860c.56/82: Telegram

The Minister in Poland ( Gibson ) to the Secretary of State

75. My 72, April 6.9 Polish Government today broke off negotiations by definite refusal to entertain application for license to transport passengers by rail to Bremen although Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Emigration Bureau have expressed themselves as convinced of reasonableness of our request. Competing lines still allowed to transport passengers by rail across Germany to their European bases. Arguments advanced are entirely frivolous, among them are statements that: 1. Bremen is most attractive European port for emigrants and that if license were granted on terms requested, all emigrants would choose to go by United States Lines, thereby reducing traffic via Danzig and taking business from our competitors. This in complete contradiction of reason previously given, namely, that emigrants could not be allowed to go by way of Germany as they were so brutally treated. 2. That there was no commercial treaty between Poland and the United States or Germany while other countries enjoyed these privileges under commercial treaties. This is hardly convincing in view of the fact that neither England nor Holland has commercial treaties with Poland. 3. That far from suffering from discrimination, the United States Lines enjoy privileged treatment in view of the fact that no other [Page 745] lines are allowed to use German ports for their emigrants. This is difficult to reconcile with expressed willingness of Polish Government to allow lines to run shuttle service as we now do from Danzig to German ports. The United American Lines and British lines operate shuttle service from Danzig. 4. That public opinion much aroused against proposed license. Publicity confined to single article distorting facts obviously inspired by some Polish official who participated in conferences. 5. That Association of Polish Ship-owners protests against proposed license as calculated to harm Polish merchant marine. 6. That some day when Danzig is properly organized it will be desired to send all emigrants by that port.

[Paraphrase.] The Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs said, in communicating this definite decision, that he was ready to negotiate with us a commercial treaty containing a most-favored-nation clause and leave the matter of our application for arbitration under conditions which will be stipulated. It might be remarked with respect to this that the Polish Government’s attitude indicates a wish to make the matter of treating us fairly and equitably a subject for treaty negotiations. The surprising statement was also made by the Vice Minister that he was convinced that our Government would never make representations on this subject. From the nature of the arguments made by the Polish authorities and from their whole attitude it is evident that they feel sure that if they refuse our demands, the State Department will drop the subject or else the United States Lines will offer more favorable terms as in the past. I would therefore suggest that the whole issue be impressed earnestly upon the Polish Minister and that it be intimated that if the Polish Government persists in its present attitude the American Government will find it necessary to publicly warn American interests that American interests are being discriminated against knowingly by the Polish Government. The Minister might be advised at the same time that our Government was no longer prepared to offer to the Government of Poland facilities of any kind either through the Shipping Board or otherwise and that the Department of State would not be disposed to take up the question of a commercial treaty or any other arrangement with Poland until settlement of all pending cases of discrimination against American citizens or enterprises. I suggest that a copy of this communication be cabled to me at the same time so that I can present it textually in order that the Polish Government can have no possible grounds for misunderstanding as to the importance of this matter in the opinion of the Department. It is significant that Polish Government undertakes to dictate that if anyone going to America wishes to go by rail to a western European port, with a through ticket either bought in Warsaw or prepaid in America, he [Page 746] must take ship on a foreign line. This means a loss to the American steamship commissaire. The statistics of the visa section of the consulate general show in this connection that tickets for 97 percent of the emigrants are bought and prepaid in the United States.

I suggest that Rossbottom be given substance of this telegram.

The above represents the views of the commercial attaché, the consul general, and Richardson. [End paraphrase.]

  1. Not printed.