The Ambassador in Belgium (Davies) to the Secretary of State

No. 287

Sir: This day I have sent a cable with reference to the above-entitled matter,39 a paraphrase of which is as follows:40

“It is my conviction that the deciding element in the Fuhrer’s determination will be whether or not Britain and France will receive the wholehearted support of the U. S. S. R. I know from personal knowledge41 that the U. S. S. R. did mistrust the British and French, both in their aims and their actions. But they do have confidence in you. Also, they believe in me. Accordingly, I am impelled to suggest that, should you consider it desirable, I could make a trip to Moscow for a [Page 757] few days, ostensibly for the purpose of disposing of personal matters (provided that such a pretext should be considered desirable), and could—unofficially, if necessary—see Litvinov, Kalinin and Molotov—and also, I am confident, Stalin—for the purpose of helping to secure, with the minimum of delay, a Russo-British non-aggression agreement. In my opinion neither France nor Great Britain is able to get in personal touch with the highest authorities in the U. S. S. R., in the negotiations that are pending in Moscow. I am sure that I can see not only the proper authorities who cannot be reached otherwise, but that they have confidence in my sincerity and judgment. It is my opinion that the Germans will not start a war at present if they know that they will have to fight on two frontiers: and I believe that, without making commitments, I could be helpful either in turning the scales in Russia’s decision or in aiding to strengthen it, and consequently implement in a small way your great effort for world peace. As a result of your wider information it is possible that you may consider action of this kind inadvisable or unnecessary. I am sure you understand that my only aim is to be of assistance. It is essential that there be no delay.

“The above message is for the immediate attention of the President and the Secretary of State.”

The thought occurs to me that the situation is in hand and the suggested action might not be necessary, and also that there may be considerations as to possible effect upon public opinion at home that would make it inadvisable. After some deliberation, however, I decided to send the wire in any event because I do believe that the Soviet position will be vital for peace or war this summer. Germany has a very wholesome respect, according to their official publications, for the effectiveness and strength of the Red Army, and would hesitate to engage in hostilities on both fronts. If I could be of any help to the situation there in Moscow, as I am sure I could be, I could not resist calling the matter to your attention from that point of view. I shall be greatly relieved if you and the President decide in the negative,42 as it would entail travel by air.

Respectfully yours,

Joseph E. Davies
  1. i. e., negotiations proceeding in Moscow regarding an anti-aggression pact.
  2. The original was sent by Ambassador Davies as his telegram No. 47, April 18, 1939, 5 p.m.; not printed in this volume.
  3. Ambassador Davies had been Ambassador in the Soviet Union during part of 1937 and 1938.
  4. The Department of State replied in telegram No. 18, April 18, 1939, 7 p.m., that it was preferable “not to run any risk” and that “from a domestic point of view such a visit, however carefully prepared, might be misconstrued” (740.00/934).