Harriman, William Averell, 1891-1986

Harriman was a distinguished businessman turned diplomat, who served as US Ambassador in Moscow from 1943-46. He first arrived in London in March 1941 to negotiate Lend-Lease arrangements. He was given the rank of ambassador and accompanied Lord BEAVERBROOK on an Allied mission to Moscow in September 1941. The Germans had just invaded the USSR and Harriman had to reassure STALIN that the USA would send supplies and aid. In 1942 Harriman served on various Joint Allied Commissions in London including the Combined Production and Resources Board. In October 1943 he became Ambassador to Moscow and his main duty was to keep ROOSEVELT informed of Soviet attitudes. Harriman seems to have impressed Stalin, who had frequent meetings with him. Harriman became particularly concerned with the Polish problem, fearing that the Soviets would impose a Communist government on the country. In August 1944 he tried to get Soviet permission for US planes to use Soviet airfields to supply the Warsaw Uprising; however MOLOTOV and Stalin adamantly refused this request. At the Yalta Conference Harriman conducted private negotiations with Molotov to settle the question of Russian participation in the war in the Far East and is considered to have obtained the best possible solution. He was also made a member of the three-power committee to organize a new provisional government in Poland. With Sir A.Clark Kerr, Harriman tried very hard to increase the percentage of non-Communists in the new Government but Molotov did not give much ground. The USA and Great Britain had to concede that Soviet influence in Poland would beexcessive and Harriman also warned that the USSR would wish to achieve the same results in other East European countries. Harriman was a skilled negotiator, but faced with Russian intransigence there was little he could achieve.

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