840.50 UNRRA/5–1645

Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State to President Truman

A decision must be made on the important and delicate question of which Poles (London or Warsaw) should be invited to the next UNRRA Council Meeting scheduled to start in London on July 16. Invitations to the meeting must be sent out sixty days ahead of the scheduled date.

The London Poles are charter members of UNRRA and are now taking part in its committee meetings. On the other hand, if UNRRA supplies are to be sent to Poland, they will be delivered under the supervision of Warsaw Poles.

The following alternatives present themselves:

1. Invite the Warsaw Poles.

This would be counter to the position taken by us at Yalta and San Francisco.61

2. Apply the San Francisco formula of inviting no Poles.

In view of the attitude assumed by the Soviet Government regarding the Yalta-Polish decision and the arrest of the sixteen underground leaders,62 to refuse to invite the London Poles to a meeting of an organization of which they are members would constitute a more severe blow to that Government than not inviting them to San Francisco. By excluding the London Poles, domestic repercussions might ensue in the United States and Soviet propaganda would probably make capital of this action as proof that the West had completely washed its hands of the London Poles. On the other hand, having set the precedent at San Francisco of not inviting any Poles until a new government is formed, we would be on much safer grounds. Moreover, this formula would avoid the risk of precipitating a serious breach with the Soviet Union on questions involving a purely humanitarian organization, when the issues are much more [Page 978] fundamental and should be faced and dealt with on a purely political plane.

3. Invite the London Poles.

This is the legal solution since they are members of the organization and have a legal right to attend. On the other hand, if we adopt this solution we must face the possibility that the Soviet Union might withdraw from UNRRA, together with Czechosolvakia and Yugoslavia, which would have very far-reaching repercussions. It could be argued that the London Poles be invited as the legal members of the organization but that they would be replaced as soon as a new government of national unity is established.

While we are definitely of the opinion that we should adopt the second solution, the British Government has indicated that it feels that the London Poles should be invited on legal grounds.63

The question has been discussed with Governor Lehman who is inclined to handle the matter in the following manner:

If the United States Government desires to apply the San Francisco formula while the British Government still desires to invite the London Poles, the Governor will accept responsibility and apply the San Francisco formula without calling the Central Committee of UNRRA (composed of U.S., U.K., U.S.S.R., and China) and thus put the question up to the Council to decide after it convenes in London.
If the American and British Governments should decide that they would wish to have the London Poles invited the Governor feels that such action in all probability would bring about a serious rift in UNRRA if not its complete dissolution. In this event his present inclination is not to accept the responsibility for so serious a step but to call the Central Committee and let them decide the question. This would undoubtedly precipitate the whole question with the Soviet representatives and might even cause the Soviet Union to refuse to attend the Council meeting. If the British and United States Governments made an issue of this matter it might cause the Governor to resign rather than to take any responsibility for breaking up the organization he heads.

I would appreciate having your decision in this matter.64

Joseph C. Grew
  1. Reference is to the United Nations Conference on International Organization, held at San Francisco, April 25–June 26, 1945; for documentation, see vol. i, pp. 1 ff.
  2. For related documentation, see vol. v, pp. 361 ff., passim.
  3. The British position was made clear in a letter of May 22, 1945, from the Counselor of the British Embassy (Marris) to the Director General of UNRRA (Lehman).
  4. President Truman answered on May 19 as follows: “Replying to your memorandum of May 16, 1945, in regard to inviting Poles to the next U.N.R.R.A. Council meeting scheduled to start in London on July 16, I am in agreement with your expressed opinion that we should adopt the second solution and not issue an invitation to any Poles.” (840.50 UNRRA/5–1945)