861.1115 Robinson, Donald L./73: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Henderson) to the Secretary of State

18. Your 18, January 18, 7 p.m.

1.
Paragraph 1 of your telegram under reference. I gave Weinberg at noon today a letter requesting on behalf of my Government that a member of the Embassy be permitted to visit Mrs. Rubens at once. I again tried to impress upon him orally how important it was that the Soviet authorities cooperate fully with the American authorities in clearing up the case. He promised to convey my request immediately to the competent authorities but pointed out that a reply to it might be somewhat delayed since many important Soviet officials were attending the sessions of the Supreme Soviet.
2.
Paragraph 3 of your telegram under reference. Weinberg told me that his statement with regard to illegal entry was based on information obtained by him from the competent authorities to the effect that the woman in question had come into the country on a fraudulently obtained passport. In response to my inquiries he said that these authorities had not definitely informed him that the passport which she presented when she entered the country bore the name of Mrs. Robinson but he had obtained the impression from the general wording of their communication with him that it did. I have written him a letter asking for a precise description of the passport on which she entered the country and inquiring as to whether or not her Soviet visa had been forged. Article 84 of the Criminal Code of the R.S.F.S.R.35 provides that entry into the Soviet Union by any person not having a proper passport or the permission of the competent authorities entails corrective labor for a penal offense not exceeding 1 year or a fine not exceeding 500 rubles. If the question of the forging of visas is involved she apparently could be sentenced in accordance with Article 72 to not more than 3 years of imprisonment or 1 year of corrective labor. Weinberg told me today, however, that in his personal opinion she would be released and deported if it should become clear that she was not guilty of any crime other than that of entering the country on a fraudulent passport or visa.
3.
Paragraph 4 of your telegram under reference. In several conversations with Weinberg I have pointed out that Mrs. Rubens had been granted an American passport to which she was entitled. According to information furnished by the Polish authorities to the American Embassy at Warsaw the couple presented passport in the name of Robinson to the Polish border authorities when they crossed the Polish-Soviet frontier on the evening of November 5. A presumption arises that they presented the same passports to the authorities on the Soviet side of the frontier. This presumption is strengthened by the fact that they were known to the employees of the National Hotel as Mr. and Mrs. Robinson. The Embassy has not been able as yet to overcome or confirm this presumption since all of the documentary evidence relating to the case is in the hands of the Soviet authorities. Nevertheless the presumption is so strong that in discussing the matter I have not assumed the position that Mrs. Rubens entered the country on an American passport to which she was legally entitled.
4.
Paragraph 5 of your telegram under reference. I have strong doubts regarding the truth of the story which Weinberg conveyed to me.36 It will be noted that the Soviet authorities apparently preferred to have the story told orally rather than put in writing. Among my reasons for questioning the truth of Weinberg’s statement are the following:
(a)
An American citizen living in the hotel maintains that he saw Rubens up to the end of November whereas Weinberg says that he disappeared in the middle of November.
(b)
It seems unlikely that Mrs. Rubens would be permitted to remain unmolested in an Intourist37 hotel for 3 weeks following the disappearance of her husband.
(c)
It seems unlikely that Rubens would be so stupid as to imagine that he could disappear in the Soviet Union leaving a wife waiting for him in the National Hotel.
(d)
The Soviet authorities have been and still are so evasive in the whole matter that I am convinced that they do not desire the Embassy to learn the real facts of the case.

I am inclined to believe from all the circumstances of the case that Mr. Rubens was arrested in Moscow early in December; that either his wife did not know of his arrest or that she was told to keep it a secret; and that she was taken into custody primarily in order to prevent the Embassy from questioning her. I am unable to hazard a guess as to what the purpose of their visit to the Soviet Union was. American [Page 714]citizens in the Soviet Union who in the past have had certain contacts with Comintern agents have expressed to me views to the effect that the Rubens are agents of the Comintern who have incurred the displeasure of the Soviet authorities. These views apparently are based entirely upon supposition and upon their knowledge of the manner in which the Comintern operates.

Henderson
  1. Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic.
  2. This refers to information furnished on the arrest of Mr. and Mrs. Rubens (Robinson) reported in telegram No. 14, January 17, 1938, 10 p.m., from the Chargé in the Soviet Union. (361.1115 Robinson, Donald L./69).
  3. Ail-Union Corporation for Foreign Tourism in the Soviet Union, the official travel agency.