115 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister
Cablegram 100 LONDON, 17 November 1941, 8.02 p.m.
FOR THE PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET
Your telegram 6960.  I have seen Foreign Office and suggested
that they should telegraph immediately to Cripps  so that I
would have his views before I saw Maisky.  Reply now received
to the following effect:
'Cripps says that he feels strong misgivings about the proposal.
He points out that the Soviet Government and essential
organisations, also diplomatic corps, are desperately overcrowded
at Kuibyshev and in the nearby [Volga]  towns, and there is a
shortage of almost all but the barest necessities of life.
'Visit of a foreign delegation except for some clearly defined
practical purpose could hardly be welcome to Soviet Authorities
who would feel bound to demonstrate and entertain it as generously
as possible. He considers that it would not be fair to impose
problems of housing and feeding at this difficult moment. He adds
that he is sure privately that their attitude would be that
expressions of admiration for Russian resistance [especially] when
they take the form of[delegations] are a poor substitute for
practical forms of assistance.
He points out too that travelling is extremely difficult and
entirely depends on not always willing or competent co-operation
of Soviet Authorities so that the delegation could expect to see
but little of Russia in general and nothing whatever of Moscow or
the regions near the front.
For these reasons, Cripps says he hopes that the proposal will not
be made to the Soviet Ambassador who, like his Government, would
find it embarrassing to turn it down.' Ends.
While Cripps suggests approach to Maisky would embarrass him, I
could I think, if you so desired, have an informal talk down lines
that would not embarrass him and get his views on the proposal.
[AA : A981, SOVIET RUSSIA 44]