661.6231/261: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Thurston) to the Secretary of State

172. My 166, February 11, 7 p.m.80 The following is the text of the communiqué concerning the signing of the German-Soviet trade agreement81 [Page 545] which was released on the Soviet radio last night and published in the press this morning:

“On February 11, 1940, in Moscow, following successful termination of negotiations, there was concluded an economic agreement between the Soviet Union and Germany. This agreement corresponds to the desire of the Governments of both countries concerned the working out of the economic program for the exchange of goods between Germany and the Soviet Union expressed in the letters exchanged on September 28, 1939,82 between the Chairman of the Soviet of People’s Commissars and People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the U. S. S. R., Comrade V. M. Molotov, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, Mr. von Ribbentrop. The economic agreement provides for the export from the Soviet Union to Germany of raw materials to be compensated for by German deliveries to the Soviet Union of industrial articles. The trade turnover between Germany and the Soviet Union will even in the first year of the life of the agreement have reached a total exceeding the highest level reached any time since the World War. It is intended in the future to increase still further the reciprocal deliveries of goods. The agreement was signed on behalf of the Soviet Union by the People’s Commissar for Foreign Trade, Mikoyan, and the trade representative in Germany, Barbarin, and for Germany by the special plenipotentiary of the German Government for economic questions, Mr. Ritter, and the head of the German Economic Delegation, Mr. Schnurre.”

Between the statement that the total trade turnover in the first year of the agreement will exceed the highest level previously reached in trade between the two countries, which would indicate that the exchange will exceed a billion gold marks, the level reached in 1931, the communiqué reveals nothing in regard to the nature of the agreement. The communiqué confirms the statements contained in the exchange of letters of September 28, 1939 that the Soviet Union will immediately begin the delivery of raw materials against future deliveries from Germany of manufactured articles and equipment. This aspect of the economic agreement if adhered to has a certain political importance in respect of future Soviet-German relations in that at any given time the Soviet Union will have a credit balance in Germany for future deliveries of machinery and equipment and consequently it would not be to the advantage of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to undertake any line of action which might impair the ability of Germany to make these deliveries.

Repeated to Berlin.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Economic agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union, signed at Moscow on February 11, 1940. For a summary of its terms, see the German Foreign Office memorandum of February 26, 1940, by Karl Schnurre, in Nazi-Soviet Relations, 1939–1941, p. 131.
  3. For texts of these letters, see ibid., pp. 108–109.