The Consul General at Berlin (Messersmith) to the Secretary of State

No. 254

Sir: I have the honor to refer to despatch No. 244 of April 21, 1931 (File No. 800B),2 with which was transmitted a confidential report prepared by Consul George F. Kennan, entitled, “The German Export Trade to Soviet Russia”, this report being a very full and basic study of the manner in which the German export trade with Soviet Russia is carried on. In this despatch was indicated that Mr. Kennan had collected further data on the activities and citizenship status of certain Americans in Russia, which would be transmitted in the near future.

There has been a perceptibly increasing demand upon the Consulate General at Berlin for citizenship and protection services in connection with Americans residing in Russia, this probably being due to the considerable number of American specialists who have gone to Soviet Russia within the last year or two. There have been certain cases in which there has been doubt as to whether the services requested should be performed at this office, inasmuch as the persons concerned were not residing in the district of the Consulate General. It has been endeavored, whenever possible within the existing regulations and when the nature of the case indicated that the service was a desirable and proper one, to assist these Americans calling here, in view of the position of Berlin on the natural route of Americans travelling between the United States and Soviet Russia.

The Department has found it advisable to concentrate information with regard to certain Russian matters in the legation and in the consulate at Riga. Extensive files are there maintained covering Russians on whom other diplomatic and consular establishments may need information. Within recent years the granting of visas to persons holding Soviet passports and coming out of Soviet Russia to [Page 522] proceed to the United States, has become to a large extent concentrated at Berlin. This is due, as has already been explained to the Department, to Berlin being on the natural and best route out of Russia to the United States, because the Soviet régime maintains here probably its largest and most active trade delegation, and also because these persons coming out of Soviet Russia naturally make for the most convenient large city in which to outfit themselves and where they may enjoy certain comforts and pleasures of which they have been deprived at the first opportunity. This Consulate General does not grant any visas to persons holding Soviet passports without communicating with the consulate at Riga, and the information on these visa cases in the files at Riga is very helpful to the Berlin Consulate General in this matter.

Just as the granting of visas to persons holding Soviet passports is becoming more concentrated at Berlin, so the demand on the part of Americans in Russia or coming out of Russia for passport and other services is becoming steadily greater. This passport and protection work by its very nature is particularly difficult. The protection work is simplified by the fact that we can really do nothing for Americans domiciled in Russia, but the correspondence from these Americans to the Consulate General is becoming increasingly greater and more difficult to handle. Some of it cannot be ignored, and without going into detail I can only say that we are doing the best we can to give Americans in Russia the information which they ask for and which it seems we can properly give.

With regard to citizenship services the question is a much more difficult one, and in this connection there will undoubtedly have to be in the not distant future a clarification of the status of American communists living in the U.S.S.R. and exercising there political rights and privileges, but holding on to their American passports for such future use which they may find desirable to endeavor to make of them. As the status of these American communists and their activities will come increasingly to the Department’s attention, Consul Kennan has given this matter careful study so far as the opportunities here permit, and the information transmitted in the appended memorandum3 will undoubtedly be of interest to the Department.

I am sure the Department will be interested in Mr. Kennan’s memorandum which he prepared between semesters of his work here as a language officer.

Respectfully yours,

George S. Messersmith
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