CFM files, lot M 88, box 162, “Ministerial Talks in London (MTL)”

No. 514
Memorandum by the Ambassador to the Soviet Union (Kennan) to the Secretary of State


Since I sent my last reports to the Department, and in fact since I left Moscow,1 Izvestiya—the official Government organ, has run an editorial2 listing Soviet grievances against the United States in most thorough fashion: going way back to wartime and even prewar days. I think this is a reaction to my recent talk with Vyshinski;3 and is of significance.

My recommendations are as follows:

That our Government issue no formal statement and make no formal communication to the Soviet Government at this time about the anti-US campaign;
That we take occasion in official speeches and statements as well as in the output of VOA and other propaganda media, to ridicule Soviet charges by citing and high-lighting their obvious absurdities and exaggerations, such as that we have buried alive 100,000 people in Korea, murdered 300,000 women and children, that 2,000,000 children in the United States sleep on the subway gratings, that the United States has 14,000,000 starving unemployed, etc;
That we go easy for the time being on anti-Soviet atrocity propaganda, for reasons I can explain on another occasion;

That I be authorized to discuss this late Izvestiya editorial with Mr. Vyshinski orally and informally, pointing out to him that it involves extremely serious misapprehensions concerning American policy, that these misstatements must either be believed by the Soviet leaders, in which case they have been maliciously and grievously misinformed, or they are not believed, in which case the Soviet Government is deliberately muddying the waters at a serious and delicate moment in international life. In either case the conclusions we must draw are extremely disturbing. I would then warn Mr. Vyshinski that the continued bandying about of these misstatements in editorial statements of the organ of the Presidium [Page 1017] of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. cannot but reflect adversely on our relations and represents a heavy responsibility on the part of the Soviet Government.

I would explain to Mr. Vyshinski that I was authorized to make these statements to him in the name of my Government. I would add, however, that I remained prepared to discuss with him in a friendly manner at any time the clarification of any doubts or questions the Soviet Government has to make with regard to United States policy.

  1. Ambassador Kennan was scheduled to confer with Secretary Acheson at a luncheon meeting in London on June 27. No record of that meeting has been found. This memorandum was presumably handed to Acheson at that meeting.
  2. The lead editorials of Pravda (the organ of the Soviet Government) and Izvestiya (the organ of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union) on June 22 were devoted to the 11th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. The editorial in Izvestiya, which telegram 2063 from Moscow, June 23, characterized as the sharper of the two, claimed that the “imperialist powers” sought to direct Nazi aggression against the Soviet Union and since the end of World War II the United States and its allies had been seeking to unleash a new war against the Soviet Union. (Moscow microfilm telegrams, FY 53)
  3. See Document 511.