860C.01/546: Telegram

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

503. The Commissariat for Foreign Affairs yesterday returned to the Embassy without an accompanying communication a note from the Embassy (on a routine matter) in which the phrase “Soviet-occupied Poland” was employed. This phrase was underscored by the Commissariat with a red pencil. I sent Mr. Ward48 to the Commissariat at once to discuss the matter with the Chief of the American Section.49 Mr. Valkov informed Mr. Ward that the note had been returned as the Commissariat cannot accept a note in which an integral part of the Soviet Union such as western Ukraine and western White Russia is referred to in the manner described. Mr. Ward left the note with Mr. Valkov who promptly returned it to the Embassy together with an earlier note which merely referred to the death of an American citizen which “apparently occurred some time during the occupation of Poland.”

I requested an appointment with Assistant Commissar Lozovski and saw him this afternoon. I informed him that I assumed that the Commissariat had no intention to offend the Embassy and that the Embassy surely had had no such intention with respect to the Commissariat when employing the phrase to which exception was taken. I suggested therefore that a solution of the problem which confronted both offices would be for the Commissariat to accept the two notes which it had so rudely returned to the Embassy and for the Embassy to employ a more acceptable phrase in its future notes when referring to the territories in question. I also pointed out that the phrase “Soviet-occupied Poland” had been consistently employed by the Embassy for many months past and that it would have been a more proper procedure on the part of the Commissariat had it indicated either in writing or orally its objection to that phrase—the employment of which would have, of course, thereupon ceased. Mr. Lozovski replied that it was precisely because the Embassy had consistently used the offending term (he said he had a list of at least 100 [Page 200] notes in which it appeared) that it had been decided to put a stop to it.

After considerable further discussion Mr. Lozovski proposed that the Embassy address one or two new notes to the Commissariat on the subjects concerning these areas, in which the term to which exception is taken should not be used. He said he would in the meantime “give consideration to the matter” and within a few days would summon me to the Commissariat to discuss the question again. He would not promise that if the Embassy followed this proposed procedure the Commissariat on its part would then accept the two notes now rejected.

I am disposed to accept this arrangement although it is by no means certain that the rejected notes will ever be accepted; but before doing so, I should appreciate your instructions.50

  1. Angus I. Ward, Chief of Consular Section and Second Secretary of Embassy in the Soviet Union.
  2. Vasily Alexeyevich Valkov.
  3. See Department’s telegram No. 271, May 11, 3 p.m., p. 201.