871.00/1–646: Telegram

The Ambassador to the Soviet Union (Harriman) to the Secretary of State


18. Secret for the Secretary from Harriman. Vyshinski’s maneuvers in the last 2 days have given little encouragement to the hope that the Soviets intend to carry out the Moscow agreement in full good faith. The Peasant Party selected Ion Mihalache and the Liberals Constantine Bratianu,11 nephew of the party leader. There is reason to believe that the Govt would have accepted these candidates but Vyshinski behind our backs evidently instructed the Govt to reject them.

The Commission had a somewhat stormy meeting with the members of the Govt in which the Govt attempted to defend their rejection of these candidates.12 The principal charge levelled against Mihalache was that he had volunteered to fight the Russians in July of 1941 [Page 558] under the banner of Hitler which proved his undemocratic and Fascist tendencies. It seems that he served for 3 weeks and was released from the army on Aug 7. Tatarescu13 sat by unblushing despite the fact that he made a speech at that time calling the war for the return of Bessarabia a “holy war”. The objection to Bratianu proved to be that he was a reactionary and as Secretary General of the Liberal Party was morally responsible for and in fact under indictment for the murders of the Nov 8 incident.14

In the discussion it became evident from the general attacks levelled against the parties and all their principal leaders that the Govt has no real intention of allowing the two historic parties a fair chance to put up candidates in connection with the election. It seems clear that they would like, if they can get away with it, to persecute and discredit by any means the leading members of these parties.

As the charge against Mihalache was new to Clark Kerr and myself and was documented with letters to him from the War Ministry, we could take no exception at the time. In connection with the rejection of Bratianu, we made it plain that we did not accept the accusation of culpability of himself or the parties for this incident. However, as Vyshinski supported the Govt in the rejection of these two candidates, there was nothing to do but adjourn the meeting for discussion within the Commission itself.

Prior to the Commission meeting,15 I looked up the charges against these two men. Bratianu had not been indicted but only called as a witness in the investigation. As there is a law confiscating the property of those who volunteered in the war, Mihalache’s case had been considered by the Govt some months ago but as a result his properties were not confiscated. It seems that he was a reserve officer of the rank of major within the call age but as there was a law that no Rumanian could volunteer in the army who was subject to call, he could not volunteer. In the evidence submitted by the Govt to us no communication from Mihalache was produced, only copies of Govt communications to him. Mihalache claims that Antonescu16 for political reasons had attempted just before the beginning of the war against Russia to induce him to join his staff and had even offered him [Page 559] a position in the Govt. This had been refused but Mihalache was afraid that when called up he would be assigned to Antonescu’s staff. He contends that to avoid this he requested combat duty. He further contends that as soon as Bessarabia was liberated, he urged Antonescu not to cross the Dniester and, though unsuccessful in this, his resignation from the army was accepted.

I presented the above in connection with both men to Vyshinski at our Commission meeting. I took a strong position that, based on the evidence at our disposal, we could only place the blame for the Nov 8 incident on the members of the Govt and others than the historic parties. Vyshinski however, maintained his objection to both men. In the case of Bratianu, he brought up also his activities with the Radescu Govt17 and implied, without giving specific evidence, that he was implicated with General Radescu in the Feb 28 plot.18 In the case of Mihalache, he argued that he could not accept a man who had wanted to fight the Soviet Union and would not acknowledge any difference between participation in the liberation of Bessarabia and the invasion of “other” Soviet territory. He also pointed out that he had mentioned Mihalache’s name as unsatisfactory at one of the meetings in Moscow.

It seems clear that Vyshinski’s objections are really that he does not propose to agree to any candidate who has a popular following or is a prominent leader in either of the two parties. When we pressed him for suggestions of candidates he mentioned two professors who were respected members of the parties and, although active members, were in no sense leaders. For the Liberal Party he suggested Professor Danielopol who had been Minister of Health of the Radescu Govt and for the Peasant Party he suggested Professor Zane.

In spite of the fact that we felt Vyshinski was not acting in good faith and was attempting to discredit the leadership of both parties as far as he could, Clark Kerr and I believed we had to accept Vyshinski’s veto. Vyshinski agreed, however, that from now on the discussions of candidates will be within the Commission without participation of the Govt, and Clark Kerr and I undertook to attempt to obtain additional names from the two parties.19

[Page 560]

We had a long talk with Maniu yesterday afternoon. After showing much resentment, as he considers Mihalache his strongest and most honorable colleague, he agreed to consult his party committee and, if his committee agreed, to submit additional names. I intend to see Bratianu this morning.

There is no doubt in my mind that Vyshinski intends to use every method to make difficult any real participation of the two parties in the election and to support the Govt in similar tactics. In our discussions I have made it plain that the two parties must be given full right to put up candidates and conduct a campaign. To this Vyshinski has readily given lip service.

Sent to the Dept as 18, repeated to London as 1 and Moscow as 4.

  1. Constantin (Bebe) Bratianu.
  2. The memorandum concerning this meeting, which was held on January 4, 1946, at 8 p.m., is included in the American Official Record of the Rumanian Commission in file 871.00/1–146.
  3. Gheorghe Tatarescu, Rumanian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister.
  4. Reference is to the public demonstration in Bucharest on November 8, 1945, during which a number of demonstrators were killed or wounded by police action. See telegrams 863, November 8, 872, November 10, and 892, November 16, 1945, from Bucharest, Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. v, pp. 623, 624, and 625, respectively.
  5. The memorandum of the meeting of the Rumanian Commission on January 5, at noon, is included in the American Official Record of the Rumanian Commission in file 871.00/1–146.
  6. Marshal Ion Antonescu, Rumanian Prime Minister (subsequently Conducator) from September 1940 until his overthrow in August 1944. He was executed in June 1946 for war crimes.
  7. Lt. Gen. Nicolae Rǎdescu, Rumanian Prime Minister from December 1944 to March 1945.
  8. Vyshinsky claimed that on February 28, 1945, Soviet authorities in Bucharest foiled a plot by followers of General Radescu to attack Soviet troops stationed in the capital.
  9. Ambassadors Harriman and Clark Kerr met with Iuliu Maniu on January 5 and with Dinu Bratianu on January 6. Records of the conversations are included in the American Official Record of the Rumanian Commission in file 871.00/1–146. In telegram 19, January 6, from Budapest, Harriman reported that he and Clark Kerr had received new lists of candidates proposed by the two parties. The Peasant Party put forth 18 candidates including Maniu and Mihalache. The Liberal Party proposed Bebe Bratianu, Gheorghe Fotino, Mihai Romniceanu, and Dan Danielopolu. (874.00/1–646)