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The Wikipedia article on Lavrentiy Beria states:

At the Yalta Conference, Stalin introduced Beria to U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt as “my Himmler”.

However, the only reference given there is an article concerning the Manhattan project in which neither Beria nor Himmler are mentioned!

On the other hand, this The Guardian article states a slightly different story concerning what Stalin said about Beria:

Introducing him to Churchill during the second world war, Stalin playfully described him as “our Himmler”.

No reference is given.

This description of Beria by Stalin is amusing, but is there a reliable source about this event?

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    Most of the references I see so far (none of which I would describe as reliable) are saying that it was Ribbentrop, not Churchill or Roosevelt, to whom Beria was being introduced... which makes more sense. I do think suspect this is apocryphal, as I see the comparison made frequently during the 1940s but not references to this particular anecdote until later.
    – Brian Z
    Sep 9, 2023 at 21:30
  • Did you check Churchill's memoirs? If it is not there, then the story almost surely is made up. Sep 9, 2023 at 21:35
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    (and indeed some of the stuff in Churchill's memoirs was also found to be made up).
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 9, 2023 at 22:15
  • @BrianZ besides that fact that it was with Germans, in 1940, the meaning of such a remark would be certainly very different, from what they would have meant in Yalta.
    – Roger V.
    Sep 10, 2023 at 11:41
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    @BrianZ The French version of the Wikipedia article cites two episodes: Beria was introduced to Ribbentrop as le chef de notre Gestapo, and later to Roosevelt as notre Himmler. The give as reference Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar
    – Roger V.
    Sep 10, 2023 at 11:47

1 Answer 1

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The most detailed account I've seen is from Montefiore (2003):

On the 8th, after another meeting, they dined with Stalin at the Yusupov Palace [...] This epic dinner boasted one unusual guest: Stalin invited a delighted Beria, who was beginning to find his secret role constricting. Roosevelt noticed him and asked Stalin: 'Who's that in the pince-nez opposite Ambassador Gromyko?' 'Ah, that one. That's our Himmler,' replied Stalin with deliberate malice. 'That's Beria.' The secret policeman 'said nothing, just smiled, showing his yellow teeth' but 'it must have cut him to the quick', wrote his son, who knew how he longed to step on to the world stage. Roosevelt was upset by this, observed Gromyko, especially since Beria heard it too.

Unfortunately Montefiore is rather vague about his sources. He quotes a description of the dinner from Alan Brooke's diary, which describes Stalin as "full of fun and good humour apparently thoroughly enjoying himself," but Brooke makes no direct mention of the relevant exchange. Sergo Beria's book does indeed state that Stalin "presented my father to Roosevelt as ‘our Himmler’," but provides almost no further detail about the actual episode at Yalta (or any other context in which Stalin may or may not have used the same line).

Critically though, in a footnote, Sergo Beria does indicate Gromyko as the eyewitness source of the story from Yalta and attributes the description of his father's "yellow teeth" to him. Here Beria (and also Parrish (1993)) cites a 1991 book by V. F. Nekrasov called Beria: Konets karery. Hopefully someone who reads Russian can dig that one up and follow the trail.

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