My Dear Mr. Litvinov. Just some personal correspondences between government officials which have the effect of changing history. Some would say that these promises weren’t worth the paper they were printed on.
People’s Commissar Litvinov had just completed a whirlwind tour of the United States. He is said to have been astonished by the number of automobiles on our streets (“more than in France!”) and wanted to learn everything about the project of electrifying the Pennsylvania Railroad which was then underway.
We have always told ourselves that the “backwards” Soviets were only trying to steal our secrets, and that guys like Litvinov carried miniature cameras and poison pens and such. Spooks. But in reality, the Soviets knew perfectly well how to electrify railroads, and had cars for the people who actually needed cars. Roosevelt and Litvinov knew what the fine words on these letters were worth- and they knew that they were worth believing, if only for as long as it was deemed profitable to do so.
Both sides understood how things were with Germany.
Mr. Roosevelt was a busy man. He had appointments with a couple of dozen officials during the day, and dinner at the White House with another couple of dozen at eight. Somehow he found time to lay the foundation for an alliance with the country that would defeat Hitler.
it’s all pink chrysanthemums here.