124.612/783: Telegram

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

775. In the course of my conversation this afternoon with Lozovski, I complained to him about the abrupt cancellation as of April 1 of the Embassy’s subscriptions to 10 newspapers and 14 magazines of the economic, commercial, and technical nature, upon which the Embassy has been compelled to rely almost exclusively ever since it was opened for its information concerning developments and conditions within the Soviet Union. I referred to a note which the Embassy had addressed to the Commissariat on April 8 on this subject. Lozovski denied knowledge both of the action taken by the Soviet authorities and of our note, but when I pressed him, sent for the note and after reading it said that he would look into the matter and give it his attention. Before making this statement, however, he referred to [Page 878] the seizure by the United States postal authorities of what he described as “thousands of our publications sent to our Embassy in Washington.”74 When I said that I understood that the material seized was largely “propaganda” and not “legitimate publications,” but that in any event neither propaganda nor legitimate publications from the United States were admitted to the Soviet Union, he merely smiled.

In view of Lozovski’s reference to the seizures by our postal authorities of the publications he referred to, I would be inclined to regard the action taken here in cutting off our newspapers and magazines as retaliation were it not for the fact that similar action appears to have been taken in respect of the subscriptions to publications of some of the other missions and foreign newspaper correspondents. I am, therefore, disposed to the view that this action was less of a retaliatory nature than designed to bar foreign missions and foreign newspaper correspondents from even the limited information made available in these publications concerning developments and conditions within the Soviet Union.75

  1. Ambassador Umansky delivered a protest on the alleged destruction of Soviet mail on March 10, 1941, and in return received two replies dated March 19 and April 14, 1941; pp. 716, 722, and 739, respectively.
  2. Three days later Soyuzpechat, the Soviet organization through which the Embassy placed its subscriptions, averred that it could now accept subscriptions to the newspapers and magazines which had been cancelled on April 1, 1941, whereupon this dispute was dropped.