File No. 103.96/1445a
The Secretary of State to the Minister in Norway (Schmedeman)
545. For Owen1 from War Trade Board:
Supplementing our instructions for you to prepare to proceed at once to Archangel, we give you herewith a brief summary of our understanding of the economic and financial problems which it is desired you should study at Archangel.[Page 163]
In view of approaching winter and difficulty or impossibility of maintaining trade with northern Russia, the most pressing matter is in our opinion the currency question. The currency problem is one which arises in all portions of Russia and Siberia where Allies are operating, and the War Trade Board working with the State and Treasury Departments has submitted to the President a memorandum as to the policy of the United States in dealing with the currency situation, which memorandum the President has approved. This memorandum contained the following language: …
The foregoing point of view was presented to the British, French, and Japanese Governments in the form of an aide-mémoire,1 the substance of which was cabled by the Department to the Legation at Stockholm and with which you may be familiar. … Our plan for an international ruble has been discussed with leading American bankers and they see no serious objections thereto, nor is it apparent why any great length of time would be required to put it into operation, provided the Associated Governments wholeheartedly accept the plan.
We desire you to study this entire situation at Archangel and report to us as promptly as possible your views. You are authorized to use your influence with the local British authorities to secure an acceptance of our views, provided, after investigating, you regard them as practical.
With regard to commodity problems, our previous cables will have indicated to you the general character of our plans. We regard it as of the utmost importance that all imports into Russia for the time being be distributed under Allied supervision so as to prevent profiteering and exploitation and to insure the goods’ being disposed of so as to accomplish the maximum of good from an Allied point of view. We have authorized Consul Cole to take steps to create an organization which can handle imports from the United States in accordance with our plans and we understand that there are at Archangel representatives of Cooperative Societies who desire to arrange for exchange of commodities with the United States. We desire you to investigate and report on the possibility of such exchange and also to report on whether imports from Great Britain will be handled by a British official organization sympathetic with our views and acting in harmony with our own organization. Please also advise, unless Consul Cole has already done so, as to the possibility of making, during the winter, shipments to Kola for transshipment via the White Sea to the Archangel region.