Stalin, Mao, Kim, and China's Decision to Enter the Korean War, Sept. 16-Oct. 15, 1950: New Evidence from Russian Archives, article and translations by Alexandre Y. Mansourov

Document 7: Ciphered Telegram, Filippov (Stalin) to Soviet Ambassador in Beijing (N.V. Roshchin) with message for Zhou Enlai, 5 July 1950

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Document 7: Ciphered Telegram, Filippov (Stalin) to Soviet Ambassador in Beijing (N.V. Roshchin) with message for Zhou Enlai, 5 July 1950


Coded, only by wire

Submitted at 23:45 p.m. on 07/05/50
Distribution List - 3 copies: Stalin - 2, Molotov -1
Re Your ciphered telegrams ## 1112-1126
Tell Zhou Enlai the following:
1. We agree with the opinion of Chinese comrades regarding the Indian intermediation in the matter of admitting the People's [Republic of] China into the UN membership.
2. We consider it correct to concentrate immediately 9 Chinese divisions on the Chinese-Korean border for volunteers' actions in North Korea in the event of the enemy's crossing the 38th parallel. We will do our best to provide the air cover for these units.
3. Your report about the flights of the Soviet aircraft over the Manchurian territory has not been confirmed. But we have issued an order not to permit such overflights.


_ 373/sh
5.7.50 [5 July 1950]
Typed by Stepanova at 0:55 a.m. on 07/06/50
[Source: APRF, fond 45, opis 1, delo 331, list 79]

Document 8: Draft Telegram, Chan Fu (Stalin) to Matveyev (Zakharov), 30 September 1950
# P78/118
To: Cmrds. Malenkov, Bulganin, Vasilevsky

Extract Minutes from Protocol #78 of the Meeting of the Politburo of the CC VKP(b)
Decision dated 30 September 1950

118. Telegram from Comrade Matveyev # 1298.

The attached draft of the reply to Comrade Matveyev regarding his telegram # 1298 has been approved.


* * * * *
Attachment to the Decision of the Politburo #78 on #118



RE: # 1298

We consider correct the decisions adopted by Kim Il Sung at his meeting with You, in particular, regarding the combining of the duties of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and Defense Minister in the hands of Kim Il Sung, the establishment of the Staff at the office of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, the formation of six divisions and withdrawal of manpower reserves from South Korea.

The formation of six divisions must be accelerated. Necessary armaments, ammunition, and other materials will be supplied from October 5 to October 20.
As far as the question about the expediency of recommending that Kim Il Sung ask the Chinese friends to dispatch drivers to Korea, You may give such advice but without citing Moscow.
Upon the directive of Instantsia


[Source: APRF, fond 3, opis 65, delo 827, listy 100-101]

Document 9: Memorandum Gromyko to Stalin, 30 September 1950, with draft cable from Gromyko to Shtykov
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR

Comrade STALIN I.V.

The Ambassador of the USSR to the DPRK Comrade Shtykov has reported that as a result of air bombardments by the U.S. Air Force many enterprises of the DPRK have been ruined and are not in operation. At the present time, Koreans do not intend to rebuild these factories and plants.
In this situation Comrade Shtykov considers it expedient to send some of the Soviet specialists back to the Soviet Union and asks to be given the right to dispatch the Soviet experts back to the USSR regardless of the length of their stay in Korea upon consultations with the government of the DPRK.
Comr. Shtykov also requests that he be permitted, at his judgement and upon consultations with heads of the Soviet organizations in Korea, to evacuate some of their personnel working in Korea without whom they can still continue to do their work.
The M[inistry of] F[oreign] A[ffairs of the] USSR considers it possible to recall some of the Soviet specialists from the DPRK only if the initiative for their return to the Soviet Union were to come from the government of the DPRK.
As far as Comr. Shtykov's suggestion about the evacuation of the personnel of the Soviet organizations from the DPRK, the MFA [of the] USSR proposes that we maintain the existing procedures according to which the recall of personnel is to be done via the MFA of the USSR upon consultations with appropriate ministries and organizations of the USSR.
A draft [cable to Shtykov - AM] is attached.
I request Your consideration.

A. G R O M Y K O

30 September 1950
# 182-sh
1 copy


In connection with the present situation the evacuation of the Soviet specialists from Korea may take place only when the initiative for the return of any such specialists comes from the government of the DPRK. You should not display any initiative of your own in raising the issue of the evacuation of Soviet specialist before the Koreans do.
The return of the personnel of the Soviet organizations working in the DPRK to the Soviet Union should be done in the previously-established order, that is, via the MFA of the USSR upon consultations with appropriate ministries and organizations of the USSR.
You should inform the MFA of the USSR about each case of pending return of the Soviet specialists from Korea well in advance.

A. G r o m y k o

[Source: APRF, fond 3, opis 65, delo 827, listy 123, 125]

Document 10: Ciphered Telegram, Filippov (Stalin) to Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, 1 October 1950

Transmitted to Bulganin
On 1.X.50 [1 October 1950] at 3:00 a.m.

Ciphered Telegram


(For immediate transmission to MAO ZEDONG and ZHOU ENLAI.)
I am far away from Moscow on vacation and somewhat detached from events in Korea. However, judging by the information that I have received from Moscow today, I see that the situation of our Korean friends is getting desperate.
It was on 16 September already that Moscow warned our Korean friends that the landing of the U.S. troops at Chemulp'o [Inchon] had great significance and was aimed at cutting off the First and Second Army Groups of the North Koreans from their rear in the North. Moscow admonished them to withdraw at least four divisions from the South immediately, to set up a frontline to the north and east of Seoul, and later to gradually pull out most of the troops fighting in the South northward, thereby providing for the defense of the 38th parallel. However, the 1 [First] and 2 [Second] Army Groups' Commands failed to implement Kim Il Sung's order for the withdrawal of troops northward, which allowed the U.S. troops to cut them off and surround them. Our Korean friends have no troops capable of resistance in the vicinity of Seoul. Hence, one needs to consider the way toward the 38th parallel wide open.
I think that if in the current situation you consider it possible to send troops to assist the Koreans, then you should move at least five-six divisions toward the 38th parallel at once so as to give our Korean comrades an opportunity to organize combat reserves north of the 38th parallel under the cover of your troops. The Chinese divisions could be considered as volunteers, with Chinese in command at the head, of course.
I have not informed and am not going to inform our Korean friends about this idea, but I have no doubt in my mind that they will be glad when they learn about it.
I await your reply.


1 October 1950
[Source: APRF, fond 45, opis 1, delo 334, listy 97-98]

Document 11: Ciphered Telegram, Chan Fu (Stalin) to Matveyev (Zakharov), 2 October 1950

Ciphered Note (by wire)


MATVEYEV [ZAKHAROV] (transmitted by ciphered telegram)

We constantly point out to You the exceptional importance of the withdrawal of troops out of the encirclement. In this matter, the crucial point is to bring the manpower and commanding officers back to the north.

In the current situation, without delay you must give instructions to the soldiers and officers who are still fighting in the south to retreat by any means, in groups or person by person, to the north. There is no continuous frontline. These troops are fighting on their own territory, so the population feels compassion toward them and will help them out. They must leave heavy weapons behind and try to get to the north by all means, by using the cover of night and the areas unoccupied by the enemy yet. You have the possibility of rescuing thereby the most valuable asset, that is, the cadres.
Take all the necessary measures to implement this directive.
Telegraph the fulfillment.


2 October 1950
[Source: APRF, fond 45, opis 1, delo 347, list 64]

Document 12: Ciphered telegram from Roshchin in Beijing to Filippov [Stalin], 3 October 1950, conveying 2 October 1950 message from Mao to Stalin
Copies: Stalin (2), Molotov, Malenkov, Beria, Mikoyan, Kaganovich, Bulganin
From BEIJING Received 12:15 3.10.1950



I report the answer of MAO ZEDONG to your [telegram] No. 4581:

"I received your telegram of 1.10.50 [1 October 1950]. We originally planned to move several volunteer divisions to North Korea to render assistance to the Korean comrades when the enemy advanced north of the 38th parallel.
However, having thought this over thoroughly, we now consider that such actions may entail extremely serious consequences.
In the first place, it is very difficult to resolve the Korean question with a few divisions (our troops are extremely poorly equipped, there is no confidence in the success of military operations against American troops), the enemy can force us to retreat.
In the second place, it is most likely that this will provoke an open conflict between the USA and China, as a consequence of which the Soviet Union can also be dragged into war, and the question would thus become extremely large [kraine bol'shim].
Many comrades in the CC CPC [Central Committee of the Communist Party of China] judge that it is necessary to show caution here.
Of course, not to send out troops to render assistance is very bad for the Korean comrades, who are presently in such difficulty, and we ourselves feel this keenly; but if we advance several divisions and the enemy forces us to retreat; and this moreover provokes an open conflict between the USA and China, then our entire plan for peaceful construction will be completely ruined, and many people in the country will be dissatisfied (the wounds inflicted on the people by the war have not yet healed, we need peace).
Therefore it is better to show patience now, refrain from advancing troops, [and] actively prepare our forces, which will be more advantageous at the time of war with the enemy.
Korea, while temporarily suffering defeat, will change the form of the struggle to partisan war.
We will convene a meeting of the CC, at which will be present the main comrades of various bureaus of the CC. A final decision has not been taken on this question. This is our preliminary telegram, we wish to consult with you. If you agree, then we are ready immediately to send by plane Comrades ZHOU ENLAI and LIN BIAO to your vacation place, to talk over this matter with you and to report the situation in China and Korea.
We await your reply.

MAO ZEDONG 2.10.50"

1. In our view MAO ZEDONG's answer is indicative of a change in the original position of the Chinese leadership on the Korean question. It contradicts the earlier appraisal, which was repeatedly expressed in conversations of MAO ZEDONG with YUDIN, KOTOV and KONNOV; [and] LIU SHAOQI with me, which were reported at the time. In these conversations, it was noted by them that the people and the PLA [People's Liberation Army] are ready to help the Korean people, the fighting spirit of the PLA is high and it is able, if necessary, to defeat the American troops, regarding them as weaker than the Japanese.
2. The Chinese government undoubtedly could send to Korea not only five-six battle ready divisions, but even more. It goes without saying that these Chinese troops are in need of some technical equipping in antitank weapons and to some extent in artillery.
The reasons for the changes in the position of the Chinese are not yet clear to us. It is possible to suppose that it has been influenced by the international situation, the worsening of the position in Korea, [and] the intrigues of the Anglo-American bloc through [Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal] NEHRU, who has urged the Chinese toward patience and abstention [from intervention] in order to avoid catastrophe.


No. 2270 3.10
Dec[iphered by] Araushkin 12.50 3.10 [12.50 p.m. 3 October]
Typ[ed by] Doronchenkova 13.20 3.10 [1.20 p.m. 3 October]
Typ[ed in] 10 copies [copies no.] 9-10 -(to file)
[Source: APRF, fond 45, opis 1, delo 334, listy 105-106; translation by Kathryn Weathersby and Alexandre Mansourov.]

Document 13: Letter, Fyn Si [Stalin] to Kim Il Sung (via Shtykov), 8 [7] October 1950
Comrade Kim Il Sung!
My reply has been delayed because of my consultations with the Chinese comrades, which took several days. On 1 October, I sent a letter to Mao Zedong, inquiring whether he could dispatch to Korea immediately at least five or six divisions under the cover of which our Korean comrades could form reserve troops. Mao Zedong replied with a refusal, saying that he did not want to draw the USSR into the war, that the Chinese army was weak in technical terms, and that the war could cause great dissatisfaction [nedovol'stvo] in China. I replied to him by the following letter:
"I considered it possible to turn to You with the question of five-six Chinese volunteer divisions because I was well aware of a number of statements made by the leading Chinese comrades regarding their readiness to move several armies in support of the Korean comrades if the enemy were to cross the 38th parallel. I explained the readiness of the Chinese comrades to send troops to Korea by the fact that China was interested in preventing the danger of the transformation of Korea into a USA springboard or a bridgehead for a future militaristic Japan against China.
While raising before You the question of dispatching troops to Korea, I considered 5-6 divisions a minimum, not a maximum, and I was proceeding from the following considerations of an international character:
1) the USA, as the Korean events showed, is not ready at present for a big war [k bol'shoi voine];
2) Japan, whose militaristic potential has not yet been restored, is not capable of rendering military assistance to the Americans;
3) the USA will be compelled to yield in the Korean question to China behind which stands its ally, the USSR, and will have to agree to such terms of the settlement of the Korean question that would be favorable to Korea and that would not give the enemies a possibility to transform Korea into their springboard;
4) for the same reasons, the USA will not only have to abandon Taiwan, but also to reject the idea of a separate peace with the Japanese reactionaries, as well as to abandon their plans of revitalizing Japanese imperialism and of converting Japan into their springboard in the Far East.
In this regard, I proceeded from the assumption that China could not extract these concessions if it were to adopt a passive wait-and-see policy, and that without serious struggle and an imposing display of force not only would China fail to obtain all these concessions but it would not be able to get back even Taiwan which at present the United States clings to as its springboard not for Jiang Jieshi [Chiang Kai-shek], who has no chance to succeed, but for themselves or for a militaristic Japan of tomorrow.
Of course, I took into account also [the possibility] that the USA, despite its unreadiness for a big war, could still be drawn into a big war out of [considerations of] prestige, which, in turn, would drag China into the war, and along with this draw into the war the USSR, which is bound with China by the Mutual Assistance Pact. Should we fear this? In my opinion, we should not, because together we will be stronger than the USA and England, while the other European capitalist states (with the exception of Germany which is unable to provide any assistance to the United States now) do not present serious military forces. If a war is inevitable, then let it be waged now, and not in a few years when Japanese militarism will be restored as an ally of the USA and when the USA and Japan will have a ready-made bridgehead on the continent in a form of the entire Korea run by Syngman Rhee.
Such were the considerations and prospects of an international nature that I proceeded from when I was requesting a minimum of five-six divisions from You."
In response to this [letter], on October 7, I received letter from Mao on 7 September [sic-October], in which he expresses solidarity with the fundamental positions discussed in my letter and declares that he will dispatch to Korea nine, not six, divisions. But [he said] that he will send them not now, but after some time. He also requested that I receive his representatives and discuss some details of the mission with them. Of course, I agreed to receive his representatives and to discuss with them a detailed plan of military assistance to Korea.
It is obvious from the above mentioned that You must stand firm and fight for every tiny piece of your land, that You have to strengthen resistance to the American occupiers of Korea and prepare reserves, using for this purpose the military cadres of the Korean People's Army coming out from the encirclement. Also, this shows that You are absolutely right in your proposal that we transfer all Korean comrades studying in the USSR into the pilot training program.
I will keep you informed about further talks with the Chinese comrades. 8 October 1950.


Comrade Shtykov, I ask You to read this letter to Kim Il Sung. He may copy it by hand in your presence, but You may not hand over this letter to Kim Il Sung because of its extreme confidentiality.


[Handwritten: This letter was delivered to Comrade Bulganin on October 7, 1950 at 22:15 pm.]
[Source: APRF, fond 45, opis 1, delo 347, listy 65-67]

Document 14: Telegram from Gromyko to Shtykov Approved by Soviet Communist Party Central Committee Politburo, 5 October 1950
# P78/168
To: Cmrds Bulganin, Gromyko

Extract Minutes from Protocol #78 of the Meeting of the Politburo of the CC VKP(b)
Decision dated October 5, 1950

168. The Question of Shtykov.

The attached draft of a telegram addressed to the Ambassador of the USSR to the DPRK Com. Shtykov, regarding the question of the evacuation of Soviet specialists and personnel of Soviet organizations from Korea to the USSR, has been approved.



[Attachment to the Decision of the Politburo #78 regarding #168]

1304/sh. We agree with your proposals concerning the temporary evacuation of some Soviet specialists upon consultations with the Korean government, as well as of the personnel of Soviet organizations in Korea.


[APRF, fond 3, opis 65, delo 827, listy 121-122]

Document 15: Gromyko and Vasilevsky to Stalin, 6 October 1950, attaching draft cable to Shtykov
Ministry of Defense of the USSR
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR
Distribution list:
Stalin - 1, Molotov - 1, Malenkov - 1,
Beria - 1, Mikoyan - 1, Kaganovich - 1,
Bulganin - 1, Khrushchev - 1.

Comrade STALIN I.V.:

In connection with Comrade Shtykov's telegram #1405/sh dated 5 October in which he pressed the question of the evacuation from Korea of Soviet specialists working in Korea, personnel of Soviet organizations in Korea, families of Soviet citizens of Korean nationality, staff of the Soviet air commandants' offices, and, in case of emergency, all Soviet citizens, we consider it necessary to reply in accordance with the attached draft.
We request your consideration thereof.
6 October 1950
No. 201-gi


RE: 1405/sh
First. Regarding the question of the evacuation of Soviet specialists and their families, as well as personnel of Soviet organizations and their families, follow the instructions laid out in our telegram # 18909.
Second. You must decide the question of the evacuation of families of Soviet citizens of Korean nationality from the territory of Korea on the spot, bearing in mind changes in the situation on the ground.
Third. All the Soviet personnel of the air commandants' offices and families of Soviet military advisers must be evacuated from the territory of Korea.
Fourth. We agree with your proposal that, in case of emergency, all the Soviet citizens, including Soviet citizens of Korean nationality, be evacuated to the territory of the USSR and China.
(A. Vasilevsky) (A. Gromyko)
[Source: APRF, fond 3, opis 65, delo 827, listy 126-127]

Document 16: Ciphered Telegram, Kim Il Sung to Stalin (via Shtykov), 9 October 1950

Ciphered Telegram # 600382/sh
To Comrade STALIN I.V.


Sent by wire on 10/09/50 at 7:05 a.m.
Received in Moscow on 10/09/50 at 9:38 a.m.
Arrived at the 8D/GS on 10/09/50 at 9:45 a.m.
Deciphered by Morozov on 10/09/50 at 10:45 a.m.
Distribution list - 11 copies: Stalin - 2,
Molotov - 1, Malenkov - 1, Beria - 1, Mikoyan - 1, Kaganovich - 1, Bulganin - 1.
I herewith transmit a letter of the following content addressed to Your name from comrade KIM IL SUNG:

"Comrade STALIN Iosif Vissarionovich,

Let me ask You, dear Iosif Vissarionovich, for assistance and advice.
Now it is evident to everybody that having made significant achievements in recent military operations, the American aggressor will not stop at anything short of the complete takeover of all of Korea, and its conversion into its military-strategic springboard for further aggression in the Far East.
In my opinion, the struggle of our people for its independence, freedom and state sovereignty will be protracted and very hard.
For a successful struggle against a strong enemy armed with the latest achievements of military science and technology we will have to train pilots, tankists, radio operators, and engineering officers urgently.
It is very difficult to train them inside our country. Therefore, we turn to You, comrade STALIN, with the following request:
1. To permit the training of 200-300 pilots from among Korean students studying in the Soviet Union.
2. To permit the training of 1,000 tankists, 2,000 pilots, 500 radio operators, and 500 engineering officers from among Soviet Koreans residing in the Soviet Union.
I ask You, comrade STALIN, to render us assistance in this regard.
Respectfully, KIM IL SUNG"
I support KIM IL SUNG'S request.


No. 1447/sh
9 October 1950
Typed by Kravchuk on 10/09/50 at 11:20 a.m.
[Source: APRF, fond 45, opis 1, delo 347, listy 72-73]

Document 17: Memorandum, Golovko and Fokin to Stalin, 13 October 1950

Comrade STALIN

According to electronic intelligence data gathered by the Seventh Fleet, as of 8:00 a.m., 13 October, the following U.S. battleships were noticed in the vicinity of Ch'óngjin: USS "Missouri," three heavy aircraft carriers ("Valley Forge," "Leyte," "The Philippine Sea"), two escort aircraft carriers ("Sicily," "Beduin Strait"), three heavy cruisers ("Rochester," "Toledo," "Helena"), three cruisers ("Wooster," "Juno," "Ceylon"), twelve destroyers, the third squadron of mine-sweepers, the first and the third assault landing groups.
Ch'óngjin was heavily bombarded from the air and the sea.

[signature] G O L O V K O

[signature] F O K I N

No. 244cc

13 October 1950
[Source: APRF, fond 3, opis 65, delo 827, list 139]

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