361.1115/6–1849: Telegram

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


1557. Recent Foreign Office note,1 first of kind received by Embassy, lists as released 32 persons concerning whom Embassy had made representations (reurtel 96, repeated Department 9272). While Embassy doubtful any released in response US efforts and subsequent to Hays letter,3 must check date of release in six cases with other missions. In other cases, no recent representations in view doubtful claims to [Page 623] American citizenship or previous information from non-Soviet sources that persons released long ago. In view number listed and timing, seems probable this note a reaction to Berlin approach. Appears to be attempt to exchange Soviet citizen prisoners in Germany for very dead horse.

Embassy strongly recommends continue hold prisoners for time being, otherwise impression would be that US had given credit where none was due. If investigation shows any of six cases released after date Hays letter and any likelihood their getting out of East Europe, Embassy will recommend release of equal number of Soviet citizen prisoners. Would appreciate receiving your views and information whether second note sent as suggested Embassy’s A–251, March 11.4

Sent Berlin 160, repeated Department 1557.

  1. Note No. 36 of May 7, 1949, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is not printed; hut see despatch No. 566 from Moscow on October 6, p. 664.
  2. In this telegram, not printed, from James W. Riddleberger, the Counselor of Mission in Berlin, on June 13, inquiry was made whether there had been “any further developments regarding proposed exchange Soviet prisoners Germany for US citizens Soviet Union”, and advice was requested whether the prohibition should be continued against the repatriation of Soviet prisoners in Germany. (361.1115/6–1349)
  3. A letter from Maj. Gen. George P. Hays to Maj. Gen. M. G. Yurkin on January 7, 1949, is not printed; but see telegram 1411 to Moscow on December 21, 1948, and footnote 1, Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. iv, p. 942.
  4. The Department in its telegram 492 (repeated to Berlin as No. 760) on July 5, not printed, expressed its approval of the recommendation given in this telegram from Moscow, as well as in telegram 1003 from Berlin on June 24, not printed, that Soviet criminal prisoners in Germany should “be retained in custody pending clarification reported release 32 claimants Amer[ican] citizenship.” Any action should await the recommendation of the Embassy in the Soviet Union, based on the results of its investigation, together with the concurrence of the Department. (361.1115/6–2449) Telegram 1003 from Berlin had also been repeated to Moscow as telegram 102, and had answered that a second note, as suggested in airgram A–251, had not been sent “to Soviet authorities in absence of comment from Department.” (361.1115/6–2449)