740.00119 E.W./9–1444: Telegram

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

3491. The Foreign Office has informed the Embassy that Colonel General Zhdanov86 has been included on the Soviet delegation to deal with the Finns. As the Department is aware, Zhdanov is Secretary of the Communist Party of Leningrad, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Commission of the Council of the Union, and during the war years is reported to have been the Political Commissar attached to the Soviet armies in the north.87 He is one of the most prominent figures in the All Union Communist Party. He is said to have a determined and ruthless character. He is often called Stalin’s successor.

Zhdanov’s appointment to the Soviet delegation is not surprising. He has been closely associated with recent Soviet policy vis-à-vis Finland and the Baltic; and it is probably due at least in some degree to his continued and powerful influence that this policy has shown no signs of variation since it was first manifested at the time of the [Page 621] signing of the Ribbentrop–Molotov pact.88 In 1939 it was rumored that he engineered the border incident which set off the Soviet-Finnish war. He, with Molotov and General Vassielevski,89 signed the Finnish Peace Treaty in March 1940. He also played the leading role in the incorporation of Estonia in the Soviet Union,90 and was in effect the Soviet Governor there during the first months of Soviet rule.

  1. Andrey Andreyevich Zhdanov, whose major political posts were Secretary, and member of the Politbureau, of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party; First Secretary of both the Leningrad Oblast (Region) and City Committees of the Communist Party; and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commission, Council of the Union of the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union.
  2. Zhdanov had served since 1941 as a member of the Military Council (Voenny Sovet) of the Leningrad Front.
  3. The Treaty of Nonaggression between Germany and the Soviet Union of August 23, 1939, was negotiated in Moscow. The text of the treaty is printed in Department of State, Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, series D, vol. vii, p. 245. For some papers on Soviet policy toward Finland about that time, see ibid., vol. viii, pp. 12, 106, and 231.
  4. Alexander Mikhailovich Vasilevsky, then an officer of the Red Army General Staff.
  5. For correspondence on United States interest in Estonia and the other Baltic countries, and their incorporation into the Soviet Union, see Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. i, pp. 357 ff. On Zhdanov’s role with respect to Estonia, see especially telegrams 66 of June 19, 1940, and 82 of July 5, 1940, from Tallin, and telegram 135 of June 19, 1940, from Riga, ibid., pp. 376, 384, and 378, respectively.