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Ambassador W. Averell Harriman and the Shift in US Policy toward Moscow after Roosevelt’s Death

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Abstract

Thanks to the fierce winter of 1944–45 in Moscow, historians have a written account revealing how dangerous emotions and divisive discourses developed among US and British officials. Spaso House, the huge, drafty American embassy building, was tough to heat. In December 1944, a kerosene stove was rigged up in the top floor room of Robert Meiklejohn, ambassador W. Averell Harriman’s secretary. Meiklejohn jotted in his detailed diary, ‘My room is very comfortable now,’ and it has become ‘the usual gathering place in the evening.’1 Evenings the ambassador, his daughter Kathleen, the Pentagon’s liaison to the Red Army General John R. Deane, embassy officials including George F. Kennan, British ambassador Archibald Clark Kerr and Kennan’s friend Frank K. Roberts, and liberated American POWs, clustered around the stove to review the day, gossip, and grumble. The Soviets dished out lots to grumble about. An embassy official ‘was going nuts here,’ Meiklejohn recorded, ‘as not a few people appear to do when they stay too long.’2 Many diplomats and journalists were frustrated with their personal lives. They suffered anger, sadness, and even depression from being deprived of ‘normal’ contact with Soviet citizens. The moods and cultural assumptions of these diplomats and journalists shaped how they interpreted Soviet policy and intentions.

Keywords

National Archive Critical Juncture Secret Police Soviet Citizen Discursive Shift 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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© Frank Costigliola 2011

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