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375 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 175A LONDON, 14 December 1944, 9.10 p.m.


Following for the Prime Minister.

British Ambassador to Russia. Reference my immediately preceding
telegram. [1]

I asked Clark Kerr about the Soviet's attitude towards
international co-operation and he said very strongly that he was
certain they wanted to play. He admitted there had been many
episodes which might have created a doubt. These, however, were
only 'boyish outbursts' as the Russians were really very immature.

They had made innumerable mistakes, for example, their attitude
with regard to allowing aeroplanes dropping supplies on Warsaw to
land in Russia, the attack on the Vatican, the attempt to raise a
storm over Hess [2], and the Persian oil policy. In each case he
had told them frankly that they were being stupid and eventually
they had been ashamed of themselves and withdrawn from the
position they had taken up. Being, however, still very adolescent
they were never prepared to admit that they had been wrong. Their
climb down in the case of the Warsaw incident had been effected in
a mere two lines of a long letter Molotov [3] had written him on
another subject.

With regard to the Dumbarton Oaks, he said he was certain the
Russians were in favour of proposals being put through as witness
Stalin's latest speech when he had directly commended them. This
speech was the most satisfactory utterance we had had from Stalin.

Regarding the veto question, Clark Kerr said he had considerable
sympathy with the Russian point of view which he summarised as

'If we are going to have co-operation between the great nations,
it must be on the basis of complete confidence. The point with
regard to the veto showed clearly that the confidence was not
there, but there was suspicion of somebody. The Russians put it
that it was obvious that suspicion was directed against them.'

I told Clark Kerr that our view was also one of considerable
sympathy with the Russians and strongly emphasised this down the
lines I had previously employed with Eden and Cadogan.

When Clark Kerr left me he was going straight to see Eden
regarding Soviet-Japanese relations. Clark Kerr said that while he
attached no special significance to the sending of Voroshilov [4]
to Siberia he was quite sure that Russia would ultimately declare
war on Japan, and stressed the significance of Stalin's reference
to Japan as an aggressor, such he would never have done two years
ago. He gave as his reason for Soviet entry in the Far East war
that they would not be content to leave the settlement to Great
Britain and America.

When I put Hornbeck's [5] point (my telegram N.12 [6]) that it was
unnecessary for Russia to come into the war for that purpose as
she had already earned the right to a voice in the settlement, he
rather weakened on this point. He said that the critical time
would be just prior to the expiration of four years' period of the
Russo-Japanese agreement.

Having just arrived in England Clark Kerr had not yet heard of
Chiang Kai Shek's [7] retirement from the presidency of Yuan. He
said that it was most significant. He accepted the view that it
was probably due to the necessity for Chiang to get rid of the
multiplicity of detail he was enmeshed in and devote his time to
military situation. It was of the greatest significance that Soong
[8] had succeeded him as Kung [9] had managed to suppress Soong
over a very long period. He hoped that the second Chen brother
would rapidly follow the first out of the Cabinet. [10] He said
that serious as the position was in China there was some hope that
the combination of Chiang and Wedemeyer [11] might effect an
improvement. Nevertheless, he expressed considerable regard for
Stilwell. [12]

The Balkans
He said the difficulties in Roumania and Bulgaria were due more to
the 'boyish immaturity' of the Soviet than to viciousness. He did
not think that the Russians had been, or had any intention of,
meddling in the Greek pie.

In the course of the conversation Clark Kerr said he was looking
round for his successor but I put it very strongly to him that
there could be no question of a successor until at least the
European war was over and at least the foundations had been laid
for Russian co-operation in the post war years. In my view Clark
Kerr has done admirable work in Russia and it is essential he
should continue it.


1 Cablegram 174A, dispatched 14 December. On file AA:A989,
44/715/5/2, iii. It reported a conversation on Poland between
Bruce and Sir Archibald Clark Kerr, U.K. Ambassador to the Soviet

2 i.e. Rudolf Hess, German former Deputy Fuhrer, then interned in
the United Kingdom.

3 Soviet Foreign Minister.

4 Soviet Politbureau member and, until late 1944, member of the
State Committee of Defence.

5 Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of State.

6 Dispatched 6 December. On file AA:A816, 146/301/3.

7 Chinese President and, until 4 December, President of the
Executive Yuan.

8 T. V. Soong, Chinese Foreign Minister and, from 4 December,
President of the Executive Yuan.

9 H. H. Kung, Chinese Finance Minister until 20 November.

10 Presumably a reference to General Chen Cheng, appointed Chinese
Minister of War on 20 November and Chen Li-fu who was replaced as
Minister of Education and became Minister of Organisation on the
same day.

11 Commander, U.S. Forces in China, having succeeded Stilwell in

12 Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, South-East Asia Command; Chief
of Staff to Chiang Kai-shek and commander of American-Chinese
forces in northern Burma until November.

[AA:A989, 44/735/765/3]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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