740.00116 European War 1939/1131: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State

7239. Reference Embassy’s 7238, October 20 [21]. The Embassy was informed confidentially before the meeting by the Foreign Office that the real reason for the abstention of the Soviet Government from the meeting to set up the War Crimes Commission was a dispute which had arisen over the question of representation. The Soviet Government contends that each of the individual Soviet Socialist Republics should be represented upon the Commission in the same manner as the British Dominions as it is claimed by the Soviet that each of these republics possesses individual sovereignty. The dispute has not as yet been settled.

The Foreign Office hopes that emphasis will not be made of the absence of Soviet representatives from the meeting and if the press asks questions an answer will be given similar to that given by Lord Simon at the meeting, namely, that technical questions have arisen which prevent for the time being the presence of the Soviet representatives [Page 423] but that it is hoped the matter will be cleared up within a short time. The Foreign Office has expressed the hope that the matter could be treated the same way in the American press. Mr. Eden, in Moscow has been notified and it is presumed he has informed Secretary Hull.24

  1. Mr. Eden, the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Hull were attending the Conference of Foreign Ministers at Moscow, October 18–November 1; see pp. 513 ff.