711.61/6–1145: Telegram

No. 30
The Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Harriman ) to the President 1

top secret

Now that Harry has left, I thought you might want me to give you a brief report on his visit.

There is no doubt when we saw Stalin the first time that he was gravely concerned over the adverse developments during the past three months in the relations between our two countries. A firm position which President Roosevelt took before he died and you have taken on several issues has had its effect. He showed, however, that he did not fully understand the basis of the difficulties. In the early talks he took the offensive in complaining about our misdeeds and aggressively indicated that if we did not wish to deal on a friendly basis with the Soviet Union, she was strong enough to look after herself. He was clearly glad to see Harry and accepted unquestioningly the fact that you sent him as an indication of your desire to work with him (Stalin). Harry did a first rate job in presenting your views and in explaining the most important matters, particularly Poland, which were causing us concern.

I am afraid Stalin does not and never will fully understand our interest in a free Poland as a matter of principle. He is a realist in all of his actions, and it is hard for him to appreciate our faith in abstract principles. It is difficult for him to understand why we should want to interfere with Soviet policy in a country like Poland, which he considers so important to Russia’s security, unless we have some ulterior motive. He does, however, appreciate that he must deal with the position we have taken and, in addition, from all reports we have from inside Poland, he needs our assistance and that of Great Britain’s in obtaining a stable political situation within that country.

I believe I told you that I was certain Molotov did not report to Stalin accurately and in fact truthfully in all cases. This was brought out again [in] our talks. It is also clear that Molotov is far more suspicious of us and less willing to view matters in our mutual relations from a broad standpoint than is Stalin. The fact that we were able to see Stalin six times and deal directly with him was a great help. If it were possible to see him more frequently, many of our difficulties could be overcome.

Although the agreement to start the consultations with the Poles in Moscow is a big step forward, I am afraid that we will have trouble with Molotov when it comes to working out the details of the reorganization of the Warsaw Government. He possibly will not continue in [Page 62] the spirit of our recent talks and the Poles themselves will also be difficult. I hope, however, to be able to handle the consultations for my part in such a way that we can either come to a conclusion or point up the differences sufficiently clearly so as to make it possible for you to come to a conclusion with Stalin when you meet him with Churchill.

The talks about the Far East, I feel, were of real value, particularly Stalin’s agreement to take up with Soong in the first instance the political matters affecting China in the Yalta agreement, and also his agreement to allow the Generalissimo’s representatives to go into Manchuria with the Russian troops to set up Chinese National Government Administration.

The last talk, on voting procedure,2 was most interesting. It was clear that Stalin had not understood at all the issues between us. In spite of Molotov’s explanation and defense of the Soviet position, Stalin waived [waved] him aside and accepted our position. He stated, however, he did not consider that “a country is virtuous because it is small”. And he had a good deal to say about the troubles small nations have made in the world. This, he said, he was quite ready to state publicly as well as privately. He expressed emphatically his unwillingness to allow the Soviet Union’s interests to be affected by such countries.

In conclusion, I feel that Harry’s visit has been more successful than I had hoped. Although there are and will continue to be many unsolved problems with the Soviet Government, I believe that his visit has produced a much better atmosphere for your meeting with Stalin.

Physically Harry stood the trip reasonably well. The strain of the first week took a lot out of him, and it was a good thing that he had a few days to rest up before starting home.

Bohlen’s presence was, as usual, most helpful.

  1. Printed from a copy forwarded to the Secretary of State by Leahy on June 11.
  2. See Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins , pp. 910–912.