Matthews Files

Matthews Minutes1
top secret

President: I think we should take up the Polish question. When we concluded our meeting yesterday Marshal Stalin had explained his views. I have nothing special to add to what I said yesterday. I think it is particularly important to find a solution of the governmental question. I am not so concerned with frontiers. I am likewise not so concerned on the question of the continuity of the government. There hasn’t really been any Polish government since 1939. It is entirely in the province of the three of us to help set up a government—something to last until the Polish people can choose. I discard the idea of continuity. I think we want something new and drastic—like a breath of fresh air. But before we go on with Poland I think Mr. Molotov should report to us on the meeting of the three foreign ministers.

(Molotov reads his report. A copy of the text is attached.)2

Prime Minister: I wish to thank the committee for their labor. I am in general agreement with the report with a single exception. However, I should like to see in writing what has been decided as I have only now been orally informed of what took place. On the question of giving the French a zone but not a place on the control commission His Majesty’s Government remains quite unconvinced. No solution has been found for controlling the French while they are controlling the Germans. If the French decide to accept the task of having a zone and wish to be tiresome they could produce conditions in their zone which would cause trouble in the other zones. If we decide to be strict they could be lenient. If we decide to be lenient they could be strict. I firmly believe that there must be uniformity in treatment of Germany between the four allies or there will be endless bitter disputes. I regard the Allied Control Commission as a subordinate instrument to the will of the governments. In principle, it is no more than the Allied Commission in Italy but they have a much more important task. I do not think that giving France a [Page 719] place on the control machinery gives any right to the French to sit in on these meetings of the three of us. But all this argument seems to me futile. I feel sure that the French will take no zone unless they are given participation on the control council. I must say I think they are right. Who would they get their directions from? For this reason I feel that the proposed plan will not work. Likewise, I feel that there is no use handing over what we cannot settle here to a weaker body such as the European Advisory Commission where the French are sitting. So why not settle it here. I suggest that we should give the question further study and settle it here.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

President: Shall we go on with the discussion of Poland?

Stalin : I have received the President’s message. It contains a proposal to call from Poland two representatives of the Lublin government and two from the opposite camp, so that in our presence these four would settle the question of the new Polish government. If this is successful, the new provisional government should in the shortest possible time organize elections in Poland. This message of the President’s also proposes that some more Poles from London—Mikolajczyk, Romer and Grabski, should also take part in the new government. I received this letter an hour and a half ago. I immediately gave instructions to find Bierut and [Osóbka-]Morawski so that I could talk with them on the phone. The result was that at the moment they are outside Warsaw at Lodz or Cracow but they will be found and I must ask them how to find the representatives on the other side and what they think of the possibility of their coming. I can then tell how soon they will arrive. If Vicente Witos or Sapieha could come here it would facilitate a solution but I do not know their addresses. I am afraid we have not sufficient time. Meanwhile, Molotov has prepared a draft to meet in a certain extent the President’s proposal. Let us hear it when it arrives as the translation is not yet finished. Meanwhile, we might talk of Dumbarton Oaks.

(Molotov here gave his explanation of the Russian acceptance of our voting procedure and of their request for the inclusion of three representatives in the assembly. This is being covered by Mr. Hiss’s notes.)3

The President made some remarks on the low purchasing power of Persians and other nations which he stated was another reason for organizing the world organization. He likewise threw out the idea of setting up a TVA for Europe. Mr. Molotov’s proposal then arrived.

[Page 720]

Molotov : I have here the proposals which I should like to make. (He reads them. Copy is attached.4) We are still trying to telephone the Polish leaders but without success and I am afraid there will not be time for them to come to this conference. That makes it impossible to try the President’s proposal. On the other hand I think these proposals meet the President’s wishes.

President: I think we are making definite progress. I should like to wait until tomorrow to study these proposals and to talk them over with the Secretary of State and officials of the State Department. There is one word in them I do not like. That is “émigré.” It is not necessary to take émigrés. There may be people who are now in Poland who are now satisfied. May we postpone discussion?

Stalin : Yes, certainly.

Prime Minister: I share the President’s dislike of the word “émigré.” It was applied during the French Revolution to people driven out by their own countrymen, but the Poles were driven out by a brutal enemy. With regard to the frontier on the River Neisse I should like to say a word. I have always qualified a movement west by the Poles, but say that the Poles should be free to take territory but not more than they wish or can manage. I do not wish to stuff the Polish goose until it dies of German indigestion. I also feel conscious of the large school of thought in England which is shocked at the idea of transferring millions of people by force. Personally I am not shocked but much of the opinion in England is. However, the exchange of Greeks and Turks was a great success but that only involved two million. If the Poles take East Prussia and Silesia that means moving six millions. That is manageable but there will be big arguments against it still.

Stalin : There will be no more Germans there for when our troops come in the Germans run away and no Germans are left.

Prime Minister: Then there is the problem of how to handle them in Germany. We have killed six or seven million and probably will kill another million before the end of the war.

Stalin : One or two?

Prime Minister: Oh I am not proposing any limitation on them. So there should be room in Germany for some who will need to fill the vacancy. I am not afraid of the problem of the transfer of populations as long as it is in proportion to what the Poles can manage and what can be put in the place of the dead in Germany.

I have only one other comment. It is a reference in Mr. Molotov’s plan to the utilization of some democratic leaders from émigré circles. Would Marshal Stalin be willing to add “and some within Poland itself.” This was also suggested in the President’s message.

[Page 721]

Stalin : Yes, that is acceptable.

Prime Minister: Well, I am in agreement with the President’s suggestion that we should sleep on this till tomorrow.

Stalin : I likewise find this acceptable.

The meeting is adjourned until four tomorrow.

  1. For citations to pertinent documents, see the preceding Bohlen minutes of this meeting.
  2. Not attached; but see the text in the Bohlen minutes, ante, pp. 709710.
  3. Infra.
  4. Not attached but see the text in the Bohlen minutes, ante, p. 716.