123 Higgs, L. Randolph: Telegram

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

4709. Kennan called yesterday on Dekanozov and presented to him personally a letter from me setting forth the substance of the first paragraph of the Department’s 2786, December 5, 1 p.m.21 concerning the detailing of Higgs to Helsinki. Kennan took occasion to describe to Dekanozov the nature of Higgs’s instructions as set forth in the Department’s 2787, December 5, 3 p.m.22

Dekanozov said that the Soviet Government had not yet arrived at any conclusion concerning Hamilton’s mission to Helsinki, as made known to them by Kennan’s letter of November 15 [16]23 and he was therefore still unable to make any comment thereon. He explained that the letter had been referred to Zhdanov24 who had [Page 631] queried, first, the reference to the American representatives in Bulgaria and Rumania, and second, the use of the term “mission”. Zhdanov had pointed out that our status in Finland could not be parallel to that in Bulgaria or Rumania because we had not been at war with Finland. The word “mission” had seemed to signify a regular diplomatic mission and had therefore caused concern.

Kennan again suggested that the situation in Finland be considered on its merits. With respect to the word “mission” he explained that this had doubtless been selected for the very purpose of avoiding any designation which might suggest that the leading official was accredited to any government.

In conclusion he stated that he hoped the information he had been able to give about Higgs’ instructions would set to rest any uneasiness Mr. Zhdanov might have felt about the establishment of the mission and that arrangements would be made which would make it possible for Higgs to leave at an early date. Dekanozov appeared to be somewhat relieved by what Kennan had told him and showed signs of hopefulness as to Zhdanov’s ultimate attitude. Nevertheless, I think it possible that there may be some delay before final arrangements are made to permit Higgs to proceed. I hope Stockholm will keep me closely informed on this point. If Higg’s departure is delayed more than a few days, I will be glad to take the matter up again and try to expedite it.

Sent to Department, repeated to Stockholm as 26.

  1. Not printed; the first paragraph of this telegram informed the Embassy of Higgs’s mission and of his delay in Stockholm awaiting confirmation that “Soviet authorities in Helsinki and other points en route have instructions to facilitate his journey.” (123 Higgs, L. Randolph)
  2. See last paragraph of telegram 2434, December 5, to Stockholm, supra.
  3. The contents of the letter were communicated to the Department in telegram 4393 of November 17, from Moscow, p. 627.
  4. Andrey Andreyevich Zhdanov, Chairman of the Allied Control Commission in Finland, who held the military rank of colonel general as well as political posts in the Soviet Union, including those of Secretary, and member of the Politburo, of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party.