861.00/2–1246: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union ( Kennan ) to the Secretary of State


408. Pre-election speeches of Stalin and his Politburo associates have re-affirmed correctness and historical necessity of earlier policies implemented by Communist Party in USSR and have set forth party line on internal program of Soviet State in years to come.

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In Stalin’s speech,39 which was of course most authoritative of all, following main points stand out.

Straight Marxist interpretation of World Wars one and two as products of crises inherent in monopoly capitalism. This was coupled, however, with statement that World War two bore anti-Fascist liberating character from very outset—an interesting deviation from recently revived 1939–41 line that war was purely “imperialist” in pre-Soviet phase.
Contention that war proved Soviet system to be “better form of organization of society than any non-Soviet social system”.
Justification in light of war of previous 5-year plans and collectivization. Here he admitted significantly that at time of first 5-year plan party had not feared “to go against current”.
Revelation that ration system will be abolished in near future and that “special attention” will be devoted to increasing consumers goods output and lowering prices. Here he significantly omitted reference to grave housing situation and measures to improve it.
Statement that three or more new 5-year plans will be required to guarantee country against “all contingencies” by increasing pigiron output to 50 million tons annually, steel to 60 million, coal to 500 million and petroleum to 60 million tons.

Although more militant and oratorical in tone, speeches of other politburo members follow along lines of Stalin’s speech in substance. All argue that war proved far-seeing wisdom of party’s pre-war policies, expatiate on superior democracy of Soviet system and its freedom from capitalist crises and unemployment, and advance present party program of “consolidating victory” through restoration and increase of economic might of USSR. Necessity of maintaining and improving Armed Forces unanimously emphasized on ground that forces of “Fascism and reaction” are still alive in world, in “bourgeois democracies” and elsewhere.

Most of the speeches refer to enormous “international authority” currently enjoyed by USSR but at same time give little or no indication that Soviet leaders place any serious reliance on future of international [Page 696] collaboration. UNO was discussed only by Molotov and Big Three coalition was referred to, in retrospective light at that, only by Stalin, Kalinin40 and Zhdanov.41 Kaganovich42 struck openly isolationist note in his statement that “two of our most dangerous and base foes from this capitalist encirclement—Hitlerite Germany and Imperialist Japan—have been smashed” but “we must remember that our country continues to be in capitalist encirclement”.

Malenkov’s speech deserves special note as manifestation of an attitude of total suspicion toward motives of outside world. After urging that armed forces should be strengthened so that “friends will respect us and forbear to interrupt our great constructive work”, he declares that USSR has no intention of permitting others to harvest fruits of its dear-bought victory, that all those who may think of organizing new war against Soviet Union should remember that it is already a mighty power, and that USSR does not intend “to draw other peoples’ chestnuts out of fire” except for its own good.

Full translation of Stalin’s speech and several of the others follow by despatch.43

  1. This speech, delivered in Moscow on February 9, called forth much comment within the Department of State. Among the memoranda written was one by H. Freeman Matthews, Director of the Office of European Affairs, dated February 11, which read in part: “Stalin’s speech of February 9 constitutes the most important and authoritative guide to post-war Soviet policy.… It should be given great weight in any plans which may be under consideration for extending credits or other forms of economic assistance to the Soviet Union.” (761.00/2–1146) In his memorandum of February 12, Elbridge Durbrow, Chief of the Division of Eastern European Affairs, remarked that Stalin firmly denounced capitalism and concluded: “It is felt that in view of the clear indication of the new Soviet line we should be most diligent to counteract Soviet propaganda and political moves which in all probability will be directed primarily at dividing the British and ourselves in order to give the Soviets a freer hand to attain their own aims.” (861.00/2–1246)
  2. Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union. He resigned on March 19, 1946, because of poor health, and died on June 3.
  3. Andrey Alexandrovich Zhdanov, member and a Secretary of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.
  4. Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich, member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and Deputy Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars (after March 15, Council of Ministers).
  5. Despatch 2442, February 12, from Moscow, not printed.