The Ambassador in France (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State
[Received 3 p.m.]
978. My 965, May 19, 2 p.m.1 A most curious and unfortunate development has prevented the signature of the political agreement between the French and Polish Governments2 referred to in the second and third paragraphs of my telegram under reference.
The text of the agreement has been accepted by both Governments and the documents had been drawn up and compared in final official form and the time of signature had been fixed by Bonnet for 3 o’clock Saturday afternoon. At 1 o’clock Bonnet telephoned to the Polish Ambassador and said that he did not wish to sign the agreement until after his return from Geneva.
Owing to the extremely bad relations between Poland and Germany the Polish Government was naturally opposed to this delay and the Polish Ambassador at once saw both Daladier and Bonnet. The explanation given him was that the French desired to sign their political agreement with Poland at the same time that the British should sign their political agreement with Poland. Inasmuch as Bonnet had not mentioned this factor during a week of intimate conversations with the Polish Ambassador and the Polish Minister of War General Kasprzycki and had fixed the hour for signature the Polish Government [Page 190] was intensely disturbed by this development and began searching for an ulterior motive.
I have just obtained the explanation of Bonnet’s extraordinary action. Bonnet had conducted the negotiations with the Polish Ambassador and the Polish Minister for War personally and had not kept Leger or any of the regular services of the Quai d’Orsay informed of the progress of the negotiations and had had all documents prepared in his private office. After Bonnet had set the hour for signature a member of his staff informed him that the British had not yet signed their political accord with Poland. Bonnet was astonished to hear this and in explaining later to Daladier said that he had been convinced that the British had signed their political accord with Poland because of a remark made by Mandel, Minister of Colonies. As soon as he had ascertained that in truth the British had not yet entered into serious negotiations for a political accord with Poland, Bonnet flatly refused to sign the agreement until the British should have prepared an exactly similar agreement with the Poles.
As a result of this astonishing mishandling of the negotiation, the Poles at the moment feel they have been insulted and are extremely irritated.
Moreover, although Bonnet on Friday informed the British Ambassador that he was confident that the French Government would give Poland a guaranteed credit of one billion francs for purchases in France and an outright loan of one billion francs, Daladier on Saturday informed the Polish Ambassador that while France would give the billion guaranteed credit, the outright loan could not amount to more than 135 million francs.
Furthermore when Gamelin3 who had signed the miltary accord ascertained that the political accord had not been signed he sent a note to General Kasprzycki, Polish Minister of War, stating that of course the military accord could not come into effect or have any binding value until after signature of the political agreement since it must be subordinated entirely as a technical instrument to the political accord.
When Halifax arrived Saturday night Leger, Daladier and Bonnet without explaining fully the position to him asked him when Great Britain intended to negotiate a political accord with Poland. Halifax replied that Great Britain did not expect to negotiate such an accord until the close of the present negotiations with the Soviet Union and the present negotiations with Turkey; that is to say in about 2 months.
Daladier urged Halifax to have an immediate study made by his services of the text which had been agreed upon by the Polish and [Page 191] French Governments for the Franco-Polish political accord and desires him if possible to obtain the agreement of his Government to negotiate immediately a similar accord with Poland.
Leger stated to me this morning that Halifax had agreed to do this.