361.1115 Robinson, Donald L./13

Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation With the Ambassador of the Soviet Union (Troyanovsky)

After some opening remarks on the situation in the Far East, during the call of the Ambassador at my request I stated that just at times when it was all-important for the fullest measure of moral influence by great nations such as his and mine to be exerted in behalf of peace and against the predatory actions of bandit countries, there [Page 499] seemed to be always some minor occurrences which grated on public opinion, especially in my country, attributed, if not committed, to his government or country. He replied, “Yes”. I said, “For illustration, I hand you a memorandum59 of all the information this government has to date about the disappearance of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Louis Robinson from their hotel near the American Embassy in Moscow.” I continued, “My government and its officials at Moscow do not think it possible for Americans to go into Russia without registering and without their movements being known to the Soviet government; and, therefore, the present whereabouts of this Robinson couple is unquestionably known to the officials of the Soviet Government; foreigners from other countries are reported to have suddenly and suspiciously disappeared when in Russia; other disagreeable experiences on the part of this government or its nationals are enough to make most difficult the preservation of wholehearted relations of understanding and teamwork in support of all peaceful efforts to promote and preserve international order. For instance, the ambassadors and ministers passing back and forth to Moscow are subjected to all of the delays and customs searches and customs duties of a stranger, contrary to the practice of all other nations, so far as I am aware; and Dr. White, a noted professor at the University of Virginia, was detained, wholly needlessly, at Leningrad for some three hours which was very exasperating in its aspects; also, an entire group of American tourists were reported in the press to have been kept from landing at a Soviet port on some entirely inexcusable theory; and neither Americans nor other foreigners can travel in Russia without the OGPU or other such Russian bureau observing their movements incessantly.” I said, “I get very much discouraged in my efforts to promote real worthwhile relations, especially at this critical period in world affairs, when all of these irritating practices and methods are being carried on by the Soviet Government,60 or at least are believed by the outside world to be thus carried on. This is most unfortunate for all concerned.”

The Ambassador did not take issue with me, except to intimate that the Soviet espionage system was not as far-reaching and constant as I had pictured it. He said that on yesterday he had cabled his government for information about the disappearance of the Robinsons. He repeatedly expressed to me his strong suspicion that we would ultimately find that the Robinsons were not American citizens. He said that Mrs. Robinson would have gone to the American Embassy with her story, especially after her husband was missing, instead of sitting around the hotel until her husband’s disappearance was accidentally [Page 500] discovered by some journalist; that, on the contrary, she had kept to herself all facts pertaining both to her husband and herself except the few replies she had made to the American officials who called on her. I replied that of course there was always room for fraud in such cases; that the only information our government has, however, is that the Robinsons are Americans; that it is just as important, therefore, from the standpoint of the relations of our two countries that the matter be cleared up thoroughly, whether the Robinsons are Americans or not. He concurred in this view. He also cheerfully agreed to cooperate in every way possible, in response to my insistent request that his Government develop the full facts and deal with them in accordance with their true nature without delay.

C[ordell] H[ull]
  1. Not printed.
  2. For illustrations of these practices of the Soviet Government, see pp. 440 ff.