740.0011 Moscow/10–2343: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to President Roosevelt

6. Supplementing our report of last night on yesterday’s conference of October 20th,26 I believe that you would be interested in the background of events to date.

Mr. Hull has stood the trip well under the careful eye of his capable doctor. He’s conserving his strength in every way for the business of the Conference. The days have been bright and crisp, the finest New England November football weather.

Molotov and our Soviet hosts have been extremely hospitable and friendly. Yesterday’s conference, which considered the only point on the Soviet agenda, namely the war and the second front, was opened by a luncheon banquet in characteristic Russian style. The many toasts by Molotov were carefully worded to show perception of the character of your leadership and the war effort of the United States in production and in the field, interspersed with a little friendly [Page 590] humor. Mr. Hull was most gracious and understanding in his responses.

The meeting was set for 3 o’clock but we did not convene for business till 4, the Russians showing complete disregard for time. Then, half an hour was spent by Molotov arguing and insisting that Mr. Hull take the chair for this conference because it dealt with the Soviet proposal. He finally gave way and followed [allowed?] Ismay and Deane to proceed with their presentation.

This had been prepared after conferences between them, Eden and myself, and both officers did an extremely competent job in outlining and explaining our plans and showed willingness to answer freely any and all questions. Deane was precise in defining the conditions which must be precedent to their fulfillment. At the same time he explained in such detail the preparations now under way that he appeared to satisfy and win the confidence of the Soviet delegates.

In personal conversation with me, Molotov indicated there might be further questions they would like to ask and hoped that we would feel free to decline to answer them if they were in any way embarrassing. I explained that General Deane and the other members of his military mission had been sent to Moscow by you and the United States Chiefs of Staff for the purpose of being available to provide the fullest information desired not only during the Conference but also currently thereafter. He expressed gratification and thanks to you and to me as well for bringing the mission.

There may be difficulties ahead after the Soviets have had a chance to analyze the written statements but there is no indication that they are not convinced of our intentions and desire to collaborate closely with them. From past experience I am not ready to say that we are finished with the subject. On the other hand, I must say that, thus far, they have given us every indication that they have made up their minds they want to do business with us.

From a personal standpoint my Soviet friends have gone out of their way to be cordial to me.

  1. Reference is to Secretary Hull’s telegrams Nos. 3 and 5 to President Roosevelt, not printed, reporting the meeting of October 20.