Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Secretary of State
The Polish Ambassador and the Polish Acting Foreign Minister called to see me this afternoon at their request.
Mr. Raczyński read to me a digest of a telegram he had received today from General Sikorski in London. The latter stated that Mr. Eden38 had told him confidentially of his conversations with the Soviet Government regarding a guarantee in the form of a secret treaty between the Soviet Union and Great Britain of the return to the former of its 1941 boundaries.39
Mr. Eden had stated that the Soviet Government was pressing more and more strongly for an immediate solution of this question.
Mr. Eden had stated that the Soviet Government was demanding a definite treaty in this regard between the Soviet Union and Great Britain and a more general treaty between the Soviet Union and the United States.
Mr. Eden had further made it clear that in return for this agreement on the part of Great Britain, the Soviet Union was willing to [Page 115] guarantee to Great Britain that the latter would have a voice together with the Soviet Union in controlling and determining postwar affairs in central Europe. Mr. Eden had also intimated that the Soviet Government was pressing for an agreement by Great Britain that the former was to have increased control, political and economic, in Persia.
General Sikorski had emphasized in his telegram to Mr. Raczyński that concessions of this character made by Great Britain to Soviet imperialism would contribute to the destruction of any spirit of resistance on the part of the submerged nations of Europe and that they would probably also increase the possibility that additional neutral nations would go over to the Axis side. In his opinion Hitler would be given the opportunity which he desired, as soon as the nature of this secret treaty became known, which he thought it undoubtedly would, of proclaiming that the Axis powers were leading a holy crusade not only against communism but also against Russian imperialism.
General Sikorski believed that the moment was very critical in the war between the Axis powers and the United Nations and that conditions in Germany were becoming critical and within Italy they were already highly critical. He said that if this secret treaty were concluded it could only result in improving internal conditions in both Italy and Germany.
General Sikorski concluded by saying that he had implored Mr. Eden to drag on the negotiations and not to reach any immediate decision.
In reply I stated to the Acting Foreign Minister that no approach had been made to the United States directly by the Soviet Union in this matter. I said this Government knew of these negotiations only through the British Government. I stated further that no suggestion had been made that a general treaty be concluded between the United States and the Soviet Union and that it was my clear understanding that the only way in which the United States had been brought into the picture so far had been by reason of Mr. Eden’s very proper statement to the Soviet Government that in view of the understandings between the United States and Great Britain, the British Government could give no final reply to the Soviet Union until after it had been afforded the opportunity of consulting with the United States.
I said that when General Sikorski visited Washington I had no doubt that the President would discuss the questions involved fully with him. For the moment I felt it possible only to say that the position of this Government was based upon the principles set forth in the Atlantic Charter and that in the judgment of the President, questions of this character could only come up for final determination at the conclusion [Page 116] of the war when a victory had been won by the United Nations. I said that of course this Government believed that at that time the Soviet Government should be given every legitimate measure of security which it might legitimately require, but that the determination of what; constituted legitimate measures of security when the war was over would necessarily be contingent upon many circumstances which might not now be foreseen. I stated specifically that the Atlantic Charter called for the disarmament of the aggressor nations and that if Germany were disarmed the Soviet Union would not have to provide the type of barrier between Germany and the Soviet Union which it had previously had to contemplate.