Mikołajczyk Papers

No. 1387
Memorandum by the Polish Deputy Prime Minister ( Mikołajczyk )1


Notes of a Discussion With Mr. Harriman on July 26, 1945

Persons present: from the American side—Ambassador Harriman and his secretary;2 from the Polish side—Professor Grabski, Messrs. Gomułka, Modzelewski, Mikołajcyzk, and interpreter Żebrowski.

Mr. Harriman takes the floor and asks for a short time to speak because of a meeting which is to follow, and he asks that his talk be considered confidential. As we know, the Americans now have to feed about 7 million people. At the same time, one of the most terrible wars is being waged 7,000 miles from home in the Pacific. They are aware of the fact that they will have to help Europe. Those 7 million people are mostly Germans in the American occupation zone—prisoners of war and also people of various nationalities who are in their occupation zone. The … American nation does not wish to allow any people in the world to starve in time of peace. In making their territorial claims the Poles broached a controversial issue concerning food and raw materials needed by European nations. The territories occupied by the Soviet Union in Germany and the territories claimed by Poland were a source of food supplies for the rest of the German population. There is a shortage of coal in the world. Russia has a coal shortage as well as a food shortage. France, Belgium, and the Netherlands also experience such shortages. Polish Silesia used to supply coal to Berlin. Italy is short of coal, and in such circumstances the United States has to export 7 million tons of coal annually, although its production is not sufficient for domestic needs. England cannot export coal if it is to maintain its present level of industrial production, but it does export coal at present. At this time of controversy over raw materials and food, the Poles announce their claims with regard to sources of supply for food, coal, zinc, and similar raw materials. They announce their claim to a territory formerly inhabited by 8 to 9 million Germans. The Czechs announced their claim with regard to the expulsion of 2 million Germans, the Hungarians of half a million.… At present Messrs. Harriman, Matthews, and Clayton are having their own private discussions with President Truman and Secretary of State Byrnes in order to formulate the position of the American Delegation with regard to the Polish problem. He also knows that similar discussions concerning the Polish problem are [Page 1529] going on within the British Delegation. The problem must be settled somehow at the meeting of the Three. One thing has already been settled positively so far, namely, that all of the Three Powers will actively help in the repatriation of the Poles from the west. From the legal point of view, the problem of boundaries must wait until the end of the war.… But the problem of a legal settlement of the situation at a peace conference is one thing, and the problem of establishing a Polish administration in the western territories and of securing the harvest and organizing industrial production is something else. The Russians cannot do it; it has to be done by the Poles. If they are to do it and start production on a large scale, they must repatriate their population from areas behind the Curzon Line and from the west. Yesterday’s conference,3 however, showed clearly that until the next harvest Poland cannot export food, yet it has to export raw materials such as coal, zinc, etc., to meet the needs of other countries, and obviously for payment.…

Mr. Harriman then expresses thanks for the invitation proffered on behalf of the Government to visit the western territories of Poland and promises to make this visit after the Conference, not only as an ambassador but also as a friend of Poland.

In closing, I said to Mr. Harriman, half jokingly, that Poland should not take a beating because of a quarrel between the Allies concerning food. With regard to that problem the interests of Poland must be preserved above all.

  1. Cf. ante, p. 419.
  2. Not identified.
  3. See ante, p. 403, and document No. 1386.