Roosevelt Papers: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to the President 1

top secret

Personal and Top Secret for the President from Harriman.

Stalin and Churchill met with Mikolajczyk and his associates yesterday afternoon.2 Molotov and Eden were present. I was invited as an observer and took no part in the discussion. Mikolajczyk was first given the opportunity to outline his position. He presented the memorandum of his proposals of August 30 handed to the Soviet Ambassador in London. With some difficulty Churchill forced Mikolajczyk to allow Grabski to outline the oral statement he had made at that time to the Soviet Ambassador. I understand you have copies of the memorandum and oral statement3 referred to. Stalin stated that there were 2 great defects in the memorandum which would prevent an understanding on that basis. First it unrealistically ignored the existence of the Polish Committee of National Liberation. Second it failed to accept the Curzon Line as the Soviet-Polish boundary. He said that there were good points in the memorandum especially the emphasis on friendly relations with the Soviet Union in the future. Churchill supported unequivocally Stalin’s position in regard to the Curzon Line as the basis for settlement. Mikolajczyk denied that he intended to ignore the Committee but indicated that in his memorandum it was intended that the settlement should go deeper than one between the members of the Committee and of the Government in London and that the new government should be based on the 5 democratic parties in Poland. He explained at great length why he could not accept the Curzon Line. The cession of territory must be decided by the Polish people. Churchill told Mikolajczyk that he must accept the Curzon [Page 203] Line as the de facto line of demarcation. He suggested a formula on this basis which would allow the Poles to present their case for adjustment and final settlement at the peace table. He warned Mikolajczyk however that he and the British Government were committed to support the Curzon Line as the basis for settlement and bluntly told him that this was no time for the Poles in London and the British Government to separate.

Both Churchill and Stalin committed themselves to support the claims of Poland in the west including East Prussia and west of Königsberg and the line of the Oder including Stettin. Molotov interjected that the Curzon Line had the support of the 3 major allies since at Teheran you had indicated that you considered that the Curzon Line was right although you did not consider it advisable to make your position public. He added that he recalled no objection on your part to the Polish claims in the west as outlined. Molotov did not refer to me for confirmation and I decided it would only make matters worse if I being present as an observer had attempted to correct his statement. I talked to Churchill about Molotov’s statement afterwards at dinner. He recalls as clearly as I do that although you showed interest in hearing the views of Stalin and Churchill in the boundary question you had expressed no opinion on it one way or the other at Teheran. I intend to tell Molotov privately at the next opportunity that I am sure you will wish that your name not [be] brought into the discussions again in regard to the boundary question.

In reply to these statements Mikolajczyk said that he was not authorized to accept the Curzon Line and that he understood that the members of the Committee even still hoped for Lwów. Stalin said that a major adjustment of this kind could not be possible if the economic systems of the Soviet Union and Poland were different. It would cause great hardship to socialize these areas and then go back to another system. He said that the Curzon Line must be the basis for settlement. He agreed that there could be minor adjustments up to say 7 or 8 kilometers when the boundary was finally fixed.

The meeting broke up with the understanding that Mikolajczyk would consider the situation and have a talk with Eden. Churchill made it very plain that his government would consider it had fulfilled its obligations to Poland by providing a home for the Poles within the territory that was now proposed and that a strong free independent Poland was the objective not only of the British Government but also the Soviet Government. Stalin unequivocally endorsed this declaration.

  1. Sent by the United States Naval Attaché, Moscow, via Navy channels. A notation on the telegram reads, “Paraphrased copy to Sec State for information.”
  2. At this time Churchill and Eden and a Polish Delegation headed by Mikolajczyk were in Moscow to discuss with Stalin and Molotov matters relating to Poland. For minutes of meetings and reports of conversations between October 13 and 18, 1944, written by members of the Polish Delegation, together with that Delegation’s “timetable” and certain other related papers, all in English translation, see Appendix to Committee Report on Communist Takeover and Occupation of Poland: Polish Documents Report of the Select Committee on Communist Aggression, House of Representatives Report 2684, pt. 4, 83d Cong., 2d sess., pp. 106–146.
  3. Not printed. A pen-written notation on the telegram reads, “Not in Map Room nor Miss Turner’s files.” Copies are in the Moscow Embassy Files, now in the Department.