740.00119 Potsdam/7–2545

United States Delegation Memorandum1

top secret

Memorandum of Conversation

Mr. Clayton opened the conversation by indicating that Ambassador Harriman had reported his discussion with President Bierut of Poland’s immediate and reconstruction needs.2 Mr. Clayton was hopeful that we could shortly arrange to make 1000 surplus military trucks available, and that Ambassador Lane would communicate full details as soon as they became definite. The Poles expressed their pleasure. Ambassador Harriman indicated that Ambassador Murphy was attempting to arrange for the immediate provision of six sedans for members of the Government.

Mr. Clayton then asked whether there were any particular questions for discussion, to which the Poles stated that there were no economic [Page 404] specialists in their party, but that they would like information regarding the help the U. S. would furnish in connection with Polish reconstruction.

Mr. Clayton turned to UNRRA, asking whether the mission had arrived and whether supplies were coming in. The Poles indicated that the mission was to have left Washington on the 18th, that some supplies were coming in through Constanta but that Polish needs were much greater than UNRRA deliveries particularly in the case of fats which UNRRA is not supplying.

Mr. Clayton asked how long it would be until Poland no longer required UNRRA aid, to which the Poles replied that it might be a very long time. Agricultural capital had been destroyed. Although no complete or reliable statistics were available, it was believed that only 10% of the horses and 15% of the cattle remained. It would take several years to rebuild stocks.

When asked by Mr. Clayton concerning the prospects for the wheat harvest, the Poles stated that it would probably be satisfactory; that they were not worried about grain and bread, but about fats. Mr. Clayton pointed out that there exists a world deficiency in fats of 10%. Later on the Poles indicated that they were slaughtering livestock beyond any proper limits and asked whether they could buy in the U. S. or Canada livestock—pigs and cattle—for breeding purposes. Mr. Clayton replied that they might be able to obtain a small number, but that there was a great deficiency at home.

In response to a question regarding Polish representation at the UNRRA Council meeting in London, Mr. Dunn suggested that the Poles communicate the names of their proposed delegation through Ambassador Lane; that there should be no difficulty now that the political situation had been clarified.

The Poles also stated that the first UNRRA ships were due in Danzig on August 23, although they hoped they might arrive sooner. Ambassador Harriman said that the port would be all prepared by August 5, and that already Poland was loading coal for Leningrad. At this Mr. Clayton inquired regarding prospects for other coal shipments. The Poles stated that they were concluding arrangements with Sweden and hoped to sell coal to Denmark and Finland. They would have some for France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, and had proposed that it be shipped in the returning UNRRA ships.

Mr. Clayton then asked how much coal might be available for Western Europe before January 1, 1946, to which the Poles replied that they would send the figures from Warsaw. They have talked to Italy, but encounter transport difficulties. The Poles further stated [Page 405] that they needed more food for the miners and better transport in order to increase coal production.

To Ambassador Harriman’s query as to the volume of coal production, the Poles stated that the prewar production of old Poland was 35 million tons, mostly of hard coal, a year; that Germany in 1943 produced 101 million tons in all Upper Silesia by forced production “robbing the mines”; that they were now producing 2 million tons per month, an increase of 100% in the last three months, of which only 10–20% came from German Silesia; that they expected to produce 3 million tons by the end of 1945; and that when the miners returned from Germany they expect to produce 80–100 million tons a year.

The discussion turned to general reconstruction, Mr. Clayton pointing out that while we were looking into urgent Norwegian and Danish cases we had not made any actual loans as yet. We were trying to put together a picture of overall demands. What were Poland’s total requirements for imports necessitating foreign exchange? The Poles repeated that there were no economic specialists in their group, and stated that no complete estimates were yet available. Total destruction was estimated at some 20 billion gold zlotys or $4 billion. They listed the following priority of reconstruction needs:

Ports and port equipment.
City of Warsaw (they will use local materials)
Transport—railways, cars, locomotives; bridges, highways, trucks, road-building machinery.

They asked where to apply for reconstruction financing—to the U. S. Government or the International Bank. Mr. Clayton replied that the International Bank would not be functioning for some time, and that they should now apply to the Export–Import Bank.

To Ambassador Harriman’s query regarding the number of trucks in Poland, the Poles replied that it was ridiculously low: a month ago 6000 vehicles of all kinds including motorcycles in all Poland; now perhaps 10,000 all in very bad shape.

Mr. Clayton inquired whether there was sufficient local production of steel for bridges, buildings, etc. The Poles indicated that there was sufficient for present consumption. A full speed program including the rebuilding of Warsaw would require imports of steel or preferably of blooming mills and rolling mills. These statements, of course, included the German area. The Poles indicated that their need for foreign technical aid would depend largely on the extent to which skilled Poles returned to Poland. When Ambassador Harriman recalled that President Bierut had been anxious to get some technicians, the Poles stated that the President had had in mind specialists.

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The Poles indicated that they would need some agricultural machinery—tractors and combines. Their textile industry was in good condition although the Germans had not made any new investments. It was adequate for present needs. They needed to import cotton; had an agreement with the U. S. S. R.3 and would seek a trade arrangement with the U. S. later.

Mr. Clayton asked whether the Germans had removed spindles and looms at Łódź. The Poles answered that they had, but that, although the productive capacity of old Poland had declined as a result, the total capacity of old Poland and the German area had increased.

Mr. Clayton suggested that the Poles present a memorandum indicating the amounts and types of U. S. materials required by the end of 1946, indicating priority of requirements. The Poles agreed to do so. Mr. Clayton further suggested that when the new Polish Ambassador goes to Washington, he be accompanied by a good economic man who could talk to the Export–Import Bank. Not an economic mission at the present time; eventually perhaps a purchasing mission.

In reply to Ambassador Harriman’s question as to Polish export prospects, the Poles indicated that they were now slim, should grow, and eventually be substantial. Potential exports include coal, cement, glass, soda, zinc soon, no timber. All from the old area except some coal. Food exports will take some time; pigs—2 years; mushrooms and eggs—sooner; grain—rye after the next year’s crop.

Mr. Clayton asked whether the new Government intended to continue in UMA. The Poles replied that they had not considered this matter, but might wish to withdraw some ships for their own use. Mr. Clayton urged that they study the matter and decide promptly.

He concluded by stating that the United States recognizes the reconstruction needs of Poland and wants to be helpful, and by asking that the Poles remember that we have calls for materials and credits from all sides. The Poles expressed their understanding but emphasized that Poland is the most devastated country, it has a most politically sensitive geographical position, and its economic position is important to the whole world.

  1. Authorship not indicated. Printed from a copy typed subsequently in the Department of State. For Mikolajczyk’s minutes of this conversation, see document No. 1386, post.
  2. See vol. i, document No. 522.
  3. For the Russian text of the Soviet-Polish commercial treaty signed at Moscow, July 7, 1945, see People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade of the U. S. S. R., Bнeшняя Toproвля, July–August 1945 (Nos. 7–8), p. 15. The accompanying agreement for the mutual delivery of goods between the Soviet Union and Poland, including a Soviet commitment to deliver 25,000 tons of cotton to Poland during the last six months of 1945, is summarized in Raymond H. Fisher, “Agreements and Treaties Concluded by the U. S. S. R. in 1945”, Department of State Bulletin, vol. xv, pp. 395–396.