63 Maloney to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 77 MOSCOW, 25 March 1945, 4.47 p.m.


My telegram No. 76 [1]-prisoners of war.

1. Molotov was unable to see me; he asked that I see Vyshinski.

[2] Last night I presented a note addressed to Molotov through Vyshinski which asked that the question of the wives of MacCallum, Grayston and Hawking [3] being refused permission to leave the U.S.S.R. with their husbands be dealt with as a matter of urgency and that the Soviet grant these women permission to accompany their husbands.

2. I took advantage of this note to also bring to the personal attention of Molotov the deep concern of the Australian Government for the well being of Australians liberated from German prison camps.

3. On the question of wives of our three men at Odessa I was told that it was not possible to do as I requested. Only the Supreme Soviet could release them from citizenship and it was necessary that they obtain such release before any one could permit them to leave the U.S.S.R. The women themselves would have to lodge with the Supreme Soviet personal application for release from citizenship. When their husbands left Odessa the women would be returned to the village or town to which they belonged and would have to lodge their application with their local militia in such place. It was not possible to allow them to remain at Odessa after their husbands had left nor was it possible to allow them to come to Moscow. It would be some time before the Supreme Soviet would deal with their applications if they were lodged.

4. On the question of our ex prisoners of war generally, Vyshinski said there were no more Australian ex prisoners of war in Poland and the Soviet were sending all British and American liberated prisoners of war straight to Odessa as fast as they were liberated or found them. He instanced 29 British [4] liberated on 21st March and on 22nd March were on their way to Odessa. I pointed out that I had been told before that no Australian ex prisoners of war were in Poland but the facts had proven otherwise. He explained that it was difficult for his officers to distinguish Australians from English liberated prisoners. He would give instructions to his officers to make a proper check for Australians in future and wished to assure the Australian Government that the Soviet would do everything possible to have all liberated prisoners of war sent to Odessa for embarkation as soon as they were liberated or came into contact with Soviet forces.

5. My interview with Vyshinski lasted 45 minutes during which time I pressed most strongly the case for the wives of our three men at Odessa and for a more liberal interpretation by the Soviet of Article 2 of the Crimea prisoners of war agreement. [5] Finally I requested Vyshinski to convey my note and personal representations to Molotov.

6. The impressions given to me by Vyshinski during this interview led me to believe that the chances of getting permission for the wives of our three men to join their husbands in the near future are hopeless.

There may be a very remote chance when the war is over. I do not believe that the Soviet will grant additional facilities for either British or American contact parties in Poland other than they have already granted but I think that the complaints that we have made have led the Soviet to attempt to have all British and American ex prisoners of war transported to Odessa as soon as they are found, thereby keeping them in transit and leaving Odessa the only concentration point or camp within the terms of the Crimea agreement as forecast in my telegram 40, paragraph 8. [6]


1 Dispatched 24 March. On file AA:A1066, E45/33/22.

2 Andrei Vyshinski, Soviet Deputy Commissar for Foreign Affairs.

3 The Russian wives of three Australian servicemen, privates A. M.

MacCallum, W. V. Hawking and W. S. Grayston, all of whom were being held at Odessa. They had been married at Cracow in February.

4 A sign here indicates 'portion omitted'.

5 Article 2 of the British-Soviet agreement committed the contractin parties to notify each other promptly of the liberation of their citizens, to permit immediate access to them by repatriation officers, to establish camps or points of concentration for such persons, and barred the dissemination of hostile propaganda among them. See Cranborne's cablegram D273, dispatched 12 February, on file AA:A1066, IC45/9/2/1, i.

6 See Document 52, note 1.

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