The below letter is a part of a cache of documents released by British Government a few years ago. This is a personal letter written by Cadogan, Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office to Halifax, then the Ambassador to US, but a previous Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The imperialistic tone of the superiority of the White race is clearly visible.
Oliver Hervey tells me you went the story of our Middle Eastern and Russian trip.
I suppose you will get the official records of the talks and assuming that background, I will proceed to add some trimmings.
Firstly, as regards the Middle East. I was a passenger: the business was purely military: I sat in the garden reading novels while the men of Mars thundered in conference, and we met at meals where Winston engaged the company in irrelevant and irresponsible discourse.
Then we left for Moscow, spending the night at Tehran. Winston had time for an audience or the Shah; with which he was.so delighted the he ordered me to have one on the way back. I had to obey – at some personal inconvenience – though I had little more to say to the Shah than H.M. had to say to me. But he seemed to be a very agreeable and reasonably intelligent young man.
My plane took off from Tehran at the same time as Winston’s, but we developed a defect, and had to come back, and didn’t get to Moscow till the next day.
Winston had already had his first interview with Stalin the night before, and was delighted with it. He thought he had freed himself from the millstone that the American Communiqué had hung round our neck, of a “Second front, in Europe, in 1942. ” After an akward passage, explaining the impossibility of invading France this year Winston had unfolded “Torch”, which seemed to have caught Stalin’s fancy. Stalin said surprisingly, “May god prosper this enterprise.” (Stalin’s theology is odd: at a later interview he recounted how Laval had once suggested to him the desirability of enlisting the sympathy or the Pope. Stalin had asked him “How many Divisions has he got?“)
I only arrived about 7.30 pm, and we had a date with Stalin, for the second meeting, at 11 p.m, that night.
Stalin immediately confronted us with an “aide-memoire” which was as sticky and unhelpful as could be. Exactly the same technique as last December when, at the first meeting all was honey and at the second everything went wrong. A very odd technique, and I don’t see the point of it. One can hardly suppose that there is a body in the background to which Stalin has to pay deference, and which can pull him up.
This threw rather a cloud on the party, which was not dispelled by the banquet the following night. Nothing can be imagined more awful than a Kremlin banquet, but it has to be endured. Unfortunately, Winston didn’t suffer it gladly. However, next morning he was determined to fire his last bolt, and asked for a private talk, alone, with Stalin. This was fixed for 7 p.m. Winston had asked Anders to dinner at 8.30. Anders duly arrived, and simultaneously a telephone message from Winston to the effect that he was detained with Stalin, was going to have a bite of food with him and wouldn’t be home for an hour. So I took it on myself to entertain Anders, and continued to entertain Anders till 1 a.m., when I was summoned to come at ones to Stalin’s rooms in the Kremlin.
There I found Winston and Stalin, and Molotov who had joined them, sitting with a heavily laden board between them: food of all kinds crowned by a sucking pig, and innumerable bottles. What Stalin made me drink seemed pretty savage: Winston, who by that time was complaining of a slight headache, seemed wisely to be confining himself to a comparatively innocuous effervescent Caucasian red wine.
Everything seemed to be as merry as a marriage-bell. Winston was drawing Stalin about his internal Policy, asking what had happened to the Kulaks etc. Stalin answered with great frankness (some of the Kulaks had been given an acre or two somewhere in Siberia, but “they were very unpopular with the rest of the people”!) and gave us long lectures on the benefits or the Soviet system. Not much military talk while I was there. We broke up soon after 3, giving me just time to get back to the Hotel, pack and leave for the aerodrome at 4.15.
As to the results, firstly – and most important – I think the two great men really made contact and got on terms. Certainly Winston was impressed and I think that feeling we reciprocated. It’s very difficult to get on terms through interpreters, but, e.g., on one occasion Stalin replied to a statement of Winston’s “I don’t agree with that but I like the spirit of it.” Anyhow, conditions have been established in which messages exchanged between the two will mean twice as much, or more, than they did before.
Secondly – although we had to disappoint Stalin about the “second front”, he never once so much as hinted that “well, if you can‘t do more than that, I don’t know how much longer we can stand the strain.”
I had fully expected that, if not more. But not a hint or it: indeed he repeatedly said that he himself was astounded at the spirit and determination of his people. He didn’t know them: he had never dreamt that they could show such unity or resolution.
Well, this to very sketchy, but I hope it may help. I really think my last two points give you the essence of the thing..
Harriman was consistently 100% helpful.