No. 226
The Acting Secretary of State to the President

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Memorandum for the President

Subject: “Possible Resurrection of Communist International, Resumption of Extreme Leftist Activities, Possible Effect on United States.”

This top secret memorandum has been prepared after long study and is the result of intensive research. We feel that the broad situation in the memorandum is one which should be watched with great care and we believe that you will wish to read this paper before the coming meeting of heads of government.

Joseph C. Grew
[Summary of Enclosure]1

The Special Assistant to the Director of European Affairs ( Murphy ) to the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State ( Phillips ) and the Director of European Affairs ( Matthews )

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In May, 1944, the Communist Party of the United States changed its name to that of Communist Political Association, diluted its Marxian program considerably, and announced its willingness to collaborate with all classes, except potential “fascists”, during and after the war. This stand was approved by the Central Committee of the French Communist Party as announced in May, 1944, issue of its official publication, France Nouvelle.

[Page 268]

With the approaching end of the war in Europe the American Communist Political Association began to make attacks on the public administration and began to accuse officials of an anti-Russian complex and consequently unfit to hold public office—the principal offense of these officials actually having been the attempt to lay down a policy of benefit to the United States.

On May 24, 1945, the Daily Worker, organ of the Communist Political Association, published a criticism by Jacques Duclos, official of the French Communist Party, of the change of tactics in 1944 of the American Communist Party. Specifically, Duclos accused the American Communist Party of abandoning a Marxist line, of class collaboration and of treating the situation in the United States in a false light with no emphasis on the necessity for “conquest of power”: Browder had a companion piece in the same issue informing members of the Communist Political Association of the United States that since the war in Europe was over, American Communists must now reexamine their positions and if necessary prepare to make changes.

The transition to a more radical policy had already begun, however, as presaged by the attacks on the administration. In Western Europe all communist parties have recently reverted to their original formula of radical solutions of political and economic problems preliminary to their “conquest of power”.

These changes may well precede the reconstitution of the Communist International, perhaps with headquarters in Paris. While the Communist International theoretically was dissolved in June, 1943, the constituent sections have worked together as a team since then and have never wavered in their absolute support of Moscow’s policies. This is a force to be reckoned with in the application of this government’s policies abroad for the reconstituted Communist International may be expected to attempt to undermine and discredit our policies if they do not coincide with those of the Soviet Union.

To meet the situation firmly and resolutely and thereby improve relations with the Soviet Union requires this government to treat the American Communist movement as a potential fifth column. Such action would have a beneficial effect in other foreign countries by showing that a given country can maintain correct and cordial relations with the Soviet Union and simultaneously hold its own citizens to strict accountability for their actions as agents of an organization of the Soviet Union.

R[aymond] E M[urphy
[Page 269]

Possible Resurrection of Communist International, Resumption of Extreme Leftist Activities, Possible Effect on United States

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resumption of more radical policies by communist movements

Since the summer of 1941, or after the attack on the Soviet Union by Germany, all communist parties have stressed the virtues of patriotism, prompted efforts to insure maximum production and win the war, deprecated strikes, and criticized anything which tended to weaken the unity of the allied nations which opposed Germany.

With the approaching defeat of Germany and a series of unilateral actions by the Soviet Union vis-à-vis the countries its armies occupied, a gradual change in the attitude of various communist parties has become obvious. The generally belligerent treatment of democractic forces by communist elements in all Eastern European countries is well-known in spite of the strict news censorship imposed in those areas by the Russians and their satellites. Professing to applaud democratic practices, those Communists in power in Eastern Europe have applied terror, intimidation, mass deportation and murder under the guise of necessary purges, all of which has proved shocking to our concept of democracy and free speech. It is plain that democracy to a Communist has not the same connotation it has to an occidental democrat.

The carrying out of these practices in Eastern Europe has been performed under conditions ideal from the communist point of view. Executed by governments professing, according to Communists, to carry out the will of the people, the excesses are cloaked with the mask of respectability of puppet governments which have pretended to be executing anti-fascist purges.

The line of the communist parties in Western Europe has been different. There they had to accommodate themselves to an approach calculated to gain them more freedom of action under the western liberating forces and simultaneously propose measures which would make Communists more acceptable to their fellow citizens, who knew that formerly Communists were traitors to their own countries. Likewise, these countries were further removed from the Soviet sphere of immediate influence and traditionally, by cultural, religious and economic ties, had been integrated along western democratic lines.

In Western Europe for months the Communists have played the role of a moderating force, and their most compelling objective has [Page 270] been to win the war. This is true for Italy, France, the low countries, England, and especially the United States. This mask deceived many persons even in countries where the history of the communist movement and the activities of its leaders during the German-Soviet pact should have made them suspicious of the genuineness of the conversion to democracy.

Within the past three months the communist parties of France and Italy have openly advocated a return to fundamental Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist tactics. They declare that the time has come for a more radical solution of the economic and political conditions confronting those countries. The emphasis is again on the class character of the problem with the recommended solution lying in expropriation of means of production and attacks on the capitalist class generally. The Italian Communist Party in addition has reverted to its anti-monarchical stand of 1942 by the authoritative pronouncement in the May 6, 1945, issue of L’Unità, Rome, organ of the Party, that Italians must, “end the institutional compromise of June 1944”. It was because of political chicanery that Togliatti, Italian communist leader, agreed to recognize the monarchy in 1944.

The French Communist Party has begun to reprint as fundamental documents the theses and recommendations of Lenin of 1920, the most revolutionary period of the Communist International. The most significant and far-reaching indication of a return to a more radical program is contained in an article by Jacques Duclos in the April 1945 Cahiers du Communisme, official monthly organ of the French Communist Party. Duclos was a member of the Executive Committee of the Communist International at the time of its alleged dissolution in June 1943. He resided in Moscow from 1940 to 1943 and is one of the leading interpreters in France of the official communist line. In this article Duclos excoriates Earl Browder and the leading officials of the Party in this country for having deviated from the official Leninist-Stalinist line. Specifically, he accuses Browder of opportunism, of “tailism” or following in the wake of political developments and abandoning the role of leader of the revolutionary vanguard of the workers, and of “exceptionalism” or attempting to draw up a different set of standards of conduct because of the allegedly different character of American problems.

Duclos alone could not have made these accusations. The consensus of opinion based upon the history of the Communist International is that the Duclos article represents instructions originating in Moscow. Weight is given this view by the fact that in May 1944 the Central Committee of the French Communist Party approved the change of tactics of Browder and the American Communist Party which it now condemns. There is every indication that the American [Page 271] Communist Party has been studying these charges for some time prior to its publication of the document in the May 24, 1945, Daily Worker with a very contrite preface by Browder himself. As a matter of fact, over three weeks ago the Party in this country made its first attacks on the State Department after having ceased criticism for two years and these were followed up by attacks on the President. Curiously enough, Duclos’ article seems to have been prepared before the death of President Roosevelt.

This sequence of events seems to indicate the return to activity of the Communist International; hence a consideration of that phenomenon is necessary for a clearer understanding of the entire question.

the communist international

Purpose of the Communist International

The Communist International was established in March 1919 by Lenin, Trotsky and other Bolshevik leaders for the purpose of enlisting the aid of workers in other countries in support of the Russian revolution. It was the hope of these Bolsheviks that the Russian example would be followed in other countries. That hope was fulfilled briefly in other countries such as Hungary, Estonia and Bavaria, the revolution of longest duration, in Hungary, having been 92 days.

Thereafter, while emphasizing the revolutionary purpose of the Communist International and the ultimate hope that the world would be transformed politically into a system of soviet republics, the leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union realized that this objective was mainly an illusion. Consequently, the Soviet communist leaders who controlled the Soviet Government and the Communist International decided to make the latter a tool or weapon to serve Soviet interests throughout the world. The channels of use were varied including pressure groups to influence other countries’ foreign policy in favor of the Soviet Union; attempts to obtain control of the labor movement in other countries, especially key industries such as shipping and radio; enlistment of communists abroad for espionage in behalf of the Soviet Union against their own or other countries; and the setting up of groups to agitate on colonial problems.

Most important was the inculcation of discipline in Communists and the adoption of a system of ethics whereby the end always justified the means. The Communist International finally had sixty-five sections in other countries and in the colonies of those countries, each country or colony being represented by but one section. Communist members accepted the decisions of the Executive Committee of their own country in case of conflict. These sections were rigidly controlled and their activities carefully supervised for over a quarter of a century by representatives of the Communist International. [Page 272] And the members of these sections accepted this regime as a natural corollary of the revolutionary movement. In accepting membership in a section, the prospective member pledged his allegiance to the Communist International, not to the country of which he was a citizen. As part of the training of members of these sections and required reading as a guide to action, the Communist International formulated a series of fundamental documents, the most important of which was its Program, adopted on September 1, 1928. All sections accepted this Program, which was never repudiated and is still regarded as a living, basic document for all Communists.

Abundant evidence exists, even with respect to the American Communist Party, of the absolute obedience and primary loyalty of members to the Communist International, even when espionage is involved. This Communist International was a tool or weapon such as no other country possessed, and the Soviet Union never hesitated to use it when the occasion demanded. Masquerading as a political party in a country permitting it to operate openly, a communist party was in fact a fifth column as much as any Bund group, except that the latter were crude and ineffective in comparison with Communists.

Ample cases are on record of interference by the Communist International in the affairs of other countries. A few instances will suffice to illustrate the scope and gravity of such occurrences:

  • Germany—Abortive revolutions of 1921 and 1923.
  • England—Interference in coal strike of 1926, several cases of espionage using English Communists as tools.
  • France—Black Sea mutiny 1920 led by André Marty, espionage cases of 1933 involving French and American Communists, promotion of sit-down strikes affecting entire country in 1936, promotion of defeatism in war.
  • Denmark—Arrest in February 1935 of Americans later convicted of espionage against Germany using Denmark as a base.
  • Austria—Arrest in Vienna, September 1936 of American Communist who was head of a center of international operators for Soviet Military Intelligence.
  • Spain—1937–1938 Ascendancy of Communist machine under guise of Soviet aid to Loyalist Spain. Hierarchy of international Communists, including American, operating as a government within a government.
  • China—Abortive revolution 1927. Arrest June 1931 of organization leaders in Shanghai (Russian and American agents of Communist International covering the entire Far East.) Assistance to communist Eighth Route Army in early thirties.
  • Netherlands—Mutiny of crew of cruiser Sven Provincien in Netherlands East Indies 1933.
  • Chile—1932 Revolt of Chilean fleet led by Communists.
  • Brazil—Revolution of November 1935.
  • United States—1926 Passaic, New Jersey strike and fur workers’ strike, New York City. July 1934 general strike in San Francisco. Several cases of promoting disaffection in army. 1931 espionage in army headquarters Panama. 1931 espionage New York City. Many cases of espionage.

These are only a few of the outstanding examples of interference by communist parties in the internal affairs of other or their own countries pursuant to orders from the Communist International or the Soviet Military Intelligence.

Most persons are prone to dismiss the communist movement as of no importance because it acknowledges few members. That is the sort of mistake Communists appreciate because their influence always far outweighs their numerical strength and generally is exercised through their peripheral groups of fellow-travellers or innocents who are enrolled in the front organizations controlled by Communists although superficially having no connection with the Party. For example, communist parties in Europe consistently polled in national elections over ten times their numerical strength. In the United States the Party deliberately concealed its national strength by restricting its Party membership and failing to make real campaigns nationally. It decided the 1938 gubernatorial election in New York by withdrawing its candidate and throwing the votes to Governor Lehman.

Thus, the Communist Political Association of the United States has about 100,000 members now but it influences several millions. It controls some C. I. O. Unions such as the Fur Workers, the National Maritime, the Miners and Smelters, the Architects, the Radio, and the Canners, not to mention Bridges’ longshoremen on the West Coast. It exerts considerable influence in intellectual fields. For instance, it is nonsensical to think that a small party of 100,000 members can support three daily publications, at least ten schools with an enrollment of 500 to 5,500, numerous weekly publications, and the upkeep of several office buildings. Yet that is what the Communist Political Association does and the conclusion is warranted that it has access to funds and sources far greater than its modest membership would sustain.

Technique of Communists of Identifying Their Activities with the Soviet Union

American Communists while attacking the policies of the United States carefully implant the feeling in the public mind that any adverse action the United States may take against them for violations of the law will have an unfortunate repercussion on this country’s relations with the Soviet Union. By smear campaigns and unbridled criticism of public servants who view the interests of the United [Page 274] States as paramount to those of the Soviet Union Communists attempt to force these officials to change their views. While Communists were in the forefront of those demanding extreme punishment of American Bundists, they denounce public officials as fascist who attempt to punish Communists for infraction of the laws. In brief, Communists have the same attitude as Goebbels did—that the civil liberty laws of the democracies are convenient instruments for Communists to facilitate their tearing down the structure of the state and thereafter abolishing all civil rights.

It is preposterous to believe that a state’s treatment of its own citizens who are Communists and violate the law will have any effect on relations with the Soviet Union. As a matter of fact, the Soviet Union maintained most cordial relations with Italy and Turkey when Mussolini and Kemal Pasha were dealing with their communist citizens with extreme harshness. At a later date much the same situation prevailed with Nazi Germany after Hitler had abolished all civil rights and was beheading German Communists. Conversely, in the democracies, which leaned over backwards lest there be an infringement of civil liberties, generosity was held in contempt by Communists as prime examples of decadent democracy.

For a powerful country to be hesitant to apply the law to its own citizens is an abnegation of sovereignty and a sign of weakness. Hesitation in this respect will be interpreted as weakness in other countries. American Communists on the one hand attempt to identify themselves with the success of the Red Army and lead Americans to believe that the imposition of penalties on American Communists for infractions of the law will exacerbate or impair this country’s relations with the Soviet Union. At the same time, in order to avoid compliance with mild administrative regulations such as the Registration of Agents’ Act2 the American Communists loudly proclaim their complete severance of ties with the Communist international and from Moscow. Manifestly, the alleged abandonment of ties is solely for purposes of evasion.

However, for the sake of the record and as a guide of [for?] action this country should accept American Communists’ claims of severance as a statement of fact for the purpose of prosecution and treat them solely as American citizens not as privileged persons enjoying a hybrid status.

So far as the Soviet Government is concerned the United States would strengthen its relations with that country by a firm attitude towards American citizens who are Communists. On November 16, 1933, in the document pertaining to the establishment of relations [Page 275] between the two countries3 Commissar Litvinoff gave a specific pledge that there would be no interference by organizations in the Soviet Union in the internal affairs of the United States. The next day in a press interview Litvinoff specifically stated that the pledge did not relate to the Communist Party of the United States as “The Communist Party of Russia does not concern America and the Communist Party of the United States does not concern Russia”.

On August 25, 1935, as a result of inflammatory speeches made in Moscow by American Communists at the Seventh Congress of the Communist International this government made sharp protest to the Soviet Government charging violation of the Litvinoff pledge.4 In declining to receive the protest Acting People’s Commissar Krestinsky wrote: “It is certainly not new to the Government of the United States that the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics can not take upon itself and has not taken upon itself obligations of any kind with regard to the Communist International.”5

It may be observed that the Soviet inability to interpret simple, plain, explicit language in agreements long preceded Yalta and Crimea, and the apparent incapacity and unwillingness to interpret simple clauses has been characteristic of Soviet diplomacy with all countries, especially if the Communist International was concerned.

There would be no useful purpose served in war between the two countries as that would be a most stupid and senseless act by this Government until its vital interests were at stake. Far from being a step to war, an active, vigilant and forceful policy with regard to our own citizens who may be Soviet puppets would promote better relations if the history of Soviet diplomacy is a guide.

Alleged Dissolution of Communist International

In June 1943 the Communist International ostensibly was officially dissolved. The dissolution was hailed as a step in promoting better relations between the allied nations. Apparently overlooked was the fact that in 1941 and 1942 a host of organizations had been set up in Moscow on an international scale to take over in a different field the work of front organizations. All had tie-ups in the United States. For example, the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee organized in September 1941 had direct connections in the United States and its Secretary, Shachno Epstein, who had spent many years in the United States is still wanted on a passport charge in New York. The Pan Slav Committee of Moscow, parent organization of the communist-controlled American Slav Congress which was established in April 1942 in the United States, was another. Likewise, the Free Germany [Page 276] Committee and various intellectual bodies. The official journal, The Communist International, was replaced by War and the Working Class and a number of press associations set up to cover the world, the Inter-Continent News having been the intermediary in this hemisphere. The contents of these Soviet journals were cabled promptly and prepaid to the various communist parties, which accepted the line laid down in those journals as directions for their own activities. These articles were also promptly reprinted in the official press of these parties, presumably in accordance with the former instructions of the Communist International to publish all decisions, and were accepted by Party members as directions. At the same time the various Soviet Embassies began publication of bulletins principally of a propaganda nature which featured the aims and activities of these front organizations.

Thus the dissolution of the Communist International was anticipated by the setting up of propaganda agencies which were well-received in quarters which the Communist International never could penetrate.

But the dissolution was more a shadow than substance. In looking through the fiction to the reality, it was found that no former sections of the Communist International went out of business, on the contrary they became far more active on a larger scale. It was not long before some foreign members of the Communist International were publicized as the logical leaders of their countries when liberated. The following may be mentioned in this connection:

  • Bierut in Poland
  • Pauker in Rumania
  • Tito (Broz) in Yugoslavia
  • Togliatti in Italy
  • Dimitroff in Bulgaria

In other countries of the allied nations such as China and France efforts were made, and are being made, to force acceptance by those governments as equals prominent Communists who formerly were either in active, fighting opposition to the central government or traitors. Now the Communists in several countries are so audacious as to press for the recognition of their own armies not subject to the discipline of the central government. China is an outstanding example; on a lesser scale the same procedure was attempted in Greece, Italy, and France.

In no country after the dissolution of the Communist International was there ever a deviation in loyalty by a communist party towards the Soviet Union. Their primary allegiance was still to the Soviet Union in whose interest all questions, political and military, were considered. In the United States and Great Britain the central [Page 277] theme after the dissolution still remained the agitation for an immediate opening of the Second Front with the customary aspersions on military leaders for lack of leadership and imputations of bad faith of our political leaders.

Recently there have been clear signs of a reversion to a more militant line by these parties. In the April 1945 issue of Cahiers du Communisme, Paris, writing on the subject of the Dissolution of the Communist International one H. Ruffe, a member of the Central Committee of the French Communist Party stated the following:

“Today as in the past, the ultimate goal of the Communists is the same. The rich and fruitful teachings of the glorious Communist International will remain forever inscribed in the hearts and minds of all Communists.”

And on May 21, 1945, in the Voix Ouvrière Suisse, organ of the Swiss Communist Party, Nicole, its Secretary, had the following to say in attacking the policies of Premier Churchill: “Mr. Churchill wants to defend Freedom. That’s fine! But it is necessary to ask whose freedom. For in a Capitalist society, wherever the freedom of exploitation begins, there ends the freedom of the worker.”

In his recent criticism of the American Communist Political Association Duclos made the following important point regarding the program of a genuine Communist Party:

“Nationalization of monopolies actually in no sense constitutes a socialist movement, contrary to what certain people would be inclined to believe. No, in nationalization it is simply a matter of reforms of a democratic character, achievement of socialism being impossible to imagine without preliminary conquest of power (emphasis ours)

No clearer statement is necessary to justify the conclusion that Communists now are prepared to revert to the Program adopted by the Communist International in 1928 as a blueprint for the seizure of power by violent means, if necessary.

Much the same sentiments were expressed by Reale, important Italian communist leader in a recent issue of L’Unità of Rome.

Coupled with these expressions of policy by important communist leaders is the fact that the communist parties are now advocating a more leftist line. Likewise, the well-meshed machinery of Italian, French and German Communists working as a team is added evidence of the continuing and effective operation of the Communist International.

That an important change is taking place is indicated by Browder’s preface to Duclos’ article in the May 24, 1945, Daily Worker. Browder said inter alia:

“It has been clear at all times that the end of the war in Europe would require a fundamental review of all problems by American [Page 278] Marxists. We must estimate our past work, and face the tasks of the future. We must make the most careful inventory, balance our political books, and know clearly how we stand as we enter a new period of sharpening struggles, crisis and profound changes.”

This is about the same language as was customary in the early part of the thirties during a period when the Communist parties were especially active in fomenting disturbances during the economic crisis. It is significant that Browder, an American, who had been issuing demagogic statements since June 22, 1941, about the necessity of all-out efforts for the war regards the end of the European war, the only war in which Russia was engaged, as the occasion for a reexamination of a so-called American political association’s line. While the government to which he owes allegiance is prosecuting the war against Japan, Mr. Browder makes public statements the plain implication of which may mean an interference with that war effort by the American Communists. No better evidence is necessary to indicate that Browder’s professed devotion to the United States is a sham, that he still remains an internationalist devoted to alien ideas.

conditions in europe favorable for the development of the communist movement

The smoothly-functioning, experienced and disciplined communist machine has been demonstrated. At the end of the last World War the Communists had no such machine. Hence, from an operational viewpoint, the apparatus is in position to take advantage immediately of any opportunities which may be presented. In fact the elite of the communist refugees have returned to their respective countries after several years of safe haven and training in Moscow. These elements are far more skillful than any this country can propose.

To a Communist, Europe today politically and economically represents a perfect situation for the propagation of their doctrines. Dean Inge has cogently expressed the feature which makes for communist success. He said, “In their quest for security, people will accept serfdom.”

Europe is emerging from probably the most devastating war in its history. Concomitantly, the Red Army’s exploits have been so well advertised that the majority of Europeans regard them as their liberators. Even in the West the Red Army receives the major share of the credit, thanks to the publicity given it by the communist press. The excesses of the Nazi regime and the fear of a rejuvenated Germany impel most Europeans to gravitate naturally toward the strongest remaining power in Europe—the Soviet Union. Furthermore, almost all Europeans have been living under totalitarian regimes, causing their thinking to be so conditioned at this time that the [Page 279] transition to another totalitarian regime is perfectly natural. The same situation may be true of Germany itself.

In addition, press censorship and radio control (always effective instruments of totalitarians) will again be utilized for that purpose.

Hitler’s actions in thoroughly mixing up the economy of Europe, merging its various industries under Goering and seizing and consolidating banks serve now to facilitate the growth of communism, for it is an herculean if not impossible task to unscramble the mixup and find the original owners. Likewise, there is so much poverty and destitution in Europe that the mere possession of a better than average standard of living is viewed with suspicion by the masses. Europe affords now a perfect background for spontaneous class hatred to be channeled by a skillful agitator.

The thesis of the communist agitator in these circumstances has been praise of the Soviet Union as the liberator of the oppressed masses and the logical guarantor against a repetition of the causes. Consequently, each European country, it is emphasized, should align itself with the Soviet Union.

Simultaneously, the inhabitants of the afflicted countries expect the United States to feed them at least for the next year and provide machinery and credits for the rehabilitation of their economy. Communist parties, including that in the United States, emphasize in their propaganda that this role of the United States as almoner for Europe is a duty. Altruism is not expected to pay dividends even of good will.

possible effect on the united states of change in policy

While conjectural, it is possible to anticipate certain changes towards this country. Some changes are already clear. An attempt will be made to enumerate and describe possible changes.

Attacks on the Administration on grounds of abandoning the policies of the late President. Communists reserve for themselves the interpretation of the late President’s policies.
Attacks on top personnel of State Department on grounds they are anti-Russian.
Use of communist underground in government departments to obtain confidential information.
Use of communist-controlled unions in key industries to strike if necessary, apparently for economic demands, actually for political purposes.
Use of communist apparatus in certain European countries to interfere with administration of our sphere of occupied Germany and perhaps to interfere with supply line of our troops.

The foregoing can be amplified considerably but it is unnecessary as the damage that can be done under the points enumerated would be serious. Now that an American organization has announced that [Page 280] it may have to change its tactics because one phase of the war is over, this Government is challenged. To recognize such a group as un-American, a potential fifth column with foreign allegiance, and to deal with it accordingly would be realistic. Decisive action against the American Communists would be a convincing demonstration to Stalin of the inherent strength of this country and would strengthen relations between the two countries.

  1. This summary is attached to the file copy of Grew’s memorandum to Truman of June 27, but there is no indication that it accompanied that memorandum and its enclosure when they were delivered to Truman. The enclosure here summarized is printed infra.
  2. i. e., the Foreign Agents Registration Act of June 8, 1938 (52 Stat. 631), as amended by an act of April 29, 1942 (56 Stat. 248).
  3. Text in Foreign Relations, The Soviet Union, 1933–1939, p. 28.
  4. See ibid., p. 250.
  5. See ibid., p. 252.