Memorandum by the Ambassador to the Soviet Union (Harriman), Temporarily in Washington, to the Secretary of State 87

I saw Father Braun88 before I left Moscow. He seemed to be very well. It is true that he has been in Russia too long and is in a nervous condition.89 Confidentially, Mr. Flynn90 believes that he should be replaced and I would heartily endorse this recommendation.

It will be impossible to bring in an assistant for Father Braun. The only chance there would be of getting in a new priest would be on the understanding that Father Braun would leave on the arrival of his replacement. Mr. Flynn said he would take this matter up on his return, and if this is worked out with the Catholic authorities I feel strongly the Department should support a request for a visa, but we can only be successful, in my opinion, on a replacement basis.

Father Braun lives in a small flat in the French Embassy. He has our commissary privileges which adds to the meager Russian ration he receives. He also has available the medical attention of our Navy doctor in Moscow.

W. A. H[arriman]
  1. The substance of this memorandum was sent to Mr. Taylor in telegram 56, May 12, 1945. Mr. Taylor gave this information to Pope Pius XII at an audience on May 17. The Pope regretted that the proposal to send an assistant would not be acceptable to the Soviet Union, and he also voiced “a general expression of fear of growth of Communism in Europe”. (811.001 Roosevelt—Condolences/5–1745)
  2. The Reverend Father Leopold Braun, an American Catholic priest of the Order of Assumptionists, had come to Moscow in 1934, where he had thereafter been in charge of the only Catholic Church of Saint-Louis-des-Français.
  3. In his telegram 92 of April 19, 1945, the personal representative of the President, Myron C. Taylor, reported upon an audience with the Pope which he had had that morning: “We discussed the declining state of health of Father Braun the Catholic priest conducting the only remaining Catholic Church in Moscow concerning whom the Pope expressed deep concern. Father Braun had formerly lived in the official residence of the French Ambassador to the Soviet Government but ‘under pressure’ has moved to a private residence.” (811.001 Roosevelt—Condolences/4–1945)
  4. Edward J. Flynn of New York City, an influential Catholic layman who had been in the Soviet Union earlier in the year.