Roosevelt Papers: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the President

top secret

For the President from the Secretary of State.

You have undoubtedly seen the press reports on Mr. Churchill’s statement in the House of Commons regarding the Polish problem1 in which he emphasized his general agreement with the Soviet proposals on Polish frontiers and apparently he implied that it was difficult to reach a solution to the problem since the United States Government has not clearly defined its attitude. Since I have seen only the early newspaper reports I have declined to comment on the statement.

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You will recall that on November 15 [17] you sent by Ambassador Harriman a letter to Mikolajczyk outlining our policy in regard to Poland.2 This letter was shown to Mr. Churchill before Ambassador Harriman delivered it to Mikolajczyk. The following is a summary of the United States position on the Polish question laid down in that letter:

We stand unequivocally for a strong, free and independent Poland with the untrammeled right of the Polish people to order their internal existence as they see fit.
Regarding the future frontiers of Poland, this Government would offer no objection if a mutual agreement on this subject including proposed compensation for Poland from Germany was reached between the Polish, Soviet and British Governments. As regards a United States guarantee of any specific frontier, it was stated that this Government, in accordance with its traditional policy, did not give guarantees for any specific frontier. But it was pointed out that the United States Government is working for the establishment of a world security organization through which we with other members of the United Nations will assume responsibility for general security which of course includes the inviolability of agreed frontiers.
If the Polish Government and the people desire in connection with the new frontiers to bring about a transfer to and from the territory of Poland of national minorities the United States Government will raise no objection and as far as practicable will facilitate such transfer.
It was indicated that we were prepared, subject to legislative authority, to assist in so far as practicable in the postwar economic reconstruction of Poland.

I am sending a full summary of these four points so that you will have them before you, since you will undoubtedly be questioned at your first press conference on your return. I hope to talk over with you the possible necessity of some public statement making clear our position along the lines of the four points.

It is not clear from the reports we have so far received on Churchill’s statement whether he is endeavoring to force a change in the present Polish cabinet and bring Mikolajczyk back or whether he may plan to follow a Soviet lead and recognize the Lublin Committee as the government of Poland. In this connection there are definite indications that the Lublin Committee is planning to declare itself as the provisional government of Poland, and other indications point to the probability that it will be recognized as such by Stalin, possibly at an early date.

In view of the uncertainty as to Churchill’s plans, it is suggested you might care to send the attached telegram3 to him.

  1. For Churchill’s statement, see Parliamentary Delates, House of Commons, 5th ser., vol. 406, cols. 1478–1489, December 15, 1944.
  2. Ante, pp. 209210. Harriman showed this letter to Churchill and Eden on the evening of November 21 in London and delivered it to Mikolajczyk the following morning (Roosevelt Papers, telegram from Harriman to Roosevelt, November 22, 1944).
  3. The telegram as sentis printed infra.