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276 Officer to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 186 Moscow, 10 September 1943, 3.30 p.m.

My telegram No. 183. [1]

Canadian Minister and I saw Mr. Molotov [2] last night. The former made his representations in the terms communicated to you in my telegrams 178, 179 and 180. [3] I made a communication in the terms of your telegram 128. [4]

Mr. Molotov listened to both representations and said that we would receive, in due course, considered replies, but he wished to say at once that the Soviet Government was fully informed of and understood the International position of Canada and Australia.

Meanwhile he wished to put before us the point of view that Ukrainian and Byelorussian etc.

people, who had suffered terrible wrongs, were deeply interested in their representation on the commission dealing with wrongs of which they had been the victims. Did we intend to deny them such an opportunity? If so how was the Soviet Government to explain our attitude to these people? Mr. Wilgress and I pointed out that our instructions were to make clear to the Soviet authorities the undoubted International status of our respective countries.

Mr. Molotov explained again that that status was not questioned.

What the Soviet authorities were concerned with was representation of the Ukrainian etc. people. Their advisers saw no legal obstacles to representation of Federated Republics on such a 'judicial' commission. The Soviet Government felt that an important matter of this character should not be dealt with according to ordinary standards of International practice. [5]

Mr. Wilgress and I said that we had no instructions on this point.

Both our countries desired the wrongs of all nations to be fully considered. The method by which the case of the people forming a part of the U.S.S.R. as represented before the commission was a matter for the Government of the U.S.S.R. to consider.

Mr. Molotov said that the Soviet Government endeavoured to deal with that point in its reply to the United Kingdom Government. He would supply us with copies so that we might send it to our respective Governments for consideration. [6]


1 Dispatched 5 September. On file AA:A989, 43/735/580. It advised that Evatt's instructions (see Document 269) had been received.

2 Soviet Foreign Minister.

3 Cablegrams 178-81 were in fact the four parts of a single cablegram dispatched by Officer on 4 September (on the file cited in note 1). They set out the terms of the aides-memoire which Officer and Wilgress proposed to deliver to Molotov.

4 Document 269.

5 In a separate message dispatched later the same day Officer commented that 'chief aim of the Soviet Government is to demonstrate before other Governments the fact that the peoples of this country have been subjected to far greater suffering than those of any other United Nation.

Like the second front agitation they wish to build up credits which they will be able to use effectively at the Peace Conference to help them achieve their major objectives.' See cablegram 187 on the file cited in note 1.

6 On 14 November Officer dispatched to Evatt a summary of a written reply received from Molotov (see cablegram 247 on the file cited in note 1). This argued that the republics within the Soviet Union were no less independent than the British Dominions and that the fact that they had so far chosen to delegate their right of representation on international bodies to the Soviet Govt did not preclude them from exercising it in the future. By then a meeting of Allied representatives in London (which the Soviet Union refused to attend) had agreed to the establishment of a United Nations Commission on War Crimes (see Dominions Office cablegrams D820 of 20 October and D819 of 21 October on file AA:A816, 19/301/836).

[AA:A989, 43/735/580]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History