740.0011 European War 1939/18452

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

The Soviet Ambassador9 called at his request. He first handed me the attached memorandum10 about the situation in Turkey and also about preparations going on for signatures to the Declaration of the twenty-six nations.11 He seemed very much concerned about the latter, presumably on account of Latvia and one or two other countries recently absorbed by Russia.12 I said that I was not doing anything at [Page 408] present on this, that our people were keeping on file sixty or seventy applications received and that, as I was not the author of this matter, I would suggest that he talk with the President, if the President should be disposed, and with the British in regard to the interpretation and the determination of eligibles. I said to him that I would have him do this before there would be any signatures and that I would try to notify him, as I do the British, when a signature is in the act of taking place. He left saying that he would call up the President in the hope of having a talk with him and Churchill14 at the same time.

I inquired as to what he thought of the Russian front. He spoke with confidence and said they were holding all right. I then inquired as to whether the Germans would be able to establish their winter line across Russia. He thought they intended to establish their line running from Riga down near Smolensk and further south it would curve back so as not to approach the Crimean area. He said, of course, the Russians are expected to drive them as far as possible and hope to get near the Polish area.

He stated that he was very uneasy about Singapore and that it was most important to hold it unless the war was to be protracted for a considerable time.15

C[ordell] H[ull]
  1. Maxim Maximovich Litvinov.
  2. Not printed.
  3. For a conversation on January 10, 1942, between Litvinov and the Acting Chief of the Division of European Affairs, Ray Atherton, in regard to possible signatories of the United Nations Declaration of January 1, 1942, see the latter’s memorandum, vol. i, p. 31.
  4. Regarding a Latvian note of January 4, 1942, of readiness to sign this Declaration, see memorandum of January 6 by Assistant Secretary of State Adolf A. Berle, Jr., ibid., p. 29. For an Estonian note of January 12, 1942, see ibid., p. 34. There was also a similar note on behalf of Lithuania, not printed, and in a discussion over it with Assistant Secretary Berle on January 9, 1942, the Lithuanian Minister, Povilas Zadeikis, remarked that “of course the ultimate fate of Lithuania must rest in large measure on the kindly and understanding attitude of the people and Government of the United States.” (740.0011 European War 1939/17939) For correspondence regarding the invasion of these Baltic states and their incorporation into the Soviet Union, see Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. i, pp. 357 ff.
  5. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill came to Washington for conferences with President Roosevelt, December 22, 1941–January 14, 1942, interrupted by trips to Ottawa and Palm Beach.
  6. The surrender of Singapore to the Japanese occurred on February 15, 1942.