861.01/2158: Telegram

The Ambassador in France ( Bullitt ) to the Secretary of State

879. Suritz, the Soviet Ambassador, said to me today that he was absolutely certain that the dismissal of Litvinov74 would make no change whatsoever in the foreign policy of the Soviet Government. He made a similar statement to [Bonnet].

The Polish Ambassador who has just been in contact by telephone with Warsaw said to me that it was Beck’s opinion that Litvinov’s dismissal would entail a change not in direction but in method.

Beck felt certain that the Soviet Union was not about to make an agreement with Germany. He believed on the other hand that Litvinov’s dismissal would mean a complete break with the policy of dependence on the League of Nations, and the commencement of a policy of bilateral pacts—in the first instance with England and France. It was also Beck’s opinion that there would be a purge of Jews in the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Soviet Diplomatic Service.

The Soviet Ambassador stated to me that the British were still continuing to refuse to make a proposal to the Soviet Union similar to the French proposal. He hoped that such a proposal might come from the British shortly.

Léger said to me that he feared Litvinov’s dismissal might be a gesture of Stalin’s designed to indicate his extreme displeasure with the attitude of Great Britain toward the Soviet Union. Léger added that the British were still insisting on a unilateral guarantee by the Soviet Union of Poland and Rumania.

In this connection Léger stated that the British Government had informed the French Government 2 days ago that Beck had said that he would be delighted to have such a guarantee. The French Government had expressed its astonishment, and through diplomatic channels had verified the fact that such a guarantee would be rejected instantly by the Polish Government.

Léger expressed the opinion that the British proposals were not designed to avoid any arrangements with the Soviet Union; but were the product merely of ignorance and bad diplomatic information. It was certain that Poland and Rumania would protest against any unilateral guarantee by the Soviet Government and it was also certain that the Soviet Government would not give any guarantees to Poland [Page 248] or Rumania except by way of reciprocal guarantees between the Soviet Union, France and England.

Léger called my attention to the fact that a great many people on the Right in Paris had telephoned to him this morning to express the opinion to him that Litvinov’s dismissal was an act of blackmail to compel the French and British Governments to make closer agreements with the Soviet Union than otherwise would have been made. Léger said that in his opinion this was nonsense.

In conclusion, the Soviet Ambassador said to me that he believed Litvinov’s dismissal had been caused by internal political considerations and not external.

Bonnet expressed the opinion to me that the dismissal of Litvinov would not entail any great change in Soviet foreign policy.

  1. M. M. Litvinov was replaced by V. M. Molotov as People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs on May 3, 1939.