740.0011 European War 1939/31055: Telegram

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

1293. During a call which Hamilton87 made on the Belgian Ambassador88 on September 3 the Belgian Ambassador made the following comments:

The Soviet Government is endeavoring to create the impression in the minds of the peoples of Europe and in the minds of the American and British peoples that the Soviet Union is chiefly responsible for the defeat of Hitlerism and that the Soviet Union is the leader in championing liberation of the countries now oppressed by Nazi occupation. Toward creating such an impression the Soviet Government is utilizing the second front theme with its consistent emphasis on the fact that the Soviet armies are engaging and containing the greater part of the German armies. It is also utilizing the difference between the recognition afforded by the American and British Governments to the French Committee of National Liberation and the less conditional recognition accorded by the Soviet Government. The Belgian Ambassador does not regard Soviet propaganda and the fact that they are engaging in such propaganda as matters of importance. He emphasized, however, that if such propaganda should be successful in causing the oppressed peoples of Europe and especially the British and American peoples to adopt what he called an “inferiority attitude” toward the Soviet Union that would be a serious matter. When questioned as to what he meant by an inferiority attitude the Ambassador stated that he meant an attitude of attributing to the Soviet Government a greater responsibility for the defeat of Hitlerism than all of the facts of the case warranted. He said that all the facts of the case included items such as the conclusion by the Soviet Union with Germany of a non-Aggression Pact in 1939 and the significance of that action to the outbreak of the war; the fact that the British, the French, the Belgians and other governments had substantial armies in the western part of Europe for many months and that during that period the Soviet Union did not open a second front against Germany. The Ambassador referred also to the adverse effect on the German military situation of the North African campaign, the Italian campaign and the Allied bombing of German [Page 577] military and industrial centers all of which has a beneficial effect upon the Soviet military position. He spoke appreciatively of what he termed the solid facts embodied in Prime Minister Churchill’s recent Quebec address and said that some of the real facts in the situation were handled very well in that speech. The Ambassador emphasized his view that it was important that the American and British peoples and governments not acquire an inferiority attitude toward the Soviet Government. When asked whether he thought there was danger of such a development in the U.S., Hamilton replied in the negative. Hamilton said that the American Government and the American people believed wholeheartedly in making every reasonable and practicable effort toward bringing about greater collaboration with the Soviet Union. The Ambassador expressed concurrence in this attitude. When he pressed again the question of possible adoption by the American people of an attitude of inferiority or of attributing to the Soviet Union a greater measure of success for the defeat of Nazism than was warranted or of blaming their own Government for not having done more in the way of meeting Soviet desires than it had done Hamilton commented that while the American people liked to criticize their own Government and in fact some of them rather enjoyed hearing foreigners criticize it, the American people when given the facts as they are in addresses such as those of the British Prime Minister and of the President, and when they saw evidences which are constantly being given them that their Government is endeavoring in good faith and with sincerity to collaborate with the Soviet Union, can be counted upon without any question to see the whole situation in proper perspective.

  1. Maxwell M. Hamilton, Counselor of Embassy in the Soviet Union, with the rank of Minister.
  2. Victor Robert van den Kerchove.