Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Acting Secretary of State and Mr. Joseph E. Davies, Formerly Ambassador in the Soviet Union

Mr. Stettinius: Do you remember the case of the deserter that you did a little extra-curricular activity on? They are in again, blasting officially now, saying that their understanding was that we would have a delay until a certain day in November passed and then it could be resumed. My understanding was that they just dropped it for good.

Amb. Davies: No. I asked them to do this and to be good enough not to press because I think it is very ill-advisable to press it and that “you will understand if there is no reply forthcoming.”

Mr. Stettinius: Now, they are pressing us again. They put it right bang up to me and wanted to know the answer.

Amb. Davies: I had been advised across the street, Pa,35 that they had to get the answer, that they were clearly in their right under international law, in view of the fact that this man was a deserter. A week ago Gromyko asked me to lunch and brought it up with me. I told him that I hoped he wouldn’t bring it up. He said there was no reason to do it, since he had received no instruction but said, “I think that I will be instructed on it.”

Mr. Stettinius: You know they took the position they were very much outraged that it hadn’t been done as a voluntary thing.

Amb. Davies: Pa told me very definitely, after I had talked with Cordell, that the President said “very well, if they insist on it, of course, we will do it, because it is a case of a deserter from the Army [Page 1238] violating his oath and naturally we would return him to military authorities because they are our allies.” That is the way it stands.

Mr. Stettinius: Joe, we will talk about it when we see each other.

Amb. Davies: I did all I could to delay them off.

  1. Reference is to Maj. Gen. Edwin Martin Watson, Military Aide and Secretary to President Roosevelt at the White House.