Memorandum of Conversation, by the Appointed Ambassador to the Soviet Union (Standley)

Acting Polish Foreign Minister Raczynski accompanied by the Polish Ambassador, Mr. Jan Ciechanowski, called by appointment at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4, 1942. The Foreign Minister explained that he had learned of my appointment as Ambassador to the Soviet Union30 and desired to give me his views in relation to the Russo-Polish situation. He spoke of the large number of Polish citizens (approximately 2,000,000) who had been taken out of Poland into the Soviet Union and were distributed and held under varying conditions throughout the Soviet Union. He spoke of the terrible situation of these Polish people and dwelt especially upon the failure of the Russians to live up to their undertakings with the Poles. He emphasized the great effect which President Roosevelt’s message to Mr. Stalin31 had had upon the Russians’ attitude toward keeping this agreement. He spoke of the purpose of the agreement in relation to the release, of a large number of Polish people and also of the forming of Polish armed forces in the Soviet Union. He pointed out the failure of the Soviet Union to live up to these agreements and said that while [Page 113] the situation had eased after President Roosevelt’s telegram it was yet far short of holding to their agreement.

The Minister also spoke of the Baltic States situation, saying that he understood, and of course he could not help but know, that there were discussions going on32 having to do with the future of the Baltic States and particularly emphasized the fact that while the Polish Government was concerned with all three States, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, it was particularly concerned with the future of Lithuania, and that it had always considered that the safety of Poland was vitally connected with the independence of Lithuania. He also spoke of the Southern Polish border as affected by the status of Rumania and Bessarabia. In effect Lithuania on the north and Bessarabia on the south constituted jaws of pincers and if either of these countries should fall under the control of a foreign power the security of Poland would be menaced.

Other than to express the view that I was very much interested in this matter of the large number of Polish citizens in the Soviet Union and was very glad to get his viewpoint concerning them, I gave no expression of opinion whatever and took very little part in the conversation.

Just prior to the termination of the conversation Mr. Henderson33 came in to discuss certain phases of a telegram which had just arrived from Mr. Biddle34 concerning the draft of a joint declaration which the Government of Poland desired the Governments of the German occupied countries of Europe to sign.

  1. See footnote 31, p. 415.
  2. Not found in Department files.
  3. For details concerning preliminary negotiations for the Anglo-Soviet treaty of May 26, 1942, see pp. 490 ff.
  4. Loy W. Henderson, Assistant Chief of the Division of European Affairs.
  5. Polish Series No. 18, March 3, not printed; it contained a draft of a joint declaration which General Sikorski advocated that the several Governments in Exile at London should sign concerning wartime collaboration and postwar organization among them. In a memorandum of March 7, 1942, President Roosevelt indicated his disapproval of such an agreement: “I think Sikorski should be definitely discouraged on this proposition. This is no time to talk about the post-war position of small nations, and it would cause serious trouble with Russia. F. D. R.” (740.0011 European War 1939/19908)