The British Prime Minister (Churchill) to President Roosevelt 97

905. [The first three numbered paragraphs of this telegram are printed on page 505.]

4. The news from Moscow about Poland is also most disappointing. I must let you know that the government majorities here bear no relation to the strong undercurrent of opinion among all parties and classes and in our own hearts against a Soviet domination of Poland.

Labour men are as keen as conservatives, and Socialists as keen as Catholics. I have based myself in Parliament on the assumption that the words of the Yalta declaration will be carried out in the letter and [Page 148]the spirit. Once it is seen that we have been deceived and that the well-known communist technique is being applied behind closed doors in Poland, either directly by the Russians or through their Lublin puppets, a very grave situation in British public opinion will be reached.

How would the matter go in the United States? I cannot think that you personally or they would be indifferent. Thus just at the time when everything military is going so well in Europe and when the Japanese policy is also satisfactorily arranged, there would come an open rift between us and Russia not at all confined, in this country at any rate, to government opinion, but running deep down through the masses of the people.

5. After a fairly promising start Molotov is now refusing to accept any interpretation of the Crimea proposals except his own extremely rigid and narrow one. He is attempting to bar practically all our candidates for the consultations, is taking the line that he must base himself on the views of Bierut and his gang and has withdrawn his offer that we should send observers to Poland.

In other words, he clearly wants to make a farce of consultations with the “Non-Lublin” Poles—which means that the new government in Poland would be merely the present one dressed up to look more respectable to the ignorant and also wants to prevent us from seeing the liquidations and deportations that are going on and all the rest of the game of setting up a totalitarian regime before elections are held and even before a new government is set up. As to the upshot of all this, if we do not get things right now, it will soon be seen by the world that you and I by putting our signatures to the Crimea settlement have under-written a fraudulent prospectus.

6. I am in any case pledged to Parliament to tell them if the business of setting up a new Polish government etc. cannot be carried out in the spirit of the Yalta declaration. I am sure the only way to stop Motolov’s tactics is to send a personal message to Stalin and in that message I must make clear what are the essential things we must have in this business if I am to avoid telling Parliament that we have failed.

I think you will agree with me that far more than the case of Poland is involved. I feel that this is the test case between us and the Russians of the meaning which is to be attached to such terms as Democracy, Sovereignty, Independence, Representative Government and free and unfettered elections.

I therefore propose to send to Stalin a message on the lines set out below. It is as you will see based on the ideas in Eden’s telegram to Halifax number 207898 which has been communicated to State [Page 149]Department. I hope you will be ready to send Stalin a similar message containing the same minimum requirements. I shall not send my message till I hear from you.

Message begins.

7. “I am sorry to say that the discussions in the Moscow commission on Poland show that M. Molotov has quite a different view from us as to how the Crimea decision on Poland should be put into effect. As you know, nobody here believes that the present Warsaw administration is really representative and criticism of the decision in Parliament to the line that the discussion in Moscow would not result in a really representative government being set up and that, if this was so, all hope of free elections disappeared: All parties were also exercised about the reports that deportations, liquidations and other oppressive measures were being put into practice on a wide scale by the Warsaw administration against those likely to disagree with them.

Feeling confident of your cooperation in this matter, Eden and I pledged ourselves to Parliament that we would inform them if the fears of our critics were fulfilled. I am bound to tell you that I should have to make a statement of our failure to Parliament if the commission in Moscow were not in the end able to agree on the following basis:

(a)
M. Molotov appears to be contending that the terms of the Crimea Communiqué established for the present Warsaw administration an absolute right of prior consultation on all points. In the English text the passage of the communiqué in question, of which was in American draft,99 cannot bear this interpretation. M. Molotov’s contention therefore cannot be accepted.
(b)
All Poles nominated by any of the three governments shall be accepted for the consultations unless ruled out by unanimous decision of the commission, and every effort made to produce them before the commission at the earliest possible moment: The commission should ensure to the Poles invited facilities for communicating with other Poles whom they wish to consult whether in Poland or outside and the right to suggest to the commission the names of other Poles who should be invited to its proceedings. All Poles appearing before the commission would naturally enjoy complete freedom of movement and of communication among themselves while in Moscow and would be at liberty to depart whither they chose upon the conclusion of the consultations. M. Molotov has raised objections to inviting M. Mikolajczyk but his presence would certainly be vital.
(c)
The Poles invited for consultations should discuss among themselves with a view to reaching agreement upon the composition of a government truly representative of the various sections of Polish opinion present before the commission. The discussions should also cover the question of the exercise of the presidential functions. The commission should preside over these discussions in an impartial arbitral capacity.
(d)
Pending the conclusion of the commission’s discussions the Soviet Government should use its utmost influence to prevent the “Warsaw” administration from taking any further legal or administrative action of a fundamental character affecting social, constitutional, economic, or political conditions in Poland.
(e)
The Soviet Government should make arrangements to enable British and American observers to visit Poland and report upon condition there in accordance with the offer spontaneously made by M. Molotov at an earlier stage in the commission’s discussions.

8. We must not let Poland become a source of disagreement and misunderstanding between our two peoples. For this reason I am sure you will understand how important it is for us to reach an early settlement on the basis of the Yalta decision, and it is because I am confident that you will do your utmost to bring this about that I am now telegraphing you.” Ends.

9. I should be grateful to know your views. Pray let this telegram be between you and me.

10. Many congratulations on your statement to Congress. Every good wish.

  1. Copy of telegram obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y.
  2. Not printed.
  3. This clause reads: “which was an American draft,” in Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War: Triumph and Tragedy (Boston, 1953), p. 422.