Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Atherton)

The Polish Ambassador called on me this morning on his initiative. He asked first that an expression of his condolences be conveyed to the President.9 He then requested that an expression of appreciation likewise be conveyed to the President on his behalf for the statements he made so generously of Poland at the moment of the extension of the Lease-Lend Act to his country.10

He then referred to the forthcoming mission to Russia11 and said he had been informed by his Government they had already made an approach to the British Government as to whether Poland might be represented on this mission. In the first instance, political discussions might arise and in that case no political discussions could be undertaken with Soviet Russia in which Poland was not vitally interested. I pointed out to him that certainly the American mission that was leaving this country was entirely a military mission for the purpose of determining what arms might immediately be made available to Russia and in what proportions to enable them to maintain their resistance to Germany. I felt no one in the American mission was [Page 252] competent to discuss political factors and would suggest steps be taken to prevent interjection of any political questions since it would immediately change the character of the mission and destroy the object in mind—that is, immediate aid and good will understandings. The Ambassador said he agreed to this in his personal opinion but that he wondered whether a Polish representative might not be included in our missions from the point of view that the Polish Army in Russia, numbering some 80,000 men, had been accepted by the Soviets under Polish terms, and the supplying of arms to these men and their cooperation with the Russian forces was indeed something that might qualify a Polish member of these military missions. I said quite honestly that I could not contemplate any change in the structure of the mission at this moment but I certainly would make a memorandum of the Ambassador’s remarks and hope in the course of a day or so to be able to reply to him.12

R[ay] A[therton]

[The pro memoria dated September 12, 1941, from the Polish Embassy to the Department of State, containing Polish views regarding the Joint Declaration of the Atlantic Charter made by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill at their Atlantic meeting at sea, and information of the Polish representations to the British Government, is printed on page 377.]

  1. President Roosevelt’s mother had died at Hyde Park, New York, on September 7, 1941.
  2. See footnote 76, p. 236.
  3. The joint American and British Mission under W. Averell Harriman and Lord Beaverbrook to the conference at Moscow, September 29–October 1, 1941. For correspondence regarding this Mission, see pp. 825852, passim.
  4. In a note of September 11, 1941, at the end of this memorandum, Mr. Atherton wrote: “I told the Ambassador in view of President’s or P[rime] M[inister’s] cable to Stalin re mission & Stalin’s reply it was not advisable to consider Polish member, tho’ any cooperation in London or Moscow with mission was indicated thru Ambassadors at their posts.”