701.0061/58: Telegram

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

1805. For the President, Secretary and Under Secretary. Molotov sent for Cripps and myself at 12:45 p.m. today. He said he had unpleasant news: that the Government must evacuate to Kuibyshev today, and other Diplomatic Corps. He said he was informing the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps to this effect but had decided as a courtesy to inform us personally in addition. He then stated “The fight for Moscow will continue and the fight to defeat Hitler will become more furious.”

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He said that a train was being prepared for Government officials, including the Foreign Office, the Diplomatic Corps, and the British and American newspaper correspondents and that it would leave at 8 or 9 this evening.

Cripps and I inquired whether he was leaving by the same train and expressed our desire to remain until he left, to which he replied that Vyshinski would be in charge of the train and that he expected to leave tomorrow or the day after tomorrow by plane, arriving in Kuibyshev simultaneously with the train. We endeavored to persuade him to allow us to remain and to go by plane with him, to which he answered that his remaining in Moscow for another 24 or 48 hours was not related to his status as Foreign Minister, but solely as a member of the National Defense Council in connection with measures for the defense of the city.52

When we pressed the point they [he?] requested us categorically to leave this evening, assuring us that he would arrive in Kuibyshev simultaneously, at which time a communiqué would be issued to the effect that the Soviet Government and the Diplomatic Corps had arrived in Kuibyshev together. To my inquiry as to whether he had any objection to two of the junior Secretaries of the Embassy and two of our clerks remaining in Moscow to protect American and British property interests, he said he had none.53

At the close of the interview Molotov expressed his regret that much of the property of our two Embassies and many of our personal effects could not be taken on the train. He was quite calm and entirely unruffled throughout the interview.

Steinhardt
  1. After the arrival of Molotov from Moscow on the evening of October 21, 1941, he told Ambassador Steinhardt in Kuibyshev the next day that “the sudden decision to evacuate the Government and the Diplomatic Corps from Moscow had been occasioned by the fact that the Germans had broken through the Soviet defense lines at Mozhaisk on October 14th and it had appeared on that day as though the advance might not be checked.” (740.0011 European War 1939/16074)
  2. A press release of October 17, 1941, announcing the removal of the American Embassy staff from Moscow, except for a few who remained, was published in Department of State Bulletin, October 18, 1941, p. 296.