661.11241/23: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Davies ) to the Secretary of State

89. Referring to the Department’s No. 189, December 4, 193751 and pursuant to the instructions contained therein I have to advise:

The British Ambassador,52 Acting Dean of the Diplomatic Corps has circulated to the Chiefs of Mission here a proposal for joint action to invite the Soviet Government’s attention to the importance which is attached to the reestablishment of practices more in accord with international usage with respect to the present practices of the Soviet authorities in [Page 645]
Requiring Chiefs of Mission to submit to customs inspection of their personal and household effects when leaving Moscow.
Requiring other members of the Diplomatic Corps to submit to customs inspection of such effects at the customhouse instead of, at their residences.
Restricting the sale of automobiles among members of the Diplomatic Corps.
Confiscation by the Soviet authorities of printed matter addressed to members of the Diplomatic Corps.
My opinion was requested as to the timeliness of such a démarche. Pursuant thereto I conferred with the British Ambassador to ascertain the manner in which it was proposed to project the plan.
He agreed with me that the situation is extremely sensitive and that unless it was handled with care and friendly consideration there was danger of not only failing to obtain the desired result but of possibly intensifying the already apparent hostility of the Government here toward foreigners. This antagonism apparently is based on the belief that there exists a jointly hostile attitude against the Soviet Government on the part of many of the nations represented here.
He stated that the French Ambassador53 also had recommended that the representations be made not by formal note but in friendly conversations.
While I have grave doubts as to the timeliness of such an action, particularly in view of the relative unimportance of these matters in contrast to larger issues threatening world peace and the potential importance of the friendship of this Government, I nevertheless recommend that this Mission be authorized to cooperate in this matter; and this for the reason that I have every confidence in the tact, good judgment and effectiveness of the British Ambassador in handling this situation without offense.
Telegraphic communication is being resorted to because of the specific request by the British Ambassador for a speedy reply.

  1. Ante, p. 453.
  2. The Rt. Hon. Viscount Chilston, G. C. M. G.
  3. Robert Coulondre.