Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

The Polish Ambassador25 called to see me this morning. He told me that he was being received by the President at noon today and desired to have an opportunity of talking with me before he spoke [Page 648] with the President with regard to the Jewish problem which he had earlier discussed with me at the request of the President.

I told the Ambassador that since I had last talked with him on this subject there had been no new developments of which I was aware other than the information given to me by Ambassador Biddle26 with regard to the possibility of a visit to Poland by Mr. Szymczak.27 I said that I knew the Ambassador had been fully advised of this possibility by Mr. Biddle and that, consequently, I knew of nothing to add to the consideration of the problem as the Ambassador had first approached it.

The Ambassador said that he and Mr. Szymczak had discussed the latter’s possible visit to Poland and that he had told Mr. Szymczak of his own very strong belief that there was nothing whatever to be gained by such a trip unless Mr. Szymczak went to Poland with positive and concrete assurances on the part of certain Jewish organizations in the United States that they were willing to make a financial contribution towards either the properly financed emigration of Jews from Poland or towards the development of certain projects within Poland for the benefit of the Polish people, including the Jews. Mr. Szymczak had replied to the Ambassador that he had not been in touch with any of the Jewish organizations other than that headed by Mr. George Backer and that he did not feel that this was enough inasmuch as he had received no positive assurances or commitments of any kind from that group. Mr. Szymczak had added that he was very anxious to obtain such concrete assurances as the Ambassador had in mind either from Mr. Bernard Baruch, Mr. Mortimer Schiff28 or members of the Warburg family, but that he had not been able to have any satisfactory contacts with these individuals.

I expressed to the Ambassador my own personal opinion that the advice he had given Mr. Szymczak was very sound. I said that I did not see that Mr. Szymczak would accomplish very much if he merely went to Poland in order to talk generalities with the highest officials of the Polish Government, but that if he went with a sound program which could be backed up in a material manner, it seemed to me that some real progress could be made.

I took occasion to say that necessarily the Jews in the United States were deeply and profoundly concerned with the course of events in Europe during the past weeks and particularly the tragedies which they now envisaged as likely to take place in Austria. I said that the Ambassador was fully familiar with the very strong feeling which had been created as a result of the policies of the Goga Government [Page 649] in Rumania29 and that the spread of anti-Semite activities which are now anticipated in Austria would provoke even greater anxiety in this country among that element of our population. I said that I hoped that the policy of tolerance which had been pursued by the Polish Government would not now be modified and I said that it seemed to me unquestionable that if that policy of tolerance and of a desire to solve the Jewish problem in Poland in a conciliatory manner were continued by the Polish Government, it would undoubtedly be welcomed by public opinion in the United States with very beneficial results to Polish-American relations.

The Ambassador told me that he was confident that his Government would not modify the policy to which I had referred. He said, however, that the Jewish problem in Poland was a very real problem and that his Government felt that some start at a solution must be made in the near future. I then inquired if the Polish Government had made any investigation of possibilities for Polish immigration to the Latin American republics as a result of the information I had given him during the course of our first conversation on this subject. The Ambassador said that he had not heard from Warsaw with regard to this matter, but that it seemed to be evident that his Government was concentrating on the possibilities of immigration to Palestine more than on the possibilities of immigration to South or Central America, primarily because of the fact that the expenses involved were so much less if immigration to Palestine were undertaken. He did say, however, that his Government had informed him that the Government of Venezuela had granted certain agricultural concessions for Polish-Jewish immigration and that he would be grateful if I could ascertain from Venezuela whether that Government would look with favor upon the utilization of such concessions under present conditions. I told the Ambassador that I should be glad to do this in an entirely personal and informal way and that upon the return of the Minister of Venezuela to Washington I would make inquiry and then let the Ambassador know accordingly.

The Ambassador discussed with me at some length the European situation very much along the lines of his talk with the Secretary of State a few days ago. He seemed to feel that no general European war would result from the amalgamation of Austria into the Reich30 and that Germany would not now pursue actively the problem of the German minorities in Czechoslovakia. He stated that he thought the only element of danger was the possibility that the new French Foreign Minister, Paul-Boncour, would endeavor actively to bring Russia [Page 650] into the Western European picture and that if that were done of course Poland would not remain aloof and disinterested. He said that up to the present time Poland had made no representations whatever to Germany with regard to the Austrian adventure and intended to remain completely to one side. He said that, of course, the relations between Poland and France were very close but that Poland could not regard with equanimity any policy on the part of France which endeavored to make of the Franco-Russian alliance31 a live issue insofar as the Central European situation was concerned.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. Count Jerzy Potocki.
  2. A. J. Drexel Biddle, Jr., American Ambassador in Poland.
  3. M. S. Szymczak, member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
  4. Banker, New York, N. Y., and member of Jewish Welfare Board.
  5. See pp. 672 ff.
  6. See vol. i, pp. 384 ff.
  7. Treaty of Mutual Assistance between France and the Soviet Union, signed at Paris May 2, 1925; League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. clxvii, p. 395.