860C.01/6–2645: Telegram

No. 522
The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to the Acting Secretary of State

2274. In conversation with Bierut, Osóbka–Morawski and Mikołajczyk at lunch on June 23 I referred to a previous conversation with the first two at which they had emphasized their hope for economic assistance from the US and I suggested that it might be useful to have an informal discussion of what they visualized in this connection which I could report to my govt. (Polco, supplementing Moscow’s 2249, June 24, 3 p.m.,1 sent to Dept as 2274, rptd to London as 324.) I explained that relief and rehabilitation would be dealt with by UNRRA and in the medical field to some extent by the Amer Red Cross. When it came to reconstruction I said that this must be dealt with on a business basis.

Bierut readily recognized this principle and said that the new Polish Govt would wish to make a commercial treaty with the US in order that trade in both directions could be reestablished. He recognized that only through exports could Poland repay the US for goods purchased on credit. They explained in general their requirements for equipment emphasizing particularly the grave shortage of transportation, both railway equipment and, particularly, trucks and motor vehicles. They hoped to get from Germany the return of the 40 to 60 thousand trucks that had been taken from Poland and in other directions showed a keen desire to obtain at the earliest moment [Page 786] restitution and reparations from Germany. On the other hand, they hoped that some equipment could be obtained as quickly as possible from the US.

In addition to transportation requirements port equipment is urgently needed and machinery for the reestablishment of their industry, both within the boundaries of old Poland and in the new territory which they counted on obtaining in the west at the expense of Germany.

I explained the prior call on our industry for the war in the Pacific for certain types of equipment and the present legal limitations on the Export and Import Bank to extend credits. On the other hand, I encouraged them in the thought that immediate analysis of their requirements would be useful in order to be prepared for prompt action if and when credits could be extended and equipment was available. I also explained that in consideration of the size of any credit it would be necessary to analyze the Polish Govt’s plans for exports and particularly to the US, in order that we might be satisfied as to the capacity of Poland to repay any credits that might be granted. I also mentioned the possibility of obtaining a credit from the world bank when and if it was established.

They are extremely anxious to obtain a credit from the US as soon as possible after the new govt of national unity is set up and recognized by the US. Aside from the humanitarian aspects and the value in connection with developing future markets for Amer equipment, I believe it is of inestimable importance from a political standpoint to begin negotiations at once with a view of granting promptly a small credit, at least to permit purchases and shipment to Poland of equipment most urgently needed for reconstruction. This might be expanded at a later date when the Export-Import Bank obtains additional appropriations from Congress. There can be no doubt that prompt action to supply urgently-needed Amer equipment will have a far-reaching and permanent effect on the influence of the US in the political scene in Poland and particularly on our influence in connection with the carrying out of the final step in the Crimea decision, namely the holding of truly free elections. I cannot urge too strongly that Amb Lane be authorized before his departure from Wash to initiate negotiations for a credit to purchase Amer equipment and that the new govt be encouraged to send representatives to Wash [Page 787] to work out the details. The most dramatic gesture that we could make to show our interest in assisting Poland would be to dispatch several hundred used trucks from our army on the continent. This gesture would, I am satisfied, contribute substantially to strengthening the prestige and position of the new members of the govt.

On the other hand, if we delay taking any concrete action for a protracted period the hopes of assistance from America that all Poles have, including the Lublin group, will be dampened and our influence cannot fail to be adversely affected. In other words, I feel that a small gesture made quickly will be of even greater political as well as practical value than substantially larger transactions made at a later date. I hope also that our rep on the UNRRA Board will encourage UNRRA to increase promptly its shipments as far as possible using the port of Danzig; also that the UNRRA mission be dispatched to Warsaw without delay. I further hope that the AmCross will find it possible to increase its appropriation of a million dollars for medical supplies. From the reports of AmCross reps who have recently been in Poland there can be no doubt that Poland is desperately short of medical supplies in all categories and from standpoint of human values I know of no country in Europe where aid given can be more useful.

Although on Amb Lane’s arrival in Warsaw I will be dropping out of my direct relations with Poland, I would personally greatly appreciate the Dept’s reaction to the above recommendations.

I discussed with Bierut specifically the points raised in Dept’s 1382, June 22, 7 p.m.2 He showed great interest in obtaining Amer technical aid in their reconstruction problems. He is anxious to send at the proper time Polish engineers to the US to study particular problems and stated Amer engineers would be welcome in Poland to assist them. He expressed the hope that there will be attached to our Embassy competent experts in industry and agriculture who could not only analyze Poland’s requirements from the US but informally advise the Polish Govt ministries involved. …3

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  1. Not printed.
  2. See document No. 485.
  3. For the second section of this message, omitted here, see document No. 490.