760c.61/242: Telegram

The Change in Poland (White) to the Secretary of State

463. I presented the note contained in your 363, August 21, 2 [6] p.m. yesterday. The Minister for Foreign Affairs will make a reply, meantime I gather that his attitude is as follows. He does not acknowledge that the Peace Conference boundary corresponds with the ethnographic frontier of Poland by reason of the large Polish population situated east of that line. He indeed notes a strong tendency on the part of Lloyd George to insist that Poland respect it but as in the course of the six weeks which had elapsed since the British Premier had made such a line the basis of an armistice proposal he had neither done anything to cause it to be respected by the Eeds nor given aid to the defenders, he had no right to insist that Poland [Page 393] which had triumphed by its own effort should be held to a stricter observance.

When I reminded him that the alteration [alternative] to the Conference line had so far shown itself to be a line approaching that of 1772 which was considered an encroachment on Russia, he assured me that so long as his Ministry lasted there would be no attempt to renew the Kieff venture. Owing to its geographical position Poland must be friendly with either Russia or Germany; the latter having shown itself the hereditary foe there must be an understanding with the eastern neighbor. No Muscovite, saving a few reactionary officials, considered the Vilna province as Russian in character. In practice the question of the eastern frontier would solve itself in the following manner. Either, as he ardently desired, peace would be concluded with the Bolsheviks which would necessitate a boundary satisfactory to both parties or if the war continued Polish troops would have to cooperate with Wrangel, possibly under his orders. In the latter case there would have to be a zone agreement which would also settle the question [of] the common frontier. From the military point of view it would be impossible, he insisted, to enclose the Polish armies behind an arbitrary line which would leave the enemy free to concentrate his scattered forces at leisure and [choose?] the point of attack. I reminded him that such was, nevertheless, the strategy pursued by the Finns. But apart from important differences of latitude and of morale the Finnish front has never been subjected to so determined an onslaught as that which caused the panic stricken retreat of the Poles. The rule in this war has been that success goes to the offensive.