740.00119 European War 1939/1958: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman)36 to the Secretary of State

1935. I received today from Molotov a letter dated November 12 of which the following is the text in translation:

“I consider it necessary to inform you for communication to the Government of the United States of certain peace feelers on the part of the Germans which took place recently in Stockholm. In the beginning of November the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs received a communication to the following effect:

The Soviet Mission in Sweden received by post a letter in the middle of October in which the author without giving his name but mentioning an agreed address, communicated his willingness to turn over to the Soviet Government information which might be of use for the liquidation of the war in 1943. While not attaching much significance to this letter, the Soviet Mission nevertheless did not refuse to listen to this information and authorized one of the staff to do so. This staff member also met the author of the above mentioned letter.

It turned out that the author of the letter was one Edgar Klaus, a German citizen and businessman. Klaus told the member of the staff of the Soviet Mission the following:

In Germany there allegedly exists a group of industrialists headed by a representative, Kleist, of the firm Stuum (it has not been possible up to the present to establish whether or not such a firm or such a person exists). This group is in close contact with Ribbentrop37 and the members of the group are in favor of the conclusion of a separate peace with the Soviet Union. With a view to seeking contact with Soviet representatives for conversations in conclusion of a separate peace, several representatives of this group of industrialists are said to have come to Stockholm in the autumn of this year in order, it is alleged, to establish contact with the Soviet representatives in Sweden, but they did not find any suitable intermediary and this attempt ended in failure. The second attempt to establish contact was undertaken by these German industrialists through the above mentioned German businessman Klaus, who also sent to the Soviet Mission the letter referred to above. Klaus, referring to the instructions which he had from Kleist and other industrialists, declared to our staff member that the Germans would agree to everything that the Soviet Government demands and are prepared (to accept) even the 1914 frontiers. Klaus declared in this connection that it is clear to the Germans that they have lost the war, that the morale of the people is catastrophically worsening and that Germany has not sufficient armed forces for the further prosecution of the war (the ruling [Page 503] circles are disturbed over the Moscow Conference38 and the retreat of the German Army on the Soviet-German frontier). In conclusion Klaus inquired whether he could promise to the persons who had sent him the possibility of establishing contact with Soviet representatives and whether someone from the Soviet representatives did not desire to meet Ribbentrop.

The staff member of the Soviet Mission, on instructions from the Chargé d’Affaires, replied to Klaus that there could be absolutely no question of contact with Soviet representatives and that they refused to carry on any conversations whatsoever or have any further meetings with the above mentioned person. The Soviet Government confirmed to the Chargé d’Affaires the correctness of his answer.”

In concluding, the letter stated that the British Ambassador in Moscow had been similarly informed.

  1. W. Averell Harriman was appointed Ambassador to the Soviet Union on October 7, 1943, and presented his letter of credence on October 23.
  2. Joachim von Ribbentrop, Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  3. For correspondence, see pp. 513 ff.