.S.A., on the other, should not and cannot be an obstacle to a favourable solution of the fundamental problems of safeguarding our mutual security and rightful interests. I hope that reticences or doubts on this score, if any, will be dispelled by the talks with Mr Eden.
Please accept my congratulations on the successful beginning of the British offensive in Libya.
The Soviet troops are still engaged in tense struggle against the Hitler armies. However, despite the difficulties, the resistance of our troops is growing and will continue to do so. Our resolve to smash the enemy is unshakeable.
Hearty birthday greetings. I sincerely wish you the vigour and health that are so essential for defeating Hitlerism, the enemy of mankind.
November 30, 1941
Received on December 5, 1941
Thank you ever so much for your most kind and friendly greetings on the occasion of my birthday. May I take the opportunity to tell you of the admiration with which the British people are following the staunch defence of Leningrad and Moscow by the gallant Russian armies and how glad we all are of your brilliant victory at Rostov-on-Don.
Received on December 16, 1941
I am on my way to a rendezvous with President Roosevelt to discuss our common plans.16 From Washington I shall cable you full information on the state of affairs. I shall get in touch with Litvinov as you presumably wish.
I cannot tell you how relieved I am to learn daily about your remarkable victories on the Russian front. I have never felt so confident of the outcome of the war.
Received on December 21, 1941
I send you sincere good wishes for your birthday and hope that future anniversaries will enable you to bring to Russia victory, peace and safety after so much storm.
Sent on December 27, 1941
Thank you very much for your kind birthday wishes. I avail myself of
this opportunity to convey to you and to the friendly British Army my
hearty congratulations on their latest victories in Libya.
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