861.404/440: Telegram

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

531. My 391, February 28, 8 [4] p.m., and 511, March 15, 6 p.m.24 I am in receipt of a note from the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs25 to the effect that according to information received from the competent authorities the thefts which occurred in the Church of St. Louis on the night of December 6, 1939 and April 9, 1940 were committed by three professional thieves whose names are set forth in the note and that the thefts on December 25 and December 29, 1940 and on February 14, 1941 were committed by a professional thief whose name is given. The note continues that all of the persons named, who have long criminal records, as well as a professional receiver of stolen goods who is also named, were arrested on March 14th, 1941, and are being prosecuted under the penal laws. The note concludes with the statement that a “considerable part” of the articles stolen from the Church have been located, that the search for the balance of the stolen articles is being continued, and that those already recovered will be returned within a few days to the “church attendant.”


[Concerning the American interest in freedom of worship, see the third paragraph of the statement made by the Acting Secretary of State, Sumner Welles, at a press conference on June 23, 1941, page 767.]

  1. Latter not printed.
  2. In a press release of March 20, 1941, the Department of State told of the protest made to the Soviet Government about the robberies and desecration of the church, and this reply to the protest was summarized; see Department of State Bulletin, March 22, 1941, p. 334.