761.6211/321: Telegram

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

144. My telegram No. 132, February 2, 7 p.m.74 In a conversation Saturday night75 with Ritter, the German plenipotentiary for economic matters who has been here in connection with the work of the German economic delegation, he informed me that he was leaving within a few days for Berlin. He spoke with surprising frankness perhaps due to his familiarity with Americans and their customs. He told me he feels that the economic and commercial agreements which have been thus far reached between Germany and the Soviets are not unsatisfactory on their face from the German point of view but he seemed somewhat doubtful as to Soviet compliance of [with?] the terms of the agreements. He characterized the Russian transportation system as hopeless and general internal economic conditions in the Soviet Union as poor. He told me in strict confidence that while Stalin and Molotov76 apparently sincerely desired to cooperate 100% with Germany other Soviet officials with whom he had come in contact notably Mikoyan77 and Kaganovich,78 had been less cooperative. Ritter spoke at great length of the difficulties of negotiating with Soviet officials whose promises he observed are notoriously short of their performance. I expect to have a further talk with him on the 7th.

  1. Not printed.
  2. February 3.
  3. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.
  4. Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan, People’s Commissar for Foreign Trade of the Soviet Union.
  5. Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich, People’s Commissar for Transportation (Railways) of the Soviet Union.