Memorandum by the Secretary of State to President Roosevelt 23

You will recall that last week we spoke to you about the case of Kravchenko, a member of the Soviet Purchasing Commission, who is regarded by the Soviet Government as a military deserter and whose return to the Soviet Union on this basis has been demanded by the Soviet Government. You will recall that during our discussion you agreed that if the man is in fact a military deserter, in the interests of our relations with the Soviet Union, we should endeavor to find some means of complying with the Soviet request.

Since our conversation I have gone into the whole matter again most thoroughly with the Attorney General and with Mr. J. Edgar Hoover. As a result of this discussion it is now entirely clear that in the absence of a specific treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union covering such offenses there is absolutely no legal ground for turning Kravchenko back to the Soviet authorities as a civilian.

Since Kravchenko was admitted to the United States in a civilian capacity and was so registered in the Department of State, we have no official proof that he had any direct military connections at the time of and during his service with the Soviet Purchasing Commission. We have only the bare statement in a communication from the Soviet Embassy that he had military status. Before this Government, therefore, could apply military law to him on the basis of military desertion, it will be necessary to have some proof that he was actually a member of the Soviet Armed Forces, when he entered the United States. I have explained our position to the Soviet Ambassador and have asked him to endeavor to obtain for us the necessary evidence as to Kravchenko’s military status which would [Page 1135] enable us to consider his deportation under military law. This the Soviet Ambassador has promised to take up with his Government.

The present status of the case is, therefore, that we are waiting proof that Kravchenko is connected with the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union before proceeding any further with this matter. I shall, of course, let you know of any further developments in this case.

E. R. Stettinius, Jr.
  1. Mr. Bohlen explained in a memorandum of January 9 to the Secretary of State that he had prepared this memorandum, after discussion of the Kravchenko case with Mr. Grew and Mr. Dunn, for the Secretary to approve and sign in order “to bring the President up to date on the latest developments in this case.” (861.01B11/1–445)