The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Grummon) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 26.]
Sir: With reference to my telegram No. 330 of June 22, 1939, 5:00 p.m.,67 and to previous communications reporting changes in the personnel of the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, I have the honor to inform the Department that with very few exceptions almost the [Page 771]entire staff of that Commissariat has been changed since Molotov assumed the functions of Commissar for Foreign Affairs. At the present time there are three Assistant-Commissars for Foreign Affairs; Potemkin, who remains as First Assistant Commissar; V. G. Dekanosov; and S. A. Lozovsky, whose appointments, as reported in telegram No. 299 of June 9, 193968 were announced in the Soviet press on June 9. Since the Department is in possession of biographical data concerning Lozovsky it may be stated here only that he was elected an alternate member of the Executive Committee of the Communist International at the Seventh World Congress in 1935 and was chairman of the Executive Committee of the former Red International of Trade Unions which, according to the Embassy’s information, is no longer in existence. Lozovsky is likewise a member of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Council of the Nationalities of the Supreme Soviet. In view of his present connection with the Communist International it is of interest to note that Lozovsky is, according to the Chinese Embassy here, charged with the direction of Soviet relations with China. Aside from the fact that V. G. Dekanosov, the other new Assistant Commissar, was, prior to his appointment to that position, assistant chairman of the Soviet of People’s Commissars of Georgia and Commissar of the Food Industry of that Republic, the Embassy has been unable to obtain any data of a biographical nature in regard to his past activities. It was reliably reported, however, that Dekanosov was closely connected with the work of the G. P. U. in Georgia and that in addition to his other duties there, he was de facto Commissar for Internal Affairs of Georgia since December 1938, following the transfer of Goglidze, the: previous incumbent, to the Leningrad district as reported in the Embassy’s despatch No. 1965.68 The duties of Dekanosov in the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs are not yet known but it is considered probable that, in view of his past association, he is in charge of personnel and acts as the representative of the secret police. It has been ascertained that the Bogomolov, recently appointed Secretary General for the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, is not, as formerly thought, the Trade Representative in London since, according to the British Embassy here, that official is still in London. No information in regard to the previous position or activities of the Bogomolov in question is as yet available.
Of the Chiefs of Division, insofar as the Embassy can ascertain, only Mikhailov, Chief of the Consular Division, and Barkov, Chief of the Protocol Division, have remained. Among those known to have been removed are Gnedin, Chief of the Press Division; Rosh, [Page 772]acting Chief of the Third Western Division which deals with American, French, and British Affairs; Bezhanov, Chief of the Second Western Division which deals with Polish and Baltic Affairs; Kozlovsky, Chief of the Far Eastern Division; and Plotkin, Chief of the combined Legal and Commercial Divisions. Their places without exception have been taken by unknown individuals who have had no experience with matters pertaining to foreign affairs, no knowledge of foreign languages nor any contacts in general with foreigners or foreign countries. The new Chief of the Press Division, Sheglov, who was formerly a professor of 18th century English philosophy in a local university is, according to foreign correspondents here, quite frank in admitting his ignorance of anything to do with foreign affairs or international politics. In this connection it may be added that foreign correspondents are unanimous in stating that the abolition of the prior censorship of press messages has made journalistic work in Moscow considerably more difficult rather than facilitating it, and that with the changes in the personnel of the Press Section it is virtually impossible to obtain any information concerning the attitude of the Soviet Government towards any given question.
I am reliably informed that among the minor officials of the Foreign Office at least 90% have been replaced since the appointment of Molotov and, if the changes in the personnel of the Third Western Division which handles American affairs is any criterion, this estimate is not exaggerated. In addition to the replacement of the acting Director, Rosh, by one Gramyko [ Gromyko ], the referent for American affairs, Vinogradov, and the referent for British affairs, Gokman [ Gokhman ], former secretary of the Soviet Embassy in Washington and consul in San Francisco, have been removed.
No official information as to the reason for these sweeping changes of personnel in the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs can be obtained and the new officials are reticent in discussing the causes of their predecessors’ removal. Upon the assumption by the Kremlin of a more direct control of foreign affairs implicit in the appointment of Molotov, it was apparently desired to eliminate from the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs the officials who had been closely connected with the Litvinov regime. Since as indicated above the new incumbents without exception appear to be persons with no experience in matters relating to foreign affairs, the opinion may be offered that the Kremlin desires to have in the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs Soviet citizens who have had no contact with foreigners or foreign thought and who consequently in their dealings with foreign representatives here, will, knowing no other, reflect only the orthodox Soviet point of view’ unencumbered by any knowledge or experience of life abroad. Whatever may have been the motives, and they must [Page 773]for the moment remain obscure, it is to be anticipated that the replacement of experienced officials by persons entirely unfamiliar with matters which will fall within their competency will hardly facilitate the necessary dealings between the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs and foreign missions in Moscow.