740.00114 EW/4–3045: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Kennan) to the Secretary of State

1426. Vyshinski8 called me to the Foreign Office this evening and proposed that we agree, now that our forces have linked up in Germany, to effect repatriation of our respective liberated prisoners of war directly across our line of contact in Germany instead of by sea. If I could obtain our Government’s agreement in principle to this proposal, our respective military authorities, Vyshinski said, could work out the details.

I undertook to submit the proposal to my Government. In case the proposal is accepted, I think it likely that the Russians will do their best to interpret our acceptance in such a way as to oblige us to hand over at once all the Russians we find, regardless of their status, before we have had a chance to do any sifting among those found to have been fighting with the Germans. The Department may wish to phrase its answer in such a way as to anticipate this possibility.9

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The British Chargé has wired his Government in connection with the Golikov statement (reEmbs 1425, April 30) recommending that a factual refutation of Golikov’s shameless distortions be given to editors in England.10 I am heartily in sympathy with this recommendation. I can see no reason why our public opinion should be left under any misapprehension as to the true facts of this situation.

Repeated to Paris for Reber11 as 88, to Caserta as 78.

  1. Andrey Yarmaryevich Vyshinsky, First Deputy People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.
  2. Telegram 1030, May 7, 1945, 7 p.m., to Moscow, stated that the Department of State agreed in principle to the repatriation of liberated prisoners of war across the lines of contact in Germany instead of by sea; Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force was being asked to contact the Western Commander of Soviet forces to work out details effecting repatriation in such a manner (740.00114 EW/4–3045). Telegram 1514, May 8, 1945, 10 p.m., from Moscow, reported that Vyshinsky had been informed of the Department’s assent (740.00114–EW/5–845).
  3. Telegram 1425, April 30, 1945, from Moscow, not printed; it transmitted the summary of an interview with Colonel General Filipp Ivanovich Golikov, Representative of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Soviet Union for Repatriation Affairs, which was featured on April 30 in the newspaper Pravda, the organ of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In his interview, Golikov made startling allegations regarding mistreatment of Soviet citizens in British and American prisoner-of-war camps and contrasted the unfavorable treatment accorded them with the generous treatment allegedly accorded American and British prisoners of war liberated by the Red Army (740.00114/4–3045). On May 3, 1945, the Department of State released to the press a statement concerning the Soviet allegations on Allied prisoners of war; for text, see Department of State Bulletin, May 6, 1945, p. 864.
  4. Until April 25, 1945, Samuel Reber, Jr., was Counselor of Mission on the staff of the United States Political Adviser, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, and served as Political Officer for the liberated countries