740.00119 European War 1939/976: Telegram

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

Polish Series 40. Sikorski tells me that on April 17, Eden addressed a note to Raczynski dealing with Polish memorandum of March 27,87 and with Sikorski’s letter of April 16 (summarized in my [Page 143] 34, April 24, 6 p.m.). While he has not shown me Eden’s note he tells me its main points are as follows:

Aim of proposed Anglo-Russian Agreement is not a political agreement dealing with postwar status of continental Europe, but one looking toward Anglo-Russian collaboration during and after the war, which takes into account (1) security of certain of Russia’s frontiers and (2) the interests of the United Nations;
Agreement will not modify Britain’s policy, as based on principles set forth in Atlantic Charter which has already been accepted by Russia,88 in regard to a general European settlement;
Until war situation becomes clearer than at present Britain intends to abide by principles set forth in Churchill’s statement of September 5, 1940 to the effect that since outbreak of war Britain has at no time adopted the policy that nothing may be changed in the territorial boundaries of various states and that Britain does not propose moreover to recognize any territorial revisions which the war may bring about unless these come about with the free will of the parties concerned;
British Government considers that firmer basis of confidence between the Western Powers and Russia is a matter of great importance, and equally important in the interests of Poland;
Proposed agreement will establish Britain’s right to interest itself in a European settlement in general and a Polish settlement in particular;
British Government does not intend to conclude any agreement affecting or compromising territorial status of Poland. This covers all Polish territory, including Vilno, as it stood as of date of Anglo-Polish Mutual Assistance Pact of August 25, 1939;
As regards Lithuania, British undertaking to Poland under Mutual Assistance Pact provided against German, not Russian aggression.
As regards Bukovina, British Government rejects Polish legal argument on that point. Rumania rejected the British guarantee89 and chose to collaborate with Germany. Britain subsequently declared war on Rumania and does not feel bound by the obligations under its former guarantee;
Britain will accept its full share of responsibility for the settlement of peace, but needs Russia’s cooperation.

  1. See footnote 77, p. 139.
  2. Adherence to the Atlantic Charter by the Soviet Union took place by a resolution adopted at the second meeting of the Inter-Allied Council in London on September 24, 1941. See bracketed note, Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. i, p. 378.
  3. The guarantee (see footnote 57, p. 128) had been renounced by Rumania on July 1, 1940, following the loss of Bessarabia and Bukovina to the Soviet Union, but had been reaffirmed by Lord Halifax in the House of Lords on September 5, 1940 (Great Britain, Parliamentary Debates, House of Lords, 5th series, vol. 117, col. 368).