The Secret Mission of Stafford Cripps

Giesler: “England’s diplomats had already tried to strengthen the encirclement by adding Russia’s power.”

Sir Stafford Cripps, an ardent Marxist, made the Time cover on Nov. 10, 1946. In spite of being expelled from his own labor Party in early 1939 for organizing a Popular Front of Liberals, Laborites and Communists to try to bring down the Chamberlain Government, he offered his services to that government at the outbreak of war. He was ignored, but the next thing Britain knew, he was on a trip around the world, calling on Molotov, Nehru and Roosevelt. Some speculated he was on a secret mission for the Chamberlain Government, the objective of which was to get Stalin to sign a mutual defense pact with Britain. Others believed it was Churchill, who later appointed Cripps to be his Ambassador to Moscow, who arranged the trip. But was this his real mission? Or was it to drag out talks and negotiations with Britain in the hope that either Hitler or Stalin would start their war and bleed each other to the advantage of Great Britain?

On this issue, historians are still divided; pertinent documents are still locked in secret archives. Stalin may have become suspicious of Britain’s game because he suddenly invited the Germans to send a plenipotentiary emissary to Moscow. Hitler sent Ribbentropp and they signed the Molotov-Ribbentropp non-aggression pact on August 23, 1939.

In one of his last meetings with Cripps, Stalin told him, “I never detected a desire in German politicians to absorb a European country. I do not believe the Soviet Union is threatened by German military successes.” Source: Rolf Dieter Mueller, Der 2.Weltkrieg 1939-1945 Band 21, Verlag Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart, 2004.


World War II