34 Maloney to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 29 Moscow, 12 February 1945, 7.15 p.m.

IMMEDIATE SECRET

My telegram 28. [1]

I presented a note to Dekanazov last night setting out the wishes of the Australian Government in regard to prisoners of war in territory occupied by the Red Army and discussed the matter with him.

Dekanazov said that he would place the matter before his Government immediately and assured me that the Soviet had no desire to retain Allied prisoners of war on Soviet occupied territory any longer than necessary for arrangements to be made for their repatriation. He said that the question of prisoners of war was now being discussed by the big three who no doubt would arrive at an agreement in relation to all prisoners of war. I emphasized that any agreement which might be arrived at by the big three on this matter would not apply to Australian prisoners of war in regard to their performing any labour function either voluntarily or compulsorily.

3. Dekanazov next asked what the Australian Government were prepared to do in return. I informed him that such a question did not arise as there were no Soviet prisoners of war within the jurisdiction of the Australian Government but were there such, I was sure that the Australian Government would co-operate with the Soviet authorities along the same lines as it was now asking the Soviet to co-operate with us.

4. He seemed sympathetic with our case but raised the question of transport asking what Australia could do by way of providing ships to repatriate prisoners of war and by what routes or means did the Australian Government propose to evacuate its men. I informed him that at this stage I could not answer such questions. The means of transport required depended on just when and in what locality our men were liberated and no doubt we would be asking the Soviet to help us in every way possible with transport where it was within their power to do so. The Government's objective was to have our men repatriated home at the earliest possible date by the best possible route and means. He said that it would greatly help if Australia could provide ships to evacuate our men. I explained the possible difficulties in the way of Australian ships being sent to Russia for this purpose but said that I would raise the matter with my Government.

5. I assume, should the Soviet agree with our request, that no objection would be raised by you to my obtaining all facilities and cooperation possible from the British Military Mission in regard to our prisoners of war men.

MALONEY

1 Dispatched 10 February. It advised that Molotov was unavailable because of the Yalta conference, and that Maloney would endeavour to present the note to Dekanazov, Assistant People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union. On file AA:A1066, IC45/6/2/1, i.

[AA:A1066, IC45/6/2/i\1, i]