Memorandum by Mr. G. Burke Elbrick, Assistant Chief of the Division of Eastern European Affairs, to Mr. Richard W. Flournoy, Assistant Legal Adviser for Special Problems

With reference to your memorandum of November 5, 1947, to General Snow1 and to EE’s memorandum of November 20 regarding the authentication of the signatures of Soviet officials appearing on documents emanating from Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, we should appreciate your reaction to the suggestion made in the final paragraph of EE’s memorandum cited.2 As noted in that memorandum, it is believed that the third suggestion made in your memorandum of November 5, 1947 would best serve the interests of American citizens; namely, that the persons initiating the action with the Department be informed that the authentication does not imply recognition by this Government of the sovereignty of the Soviet Union over the country in question or the right of the Soviet Union to function in that country. If the above suggestion is adopted, it would seem desirable to issue instructions that all authentications of such documents should bear a special notation to this effect.

Your memorandum of December 8, 1947,3 to me raises a second point; namely, the obtaining of official documents from the Baltic countries for the use of American citizens. At the same time this second memorandum deals with the authentication of such documents which, of course, is necessary in order that they may be used in American courts. We feel that in authenticating documents, the Embassy at Moscow [Page 806] should follow exactly the same procedure laid down for the Department of State, and therefore the Embassy at Moscow should be authorized to authenticate the seals and signatures of Soviet officials to documents emanating from the Baltic States, provided such authentications bear the notation alluded to above.

EE agrees with you that Americans who are interested in obtaining such documents should communicate directly or through attorneys, with the persons in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania who issue such documents. The documents could be authenticated as outlined above by the Embassy at Moscow or by the Department of State.4

DS is holding many inquiries from individuals concerning this matter, including Congressional inquiries, and, accordingly, it would be very helpful if we could establish a policy to govern such cases in the very near future.

C. Burke Elbrick
  1. Brig. Gen. Conrad E. Snow was Assistant Legal Adviser for Political Affairs.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. iv, p. 612, and footnote 4.
  3. Ibid., p. 630.
  4. A marginal notation at this place by C. A. Rock of the Division of Protective Services reads: “The Dep[artmen]t could only authenticate the Embassy’s authentication.”