711.94114 Supplies/11: Telegram

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

702. Your 1004, August 3, noon, and 1024, August 5.

The Department recognizes the special situation described to you by Molotov and cannot of course press the Soviet Government to do anything which it considers inimical to its own interests. The United States Government is however obliged to leave no stone unturned in an effort to avoid any unnecessary delay in getting urgently needed relief supplies to American prisoners of war who are dying at an alarming rate in the Far East owing to lack of necessary medicines. While the United States Government is doing everything [Page 812] possible through the Swiss Government representing its interests in Japan to work out a means acceptable to the Japanese Government by which such supplies may be sent to the Far East on a continuing basis, the increasing public pressure which is being brought upon the United States Government by the relatives and friends of these men is becoming politically embarrassing. It is being increasingly pointed out that since substantial shipments of lend-lease materials are being sent in American ships across the Pacific to the Soviet Union,91 it should be possible for the Government of the United States to arrange with the Soviet Government that comparatively modest amounts of relief supplies for our prisoners of war in the Far East be sent the same way to a point in Soviet Union from which they could be speedily transshipped to Japan as soon as satisfactory arrangements are completed between the United States and Japanese Governments.
It is vitally necessary that the United States Government attempt all feasible arrangements, however preliminary, to get supplies to our prisoners of war in Japan as soon as possible. The establishment of a stock pile of such supplies at a point in the Soviet Union whence they could be speedily transshipped to Japan once arrangements are completed would answer criticisms both of the United States Government for its alleged failure to make such arrangements and of the Soviet Government for its refusal to cooperate to this extent. While the United States Government recognizes that there is no direct connection between the furnishing of lend-lease materials to Soviet Russia and the shipment of relief supplies to American prisoners of war in the Far East, the interested American public fails to make this distinction and the Government is finding it increasingly difficult to make this distinction clear in a way which will not reflect upon the Soviet Government’s cooperative spirit.
The United States Government would therefore be grateful if the Soviet Government would again examine this matter in the foregoing light. To the end that it will be clearly of record that everything has been done which conceivably can be done to get relief supplies into Japanese territory at the earliest opportunity, United States Government would be grateful if the Soviet Government would agree to an exchange of notes at the time of the signing of the Third Soviet Protocol92 and in connection therewith substantially as follows:93
“(a) The Soviet Government will ship in Soviet vessels (along with lend-lease material delivered to it pursuant to the Protocols) approximately 1500 short tons per month of relief supplies from the West Coast of the United States across the Pacific to the Soviet Union, such supplies to be made available through the American Red Cross.
(b) When arrangements shall have been made such supplies will be transshipped to Japan or Japanese-controlled territories for delivery to the International Red Cross or to other authorities mutually agreeable to the United States and Japanese Governments.
(c) The shipment of relief supplies for American and other Allied prisoners of war by the Soviet Union as provided above shall not reduce the quantity of goods to be supplied to the Soviet Union by the United States under the Third Protocol, nor shall it reduce the amount of shipping to be made available under such Protocol.
(d) The Soviet Government will accept no responsibility for deterioration or spoilage of the supplies during their shipment across the Pacific or during their temporary stay in the Soviet Union, pending transshipment to Japan or Japanese-controlled areas.”
Without awaiting the formal exchange of notes, which, in the discretion of the Soviet Government, may be done independently of or simultaneously with the Third Soviet Protocol, the United States Government proposes that the shipment of the supplies under consideration begin at the earliest possible moment.
If preferred by the Soviet Government, such supplies could be consigned to the American Consul General at Vladivostok94 to be held by him until satisfactory shipping arrangements can be made onward to Japan.
United States Government again expresses its deep appreciation of the Soviet Government’s reiterated expression of a readiness to assist in the transportation of relief supplies to Japan once the United States and Japanese Governments have worked out a satisfactory arrangement.
An urgent reply would be greatly appreciated.
For the Ambassador. The Department leaves to your discretion the presentation of this matter to the Soviet Government in such manner as in your opinion is best designed to obtain its agreement, using such of the statements in paragraphs 1 and 2 as you may deem advisable in the circumstances.95
  1. For correspondence concerning the assistance from the United States for the Soviet Union, see pp. 737 ff.
  2. Signed at London on October 19, 1943; see telegram No. 1660, October 20, from the Chargé in the Soviet Union, p. 780.
  3. The bases for much of the following proposals were contained in a letter of August 3, 1943, from Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, to the Secretary of State. (711.94114 Supplies/6).
  4. Angus I. Ward.
  5. Ambassador Standley reported in telegram No. 1142, August 23, 3 p.m. that he had left a note on August 21 with Molotov which set forth the views and proposals of the United States Government; that Molotov had promised immediate consideration and had given assurance that the “Soviet Government desired to be of all possible assistance”. (711.94114 Supplies/16)