No. 493
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Ambassador to the Soviet Union (Kirk)



  • Meeting with the President


  • Harry S. Truman
  • Ambassador Alan G. Kirk

The President received me at 12:05 this date and we talked until 12:30.

He expressed regret at my leaving Moscow but recalled his own agreement that a third winter there would not be practicable. He is pleased with the selection of George Kennan, and I endorsed this nomination heartily.1

The President said the dates of acceptance of my resignation and the nomination of Mr. Kennan would be worked out by the Department and referred to him.2

We discussed the proceedings in the General Assembly, wherein I pointed out the efforts of Vishinsky to sway Committee No. 1 and the General Assembly into voting for the immediate and unconditional prohibition of the atomic bomb, thus by majority vote and before any safeguards have been established, the Soviets would [Page 963] gain tremendous advantage over the free world. The President fully understood this point.3

Then I mentioned the attempts of the Soviet Delegation to sow dissension among the various Powers or groups of Powers in the free world, pointing out that happily in this regard little or no success had been achieved. The President was cognizant of these efforts and expressed pleasure at their failure.

We talked a little bit about Mr. Stalin’s health. I said that our Embassy in Moscow at the time of my departure had no concrete evidence of failing health on the part of Mr. Stalin. It was recalled that Stalin had been present in the Bolshoi Theatre on the anniversary of Lenin’s death on January 21, 1952. We then touched upon the matter of Stalin giving “agreement in principle”, but finding the other members of the Politburo or the bureaucrats failing to implement these general principles.

I referred to the progress made in education among the people of the Soviet Union, and we speculated on the possibility that with increased knowledge the capacity to read and to think for themselves would increase and the people of the Soviet Union might—at some distant date—begin to pass their own judgment on the system of government under which they now live.

On taking leave of the President I thanked him for his trust and confidence, and he said very pleasantly that he had been pleased with what had been done.

  1. President Truman announced on Dec. 26, 1951, that he had acceded to the wish of Ambassador Alan G. Kirk to resign in the near future. The President also announced his intention to nominate George F. Kennan, then on leave from the Foreign Service of the United States, as Kirk’s successor as Ambassador to the Soviet Union. Regarding the Kennan appointment, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. iv, Part 2, pp. 1663 and 1673.

    Ambassador Kirk left Moscow on Oct. 6, 1951, in order to serve as an adviser to the U.S. Delegation to the Sixth Regular Session of the U.N. General Assembly, held in Paris, Nov. 6, 1951–Feb. 5, 1952.

  2. Ambassador Kirk’s letter of resignation to the President dated Feb. 5 and the President’s letter of acceptance of Feb. 7 were announced by the White House on the latter date. Kennan’s nomination to be Ambassador to the Soviet Union was also presented to the Senate on Feb. 7.
  3. For documentation on these events, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. i, pp. 616 ff.