891.00/1–946: Telegram

The Vice Consul at Tabriz (Rossow) to the Secretary of State

secret

3. Aside from stopping of Iranian troops and the well evidenced supplying of arms to rebel democrats, the most flagrant Soviet subversive intervention Azerbaijan is through the “Society of Friends of Soviet Azerbaijan”. Organized recently upon the return of its leaders from visit to Baku as guests of Soviet Union, its ostensible aims are the fostering of nationalities between the two Azerbaijans. In recent days its drive for memberships assumed large and significant proportions.

Although the social and economic reforms are not entirely unpopular among the people here, they are assuredly opposed in the majority to Soviet domination, and only fear and intimidation lead them to endorse movements of this sort. However, the omnipresence of heavily armed Soviet troops, the general awareness of Soviet manipulation of recent revolt, and widespread fear of the ruthlessness of Soviet agents, have given rise to a deeply ingrained terrorism, such that a mere invitation to join such a society is tantamount to duress. The reality of this terror cannot be doubted since it pervades even the most casual contact with natives.

[Here follows discussion of specific cases of intimidation.]

Soviet sponsorship is openly indicated by fact that both the Soviet Consul General and the Soviet military commander have personally approached [several prominent Tabriz merchants to]24 urge them to join.

As to real aim of society, Muhammad Beriya, local Minister of Education, founder and behind the scenes leader of the society, in [Page 299]response to direct inquiry denied that society aimed at annexation, but added the specific qualification “provided of course the Central Government meets our demands”.

Evidence as to methods and aims of the society would appear to be sufficient in both volume and reliability toward any official notice to be taken of these terrorist subversive tactics.

As reported mytel 14, December 29,25 the local PriMin’s pliability and concern for world opinion may make it possible to hamper designs for independence provided adequate conciliatory measures are taken by Central Government. This would, however, merely be a half way measure since Soviet terrorism is so deeply ingrained. Only an occupation by some trusted power or powers could entirely eliminate it, but, even though Soviet denial could be expected, an expression of world concern as to such terrorism, perhaps by the United Nations, would go far in impeding it, and might give the people hope that some real effective measures would eventually be taken by the Security Council. Any statement for the attention of [the Azerbaijan public should be com]municated through me since only world news service published by the one authorized newspaper is Tass.

Unless some sort of energetic action is soon taken Azerbaijan must be written off.

Sent Department as 3; Tehran as 1.

Rossow
  1. Bracketed insertions in this telegram based on copy in Tabriz Consulate files.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1945, vol. viii, p. 520.