032/4–1447: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Smith) to the Secretary of State


1343. Stassen told us in confidence about his talk with Stalin.1 Most significant fact about conversation was that Stalin on at least three [Page 553] occasions asked Stassen about economic situation in US and was very anxious to know whether Stassen expected a depression and what we are doing to head one off. Stalin’s [concern?] with economic situation in US, coupled with continuing Soviet press discussions of predictions of American economic crisis and depression, apparently reveals fundamental basis of present Soviet policy and tactics regarding Germany, Austria, Korea and other friction points. Kremlin apparently believes that by using delaying tactics and preventing economic stability in areas where they can exercise any influence or control, they can bring effective pressure on US by causing US to continue to pour considerable sums to bolster weak economic systems. They believe that the American public will rebel against these expenditures when the depression which they hope for finally arrives, and that we shall then be forced to withdraw our economic aid and curtail our military strength to such an extent that we shall no longer be able to offer any effective opposition to Soviet efforts to establish complete control in areas which they consider of major interest.

  1. This interview was held in the Kremlin on April 9, between 11 p. m., and 12:20 a. m. Harold Stassen and Stalin were each accompanied by other persons. Each side took notes, which were exchanged, and Stalin gave permission for publication of the interview at its close. It was printed in the American press on May 4. For text, see The New York Times, May 4, 1947. A different Tass version appeared in the Soviet press on May 8, because it was declared that the American account contained a number of arbitrary alterations and inaccuracies. After subsequent comparison had been made it seemed that the versions, although differing, did not show serious discrepancies.