Executive Secretariat Files

Briefing Book Paper

Reconstruction of Poland and the Balkans: American Interests and Soviet Attitude


1. United States economic interests in the reconstruction of Poland and the Balkan states are general, the early return of trade to a multilateral basis and the achievement of European economic stability and prosperity. Politically, while this Government probably would not oppose predominant Soviet influence in the area, neither would it wish American influence to be completely nullified.

2. All of the nations require assistance in improving present primitive agricultural methods. All will probably require reconstruction of their railways, replacement of rolling stock, and rehabilitation of road-bed and bridges. Whether Poland will require extensive industrial reconstruction will depend on the future course of the war and whether the Germans “scorch” the area.

3. The United States will share in such reconstruction by Export-Import Bank credits, by technical aid especially to agriculture, and by participation in loans by the proposed International Bank.

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4. The Soviet attitude towards United States participation in this area is uncertain. She may feel so strong that American financial aid will not be unwelcome, although she would probably prefer to act as the intermediary or to see the loans made by the International Bank.

Reconstruction of Poland and the Balkans: American Interests and Soviet Attitude

1. Interests of the United States


a. Interest in the early return of trade to a multilateral basis under the freest possible conditions. The pattern of Europe’s future commercial policy will be strongly influenced, if not largely determined, by policies and procedures established during the period of reconstruction. Whether postwar conditions lead back to bilateralism, restriction and autarchy, or are resolved in a manner which will permit the progressive growth and liberalization of trade and investment will depend in no small measure on the ability of the wartorn countries to obtain outside (i. e., mostly American) help in reconstruction.

b. Interest in general European economic stability. This stability depends on the maintenance of sound economic conditions and reasonable prosperity in all parts of the Continent.


It now seems clear that the Soviet Union will exert predominant political influence over the areas in question. While this Government probably would not want to oppose itself to such a political configuration, neither would it desire to see American influence in this part of the world completely nullified.

In the situation which is likely to prevail in Poland and the Balkan states after the war, the United States can hope to make its influence felt only if some degree of equal opportunity in trade, investment, and access to sources of information is preserved. American aid in the reconstruction of these areas would not only gain the good-will of the populations involved, but would also help bring about conditions which would permit the adoption of relatively liberal policies of this nature.

2. Types of Reconstruction Needs

The reconstruction needs of the areas under reference will, of course, vary from country to country. Poland is the only country that may require extensive industrial reconstruction. This will depend almost entirely on the future course of the war over Polish territory. If the extensive industrial installations in the west remain intact, Poland may be able to supply almost all of her reconstruction requirements from internal resources. Should these districts be “scorched”, however, not only would the amount of damage be enormously increased, [Page 236] but there would also be destroyed, in whole or in great part, Poland’s ability to repair the damage by herself.

All of the countries involved are likely to stand in need of reconstruction of their railway systems, owing to the large-scale, thoroughgoing looting of rolling stock by the retreating enemy, destruction of road-bed and bridges, etc.

The economies of both Poland and the Balkan states, particularly of the latter, are predominantly agricultural, and in the field of agriculture it is difficult to draw a sharp line between “reconstruction” and “development.” Much of the agriculture in these countries is conducted by primitive methods, and improvement in this sector of the economy holds out the greatest hope for raising standards of living from their present very low level.

3. Possible Forms of American Participation

The United States can share in the reconstruction of Poland and the Balkans in several different ways, prominent among which would be direct loans from the Export-Import Bank and participation in loans by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Private American investment is unlikely in this area for some years to come at least.

Probably one of the most useful and at the same time least expensive forms in which the United States can aid in the reconstruction of Poland and the Balkan states is by making available to them technical assistance, especially in the field of agriculture.

4. The Soviet Attitude toward United States Participation

The attitude of the Soviet Union toward American participation in the reconstruction of Poland and the Balkans is uncertain. It seems clear that, for security reasons, the Soviet Government is seeking to make sure that these countries will be oriented to the East both politically and economically.

However, in the case of one or another of the border countries, Poland for example, the Russians might have grounds to feel at an early date that an Eastern political orientation was more or less assured in any case and that foreign loans to such countries could have no decisive influence in this respect. Furthermore, the Soviet Union will have some interest in seeing that her neighbors prosper under her tutelage.

The Soviet Union probably would like most to borrow herself the money that might be available for the border countries, and to finance from the resources available to her their reconstruction and development needs. The Soviet Union might prefer, in any case, to have the reconstruction and development of the border countries financed through the International Bank rather than through direct loans from the United States.