Paris Peace Conf. 860c.20/3

Memorandum by Major Julian L. Coolidge8

1. For some time there has been much discussion of the question of sending some of the Polish Troops, now in France, to Poland. The reasons for such a step are obvious.

For years, there has been no generally recognized Government in Poland. At the present moment there is a de facto Government of General Pilsudski recently released from a German prison, but that Government lacks stability. Moreover, the Bolshevist danger is very acute. The government of Lenine is spending large sums of money in Bolshevist propaganda in Poland. The German Government, also, has favoured the revolutionary movement in Poland with the view to embarrassing a neighbouring state and, recently, a large number of penniless and half starving Polish and Russian prisoners have been thrust from Germany into Poland and left to shift for themselves.

The need, now, for an armed force is so great that Pilsudski has telegraphed to the various Allied Governments asking for the release [Page 415] of Poles which [with?] various armies to help in maintaining order in Poland.

2. The first Polish Division in France is a well organized unit and under the command of the capable French General Vidalon. Some of its regiments have already seen service. Such a division may be of great value maintaining order in Poland, but the question of sending it is beset with political difficulties.

3. The de facto Government of Poland is that of Pilsudski as already stated. On the other hand, there is, in Paris, the bulk of the Polish National Committee which Committee has been formally recognized by the Allied Governments as the basis for the constitution of the future Polish State.

It is very hard to form a just estimate of the relations between these two Polish Governments. Pilsudski has sent Representatives to Paris and the National Committee has just sent one of his Members to Poland.

It is realized by all intelligent Poles that, unless unity of action can be found, the Peace Congress will deem Poland incapable of Self Government and will be little disposed to aid the Polish Cause, but it is easier to approve of unity in theory than to carry it out in practise.

4. If the first Polish Division is going to Poland, shall it go as a Polish or as an Allied Army? If it goes as a Polish Army, what will be its relations to the Pilsudski’s Government when it has been organized in sworn allegiance to the Authority of the National Committee? If it goes as one of the Allied Armies, what becomes of the promise, to all who entered it, they would join in a truly National Organization to fight under their Country’s Flag?

5. The question of sending this Polish Division to Poland cannot be separated from that of the transfer of the Polish National Committee to that country. If the soldiers go before National Committee does, they are cut off from the Authority upon whom they depend and are in danger of being employed for purposes which that Authority does not approve. If the National Committee goes before the soldiers, they are without the reliable backing in case of armed conflicts. Finally, if the National Committee and the Troops go at the same time, there is danger that it will seem as though the Committee were entering the country accompanied by an armed force in order to suppress their political arrivals [rivals?].

6. Such are some of the difficulties with which the Polish Authorities, in Paris, are, at present, confronted. It is to be hoped that a solution will be quickly found as, otherwise, Poland is sure to become a seat of Bolshevist revolution.

J. L. Coolidge
  1. Chief Liaison Officer with the Polish National Army. Memorandum transmitted to the Commission to Negotiate Peace by the American Embassy in Paris, Jan. 8, 1919.