December 9, 2014

1943. Ambiguity in Russian–American Relations

Mutual Sympathy Between Peoples
Advertisement in Newsweek, September 20, 1943, p. 37
The parentheses indicate portions that did not pass Soviet censors for military or propaganda reasons.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

March 8, 1943

America's ambassador to Russia, white-haired Admiral William H. Standley, tonight (made a statement which is likely to be significant in future relations between the United States of America and the Soviet Union.)

(Ambassador Standley) met news reporters at the big American embassy here in Moscow and made the following statement:

"Ever since I have returned to Russia," he said, "I have been looking for evidence of some recognition of the aid that the Soviet Union is getting from America. I mean not only through Lend-Lease, but also through relief organizations and the Red Cross."

(Ambassador Standley then said that he had seen no sign in Russia that any kind of American aid had reached this country. He said that his figures of arrivals of all sorts of materials confirmed the statement of deliveries to Russia made in Washington the other day.)

The ambassador sat calmly in his chair in his study at the embassy, and declared that, apparently, it was the desire of the Soviet government to give the impression that it was fighting the war on its own resources rather than acknowledge that Russia was receiving help from anyone else.

"In America, the people know all the facts," Ambassador Standley said. "In Russia, the people know very little about it."

Then he added: "It isn't fair to the American public to mislead the people of the United States to think they are helping the Russian people—when in fact, the Russian people know nothing of this help."

Ambassador Standley continued: "The American people, in their sympathy, are digging into their own pockets thinking that this help is going to the Russian people," he said. "Maybe it is, but the Russian people don't know it."

Admiral Standley has been well-liked in Russia for his matter-of-fact frankness. And he was being frank when he went on to say: "Russia is trying to create the impression abroad as well as at home that she is fighting the war alone. She is creating the impression among her own people that they are pulling themselves out of this war by their own bootstraps."

The Admiral continued: "The United States Congress is sensitive. It is generous and big-hearted as long as it feels it is helping someone. But give it the idea that there is no help—then it is a different story."

Earlier, Admiral Standley was asked whether there had been any increased liaison between Russian and American military men regarding exchange of military information for mutual prosecution of the war. The Admiral replied that last year there had been statements about increased exchange of such information. "However," he said, "there has been no change in attitude because of those statements."

(The Admiral said that, even in his personal contact with Russian officials "there has been no recognition of American aid to Russia." "The attitude," he added, "is that there is not enough coming.")

Admiral Standley's statement to the group of American and British reporters comes at a time when the Lend-Lease bill is up before Congress for renewal.

Whatever effect this statement which I just read you is going to have on this bill depends, of course, on domestic statesmanship. And I mean statesmanship, not politics.

Admiral Standley did not say that Russia was failing to recognize aid from the United States because he wanted the Soviet government to issue a statement patting America on the back for what she has sent over here; his statement was designed to bring full knowledge of this aid to the Russian people. I have personally talked to him about this problem before. He believes that it is important that the American people and the Russian people should fully understand each other and their relative positions in this greatest of all wars.

As he said in his statement tonight, the American people realize and sympathize with the stupendous courage and effort with which the Russian people have met the Axis onslaught. But, he said, the Russian people have little idea of the American's feeling for them. Admiral Standley does not want pats on the back—he wants, somehow, some way, to have the feeling of the American people expressed to the people of Russia. He considers this mutual sympathy between peoples as important to the future of the world as an Allied victory over the Axis.

Admiral Standley is 71-years-old, but he has the mind and physique of a man of 55. He has had long service in the United States Navy, and several years ago he was retired. He's what reporters like to call an "old sea dog," except a "young sea dog" would be a better way to describe him.

When he is making a point or emphasizing a statement, he looks straight at you—maybe he'll shake his finger. His eyes seem to shoot out sparks when he gets worked up over a subject. And they were shooting sparks tonight. He told us when he started out, "You can quote me in full on this."

The Admiral returned to Moscow from the United States only on January 6. In Washington he conferred lengthily with President Roosevelt concerning American and Russian relations. When he got back in January he carried a personal note from Mr. Roosevelt to Josef Stalin. Later he again visited the Kremlin with the British chargé d'affaires to deliver the joint note from Mr. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill relating to the Casablanca Conference. This was the last time Ambassador Standley saw Premier Stalin.

Admiral Standley is now waiting for another conference with Russia's Supreme Commander-in-Chief. He returned only two days ago from the American embassy in Kuibyshev by train. It was a three day trip.

"Damned interesting," the Admiral said as we filled out the room. "If you haven't made the trip before, I suggest you do it. See some fascinating things."

Reporters in Moscow have run onto evidence that American armament, food, and supplies are being used in this Russian offensive (although the Russians themselves have never hinted that it is true.)

On the front trips that I have made to Stalingrad and Kharkov during the past few months, I have run into innumerable jeeps and scores of Dodge and GMC trucks. When I first came to Russia I spent the night at the airfield at Gorky. There I drank out of cups made from the cans of potted meat packed in Chicago.

Right now, American tanks are being used in the Central Front offensive around Orel. And American planes are playing a big part in the offensive in the Caucasus.

No mention of these things have appeared in the Russian press except as statements from responsible officials in Washington or London. The Russian press has been publishing the details of the Allied fighting in North Africa. It also has been giving details of the round-the-clock air offensive against Germany and Western Europe. The sinking of the Japanese convoy off New Guinea was also published in full.

There has been no question of suppressing foreign news. (But there has been virtually no publicity whatever from officials or the Russian press concerning the amount of American and British supplies, armament, food, clothing, tanks, and planes sent here.) There has been no mention of what these supplies have meant in the present victorious offensive.

(The Russian people also have no idea of the scope of such American and British organizations such as the Aid to Russia funds and the Red Cross. They know virtually nothing of the tremendous personal interest the people of the United States and other Allied nations are taking in their problems.)