Memorandum by Mr. Charles E. Bohlen, Assistant to the Secretary of State for White House Liaison12
Subject: Kravchenko13 Case.
The more we think of this case the more we are convinced that only if his character as a military deserter can be thoroughly established can we risk attempting to have the Army or some other agency arrest him and turn him over to the Soviet authorities. We must anticipate that if any such attempt is made there will be publicity of a very ugly sort and we must be prepared to justify our action on the grounds of his military desertion. The difficulty is that he entered this country as a civilian and is so registered in the Department of State and we have only the bare statement of the Soviet Embassy as to his military connections.[Page 1132]
I suggest, therefore, that when the Soviet Ambassador14 calls this afternoon you might care to tell him the following:
- After the most careful investigation of the laws of the United States the Attorney General15 has come to the conclusion that in the absence of an extradition treaty16 covering such offenses between the United States and the Soviet Union there is no possibility under civil law of turning Kravchenko back to the Soviet authorities.
- If his status as a military officer who deserted from the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union can be established there might be a possibility of handling the case as desired by the Soviet Government on military grounds.
- However, before approaching the military authorities on this point it is necessary to have some evidence as to his military status at the time of his departure from the Soviet Purchasing Commission17 since, in so far as our records indicate, he entered this country as a civilian and is so registered. If the Soviet Government can supply proof of his military status the matter can then be taken up with the appropriate military authorities.18
- Addressed to the Secretary of State, Edward R. Stettinius, Jr.; Mr. Bohlen had been Chief of the Division of Eastern European Affairs until December 20, 1944, when he was succeeded by Mr. Elbridge Durbrow.↩
- Viktor Andreyevich Kravchenko.↩
- Andrey Andreyevich Gromyko.↩
- Francis Biddle.↩
- The Extradition Convention of March 16/28, 1887, with Imperial Russia was not regarded as being in force. See Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, p. 1228, footnote 11.↩
- The Government Purchasing Commission of the Soviet Union in the U.S.A. had been appointed by the Government of the Soviet Union on February 27, 1942.↩
- Mr. Bohlen wrote at the end of this memorandum, “Approved by Mr. Dunn. Mr. Hopkins also thought it was a good approach.” (James C. Dunn was Assistant Secretary of State, and Harry L. Hopkins was Special Assistant to President Roosevelt.) Ambassador Gromyko did see the Secretary of State, who explained the matter to him. The Secretary pointed out that it would be necessary for the Soviet Union to establish the fact that Kravchenko was a member of the Red Army before the matter could be further considered by the U.S. Government. To this the Ambassador made no comment. (861.01B11/1–445)↩