740.0011 EW/4–245: Telegram

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

1020. In an earlier en clair message namely 1007 of April 2,15 the Embassy wired the complete text of an article by General Galaktionov on the Allied military operations in the west which appeared in today’s Pravda.

I wish to invite special attention to this article and recommend that it be given careful study. It not only explains the extreme reserve with which news of our recent military advances has been released to the Soviet public, as described in my 979, March 30, 6 p.m.,15 but it reveals an attitude with respect to the background of our operations which might well find its reflection in other fields.

It is clear from this article that Russian suspicions, never hard to arouse in the best of circumstances, have now been fanned by reports in our press and radio of lack of German resistance in the west. The Russians evidently conclude from this that the Germans are putting up only token resistance to our advance, and suspect that they may be acting this way either in pursuance to some tacit understanding with our military authorities or in the hope of obtaining some sort of assurance of mild treatment from our side. These suspicions are undoubtedly aggravated by the unpleasant consciousness that the prospects [Page 817] of occupation by Soviet forces are a source of particular dread and horror to many of the peoples of central Europe, by the suspicion that this accounts for what they take to be a greater German will to resist in the east than in the west, and by the thought that in consequence of this the Red Army may be deprived of the glory of being the first to reach the vital centers of Germany, at a time when the forces of the western Allies are winning sensational and—in the Russian view—cheap victories.16

  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. In telegram 1040, April 4, 1945, 11 p.m., from Moscow, Ambassador Harriman reported that the Soviet press, following publication of the Gralaktionov article, began for the first time to give extensive treatment to material on the subject. “This change in treatment presumably reflects a sense of the necessity of preparing the Soviet reader for possible further important developments in Germany which would otherwise have taken him quite by surprise.” (740.0011 EW/4–445)