840.48/2–2845: Telegram

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

586. ReDept’s 393 February 22, 11 p.m. I did not see the memorandum on problems of relief supplies for Europe handed to the Secretary by Eden at the Crimea Conference nor had I heard of it before. The food supply in the Soviet Union is still extremely short. All information available from conquered and liberated areas, including eyewitness reports of our ex-prisoners of war from Poland indicate that the Red Army is largely living off the country, particularly in the forward areas. It may be assumed that it is the Soviet Government’s intention to use all surplus foods in the areas occupied for their own purposes for a considerable time. It is difficult to believe that we will be able to induce the Soviet Government to change this policy as long as their own people are badly off for food, particularly as they have been through a number of years of subnormal diet. Soviet Government may, however, be willing to make some generous gestures in direct dealings with Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. I would expect that any relief to shipping would come only through the reduction in the importation of food to the Soviet Union under Lend Lease. I would be somewhat more hopeful in connection with other commodities. We have indications the Russians are ready to consider giving us some petroleum products from Rumania, including bunkers. I believe that the whole subject is a matter which should be studied with the Soviet Government but I feel strongly that we should be making our plans for the immediate future regardless of these discussions, for the reasons I have given above.

When we have recognized the new government in Poland24 it may [Page 1072] also be well to have direct discussion with it. Dr. Michael, Agricultural Attaché, would be a most useful and competent advisor in connection with the food discussions. He, however, left Moscow en route to Washington February 23. I would recommend that he return to Moscow at such time as these discussions take place. There are other individuals in the Embassy and the supply section of the military mission who could be helpful but I would recommend that some man familiar with the subject in all its aspects be sent from Washington to head up the negotiations.

  1. For documentation relating to negotiations for establishment of the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity, see vol. v, pp. 110 ff.