740.0011 European War 1939/18705

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Henderson)

The Polish Ambassador38 came in to see me late this afternoon. He said that on Saturday, December 27, the President had called to the White House a number of Chiefs of Mission and had given them to understand that an agreement was being drawn up which all nations engaged in war against Germany would be given an opportunity to sign.

The Ambassador said that he had received the distinct impression that the agreement in question was being prepared at conferences of representatives of a group of powers and that after the wording of the agreement had been decided upon the representatives of other powers engaged in war against Germany would be called in and given a chance to sign.

The Germans, he pointed out, were undoubtedly watching closely the manner in which the international agreement was being drawn up and would make every endeavor to ridicule it and to minimize its importance. From the point of view of the European continent it would be extremely unfortunate if the agreement should be drawn up and signed in such a way as to give the Germans an opportunity to spread propaganda to the effect that it did not represent the spontaneous views of all the powers signing it; that it had been drawn up by a few powers selected because of their immediate strategical importance; and that the other powers had played merely the passive role of signers. German propaganda in Poland, for instance, that the Soviet Union had been given a voice in the drafting of the document while Poland was treated as a secondary power might serve to lower the morale and capacity to resist of the population.

The Ambassador expressed the hope that the document in question would be shown to the various powers which were to be invited to sign it and particularly to Poland before its final text had been irrevocably decided upon and before it had been signed by any other power.

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In making his suggestion he wished to emphasize the confidence which Poland had in both the President and Mr. Churchill. President Roosevelt understood the Polish problem thoroughly and there could be no better representative of Poland connected with the drawing up of the document than the President himself, His main concern was that it might appear that the appearance of equality was being abandoned. He was sure that the American Government, which had always been a staunch defender of the principles of equality among foreign powers, would understand the position of Poland in this matter.

I told the Ambassador that his suggestions and comments would be passed along to my superiors in the Department.

  1. Jan Ciechanwski.