Microfilm telegram files, “Moscow FY 53”: Telegram

No. 554
The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Beam) to the Department of State1


1257. Embassy officers since early morning have covered greater Moscow area and will continue do so throughout day.

Some few people seen weeping. No conversations overheard concerning Stalin’s death. Perhaps population is somewhat more subdued than usually. Group of 400–500 people gathered around Spaski gate of Kremlin early this morning. Larger group later, but not as sizeable as might be expected, in Red Square, apparently instructed by police to stand clear of Kremlin entrance.

General impression Moscow at this point is surprising lack of response to this morning’s news of Stalin’s death and contrasts with American and British reaction to deaths President Roosevelt and King George.

Committee for organization funeral includes Khrushchev as Chairman, Kaganovich, Shvernik, Vasilievski (Minister of War) Pegov (Secretariat member and alternate member Presidium) Artemev (Commandant Moscow Military District and candidate member Central Committee) and Yasnov (Chairman Executive Committee Moscow Soviet). Latest communiqué states Stalin’s body will be placed in the Hall of Columns but no indication as to time when public will have access.

While committee for funeral arrangements not so significant as lineup of honorary pall bearers which will probably be announced shortly it may be of interest that none of popularly presumed successors is included.

  1. Repeated for information to London, Rome, Paris, Bonn, and Berlin.