Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

The British Ambassador8 called to see me at his request this afternoon.

The Ambassador talked at some length with regard to the negotiations between his Government and the Soviet Government. He said that he was receiving copies by telegraph of the cables sent from the British Embassy in Moscow to the British Foreign Office and that they left him in a state of hopeless confusion. He said it was the most incredible negotiation of which he had ever known in his long experience. He said that, of course, on account of his service in Russia he believed he had some knowledge of Russian character and that it seemed to him that the real key to the present situation was that for the first time in a great many generations, Russia had a purely Russian Government since all foreign or alien elements had been expunged from the Government with the exception of Stalin himself who naturally was a Georgian. As a result of this, he said, he believed that the Russian Government was getting back to its policy of long ago, namely, to keep the rest of Europe at arms length upon the ground that Russia was practically invulnerable so long as she remained in a defensive position and provided that she did not link her own destinies with those of other European powers. He said that naturally the nightmare of some definite alliance between Germany and Russia was always in his mind, but that he did not see that this could be accomplished so long as Hitler remained at the head of the German Government. If the German General Staff were to determine the question, he said, necessarily the situation would be very different in as much as the German General Staff had always supported a policy of a direct and close understanding between Germany and Russia.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. Sir Ronald Lindsay.