840.50 UNRRA/4–745

The Polish Ambassador ( Ciechanowski ) to the Acting Chief of the Division of Eastern European Affairs ( Thompson )

Dear Mr. Thompson: With reference to our two conversations59 on the subject of the decision taken by the Hon. Herbert H. Lehman, Director General of UNRRA, of interrupting contact and collaboration between the Polish Government and UNRRA,—I have, after consultation with my Government, today sent a letter to Governor Lehman, of which I send you a copy.

Hoping to see you soon, I am [etc.]

J. Ciechanowski

The Polish Ambassador ( Ciechanowski ) to the Director of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration ( Lehman )


Sir: On March 23rd, the daily press published two press releases issued by the UNRRA, announcing: (1) the resignation of Mr. John P. Gregg as head of the mission of UNRRA experts designated in October, 1944 to carry on UNRRA relief in Poland, (2) the appointment by yourself of Mr. M. Menshikov, a Deputy Director of UNRRA, to head a mission designated to go to Poland for the purpose of negotiating an agreement for relief and rehabilitation in that country with the local Soviet sponsored authority, acting there at present.

These UNRRA press releases also contained the information that all matters relating to relief for Poland would henceforth be exclusively discussed and settled by UNRRA with representatives of the so-called provisional government at present acting in Poland and that UNRRA officials would no longer maintain any contact with the Polish Government.

On March 26th I called on you personally to ask you kindly to explain your decisions about which the Polish Government had not been directly informed. In our conversation you confirmed the above press statements. You explained that you had taken the decision to discontinue contact with the representatives of the Polish Government in all matters relating to Polish relief for “practical reasons” and that, for the same reasons you thought fit henceforth to deal in all matters of Polish relief exclusively with the so-called “provisional government in Poland.”

[Page 976]

I beg to confirm what I then told you, that I consider this decision as an unilateral action, devoid of legal foundation, and, as such, one which the Polish Government cannot agree to take into consideration. Moreover, this decision appears to me to be harmful, inasmuch as it introduces an element of political expediency contrary to the spirit of UNRRA and entirely unrelated to the nature of relief work for which it was organized.

I take this opportunity of reminding you, Mr. Director General, that, from the outset, the Polish Government gave you every proof that it was solely concerned in cooperating with you in order to assure the speediest and most effective functioning of UNRRA relief in Poland. The Polish Government actively and effectively collaborated in every way to assist you in all the phases of relief planning and urged you repeatedly to speed the dispatch of a mission and of food and other supplies to Poland. The Polish Government made it perfectly clear in numerous conversations and in writing, that it raised no objections to any contact and coordination of the UNRRA mission in the course of its work in Poland with any local authorities and organizations within the limits prescribed by Resolutions of the Council of UNRRA.

I am compelled to remind you that the Polish Government is one of the Founder-Member-Governments of UNRRA and, as such, on the basis of Art. 2 of the Agreement signed in Washington on November 9th, 1943,60 it is entitled to all the rights enjoyed by Member-Governments and cannot admit that the Executive Authority of UNRRA should sever relations with its representatives by unilateral decision of the Director General, whose statutory functions do not entitle him to take such a decision. In accordance with Article III of the Agreement, even the Central Committee of UNRRA,—one of its highest authorities—“shall invite the participation of the Representative of any Member-Government at those of its meetings at which action of special interest to such Government is discussed.” No subject can more closely concern the Polish Government than the problem of relief for Poland in all its aspects, and consequently, no decision of the Director General can deprive the Polish Government of its right to maintain contact and to collaborate in these matters with the Executive Authorities of UNRRA. Nor can any circumstances be invoked which could authorize the Director General or any other Officials of UNRRA to refuse to maintain such contact, allegedly “for practical reasons”.

[Page 977]

Consequently, I am compelled to express the opinion that the decision taken by you exceeds the limits of your competence under UNRRA Statutes.

The Polish Government reserves all its rights, as a Member Government of UNRRA, in relation to the unilateral decision taken by you without previous consultation with the Executive Committee and without consulting the Polish Government, directly interested.

I am [etc.]

J. Ciechanowski
  1. The first conversation took place on March 24; see memorandum on p. 973. The second conversation was held on March 31; memorandum of this conversation not printed.
  2. Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 352, or 57 Stat. (pt. 2), 1164: for related documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. i, pp. 851 ff., and pp. 1014 ff.