740.0011 European War 1939/12498: Telegram

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

1220. The French Ambassador called this morning apparently for the purpose of ascertaining what he described as “the Anglo-American [Page 176] position with respect to the Soviet Union.” I told him that I thought that position had been already made clear by Churchill’s recent speech44 and the declarations made in Washington.45

Bergery expressed the opinion that Hitler had decided that he could not defeat Britain without occupying European Russia and said that if he succeeded in the latter project his prospects for winning the war with Britain would be very much enhanced. He admitted that if the Russians could maintain effective resistance until the winter started, the German position would become extremely grave and expressed the view that the Russians would not fight a rear guard or retreating action, which might permit them to maintain effective resistance almost indefinitely, but had such a firm conviction in their strength that they would meet the full impact of the German armies with all their resources and thus undergo defeat.

As the Ambassador pursued a vein which made it apparent that the farthest thing from his thoughts was that the Vichy Government might break off relations with Moscow, I asked whether he thought there was any such possibility. He expressed great surprise and said that he did not believe that that was possible as France being only occupied in part was in a different category than those countries which were entirely occupied by the Germans.

  1. Broadcast on June 22, 1941; see New York Times, June 23, 1941, p. 8.
  2. The statement made by Acting Secretary of State Welles on June 23, 1941, was sent in telegram No. 836 of the same date to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union, p. 767. This statement is also printed in Department of State Bulletin, June 28, 1941, p. 755.