740.00119 (Potsdam)/5–2446

No. 511
Briefing Book Paper
top secret

Eastern Poland Between the Riga Line and Curzon Line


The United States Government, in the agreement of the Big Three at the Crimea Conference (February 11, 1945),1 approved the Curzon Line2 (with Extension A3) as the boundary between Poland and the U. S. S. R. Deviations from the Line in some regions of five to eight kilometers are to be allowed in favor of Poland.

basic data

The area between the Riga4 and Curzon Lines includes pre-1914 Austrian and Russian territory. Eastern Galicia was renounced by Austria in the Treaty of St. Germain, September 10, 1919,5 and was awarded to Poland on March 15, 1923 by the Principal Allied Powers,6 acting under Article 87 of the Treaty of Versailles.7 The former Russian territory was acquired by Poland through the Treaty of Riga, March 18, 1921.

[Page 748]

In the partition of Poland in September 1939, the Soviet Union occupied both the formerly Russian and the formerly Austria[n] territory east of the Curzon Line, as well as some territory west of that line, principally the province of Bialystok, only to lose it temporarily (summer 1941 to spring 1944) to the Germans.

The Soviet Government on January 11, 1944 first proposed to the Polish Government-in-Exile, that the Curzon Line should be the future Polish-Soviet frontier. Subsequent discussions, at Teheran8 and with Churchill and Mikołajczyk at Moscow in October 1944,9 made clear that the Soviet Government understood Extension A to be the Curzon Line through Galicia. Churchill’s speech to the House of Commons on December 15, 194410 specified Extension A. The agreement of the Big Three at the Crimea Conference stated:

The heads of Government consider that the eastern frontier of Poland should follow the Curzon Line, with digressions from it in some regions of five to eight kilometers in favor of Poland.

The Provisional Government at Warsaw has publicly endorsed the Yalta agreement as it applies to Poland.

The part of former Poland east of the Curzon Line has an area of 70,049 square miles. Its total population, according to the Polish census of 1931, was 10,574,785, of whom 3,841,908 were Polish-speaking, 3,925,108 were Ukrainian-speaking, 910,462 were White Russian-speaking, 10,737 were Russian-speaking, 707,088 were listed as “local” inhabitants of the Province of Polesie, 889,225 were Yiddish-speaking, 79,385 were German-speaking, and 75,917 were Lithuanian-speaking.

On September 9, 1944 the Polish Committee of National Liberation signed at Lublin agreements11 with Ukrainian S. S. R. and the White Russian S. S. R. providing for the voluntary evacuation of Ukrainian and White Russian population from the territory of Poland and Polish population from the territory of the Ukrainian S. S. R. and the White Russian S. S. R. This exchange is in the process of being carried out. In principle the United States Government has approved such transfers (v. statement of the Secretary of State to the press, December 18, 194412).

[Page MAP]
  1. See vol. ii, document No. 1417, section vi.
  2. For the origin and a description of the Curzon Line, see Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol. xiii, pp. 793794. See also the map facing p. 748, post.
  3. “Extension A” begins at the southern point of the Curzon Line on the River Bug and runs west of Lvov to the Czechoslovak frontier. See Toynbee and Toynbee, eds., Survey of International Affairs, 1939–1946: The Realignment of Europe, p. 151, footnote 4.
  4. The Riga Line is the boundary established by the Treaty of Riga of March 18, 1921, between Poland and the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic (acting on its own behalf and with the authorization of the Soviet Socialist Republics of White Ruthenia and the Ukraine). Text in League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. vi, p. 123.
  5. Text in Treaties, Conventions, International Acts, Protocols and Agreements Between the United States of America and Other Powers (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1910–1938), vol. iii, p. 3149. The renunciation referred to was effected by article 91.
  6. By a decision of the Conference of Ambassadors at Paris. Text in British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxviii, p. 960.
  7. Signed June 28, 1919. Annotated text in Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol. xiii, p. 57.
  8. The records of the Tehran Conference are scheduled for publication in a subsequent volume in this series. See Winston S. Churchill, Closing the Ring (vol. v of The Second World War) (Boston, 1951), pp. 395–397; Feis, Churchill Roosevelt Stalin , pp. 285–287.
  9. See Churchill, Triumph and Tragedy, book i, chapter 15.
  10. See Parliamentary Debates: House of Commons Official Report, 5th series, vol. 406, col. 1480.
  11. Not printed. For a summary of the provisions, see New York Times, September 15, 1944, p. 5.
  12. See Department of State Bulletin, vol. xi, p. 836.