740.0011 European War 1939/346: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Steinhardt) to the Secretary of State

551. My 550, September 17, 7 p.m. [a.m.]. I received at 8:45 Moscow time this morning the following note signed by Molotov enclosing a copy of a note dated today addressed to the Polish Ambassador here:

Mr. Ambassador: In transmitting to you the enclosed note dated September 17, 1939 of the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics addressed to the Polish Ambassador in Moscow, I have the honor under instructions from my Government to declare to you that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics will pursue a policy of neutrality [Page 429] in the relations between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America.

Accept it, et cetera, Peoples Commissar for Foreign Affairs, signed Molotov.

The following is a full translation of the copy of the note to the Polish Ambassador.

“Mr. Ambassador: The Polish-German [War]43 has revealed the internal instability of Polish State. During 10 days of military operations Poland has lost all its industrial regions and cultural centers. Warsaw as the capital of Poland no longer exists. The Polish Government has scattered and gives no signs of life. This means that the Polish State and its Government factually have ceased to exist. By this fact in itself treaties concluded between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Poland have lost their validity. Left to shift for itself and left without leadership Poland has become a convenient field for all kinds of eventualities and unforeseen contingencies which may constitute a threat to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Therefore having been heretofore neutral a [the?] Soviet Government can no longer adopt a neutral attitude to these facts. The Soviet Government can also not be indifferent to the fact that the consanguine Ukrainians and White Russians living on the territory of Poland who have been left to the whim of fate should be left defenseless. In view of this situation the Soviet Government has issued instructions to the High Command Red Army to give the order to its forces to cross the Polish frontier and take under their protection the life and property of the population of Western Ukraine and Western White Russia.

At the same time the Soviet Government intends to take all measures in order to extricate the Polish people from the ill-fated war into which they have been led by their unwise leaders and to give them the possibility of living a peaceful life.

Accept, et cetera”.

  1. See pp. 402 ff.