740.0011 European War 1939/11527: Telegram

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

1072. The Counselor of the Yugoslav Legation who has been transferred to Stockholm and who took an active part in the negotiation of the Soviet-Yugoslav Pact28 told me last night that in his opinion Stalin29 has a deep-seated hatred of Britain based in part upon the historic frustration by the British of Soviet territorial ambitions and in part of “the contemptuous attitude” of British statesmen and diplomats [Page 167] towards Soviet officials from the revolution up to the present time. He added that in his opinion Stalin desires and is seeking to bring about the downfall and dissolution of the British Empire in anticipation of territorial gains therefrom but that he does not desire that this be brought about too quickly lest Germany emerge too strong.

My informant’s opinion is that Stalin’s present objective is to remain at peace for another year believing that by that time Germany will be so weakened as to no longer constitute a serious threat to the Soviet Union and that at that time Stalin’s animosity to Britain will become manifest.

I may add that the view that Stalin entertains a deep-seated antipathy towards Britain is shared by some of the best-informed diplomats in Moscow whose personal feelings are pro-British.

  1. Treaty of friendship and nonaggression signed at Moscow on April 5, 1941; for text, see British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxliv, p. 878. A summary of the negotiations leading to the signature of this treaty is in telegram No. 698, April 6, from the Ambassador in the Soviet Union, p. 301.
  2. Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Ail-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks); member of the Politburo of the Party; and, after May 6, 1941, President (Chairman) of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Soviet Union (Prime Minister).