Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, Volume II
Memorandum by the Polish
Following what was declared by Mr. Byrnes,1 Chairman of the Conference of the three Foreign Ministers, that regardless of oral declarations it was permissible to send in documentary materials in writing, the Polish Delegation have the honour to transmit enclosed some papers referring to the problem of Poland’s Western frontier, together with an opinion of Professor Stanislaw Grabski, Deputy Chairman of Polish National Council.
Papers Relating to the Polish Claim of Poland’s Western Frontier 2
Only a Poland that is economically strong will contribute to a lasting peace. On the contrary a Poland economically weak, and that necessarily implies her military and political weakness, would only tempt the Germans to a new acquisitive aggression. I believe it was just the recognition of this very truth that made the three leaders of the Allied Nations declare in Yalta3 they desired to see, as a result of this war, an independent, sovereign, and powerful Poland.
Poland, however, comes out of this war with a considerably diminished territory and a diminished number of population. This is due to the fact of her having ceded to the Soviet Union an area of 180.000 square kilometres and the entire Ukrainian and White Ruthenian population that lived there before 1939. Should Poland in the way of compensation acquire that portion of Eastern Prussia that lies south and west of Konigsberg, and trace her Western frontier-line on the Western Nisa [Neisse] and the Oder (including Stettin into Poland), her area would be smaller by 80.000 kilometres and her population by 7 million people.
In order that Poland might not become but a troublesome client to the Soviet Union, entirely dependent on her for defence, but that she might be a valuable ally to the Union, as well as to the great Western Democracies, in the common cause of safeguarding mankind against Germany’s aggressiveness, she must be given conditions that would enable her to progress economically much faster than she was able to do till now. As a result of this progress she must be able, within twenty years at the most, to reach such a level, at which her social income per head of population should be equal to that of Germany. Poland’s social income equal with that of Germany will be one of the most powerful safeguards of peace on the European Continent. But to do that it is necessary to increase the Polish social income almost thrice. This, however, cannot be achieved unless the Polish nation undergoes a speedy change from a nation exclusively continental and chiefly agricultural into a nation simultaneously continental as well as maritime, and agricultural as well as industrial, approximately of the type of SwEden and Denmark. For this purpose, in turn, it is necessary that Poland, within the shortest possible time, should enter [Page 1143] into the international exchange of goods contributing to it the largest possible amount of import and export. Poland, for the reconstruction of her industry destroyed by the war, and the more in order to speed up her industrial development, will have to import implements of production and raw materials for a long period of time. But in the long run it is impossible to import on credit only. If we do not wish to have a new world crisis, international liabilities must be paid and a world equilibrium of export and import must be preserved. Poland, not only in her own interest, but also in the interest of a natural after the war economical collaboration among the nations, ought to be able, in the shortest possible time, to square her import by her export. At the present moment, however, she has lost the main sources of her pre-war export, viz: the most fertile agricultural territories of Eastern Galicia and Volhynia, as well as the forests of Polesie and the Eastern Carpathians. These losses will be compensated, not without a surplus, I admit, by granting to Poland all Silesia up to the Western Nisa—by the surplus, however, not only Poland will benefit, but also the cause of world’s peace.
Just the contrary to what it was in Germany, Polish economic science and writers before the war did not show any liking whatsoever toward economic self-sufficiency. The Polish economic thought always tried to find the way of economic progress within the framework of economic world collaboration. So much the more does she desire this collaboration today. The mines and factories of Silesia which, under the German domination, were, alike with those of the Ruhr Basin, a forge for their war industry, will in the hands of Poland become a strong unifying factor in the field of economic collaboration between the Polish Nation and the great Western Anglo-Saxon Democracies. The collaboration of Western capital with the Polish people, with the Polish engineers and miners, in the further development of Silesian industry and mining, will be of a great importance for furthering the movement for peace in Central Europe. The Polish people as a whole are desirous to establish such a collaboration. But that is also the reason why all the Polish parties and all layers of the Polish community, without any exception whatsoever, expect the Great Powers to grant to Poland territorial compensation for what she was deprived in the East, for this compensation only will make it possible for her to take a due part in the economic progress of mankind, resting upon the foundations of an honest international collaboration.
When the allied Poland has, following the decisions of the Crimean Conference, withdrawn her Eastern frontier to a line on which she stood at the end of the XIVth century, no injustice, it seems, can be [Page 1144] found in Germany, the foe, withdrawing her Eastern frontier, being at the same time Poland’s Western boundary, to a line where she stood at the end of the same century. And this line was the Oder with Stettin, and the Lausitz Nisa.
Professor of Economic Deputy President of Polish National Council
Why the Territory on the Oder and the Western Nisa Has Been Taken Over by Poland?
On the basis of the Crimean Declaration, issued at Yalta by the Great Allies, Poland took it for granted that her territory in the North and West would be substantially increased.
Following the shifting of the Eastern frontier of Poland it was necessary to conclude an agreement with the USSR, the result of which was that Poland had to face a re-settlement of a part of her population in a very brief period of time. Therefore new homes for the Polish population from across the Curzon line had to be found.
For that purpose the area, stretching away between the former Polish frontier and the river Oder and Western Nisa, proved to be most suitable. It had been recently freed by the Red and the Polish Armies and was almost completely abandoned by Germans. In making use of it Poland relied upon the Crimean Declaration. In the old Poland, within the limits of 1939, it was impossible to accommodate those 4,200.000 home coming people, the overpopulation and war damages in that area being too great.
On the other hand the land on the Oder and the Western Nisa proved to be deserted owing to a mass flight of Germans before military activities. Had that area been let to remain empty of people, crops and livestock would have been lost and industrial equipment ruined.
In all that a very positive part was played by the Polish Army which, together with the Red Army, had fought on this territory and succeeded in freeing it from the German occupant; it was only natural it had to stay there for the sake of preserving peace and security, and by doing so to protect this part of Europe against disorder and banditry. Polish troops contributed a good deal to the restoration of economic life in those parts, in particular assisted in spring sowing and in harvesting crops. So the arable land in that area was not left unused and there is no doubt that this made the [Page 1145] danger of starvation in Europe much smaller. At the present moment the Polish settler in that area, assisted by the Polish Army, is busy at harvesting crops and is getting ready for autumn sowing. Thus he contributes to re-introducing this land into the economic life of Europe and to making the economic and political conditions more stable.
Moreover, in the area on the Oder and the Western Nisa there lived about 2 million people of Polish descent and speaking Polish language; they looked forward to the Polish state for assistance and protection. Apart of them in Germany worked about 2 million Polish workers [sic] deported there by force and about 1 million of prisoners in P. O. W. and concentration camps. A great part of those was to be found in the spoken about area. Those people, too, asked to be helped and protected by the Polish authorities.
These are the reasons why Poland has introduced her administration in the territory east of the Oder and the Western Nisa. The results of this action were positive. The Polish administration and the Polish Army have restored order and made it possible for the economic life, interrupted by the activities of war, to thrive again.
Economic Value of the Territory Ceded to the USSR and the Western Area East of the Oder and the Western Nisa
(A Few Comparative Data)
With the cession of the territory in the East to the USSR the following most important economic items were lost for Poland:
a. mineral raw materials
|1. Oil||(Eastern Carpathians) yearly production of Poland in 1937||501.000 tons|
|loss in production||380.000 tons|
|loss in percentage||76%|
|2. Ozocerite||(Eastern Carpathians) entire production lost||100%|
|3. Natural gas||(Eastern Carpathians) loss||72%|
|4. Potassium salts||(Eastern Carpathians) entire prod. lost||100%|
|Production in 1938: 567.000 tons|
|5. Building stones||(for roads and buildings, Volhynia and Polesie) loss||70%|
|Production in 1938: 3,000.000 tons|
|6. Gypsum||(Southern area) losses: alabaster—total production||100%|
|7. Ceramic materials||(china clay, quartz, feldspar) total production lost||100%|
As to oil, ozocerite, natural gas, potassium salts, and alabaster, Poland has nothing to gain by the incorporation of the said territory in the West, since those raw materials are not to be found there. As far as construction stones, gypsum, and ceramic materials are concerned, Poland shall obtain in the new area an equivalent for the losses in the East.
On the other hand Poland will come into possession of 18 bituminous coal mines (the district of Oppeln in Silesia) with the annual production of about 30 million tons, and a few coal mines in the Lower Silesia with the yearly production of about 5 million tons, which means a total increase of Polish production capacity in this respect by 50 per cent. Moreover, Poland will obtain in the vicinity of Bytom (district of Oppeln, Silesia) a part of Upper-Silesian deposits of zinc-and-lead ores. That will [increase?] her resources of these ores up to 33 million tons (an increase by about 55 per cent). Having in view, however, a high degree of development of the home smelting industry, even these resources must be considered as being, relatively speaking, rather small, since they can feed zinc and ore smelting furnaces in Poland no longer than 50 years.
(Computation based upon approximate pre-war data)
In the Eastern territory ceded to the Soviet Union, to be exact in the middle and Southern part of it, we have lost about 50 per cent of what we possessed in loess and “czernoziom” soil, owing to which Poland is to suffer some losses in her agricultural production. Even if the territories east of the Western Nisa and the Oder were incorporated, our agricultural production will diminish by:
|Wheat||by 300.000||i.e. by 14|
In return certain gains would be achieved in other sectors of agricultural production, viz:
|Rye||160.000||i.e. by 2|
As one may see by comparing the two lists owing to the changes in our frontiers the centre of gravitation of agricultural production in Poland will shift, i. e. there will be an increase in the crop of wheat [beets?] and potatoes and at the same time a substantial decrease in the production of wheat, buckwheat and maize.
As a result of Poland having given up to the Soviet Union some large forested areas and in spite of her acquiring woods in the territory east of the Western Nisa and the Oder, she would lose on the whole 1,384.000 hectares. This loss, as well as the damages caused to our forests by the Germans has decreased the Polish resources of timber to such an extent, that Poland has to import timber for the purpose of reconstructing the country.
d. livestock breeding
In consequence of the fact that the Polish territory will be smaller by 20%, some decrease in the area of meadows, and pastures as well as in the crop of feed-plants, necessary for livestock breeding, is to be expected.
As one can easily see looking at these comparative figures, Poland, by ceding her territory east of the Curzon line, suffered important economic loss in some main raw materials. It is impossible for her to obtain compensation in all particular items. Generally speaking, however, these losses can be counter-balanced only by her coming into possession of the area east of the Oder and the Western (Lausitzer) Nisa. This will bring about a shift in the type of Polish productivity: from a country producing mainly food and timber Poland will change into an agricultural and industrial one, which will raise the level of living and consumption capacity of her population, and, in consequence, increase her share in the international exchange of goods.
Demographic Needs of Poland
There are about 26,000.000 Poles at the present moment. Considering that in 1931 (last Polish census of population) the average density of population was 83 people per sq. km., Poland ought to have at least 314.000 sq. km. of her territory.
The area she lost in the East amounted to 184.000 sq. km. What was left for her was 204.000 sq. km., i. e. not more than 65% of the area required. So her territory ought to be increased by ⅓, otherwise she will not be able to live an independent life.
The incorporation of the Eastern part of Germany up to the Oder and the Western Nisa will bring to Poland 105.000 sq. km., and so even in that event she will obtain less than she really needs.
In consequence of these changes the territory of Poland will be smaller by 74.000 sq. km., in other words, by 20 per cent, whereas Germany’s territorial loss will be no greater than 18 per cent of her area. Poland’s maximum claims lead in effect to a smaller loss for defeated Germany than to allied and victorious Poland.
Poland will have to master an area of 105.000 sq. km. inhabited by about 8 million people. Among that population, however, those who are of Polish descent and speak Polish amount to 2 million men and women. They will regain their national liberty at last. Actually, then, we have to take care of those industrial portions (farm, factories, artisan workshops and others), that were left behind by about 6 million people of German nationality. From the East about 4,200.000 Poles are to be transferred: they must find the opportunity to earn their living in the new Poland. From abroad (France, Belgium, USSR, etc.) about half a million Poles will come back home.
Before the war Poland was a country that was extremely over-populated, particularly in the rural districts. There, without any land of their own to cultivate and without any chance of getting employment, lived 3 to 5 million people, 70 per cent of whom were Poles. Those rural “superfluous people” could not be absorbed into the industry and urban centres owing to the low level of old Poland’s industrial development. In the new Poland, however, those people must also be given satisfactory conditions for a decent existence.
As it was shown by the publications of the League of Nations, the overpopulation of the rural districts in Europe had reached the [Page 1149] maximum intensity in Poland. That was the reason why more than 2 million people emigrated from this country in the years 1919–1939.
The rural overpopulation in Poland made also people to look for a seasonal emigration to neighbouring countries; between 1927 and 1938 534.000 men and women left Poland. Out of this number 431.000 went to Germany to cultivate, as migratory farm, workers, the land that had been abandoned by German inhabitants. This shows that the German element was not able to hold his own in agriculture in those parts.
This fact is being confirmed, too, by a constant German emigration that has been going on without a stop from about 1850. Even in the last years, in spite of the strenuous efforts of Hitler’s government to the contrary, 448.000 people left that land, going westward, in the years 1933–39.
The Polish farm labourer considered this state of affairs as injurious, for he saw himself induced to cultivate the soil robbed from his ancestors by Germany, and in this way to collaborate at making the power of his enemies still greater.
Poland cannot but defend her citizens, she can comply no longer with them working for Germany under such conditions. On the other hand she is willing to send Germany the surplus of her agricultural products in exchange for a suitable equivalent. In this way justice will be done to both those who work and those who are in need.
The demographic pressure of the Polish population is, indeed, very great. It shows itself in the natural annual increase of the population that on the average is more than 250.000 people.
In conclusion one may say (i) that Poland with no difficulty can master the territory east of the Oder and the Western Nisa; (ii) that this area is necessary for her as a condition of her existence as independent power; (iii) that only by possessing that land she will be able to organize her agricultural and, generally speaking, her whole professional system on a more reasonable and sound basis; furthermore, to avoid that her sons and daughters should emigrate or slave for Germany.
The Polish claims in reference to her Western frontiers upon the Oder and the Western Nisa are, then, much more modest than it would be justified by her actual demographic needs.