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Ron Radosh

In the Vassiliev Papers, the KGB files that Alexander Vassiliev copied and brought from Moscow to London, an entry appears in the Vassiliev notebooks dated February 10, 1945. An NKGB agent — Washington D.C. station chief Anatoly Gorsky — reported to NKGB head Lavrenti P. Beria that he was enclosing a telegram from the intelligence agency’s station chief in Washington, D.C. about the station chief’s future meeting with Henry A. Wallace, which would take place on Oct. 24, 1945. (At above Vassiliev link, see the translated pdf of the Black Notebook.)

What the document reveals is that Wallace initiated a contact with a senior Soviet diplomat, who he more than likely knew was the resident KGB officer in the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C. In his conversation, he explained that he supported a pro-Soviet policy and was pushing for it in the United States government.

For that task, he asked the Soviets for assistance.

The context of Wallace’s comments reveal that he saw himself as an ally of the Soviet Union and as a collaborator with them in a common cause. He saw himself not as a supporter of “a century of the Common Man” and an anti-imperialist — as Stone and Kuznick claim — but as a fervent believer in the Soviet Union who was asked for foreign intervention on their part in U.S. internal political fights.

Here, from the Vassiliev papers, is the actual document:

“To Comrade L.P. Beria” “I am enclosing a telegram from the NKGB USSR station chief in Washington regarding his meeting with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wallace.” (Molotov’s decision: “Cde. Merkulov! This should be sent to Cde. Stalin without fail. Molotov. 2.10.45.” Vadim had been introduced to Wallace (the former Vice President) previously. Wallace called him personally and invited him to breakfast at the Dept. of Commerce, which took place on 24.10.45. He was interested in what the reaction would be if the USA were to invite a group of Soviet scientists to become familiar with science in the USA. Truman wants Kapitsa very much he is working on the atomic project. Wallace was interested in the Soviet reaction to the discussion taking place in the USA regarding the safeguarding of the secret of atomic bomb production.

“Safeguarding the tech. information pertaining to that question in the USA leads, in Wallace’s opinion, not only to a worsening of already highly strained Soviet-Amer. relations, but also gives the rest of the world the impression that the USA is the most potentially aggressive state on earth.

Wallace said that he has been trying within the government to get control over the use of atomic energy for military purposes handed over to the UN Security Council. However, his attempts have so far been unsuccessful. Wallace described Johnson’s bill pertaining to this question, which was put before Congress, as a reactionary attempt by the War Department that was incited by the representatives of major industrial capital: ‘DuPont’, ‘General Electric’, ‘Union Carbide’, and ‘Carbon Corporation’. Vadim asked how one could explain Truman’s diametrically opposite statements on this question.

“Wallace faltered somewhat, before saying that Truman was a minor politico who had taken up his current post by chance. He frequently has ‘good’ intentions but yields too easily to the influence of those around him. Wallace explained that there were two groups currently fighting for Truman’s ‘soul’ (his expression word for word) a smaller one, in which he included himself, and a more powerful and influential one, of which he named only Hannegan (Postmaster General and Chairman of the Democratic Party), Tom Clark (Attorney General), Byrnes (Sec. of State), and Anderson (Sec. of Agriculture). The smaller group believes that there are only two superpowers in the world: the USSR and the USA; the well-being and fate of all mankind is dependent on good relations between them. The second group is very anti-Soviet (Wallace singled out Byrnes in particular) and sets up an opposing idea of the dominant Anglo-Saxon bloc (chiefly comprising the USA and England) which is decidedly hostile to the Slavic world that is ‘under Russia’s heel’. With regard to this, Wallace blurted out: ‘You (i.e., the USSR) could help this smaller group significantly, and we have no doubt of your desire to do so’. Wallace declined to specify what he meant by this statement, and I felt it would be awkward to press him.”

Then Wallace, of his own initiative, touched upon Anglo-American econ. talks. “At the end of the conversation, Wallace mentioned that congressmen who had returned from trips to the USSR and around Western Europe were spreading a lot of anti-Soviet lies here.”

In their book The Haunted Wood, Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev discuss the same document. They call this meeting “one of the most remarkable and unexpected meetings of the period.” Noting that Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov found it so important that he noted it had to be sent to Stalin, they write:

That Wallace had chosen the Soviet intelligence chief in Washington as his conduit to the USSR leadership testified to the daring (and recklessness) of the man whom FDR had removed from the Democratic ticket in 1944 in favor of the more conservative Truman. Wallace’s proposal, considering the Truman Administration’s cooler relations with the USSR in past months, was also startling.

They note the importance of Wallace’s suggestion to Gorsky that technical data about the atomic bomb should not be kept in U.S. hands, a suggestion, they correctly write, that was “extraordinarily indiscreet.”

I would add that Wallace’s suggestion that he opposed Senator Edwin Johnson’s bill to keep control of the bomb in U.S. hands rather than transfer it to the U.N. Security Council — which he called a “reactionary attempt” created by “representatives of big industrial capital” — is precisely the argument used today to explain opposition to Wallace by Stone and Kuznick, who actually present old Soviet and communist arguments as their own contemporary original analysis.

They also concur with Wallace’s statement to Gorsky that Harry S Truman was a man who fell under “the influence of people around him,” a group which Stone and Kuznick keep repeating was made up of reactionary Southerners like James F. Byrnes who represented big corporate industry.

Most importantly: Weinstein writes that Wallace’s call for Soviet support on behalf of those who shared his views “reached beyond the fragile boundaries of discretion,” particularly because Wallace asked the Soviet to “help this smaller group considerably,” referring to himself and his supporters.

Wallace, in other words, was a complete dupe of the American Communists, a group which — as I have explained in an earlier column — convinced him to run for president on the so-called Progressive Party ticket in 1948.

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