740.00116 European War 1939/1207: Telegram

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

2320. The American correspondents who attended the close of the Kharkov trials and the hanging of the convicted men were convinced of the guilt of the accused and of the genuineness of the Soviet charges of organized atrocities. They state that the Russians were punctilious in their observance of the legal proprieties of the trial and that there was no evidence of duress. They observed that the self-abasing testimony of the accused was reminiscent of the famous purge trials78 but attributed this largely to the care exercised in selecting those who were placed on trial. If the accused had believed that by giving testimony which would best serve the ends of Soviet propaganda they [Page 852] would receive milder treatment, they gave no sign that they had been misled when sentence of death was pronounced nor when the actual hanging took place.

  1. For correspondence on the Moscow trials of 1936–1938, see Foreign Relations, The Soviet Union, 1933–1939, Index, p. 1030, entry under “Purges”.