740.0011 European War 1939/32572: Telegram

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

43. Personal for the President and the Secretary: Bill Donovan1 arrived in Moscow December 23 and left today January 6. His departure was held up over a week by weather.

On arrival I took him to see Molotov2 to whom he described the general purposes and activities of his organization and in more detail his program in the Balkans. He offered to furnish the appropriate Soviet officials with full information on these matters and to cooperate with them to any degree desired. Molotov showed considerable interest in Bill and everything he said, especially about Bulgaria.

After consultation with his associates, Molotov arranged for Bill to meet certain of his opposite numbers in the NKVD.3 At these discussions, in which General Deane4 participated, it was definitely agreed to collaborate closely, to establish reciprocal liaison representation in Washington and Moscow, exchange intelligence material, special devices and equipment, and to carry on joint operations in such theatres as might be agreed. The above program was approved and authorized by the highest Soviet authorities. The Soviets have selected a representative to go to Washington, whom we met, and Bill is sending Colonel John Haskell, son of General William Haskell,5 to be attached to our military mission in Moscow for this purpose.

His delay here made it possible for Bill to work out these arrangements in detail, and he has also had an opportunity to see certain other people in Moscow and obtain at first hand significant information as to the Soviet attitude on subversive activities against enemy morale and an appreciation of the psychology of the Germans on this front.

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Probably as a result of a disagreement with Molotov over his arbitrary refusal to allow my plane to take Bill to Cairo, to which I took strenuous objection and which I finally got reversed, the Soviets went to great lengths to placate both of us. As a consequence the NKVD officials came to the Embassy for a midnight discussion and last night three of them dined at the Embassy, as far as I know, unprecedented occurrences in any foreign Embassy.

In my talk with Molotov alone on December 31 he brought up on his own initiative the question of the meaning of “unconditional surrender” as applied to the various satellite countries, and asked whether I had any information on our attitude. I explained that I had none except as had been discussed with him by General Donovan in relation to Bulgaria. I said that we had both read with interest the Pravda article on December 27 concerning Bulgaria published since our talk (summarized in our no. 2333, December 276) and that we had been struck by the similarity of views expressed in that article with those expressed by General Donovan. In reply to my inquiry, Molotov indicated that he was in general agreement with the article.

I told him General Donovan was planning to discuss the matter with the President on his return and that in the meantime we had hoped that Molotov might be able to give advice on the subject because of the Soviet diplomatic contact with Bulgaria.7 He said that they did not have sufficient information to reach a conclusion that they were working on it. His only specific suggestion was that they placed great importance on the continuation of the bombing of Bulgaria which they believed would assist the Bulgarians in becoming more sensible.

Molotov continued that Marshal Stalin8 at Tehran9 had outlined the terms which the Soviet Government were prepared to accord Finland10 and, as he recalled it, the President and Mr. Churchill11 had expressed no objection to these terms. I said I understood the Swedish Government was pressing the Finns to make a move in this direction, to which Molotov replied that it always took the Finns a long time to make up their minds. Molotov added that they were also studying the question of Roumania and Hungary.

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The impression that Bill and I have got from the two conversations with Molotov is that the Soviets want us to take the initiative in connection with Bulgaria but that we can count on their cooperation and assistance if a definite proposal is presented to them.

As a result, Bill has prepared specific recommendations to the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff which he is forwarding to them with copy to you for your information. I concur in these recommendations.

  1. Maj. Gen. William J. Donovan, Director, Office of Strategic Services (OSS).
  2. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.
  3. Commissariat of Internal Affairs of the Soviet Union.
  4. Maj. Gen. John R. Deane, Chief, United States Military Mission in the Soviet Union.
  5. Lt. Gen. William N. Haskell, U.S.A. (retired), was a member of the staff in charge of field operations, Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations, Department of State.
  6. Not printed.
  7. Alexander Andreyevich Lavrishchev was the regular Minister of the Soviet Union in Bulgaria until September 1944. At the beginning of 1944 he was temporarily away on other duties and the mission was in the hands of Vladimir Georgiyevich Dekanozov, an Assistant People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union, who remained until March 1944.
  8. Marshal Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Soviet Union.
  9. For documentation relating to the conference at Tehran, see Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943, pp. 457 ff.
  10. See vol. iii, pp. 556 ff.
  11. British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill.