361.1115 Robinson, Donald L./116: Telegram

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

38. Referring to my telegram No. 37, February 9, noon.41

1. I have just received a note from the Foreign Office, a translation of which reads as follows:

Moscow, February 9, 1938.

Mr. Chargé d’Affaires: Referring to your letter of January 25 of this year42 with regard to the question of granting an interview to a representative of the Embassy with a woman arrested in Moscow who came to the Soviet Union on an illegally obtained American passport in the name of Robinson I call your attention to the following:

In the letter dated November 16, 1933, to President Roosevelt Mr. Litvinov expressed the readiness of the Soviet Government immediately following the establishment of mutual relations to grant to citizens of the United States with reference to legal protection rights no less favorable than those enjoyed in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics by citizens of the nation most-favored in this respect. In this connection there was cited in the letter of Mr. Litvinov article No. 2 of the final protocol to article 11 of the Agreement Concerning Conditions of Residence and Business and Legal Protection in General concluded between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Germany on October 12, 1925.

The text of the article referred to reads in part that ‘in places of detention of all kinds, requests made by consular representatives to visit nationals of their country under arrest, or to have them visited by their representative, shall be granted without delay.’

It is clear that the article referred to could not have in view the granting of an interview to the prejudice of the interests of the investigation. The practice prevailing in the Soviet Union provides for the granting of an interview only upon the termination of such investigation, Since in the given case the most-favored-nation treatment signifies the application of regulations analogous to those which have been established with respect to German citizens arrested in the U. S. S. R., I hereby state for your information that interviews of representatives of the German Embassy and Consulates with German citizens are also granted only after the conclusion of investigations.

Confirming the foregoing consideration, the competent authorities have nevertheless considered it possible, as an exception, to comply with the desire of the Embassy that you and also Mr. Ward be granted an interview with the woman referred to above. The said interview may take place Thursday February 10 at 4:00 p.m. in the Butyrskaya Prison at 45 Novoslobodskaya.

Calling attention to the fact that the granting of the interview in question cannot of course constitute a precedent, I request you, [Page 718]Mr. Chargé d’Affaires, to receive the assurances of my high esteem. Signed, V. Potemkin.”

2. Weinberg told me this afternoon that since investigations have not been concluded no formal charge has as yet been made against the woman in question. He added that since she is still being examined the investigator would be present at the interview and might not permit her to answer some of the questions. In reply to my suggestion that during the interview we have access to her passport he replied that he was confident that the competent authorities would not approve.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed, but see Department’s telegraphic instruction No. 20, January 24, 1938, 7 p.m., p. 715.