711.94114 Supplies/198: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union ( Hamilton ) to the Secretary of State

1779. Reference Embassy’s No. 1740, May 15, 7 p.m. The following telegram has been received from Vladivostok.

May 16, 11 a.m. Instead of permitting me86 to check war prisoner supplies yesterday as arranged several days ago (my 72, May 1287), local representative of Commissariat for Foreign Trade called Consulate General translator to his office last evening where she was informed that all supplies shipped on Soviet vessels Sovetshaya Gavan, Tungus first and second voyages, Novorossisk, and Argun are now in storage at Vladivostok.

These supplies consist of 81,069 cartons American Red Cross standard Far Eastern food parcels; 2,625 cases Canadian Red Cross prisoner packages; 287 cases books and phonograph records; 100 cases cigarettes, 12 locker cases theatrical kits; 700 cases comfort supplies; 579 bales woolen clothing, blankets and towels; 472 bales men’s overcoats; 750 bales men’s tropical clothing; 321 bales men’s apparel; 350 cases men’s shoes, shoe repairing supplies, 50 cases repair kits; 25 crate [apparent garble] stands; 25 cases rubber cement, 150 cases medical packages; one case diphtheria antitoxin; 2,610 locker cases medical supplies.

A Narkomvneshtorg88 employee informed our translator confidentially in an aside that some 70 to 90 cases believed to be principally food parcels have been lost or stolen in the port. I assume that failure to permit me to check the shipments yesterday issued from the desire of local authorities to conceal such shortage as may exist until further search is made in the port and that I shall, therefore, not be permitted to check unless I insist, which I shall not do.

I suggest that Embassy make telegraphic inquiry of Department regarding functions to be performed by Consulate General once regular shipments war prisoners supplies to Vladivostok are instituted und forwarding operations to International Red Cross representative in Japan are begun. If Department’s reply is received by time I visit Embassy, we shall be able to discuss and decide on practical means for performing of Consulate General’s functions.

In case American Red Cross proposes to send representative to Vladivostok to supervise, handling, checking, sorting, storing and shipping of war prisoner supplies sent here for transshipment, I believe that, in view of conditions peculiar to this post, it would prove to benefit of all concerned and greatly simplify and expedite [Page 1174] liaison with Soviet officials and organizations if all war prisoner supply forwarding activities were assumed by Consulate General and work incidental thereto performed by a Foreign Service clerk assigned here for that purpose. Confusion and inefficiency in port incidental to handling inward cargoes such that I believe that one person would be kept fully occupied in checking and coordinating transshipment of 1,500 tons monthly of war prisoner supplies. Ward.

The Embassy does not believe that it would be advisable to make, at least at this time, any proposals for American supervision of the transshipment of such supplies as such proposals would make the Soviet authorities less inclined to agree to the arrangements now under consideration.89

  1. Angus Ivan Ward, Consul General at Vladivostok.
  2. Sent to Department as No. 1712, May 14, 10 a.m., not printed.
  3. Narkomvneshtorg, contraction for the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade.
  4. The Department requested the Embassy in telegram 1318, May 26, to inform Consul General Ward that the “question of sending representative there to assist in handling of relief supplies at that point will be held in abeyance until definite arrangements shall have been made for their onward movement.” (711.94114 Supplies/198)