Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations ( Dunn )

The Soviet Ambassador was referred to me this morning by the Secretary, and came in to see me after he had seen the Secretary. He said that the Secretary had told him that I would go into a little more detail with him with regard to some of the difficulties encountered by our diplomatic officers in Moscow in connection with the exportation of their effects when leaving that capital. He also said that he would like a little more information with regard to the difficulties Americans are having in entering Russia.

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With regard to the difficulties encountered by American diplomats upon leaving Russia, I told him that we had specific cases and details with regard to these difficulties which I would be glad to furnish him in a memorandum later. I said that I would also furnish him a memorandum on the subject of the difficulties encountered by Americans in entering Russia after they had obtained apparently proper visas.

The Ambassador expressed great doubt as to whether Americans who had actually obtained visas were encountering difficulties in entering Russia. I said that of course we would not mention these matters unless we had definite complaints from persons who were either known to us or in whose statements we could place entire confidence.

The Ambassador also spoke of the question of our intention to use the site which has been assigned to us in Moscow for the erection of an Embassy, and on this point, while I mentioned the lack of cooperation and the impossibility of obtaining necessary information from the Soviet Government with regard to questions pertaining to such construction, I indicated that Mr. Messersmith was the proper official of the Department with whom to discuss the matter.

I found, in talking to the Secretary after the Ambassador had left, that my talk with the Ambassador had followed generally along the lines of the conversation between Mr. Troyanovsky and the Secretary, in that the Ambassador’s attention was called to the difficulties placed in the way of the functioning of our Embassy in Moscow to such an extent that we had to give serious consideration to whether there was any real justification for maintaining the staff of our Embassy in Moscow at its present size. I made it entirely clear to the Ambassador that if our officers in Moscow were to receive no more cooperation from the Soviet authorities than they were receiving at this time, and were to be expected to continue under the difficulties they were encountering now in connection with the high cost of ruble exchange, the difficulties encountered with the exportation of their effects, the disturbance caused to the work in the Embassy through the disappearance of members of the clerical staff from time to time, and the complete absence of relationship with any but minor officials of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, who appear to have no authority whatever, we would not be justified in continuing to maintain the present staff of officers in Moscow.

The Ambassador stated that he felt that, as compared with the relationship between our two countries, the difficulties under which the officers in Moscow appeared to be laboring were comparatively minor matters, and ones which were the result of general regulations of the Soviet Government applied to all alike. He further pointed [Page 629] out that there were many other Embassies and Legations in Moscow which seemed to find it possible to carry on under existing conditions. I said that as far as the other Embassies and Legations were concerned, that was no concern whatever of ours, as the other Embassies and Legations might be perfectly content to carry on under the conditions which they found existing in Moscow, but that we were the judge of whether the conditions in Moscow were such as to permit our own representatives to function efficiently and properly and at the present time we did not feel that they were, under the existing conditions, all of which were within the control of the Soviet Government, able to carry on in the manner which justified the number of officers and the size of the staff there at this time.

I said to the Ambassador, in summing up, that the relationship between our two countries was of considerable importance and could be made of greater importance, that our two countries could and should be working together closely for the general improvement of world relations and for the maintenance of world peace, and that it was a pity that such small matters as the conditions under which our officials in Moscow were functioning should have the effect of obstructing the real cooperative efforts between our Governments which were always possible, that it might be that it was within the power of the Soviet Government to correct these conditions, but that we should both fully face the facts and I would not be frank if I did not tell him that it would be with the greatest and sincerest regret that we would find ourselves in the position of having to reduce our staff in Moscow if the conditions under which we were working there were not definitely improved.

James Clement Dunn