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

No. 1233

Sir: With reference to my despatch No. 1152 of April 12, 1938,64 and previous communications to the Department relating to the proposal of the British Ambassador, Acting Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, to register a protest against the manner in which Soviet customs authorities have been treating members of the Corps, I have the honor to report that the British Ambassador has decided to drop the matter for the present at least.

Under date of April 19, 1938, the British Ambassador sent a circular note, a translation of which is enclosed,64 to all Chiefs of Mission listing the Embassies and Legations, the Chiefs of which had indicated their willingness to be associated with the démarche and stating that the protest would be made soon.

It will be observed from an examination of this note that it listed all missions except the American and Spanish Embassies and the Lithuanian, Touvan,65 and Mongolian Legations. It is my understanding that several chiefs of mission, after receiving the British Ambassador’s note of April 17 and after having ascertained from it that all missions in Moscow had not associated themselves with the proposed démarche, expressed some doubt to the Ambassador as to whether in the circumstances it would be advisable to make the protest, and that the Ambassador had replied that in view of the hesitancy which they were displaying he would let the whole matter drop.

The British Ambassador left the Soviet Union last evening on an extended leave and will not return until after the Afghan Ambassador has already assumed his duties as Dean of the Diplomatic Corps. In my opinion it is doubtful that the Afghan Ambassador will take any steps in the matter.

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The Department will understand that I at all times made it clear that I could not assume responsibility of decision in this matter in view of previous instructions of last December,67 that in a very friendly and cooperative manner I expressed frankly the opinion that as matters had developed nothing but harm could result from this action now, and that I was always in entire agreement with his original statement to me that it would be unwise to proceed unless the action was unanimous so that there could be no possible “political” angle “spelled into” the situation. The British Ambassador was, I am sure, convinced of my frank and friendly cooperation.

It is well closed in my opinion and “much ado about nothing”.

Respectfully yours,

Joseph E. Davies
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Tannu Tuva.
  4. See telegram No. 189, December 4, 1937, noon, to the Chargé in the Soviet Union, p. 453.