War Telegrams


Personal Message from Stalin to Mr Churchill

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

Sent on August 4, 1941

J. V. Stalin to F. Roosevelt

The U.S.S.R. attaches great importance to the matter of neutralising Finland and her dissociation from Germany. The severance of relations between Britain and Finland and the blockade of Finland, announced by Britain, have already borne fruit and engendered conflicts among the ruling circles of Finland. Voices are being raised in support of neutrality and reconciliation with the U.S.S.R.

If the U.S. Government were to threaten Finland with a rupture of relations, the Finnish Government would be more resolute in the matter of breaking with Germany. In that case the Soviet Government could make certain territorial concessions to Finland with a view to assuaging her and conclude a new peace treaty with her.

Sent on September 3, 1941

Personal Message from Premier Stalin to the Prime Minister, Mr Churchill

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. 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.

Sent on September 13, 1941

Personal Message from Premier Stalin to the Prime Minister, Mr Churchill

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.

J. V. Stalin to F. Roosevelt

My dear Mr Roosevelt,

Your letter has reached me through Mr Harriman.

I avail myself of this opportunity to express to you the Soviet Government’s deep gratitude for having entrusted the leadership of the U.S. delegation to such an authoritative person as Mr Harriman, whose participation in the Moscow Three-Power Conference was so fruitful.

I have no doubt that you will do all that is necessary to ensure implementation of the Moscow Conference decisions as speedily and fully as possible, all the more because the Hitlerites will certainly try to use the pre-winter months for exerting maximum pressure upon the U.S.S.R. at the front.

Like you, I am confident of final victory over Hitler for the countries now joining their efforts to accelerate the elimination of bloody Hitlerism, a goal for which the Soviet Union is now making such big and heavy sacrifices.

Yours very sincerely,

J. Stalin

October 3, 1941

J. V. Stalin to W. Churchill

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 Conference 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.

Yours sincerely,

J. Stalin

October 3, 1941

J. V. Stalin to F. Roosevelt

Mr President,

I have not yet received the text of your message, but on November 2 Mr Steinhardt, the United States Ambassador, delivered to me through Mr Vyshinsky an Aide-Memoire giving its substance.

I should like first of all to express complete agreement with your appraisal of the results of the Three-Power Conference in Moscow, which should be credited primarily to Mr Harriman and to Mr Beaverbrook who did their best to bring the Conference to an early and successful conclusion. The Soviet Government is most grateful for your statement that the implications of the Conference will be carried out to the utmost.

Your decision, Mr President, to grant the Soviet Union an interest-free loan to the value of $1,000,000,000 to meet deliveries of munitions and raw materials to the Soviet Union is accepted by the Soviet Government with heartfelt gratitude as vital aid to the Soviet Union in its tremendous and onerous struggle against our common enemy – bloody Hitlerism.

On instructions from the Government of the U.S.S.R. I express complete agreement with your terms for granting the loan, repayment of which shall begin five years after the end of the war and continue over 10 years after expiration of the five-year period.

The Soviet Government is ready to do everything to supply the United States of America with such commodities and raw materials as are available and as the United States may need.

As regards your wish, Mr President, that direct personal contact be established between you and me without delay if circumstances so require, I gladly join you in that wish and am ready, for my part, to do all in my power to bring it about.

Yours very sincerely,

J. Stalin

November 4, 1941

Sent on November 8, 1941

Personal Message from Premier Stalin to Prime Minister Churchill

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.

Sent on November 14, 1941

Personal Message from J. Stalin to Mr Roosevelt

Your message about the favourable decision taken by the American Red Cross concerning delivery of medical supplies reached me on November 11.

The Soviet Government has no objection to establishing the organisational forms of cooperation between the Red Cross societies of our two countries, it being understood that it will be organised in accordance with the exchange of letters the text of which was agreed early in November by Red Cross representatives of both countries in Kuibyshev.


Sent on November 23, 1941

Message from Premier Stalin to Prime Minister Churchill

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. 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.

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.

To Mr Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain

Hearty birthday greetings. I sincerely wish you the vigour and health that are so essential for defeating Hitlerism, the enemy of mankind.

Best regards.


November 30, 1941

Sent on December 17, 1941

J. V. Stalin to F. Roosevelt

I received your message on December 16. It did not indicate the aims of the conferences to be called in Chungking and Moscow and as they were to open overnight I saw fit when I met Mr Eden, who had just arrived in Moscow, to ask him what those aims were and whether the two conferences could be put off for a while. It appeared, however, that Mr Eden was not posted either. I should like, therefore, to have the appropriate elucidations from you in order to ensure the results expected from Soviet participation.

Thank you for the sentiments expressed over the Soviet armies’ successes.

I wish you success in the struggle against the aggression in the Pacific.

Personal warm regards to you and Mr Hopkins.


Sent on December 27, 1941

J. V. Stalin to W. Churchill

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.

Click here to continue with War Telegrams, 1942

Click here to return to Stalin Archive