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Digital Archive International History Declassified

October 01, 1950


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    Stalin cables his chief political and military representatives in Pyongyang in response to messages relating the increasingly dire situation in Korea as North Korean forces were driven back across the 38th parallel. Stalin demands that they establish defenses along the 38th parallel to prevent further American advance and even go on the offensive by organizing “guerrilla warfare” in the south behind enemy lines.
    "Ciphered Telegram No. 75352, Feng Xi [Stalin] to Shtraus [Shtykov] and Mayveyev [Zakharov]," October 01, 1950, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Archive of the President of the Russian Federation (APRF); copy available in Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Dmitriĭ Antonovich Volkogonov papers, 1887-1995, mm97083838. Translated by Vladislav Zubok
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To be returned after 6 days

Top Secret

8 Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Union SSR.


1 October 1950


To Pyongyang

SHTRAUS [pseudonym for Soviet Amb. Shtykov], MAYVEYEV [pseudonym for M.V. Zakharov, Stalin’s personal military envoy]

We have received your cable of 30 September and 1 October. These cables show that cde. KIM IL SUNG and other comrades from the Korean leadership pose before you a set of questions and that you dodge these questions. We consider your behavior to be erroneous. In the emerging grave situation it is natural for Korean comrades to solicit advice and assistance, but cde. SHTYKOV keeps silent and thus contributes to the sense of uncertainty in the Korean leadership. Cde. MAYVEYEV was sent to Korea not for transmitting summaries on the events in Korea, which we kept receiving anyway. Until now he has not yet presented to Moscow [authorities] his detailed assessment of the military situation in Korea, not to mention any suggestions or advice that may flow out of this situation. Thereby he makes it more difficult for us to take this or that decision on the Korean matters. Cde. MAYVEYEV does little to assist the Korean leadership which is revealed by the fact that the Korean leadership still lacks any plan of defense of the republic along the 38th parallel and Northbound, and does not have a plan of withdrawal of troops from South Korea.

Keep these directions in mind in your subsequent activities in Korea.

Immediately visit KIM IL SUNG and PAK HEON-YEONG [Pak Hon Yong] and tell them the following:

First. Will the enemy advance to the North of the 38th parallel? We should base ourselves in this question on the worst-case scenario, that is, that the enemy will try to capture North Korea. Therefore one should without delay mobilize all forces and prevent the enemy from crossing the 38th parallel, that is, to be prepared to fight the enemy to the North of the 38th parallel.

We should not underestimate the strength and capabilities of the Korean republic in the matters of organizing defense. There is a big potential and resources for mobilization in the Korean North. Under the present difficult circumstances one should at any cost and in the shortest possible time resolve the task of creating combat-ready armed forces, both through reinforcement of the existing troops as well as through formation of new ones. We will fully supply all these troops with armaments.

We hold as erroneous the opinion that North Korea cannot offer resistance along the 38th parallel and to the North of it. The Korean government possesses forces, it only should organize them and utilize all resources for defense. It must do everything to speed up formation of divisions and units - the armaments for them are already on the way to Korea. At the same time it is necessary to take more energetic measures towards withdrawal of troops from the South, having in mind that there is no solid front-line in the South, therefore troops have good chances to reach the North. This matter should be done in a hurry, for the Americans will certainly attempt to deprive the troops of this possibility in the nearest future.

Second. In the South, behind the enemy's lines, one should make transition to guerilla warfare, in the shortest period of time to develop energetic guerilla  activities, using to this goal, along with the guerilla fighters from the local population, the remaining armed units when they advance to the North is precluded. The guerillas should have a task - to disrupt and terrorize the area behind the enemy's lines by disrupting roads [kommunikatsii], destroying headquarters and lines of communications, attacking the enemy's officers and soldiers and through other active measures.

Third. The emerging situation requires firm leadership and its restructuring [perestroiki] in the light of new tasks of organization of sturdy defense. To this end one needs, above all, to put an end to the existing mood of uncertainty in the leadership, to define sharply and strictly the duties of the leading comrades by assigning to each one specific tasks and responsibilities on select issues of the country's defense. With merciless and immediate measures one must break the neck of the reaction and ensure order behind the frontlines. For the struggle with paratroopers - terrorists of the enemy one should create the elimination units of local self-defense from among reliable people. The government must have at its disposal, wherever it is located, a strong military fist consisting of the reliable people loyal to the government. One should undertake all measures without delay to mine major ports and areas of possible landing of the enemy; here we will render the needed assistance.

Fourth. As to the question posed in the letter of cde. KIM IL SUNG to cde. FENG XI [Stalin] on the assistance with armed forces [to North Korea], we consider as a most appropriate form of such assistance to be the assistance by volunteer units. On this question you have to take consultations, first of all, with Chinese comrades.

You will receive in a few days the answer to the letter of cde. KIM IL SUNG.


2 copies - 1 - cde. Vasilevsky

2. – cde. Feng Xi, 13.11.50

Correct: head of dispatch of 4th Division 8 Department of the GSSA.Colonel Ogurtsov.

Typed by Budanova  2.10.50, 6:00 [am]


[Handwritten across the document] "The answer is [agreed upon?]"  "I" [Stalin]



The question of Korea

To accept the proposed draft telegram to cde. Shtykov and cde. MAYVEYEV


Accepted on 1. Oct. 1950

Voted FOR:

Cde. Beria