Bohlen Collection

The British Foreign Secretary (Eden) to Prime Minister Churchill 1

P. M. (A) 2.

Prime Minister.

Conversations with Mr. Stettinius


We found that we were in broad agreement on the necessity for finding a solution and that it was impossible for our Governments to recognise the Lublin Government. Mr. Stettinius stressed that failure to find a solution would greatly disturb American public opinion, and might prejudice the whole question of American participation in the World Organisation.

2. I agreed that a “Russian” solution of the question would be very likely to produce the latter result.

3. We found that we had very similar ideas on the lines of a possible solution. We should have to stress to Marshal Stalin the unsatisfactory nature of the present state of affairs, with the Soviet recognising one Government in Lublin and ourselves another Government in London. (We, of course, ourselves have the added problem of the Polish forces, acting with ours, who owe allegiance to the London Government). There would be apparent to the world a definite divergence of view on a point of first-rate importance. This would give rise to uneasiness amongst our peoples and would afford valuable material to enemy propaganda.

4. The time has probably gone by for a “fusion” of London and Lublin, and the only remedy that we can see is the creation of a new interim Government in Poland, pledged to hold free elections as soon as conditions permit. This would be representative of all Polish political parties and would no doubt include elements from the Lublin Government, from Poles in Poland, and from Poles abroad. There are no good candidates from the Government in London, but if M. Mikolajczyk and, perhaps, M. Romer and others such as M. Grabski could be included, that would make it much easier for us to recognize the new Government, which should be far more representative of Poland as a whole than is the Lublin Government.

5. If it would facilitate the realisation of this plan, we should be ready to see the adoption of M. Mikolajczyk’s idea of a “Presidential Council” consisting of such men as the former Prime Minister, M. Witos, Archbishop Sapieha, M. Zulawski and M. Bierut. Such a Council could appoint the new Government.

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6. If the Russians persist in their present policy, that would only neutralise the efforts of all those in our two countries most anxious to work with Russia.

7. There remains the territorial problem. As regards Poland’s eastern frontier, H. M. G. have already agreed with the Russians and announced publicly that this should be the Curzon Line, giving Lwow to the U. S. S. R. The Americans may however still wish to press the Russians to leave Lwow to Poland. As regards Poland’s western frontier, we and the Americans agreed that Poland should certainly have East Prussia south and west of Königsberg, Danzig, the eastern tip of Pomerania and the whole of Upper Silesia. The Lublin Poles, no doubt with Soviet approval, are however also claiming not only the Oder line frontier, including Stettin and Breslau, but also the western Neisse frontier.

8. The cessions upon which we and the Americans are agreed would involve the transfer of some 2½ million Germans. The Oder frontier, without Breslau and Stettin would involve a further 2¼ millions. The western Neisse frontier with Breslau and Stettin would involve an additional 3¼ millions making 8 millions in all.

9. We were prepared last October in Moscow to let M. Mikolajczyk’s Government have any territories they chose to claim up to the Oder, but this was conditional upon agreement then being reached between him and the Russians and there was no question of our agreeing to the western Neisse frontier. It was agreed before we left London that we should oppose the western Neisse frontier. I also think that we should keep the position fluid as regards the Oder line frontier, and take the line that H. M. G. cannot be considered as having accepted any definite line for the western frontier of Poland, since we need not make the same concessions to the Lublin Poles which we were prepared to make to M. Mikolajczyk in order to obtain a solution of the Polish problem. Even the Oder line frontier would severely tax the Polish capacity for absorption and would increase the formidable difficulties involved in the transfer of millions of Germans. We agreed with the Americans that in any event these transfers should be gradual and not precipitate.

10. If the Russians refuse to accept any solution such as that outlined above, the present deadlock must continue. That would be bad, but a simple recognition of the Lublin Government would be even worse.

  1. Page 1 of the source paper bears the notation “Copy for Bohlen”.