Joseph E. Davies was U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1936 to 1938. He was sent there by President Roosevelt par-ticularly to see how strong Stalin’s government was and how relia-ble an ally it could be in a future war against the fascist powers. Davies was chosen because he was an objective observer, as was recognized by the Soviets when he made fact-finding trips to different parts of that country. He wrote up his diary notes as well as his dispatches to the State Department and letters to various government officials from the time he was Ambassador, long before the war, but his book, “Mission to Moscow,” was not published until 1942. The complete book is available on the internet at: http://www.RedStarPublishers.org. In 1943, the book was made into a full-length motion picture, produced by Warner Brothers, to encourage trust in the war-time alliance with the Soviet Union. After the war, when the Soviet Union became the U.S. government’s main “boogeyman,” the House Un-American Activities Committee investigated the film, and its screenwriter, Howard Koch, was blacklisted. The film is available on DVD from http://www.USFriendsoftheSovietPeople.org.
These excerpts from Davies’ book concern the much maligned Moscow Trials. Davies attended the trial of Radek and others in 1937 and of Bukharin and others in 1938. (He also comments on the trial of Marshal Tukhatchevsky and other generals in 1937. This ws a military tribunal and the only one of the major trials that was closed to the public, so of course Davies could not attend it.) Davies was himself a trial lawyer and watched the trials with care. He notes that not only he, but almost all the personnel of various foreign embassies who attended the trials, were convinced of the guilt of the accused.
Interestingly, he quotes one unnamed minister who also recog-nized the guilt of the Radek and company, but he pointed out that most of the bourgeois press had made it appear that the trial was a facade. The minister stated that “while we knew it was not, it was probably just as well that the outside world should think so.”
Another fascinating point that Davies brings up is from a later diary entry, in 1941 after Nazi German had attacked the Soviet Union. He points out that while Norway had its Quislings and other countries had their collaborators with the Nazis, there were no fifth columnists in the Soviet Union. He states that, although they did not recognize it at the time, this was because “they had shot them.”
Davies was in no way a supporter of socialism. He repeats many times throughout the book that he thinks that socialism is “against human nature,” and in the excerpts contained here he states his view that the U.S. system of justice is superior to the Soviet system. However it was not for his political and ideological outlook that he was respected in the Soviet Union, but because he looked at Soviet reality objectively. It is for this reason that we present him here.
Red Star Publishers
The picture on the cover is from the film version of “Mission to Moscow” and depicts Prosecutor Vishinski (left) questioning the accused Bukharin.