Roosevelt Papers: Telegram
The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to the President 1
[Received 16 October.]
Personal and Top Secret for the eyes of the President only from Harriman.
Eden substituted for the Prime Minister today in our meeting with Stalin to hear the outline of the Soviet position in the Far East. General Antonov presented the Soviet intelligence information regarding [Page 369]Japanese strength in Manchuria and the Japanese capacity to reinforce in the event of hostilities with Russia. This was greater than we give the Japs. Antonov then explained the possible avenues of attack open to the Russians and explained that it would be necessary before attacking Japan to build up the Russian forces by 30 divisions which with the 30 they now have in the Far East would give a total strength of 60 divisions. This build up can be accomplished it was stated within two and a half to three months after the collapse of Germany. Stalin then personally answered the questions which we put to him. It developed that he would like to build up beginning at once a 2 to 3 months’ stock of food for the army fuel for the air force and ground transport also rails and railroad equipment to complete the Sovgavan-Komsomolsk Railroad.2 A detailed explanation of the logistic was not given but it was stated that the Trans Siberian Railroad could handle about 25,000 tons a day eastbound of which about 30 per cent was needed to supply the civilian population and for the operation of the railroad. Stalin expressed the opinion that the Japanese war would be of short duration after Russia attacked and if stores could be built up now the attack could be made 2 or 3 months after Germany’s collapse. He said he was not ready to give a definite date but that planning should begin at once. Furthermore there were political aspects which would have to be given consideration. Stalin expressed confidence that with the present Soviet forces accumulated stocks could be protected and indicated that he would be pleased if the Japs attacked as although there might be early reverses it would assist the morale of the Russian people. Stalin said that he would be glad to receive 4-engine bombers and instructors to train a strategic airforce for Soviet use in the war against Japan. I told him that I understood that the training of crews could commence and the planes be provided promptly as soon as an understanding was reached regarding their use. Stalin indicated that air fields at Petropavlovsk would be provided for our use as well as in the maritime provinces. He said that the air fields housing and supplies for a strategic air force should be built up in advance of hostilities and the planes brought in immediately before action was started. We got no clear indication however as to just what air force in addition to the ground forces available supply lines could support and it was agreed that a further conference should be held with Stalin and his Staff by General Deane and myself tomorrow or the next day. Eden agreed that there was no need for British participation. The conversation although inconclusive was encouraging because of Stalin’s willingness to pursue planning promptly and to begin accumulating stocks now for the war against Japan.