793.00/3–2850: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union


252. You are requested arrange interview Vishinsky soonest in order request on behalf Sec his intercession with Hung Govt on behalf Vogeler and with Chinese Commies on behalf Smith and Bender.1

You shld state US Govt of course realizes these are not matters which directly concern Sov Govt. However, Sec is very deeply disturbed over fate these Amer cits, two of whom detained for sixteen mos and third just condemned fifteen years prison. Friendly relations Sov Govt with Hungs and Chinese Commies leads Sec to hope good offices Vishinsky might result in release these men. Min Davis has already presented request re Vogeler to Deputy PriMin Rakosi and in so doing referred to Vishinsky’s request to Sec last autumn re release Gubitchev, with which Sec was able to comply after completion court action this mo. (Budapest’s 223, Mar. 25, relayed Moscow2). Smith–Bender [Page 1001] case has been taken up numerous occasions with Chinese Commie authorities by our ConGen Peiping. Release these three Amer cits wld clearly be step toward relieving tension internatl relations and hence wld serve cause peace.

Fol is for ur background info: When Vishinsky personally sought Sec’s aid in Gubitchev case last autumn, he was informed that exec branch US Govt could not properly take action at that time since case still before court. Several weeks ago, however, following conviction Gubitchev Sec called in Sov Amb, referred Vishinsky’s earlier appeal, and informed Sov Amb Dept had intervened to obtain suspension sentence and had arranged for Gubitchev’s departure from US.3 Sec did not refer to Vogeler or Smith–Bender cases during this conversation with Sov Amb. Further info re Vogeler case set forth in Budapest’s 224, Mar 27, rptd Moscow 2;4 Dept’s 228, Mar 205 and 207, Mar 136; re Smith–Bender set forth Dept’s circular Jan 3, 4 a. m.5

  1. The reference here is to Chief Electrician William C. Smith and Master Sergeant Elmer C. Bender, American servicemen who disappeared in Communist China in October 1948 and were subsequently detained incommunicado by Communist Chinese authorities near Tsingtao, China. Smith and Bender were released and left China in May 1950. Regarding their release, see Acting Secretary of State James C. Webb’s statement to the press, May 19, 1950, Department of State Bulletin, May 29, 1950, pp. 868–869.
  2. Not printed, but see footnote 1, supra.
  3. Regarding the Department of State’s subsequent clarification of its understanding of Foreign Minister Vyshinsky’s role in the Amtorg case rather than the Gubichev matter, see footnote 2, p. 999.
  4. Supra.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Same as telegram 119, March 13, to Budapest, p. 998.
  7. Not printed.