741.6111/7: Telegram

The Ambassador to the Polish Government in Exile (Biddle) to the Secretary of State

Polish Series 34. For the President, the Secretary and the Under Secretary. My 30, April 13, 7 p.m. On April 16 Sikorski addressed to Eden a personal and confidential letter (in French) setting forth in strong terms Polish attitude toward impending Anglo-Soviet Agreement. Substance of letter is as follows.

After an introductory reference to a conversation with Eden the preceding day regarding progress of the negotiations, Sikorski states he has never ceased to give proof of his desire to cooperate loyally with the U. S. S. R. but he must nevertheless object most decidedly to ambitions of Soviet Russia which is seeking to follow in footsteps of Tsarist Imperialism, symbolized by the policy of Peter the Great, to which Stalin alludes. It is to this Imperialism, Sikorski continues, [Page 141] which has caused such grave prejudice to Europe and the entire world, that Poland owes its partitions. This same Imperialism is at the bottom of Soviet Government’s demands in present negotiations. Proposed agreement does not constitute an act directed against common enemy, Germany, but rather against vital interests of Poland, Britain’s earliest ally.

A general formula dealing with maintenance of Poland’s pre-September 1, 1939 frontiers, as suggested by Eden, would not meet Poland’s interests or Britian’s even assuming Stalin would accept it.

While tenor of note which British Government is about to communicate to Polish Foreign Minister is not known to him (Sikorski), he remains convinced that, notwithstanding Eden’s observations on preceding day, Eden will agree with him that Polish viewpoint is entirely consistent with spirit of Anglo-Polish Agreement of August 23 [25], 1939.

Continuing, Sikorski states he considers proposed Anglo-Soviet Agreement, as he has already indicated to Eden, susceptible of giving rise to very grave consequences for subsequent conduct of the war. If concluded, it would be tantamount to definitive encirclement of Poland. Enemy propaganda would seize opportunity to explain to all interested countries that Russia has obtained from Britain a signature analogous to Ribbentrop-Molotov Agreement of 1939.85 To sacrifice not only vital interests of Poland, but also to give over a considerable part of Europe to Soviet Russia, whose final object is to provoke a World Revolution rather than to subdue Germany, constitutes in his opinion a mistake capable of engendering incalculable consequences. All the countries of Europe, from Norway to Greece, defend an identical and united viewpoint when it comes to safeguarding their independence and their internal régime. Nor has he any doubt that hopes placed on Russia of seeing her fulfill the role in Europe which formerly fell to France are illusory both because of social and geopolitical factors. In his opinion, federative blocs called into being to check German state should assume that role.

Future federation of Central European countries would in principle be destroyed by the Agreement.

Soviet Russia would give it a direct blow by demanding for itself, in a manner as artificial as cynical, Bukovina, just as furthermore it claims Lithuania.

[Page 142]

Proposed agreement is basically contrary to Polish-Russian Agreement of July 30, 1941 which annulled past German-Soviet conventions regarding partition of Poland and precisely German-Soviet demarcation line of October 4, 1939, which is now referred to by Russia as its 1940 frontier and which the draft Anglo-Soviet Agreement confirms.

It is self-evident Poland cannot be a party to this negotiation nor give its consent to the agreement itself.

“It is not for me” Sikorski continues, “to prejudge the policy which the United States will pursue in this matter although it is true that President Roosevelt and his Government have fully shared the point of view and attitude of Poland respecting the claims of the U. S. S. R. Nevertheless I must express my fears, based on personal observations and conversations, that the agreement risks strengthening considerably the action of Isolationists and all elements hostile to Great Britain and the U.S.S.R., which should not be a matter of indifference to the latter power.”

Sikorski closes by stating he is firmly convinced Polish attitude thus clearly expressed on so complete and difficult a problem will cast no shadow on their personal relations which are founded on mutual respect.

Original text has gone forward by air pouch.86

I understand formal communications which Foreign Minister Raczynski is addressing to Eden on this subject are more restrained and conciliatory in tone. I also understand Sikorski’s letter is designed in part for the record, so that he may protect his own political position against the strong anti-Russian element in Polish Governmental and military circles, an element which flared into open opposition when the Polish-Soviet Agreement was negotiated last year and led to a split in the Cabinet and which may require careful handling if its activities are to be kept within desirable bounds at this time.

  1. The Soviet-German non-aggression pact was signed at Moscow on August 23, 1939; for text, see Department of State, Nazi-Soviet Relations, 1989–1941 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1948), pp. 76–78; or, Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, Series D, vol. vii, pp. 245–247. The German-Soviet boundary and friendship treaty was signed at Moscow on September 28, 1939; for text, see ibid., vol. viii, pp. 164–167. The supplementary protocol provided for in this treaty describing the Polish boundary in detail was signed at Moscow on October 4, 1939; for text, see ibid., p. 208.
  2. Transmitted to the Department by Ambassador Biddle in his despatch No. 142, April 22, 1942, not printed.