861.00/11894: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Italy (Phillips)

672. Your 1080, July 24, noon. Telegram No. 45 from Tittmann. We have received no indication of increased religious tolerance in the Soviet Union.27

Although we sympathize with the spirit which prompted your suggestion, we do not believe that it would serve any constructive purpose or that it would be advisable at this time to make any statement which might be interpreted as representing pressure on the Soviet Government to change certain of its internal policies.28

  1. In a letter from President Roosevelt to Pope Pins XII, dated September 3, 1941, and handed to the Pope by Mr. Taylor at an audience on September 9, 1941, the President expressed his belief that there was “a real possibility that Russia may as a result of the present conflict recognize freedom of religion in Russia”. For text of the letter, see Myron C. Taylor, Wartime Correspondence between President Roosevelt and Pope Pius XII (New York, 1947), p. 61.
  2. On September 11, 1941, President Roosevelt did make the suggestion to the Ambassador of the Soviet Union, Konstantin Alexandrovich Umansky, that “some publicity” regarding the freedom of religion in the Soviet Union “might have a very fine educational effect before the next lend-lease bill comes up in Congress.” See the memorandum of September 11, by Secretary of State Hull, p. 832.

    President Roosevelt further remarked at a press conference on September 30, 1941: “Since the Soviet Constitution declares that freedom of religion is granted, it is hoped that in the light of the report of the Polish Ambassador an entering wedge for the practice of complete freedom of religion [in the Soviet Union] is definitely on its way.” The Polish Ambassador, Jan Ciechanowski, in a letter to the Secretary of State dated September 29, 1941, had reported that the Soviet Government had granted to the Polish armed forces being organized in the Soviet Union “full cultural freedom and freedom of worship for both Christians and Jews”; for text, see Department of State Bulletin, October 4, 1941, p. 245.