861.20/481: Telegram

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

523. My telegram No. 521, September 8.75 Evidence is accumulating that the measures reported in my telegram under reference constitute an extensive secret mobilization. I understand that reservists are being called up in increasing numbers principally during the night and non-military vehicles are being steadily commandeered. A number of schools in Moscow are being prepared to serve either as barracks or hospitals. The sale of gasoline today was considerably restricted. Large numbers of recruits still in civilian clothes and reservists up to the present age of 50 are known to be departing from Moscow. Tanks and trucks believed to be conveying ammunition, have been seen in the city. Horses rarely observed in Moscow together with a considerable quantity of fodder are in evidence.

This extensive mobilization is being conducted with great secrecy. The military liaison officer of the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs today denied to our Military Attaché that any mobilization was under way, thus indicating the Government’s desire to conceal what is going on from foreign observers.

Due to the secrecy of the entire movement it is not clearly established to what regions of the Soviet frontier these forces are being sent but trains bearing vehicles and recruits have been noted leaving in the [Page 780] direction of Vitebsk, Minsk and Gomains [Gomel]. There is thus far no evidence of troop movements in the direction of Kiev on the southern Ukraine. In the light of the available information it would appear that these concentrations are being made primarily in the White Russian military district and not in Kiev, the military district which would be the presumptive area of concentration were the measures of mobilization now in progress designed solely as a precaution against the possible extension of the German advance through Poland, nor is there sufficient evidence to indicate that additional concentrations are being made in the Leningrad military district bordering on the Baltic states. There are however two possible interpretations of this secret movement: (1) preparations to occupy a part of eastern Poland and perhaps even of the Baltic States; or (2) precautionary measures in the face of the swift advance of the German armies toward the Soviet frontier or into areas believed to have been recognized by Germany as of vital interest to Soviet security.

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