740.00116 European War 1939/1371: Telegram

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

1059. The Embassy has still been unable to obtain from the Foreign Office a copy of the decree of April 19, 1943.47 Department’s 308, February 15, Embassy’s 550, February 18, 4 p.m.48

An article in Freies Deutschland 49 for December 19, 1943, concerning the Kharkov trial however includes the following statement:

“Death by hanging was first introduced in the Soviet Union through a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet dated April 19, 1943. A death sentence by hanging was first imposed last summer in the [Page 1207] ‘Krasnipingdar [Krasnodar] trial’ (in the matter of atrocities committed in the city and district of Krasnipingdar [Krasnodar] during its occupation by the German army) and for the second time in the recent Kharkov trial.”

A microfilm of this issue of Freies Deutschlamd was forwarded to the Department under cover of my despatch No. 229, March 3, 1944.50

  1. The text of this decree had not been published, and efforts to obtain a copy of it had not been successful. Aron Naumovich Trainin wrote in his article in War and the Working Class for January 1, 1944, that one of the purposes of this decree was to give to “Soviet courts an appropriate weapon for the immediate struggle with the Hitlerite criminals.”
  2. Neither printed.
  3. The periodical of the “Free Germany” National Committee founded in Moscow under Soviet auspices on July 21, 1943; regarding early activities of the Committee, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. iii, pp. 552580, passim, and pp. 602605.
  4. Not printed.