761.6211/320: Telegram

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

130. My telegram 114, January 30, 11 a.m.68 During a farewell visit this morning the French Ambassador69 informed me that although the official reason ascribed for his departure is to take a vacation by reason of his ill-health, he is definitely not returning to Moscow. Expressing himself with great vigor and feeling he stated that for the past 6 weeks he had repeatedly reported to his Government that Soviet-German cooperation70 was complete in every respect and amounted to collaboration under which Germany was gaining all of the benefits at present describable from an actual military alliance without the disadvantages of having its ally at war and that it was his considered opinion that the collaboration between the two countries will become stronger and more effective rather than weaker as the war progresses. He told me in the strictest confidence that he had advocated to his Government a complete rupture of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and that it was his personal opinion that Great Britain and France should declare war on the Soviet Union since he was convinced that they would eventually have to do so and that no purpose was being served by giving Germany the benefit of vitally essential imports from neutral countries via the Soviet Union in the meantime. The Ambassador added, however, that he did not believe the French Government at the present time was prepared to take such extreme measures and that unfortunately considerable additional experience would be necessary before the French and British Governments would fully realize that the Soviet Union was in reality an ally of Germany equally bent on defeating England and [Page 591] France and already participating in the war to the extent at present desired by Germany. He attributed this divergence between the views of the French Embassy here and its Government to the fact that no one who has not lived in the Soviet Union and had direct dealings with the Soviet authorities could possibly credit the utterly unprincipled character of the present leaders nor grasp the coldblooded duplicity and opportunism of their policies and practices. He added in this connection that he felt France and Great Britain had had a lucky escape in having their attempts to conclude an alliance with the Soviet Union fail, as the effect of the inevitable Soviet betrayal after the war had begun would have been extremely bad for the morale of the French and British people. He concluded with the statement that he wished to emphasize that while he entertained these views very strongly and would endeavor to press them on his Government, he doubted that the policies he advocated in regard to the Soviet Union would be followed at least for some time. He added that it was his opinion shared by the entire French Embassy here that the Achilles heel of Germany was now the Soviet Union and that in the last analysis France and England could not defeat Germany within a reasonable period of time unless they succeeded in impairing Soviet direct and indirect assistance to Germany, not necessarily through a military defeat of the Soviet Union but by measures which would so weaken the already fragile Soviet economic system as to make it impossible without risk of internal collapse for the Soviet Government to concentrate on aid to Germany.

In view of the fact that the necessary tables which would permit direct communication with Paris have not yet been received I would appreciate it if the Department would repeat the foregoing to Paris for the information of Ambassador Bullitt.71

  1. Not printed.
  2. Adm. Paul-Emile Naggiar.
  3. For correspondence on the wartime cooperation between Germany and the Soviet Union, see pp. 539 ff.
  4. Shawn to Ambassador Bullitt on his return to Washington.