The Acting Secretary of State to the Chargé of the Soviet Union (Novikov)

Sir: I acknowledge the receipt of the Ambassador’s note of April 18, 1945, concerning press reports that measures have been instituted by the Anglo-American command in Europe which would prevent the return of Soviet nationals to the Soviet Union.

I assure you that no measures to prevent the return of Soviet citizens to their homeland have been undertaken by my Government. On the contrary my Government will facilitate the repatriation of all persons of Soviet nationality who are liberated from German control except those persons referred to in the Department’s note of February 1, 1945, who claim protection under the Geneva Prisoners of War Convention.

If, as reported by the press, the military authorities have devised some program whereby these persons are being temporarily sheltered in former German camps, I can only believe that such a program has been adopted as a practical solution to the problem of obtaining housing and transportation facilities on a continent devastated by the exigencies of modern warfare.

I am certain that your Government understands that the rapid advances of the Allied armed forces in Germany, which have liberated hundreds of thousands of United Nations nationals, have created a most difficult transportation problem so that it has not been possible to transfer immediately all those liberated persons either to their homelands or to the rear areas.

In view of the new situation created by the junction of the Anglo-American armed forces and the Soviet armed forces, it is possible that the military authorities under the command of General Eisenhower may be contemplating initiating a more expeditious procedure for the repatriation of Soviet nationals liberated in Germany. Thus, the necessity of causing these persons to make the long arduous journey to the Soviet Union by circuitous sea routes may be avoided.

[Page 1095]

With a view to clearing up your Government’s misconceptions which have apparently arisen from the press reports to which the Ambassador refers, I have taken up this matter with the military authorities and have requested further details concerning the exact measures taken by our field commanders.13

Accept [etc.]

Joseph C. Grew
  1. A note of July 12, 1945, to Soviet Chargé Novikov transmitted a copy of an extract of a report dated June 14, 1945, from General Eisenhower, which stated that every possible effort had been made to expedite the repatriation of liberated Soviet nationals. General Eisenhower’s report further stated that every available means of transportation by land, sea, and air had been used to repatriate Soviet citizens, and to date more than 400,000 were known to have been repatriated or sent into the Soviet zone of occupation in Germany. At a conference between representatives of Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force and the Supreme Command of the Red Army at Halle on May 23, 1945, a plan for repatriation of Allied nationals liberated by the Anglo-American and Soviet forces was mutually agreed to according to which it was hoped that up to 30,000 or more Soviet citizens per day would be returned to the Soviet zone of occupation in Germany. General Eisenhower’s report further stated that while it was impossible to obtain accurate figures, it was estimated that more than a million Soviet citizens awaited repatriation in the areas of Germany occupied by the Allied Expeditionary Force and in Western European countries, and all possible means were being taken to effect the repatriation with the utmost speed. (711.62114/6–2645)