340.1115A/2230: Telegram

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

1678. Department’s 1047, September 15, 8 p.m. There is no air service from Moscow to any frontier point in the Soviet Union or to [Page 422] any foreign country. The only plane service now operating from any point within the Soviet Union across the frontier to any foreign country is a biweekly plane from Alma-Ata to Khami. There is a daily train from Moscow to Alma-Ata which now requires approximately 10 days. The plane from Khami to Chungking is most irregular and passengers as a rule are required to wait in Khami for from 5 days to a week until a plane arrives from Chungking for the return flight. The few individuals who have made the trip between Moscow and Chungking since the outbreak of the Soviet-German war36 report having been approximately 3 weeks en route.

It is theoretically possible for American citizens at the present time to travel from Moscow through Manchuria to Shanghai. In practice, however, Manchukuon visas are not obtainable in Moscow as there is no Manchukuon Consulate and as the Japanese Embassy states that it is without authority to issue such visas.

There is a daily train from Moscow through Rastov and Baku to Leninakan whence passengers can reach Ankara by a combination of bus and narrow gauge rail service which operates irregularly. Ralph Ingersoll37 who left Moscow on the night of September 5 by this route had not yet reached Ankara today.

Insofar as concerns the possibility of proceeding from Moscow to Tehran the passenger boat service from Baku to Pahlevi is reported to have been discontinued although an occasional freighter might carry passengers. It is not yet known whether the Soviet military authorities will permit travelers to pass through the Soviet occupied zone of Iran. Furthermore the frontier at Djhulfa is reported to be closed. There is a daily train from Moscow to Vladivostok which takes not less than 14 days. The schedule of passenger sailings from Vladivostok for Japan has been suspended. However, up to the present a passenger vessel has been plying between Vladivostok and Japan about once every three weeks. With the exception of two or three tankers which recently arrived in Vladivostok from the United States and departed immediately there are no known sailings from Vladivostok direct to the United States.

An even greater difficulty confronting American citizens desiring to return to the United States is that of obtaining transportation beyond Ankara, Chungking, or Vladivostok, as is evidenced by the fact that the members of the Embassy staff who were evacuated to return to the United States on June 25 with instructions to proceed directly to the United States are now due at San Francisco about October 1.

  1. June 22, 1941.
  2. Editor of PM newspaper.