The Minister in Poland ( Gibson ) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 12—7:43 a.m.]
68. Patek told me last night:
- That he had nearly completed his preliminary work of ascertaining Poland’s wishes as to peace with Bolsheviki.
- That his next task is to prepare a reply to the Soviet Government agents.
- That his draft reply will be submitted to the Powers for their advice and suggestions before being sent to Moscow.
I venture to elaborate the foregoing points as follows:
- Mostly, Diet and press appear to consider peace question soberly. Thus far there has been a marked absence of violently expressed opinion in the papers and some radical elements even speak of the need for caution in dealing with the Soviet Government agents. The people generally realize the desperate position of Poland if she is [Page 379] left without material support from the Allies against the threatened Bolshevik attack. They understand that even if Poland could hold her lines successfully there is, in the absence of Allied support, no prospect of an early solution; that the only prospect is one of years of warfare which is now rapidly exhausting the country. The feeling is rapidly growing among all classes that hardly anything could be worse than the outlook for the future under existing conditions and that if the Government agents decide for peace they will accept the decision.
- Patek said that his reply will consist of a statement of the aims Poland seeks in any peace to be concluded. Poland will require guarantees for the Polish minorities in the territories left under Bolshevik rule. Further guarantees will be required for the safety of Roumania and the Baltic States. Patek feels that it is not only right but also farsighted for Poland to provide for the protection of her neighbors. Aside from this he does not seem to have clearly defined ideas as to the details his reply.
- Patek said the Polish reply would not be sent until he had received the advice of the powers adding that the Polish Government agents desire to [omission] as far as has been humanly possible to adopt in strict accordance with their wishes. He said very definitely that he felt the powers could not evade their share of responsibility in the decision to be taken.
We would, I am sure, be justly indignant if Poland were to take a momentous step of this character without our knowledge or consent. Conversely it seems clear that we have some measure of responsibility on our side. We reestablished Poland on high moral grounds to repair a great wrong. The hopes thus created of continued support and friendship have served in some degree to bring about the present situation. So far as I can see the governing motive of the Polish Government agents at present is to do what the powers desire. Through the proper channels courses are now open. Our desires could, I believe, decide which is to be adopted:
- If the powers feel that it is better for the general interest that Poland should make peace with the Bolsheviki and are willing to say so frankly I believe that the Government agents will do so.
- If the powers wish Poland to continue the struggle and are prepared to furnish necessary material support I am convinced that could be easily arranged.
- If it is not possible to extend material support and it is nevertheless desired in the general interest that Poland continue the struggle unaided as long as possible I am inclined to believe, after my recent talks with Patek and others, that Poland would [omission] and responsibility and sacrifices involved.
Thus far the powers have shown a disposition to leave the entire responsibility to Poland. This is perhaps the wiser course to pursue until such time as Poland has formulated her own views. I venture respectfully but earnestly to express the opinion however, that when the time for a decision comes the powers cannot, in justice to themselves, cut Poland adrift without the benefit of their guidance which was never so necessary as now.
Copy sent to London, Paris.