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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 08, 1950

LETTER FROM FENG XI (STALIN) TO KIM IL SUNG (VIA SHTYTKOV)

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    Stalin sends Kim a copy of his October 1950 letter to Mao Zedong. Stalin describes the US inability to engage in a "big war" and encourages Kim in his fight against the US.
    "Letter from Feng Xi (Stalin) to Kim Il Sung (via Shtytkov)," October 08, 1950, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Archive of the President, Russian Federation (APRF), f. 45, op. 1, d. 347, listy 65-67. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/112862
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PYONGYANG, To SHTYKOV
for KIM IL SUNG

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.

FENG XI [STALIN]

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.

FENG XI [STALIN]

[Handwritten: This letter was delivered to Comrade Bulganin on October 7, 1950 at 22:15 pm.]

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