740.00119 Potsdam/7–1745

No. 1118
The British Foreign Secretary (Eden) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Secretary of State, On the 5th July, at the time of our recognition of the new Polish Provisional Government of National Unity, His Majesty’s Ambassador at Washington2 informed the United States Government3 that His Majesty’s Government had sought from the Polish Provisional Government certain explanations and assurances as to their attitude in regard to the participation of “all democratic and anti-Nazi parties” in free elections in Poland in accordance with the Crimea decisions.4 In seeking such assurances, His Majesty’s Government had had in mind that, of the four main parties which throughout the war had supported the Polish Government in London and their resistance movement in Poland, only two are represented [Page 1108]in the present Provisional Government. The settlement of the Polish question which has now been reached would be criticised in the United Kingdom if it were found that only the parties now included in the Provisional Government were to take part in the elections as a Government bloc without any effective opposition.

In reply to our enquiries, Sir A. Clark Kerr obtained from the Polish Ambassador in Moscow5 assurances in writing that the Government coalition “leaves freedom of choice to the former elements of the Democrat or Christian Labour Parties which are democratic and anti-Nazi to take part in the elections or in any other way”. The Polish Ambassador’s communication stated, however, that the National Democratic Party no longer existed in its pre-war form. In an oral communication to Sir A. Clark Kerr, the Polish Ambassador stated that the Democratic and Christian Labour Parties would “have complete freedom of action in regard to the elections and in all other respects”. The Polish Ambassador also indicated that political leaders who wished to start or revive other democratic parties would be free to do so and that such parties would participate in the elections either independently or in blocs as they saw fit.

M. Popiel, the leader of the Christian Labour Party, recently left London for Warsaw to discuss co-operation with the new Government at their invitation; but the Government have made, so far as we know, no move toward any National Democrats. In the circumstances we felt bound to inform the United States and Soviet Governments that we were not satisfied with the assurances which we had so far received on this question and reserved the right to raise it at the present Conference as affecting the implication of the Crimea decisions. The Polish Provisional Government were informed that we had made this communication to the United States and Soviet Governments.

I do not now think that it would in fact be desirable to discuss this matter in detail at the present Conference. It would be arguable that the question is one which should properly be pursued in direct discussion with the Polish Provisional Government, and it is perhaps unlikely that we should find common ground with the Russians such as would enable effective international action to be taken at the time of the elections. I therefore consider that we should aim rather at securing the insertion in the Communiqué to be issued at the end of this Conference of a reference to the Polish question. This might take the form of a statement on the following lines:

“The Three Powers have taken note with pleasure of the agreement reached among representative Poles from Poland and abroad which has made possible the establishment in accordance with the Crimea [Page 1109]decisions of a Polish Provisional Government of National Unity recognised by the Three Powers and pledged to the holding of free and unfettered elections as soon as possible on the basis of universal suffrage and secret ballot in which all democratic and anti-Nazi parties shall have the right to take part and to put forward candidates. It is the confident hope of the Three Powers that the elections will be so organised as to enable all sections of Polish opinion to express their views freely and thus play their full part in the restoration of the country’s political life. The Three Powers will further expect that representatives of the Allied Press shall enjoy full freedom to report to the world upon developments in Poland before and during the elections. Finally, they are anxious to assist the Polish Provisional Government in facilitating the orderly return to Poland as soon as practicable of all Poles abroad who wish to go; the Polish Provisional Government could itself greatly assist in this task by giving specific undertakings that those Poles who return will do so with full assurance of their personal security, freedom and livelihood.”

A statement on these lines seems to us desirable. It would help His Majesty’s Government in securing the full support of Parliament in the Polish statement and also in dealing with the very difficult practical problems arising out of the presence of some 250,000 Poles on British soil and in the armed forces under British command.

If you agree that some statement of this sort would be useful I would propose to take an appropriate opportunity of raising it at a meeting of Foreign Ministers and I would hope that I might then count on your support.

Yours sincerely

Anthony Eden
  1. So dated in a manuscript notation by Dunn.
  2. The Earl of Halifax.
  3. See vol. i, document No. 504.
  4. See document No. 1417, section vi .
  5. Zygrmunt Modzelewski.