Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Pierson Underwood of the War Areas Economic Division

Participants: Dr. L. Rajchman
Mr. Gilpatric6
Mr. Underwood

Dr. Rajchman, of the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity, outlined his Government’s views regarding their most urgent present needs. The most pressing he said, was the repair and re-equipment of the Baltic ports. These were heavily damaged in the fighting and now lack breakwaters, cranes and many essential harbor installations, which were either destroyed or taken away, so that traffic through the ports is still on a limited scale. The next most urgent need is rolling stock, especially cars, for the railways. The Poles have surplus coal which they are anxious to send abroad, either to accumulate foreign exchange or in turn for other needed commodities, but the transportation bottleneck hampers them severely. In this connection, Dr. Rajchman said he did not see how it would be possible at present to supply coal to Italy. Sending it by sea is out of the question because the Baltic ports are already or will soon be overtaxed by shipments to Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Sending the coal overland he also thought impossible because of the lack of freight cars. The distance is too great and the time required for “turnaround” of the cars, too long. Under these circumstances, he suggested shipping coal to Austria, as being relatively close to the Silesian fields. He also asked about shipments of coal westward through the military zones of Germany. This is a matter which would have to be decided by the zone commanders in the field, and Mr. Gilpatric said he would look into it and inform Dr. Rajchman of the present status. Asked about Poland’s joining ECO,7 Dr. Rajchman said he understood it was a purely advisory organization and did not appear to consider the matter relevant. (This is not correct, especially with regard to Germany and Austria, where the recommendations of ECO, Mr. Stillwell8 states, are practically mandatory. This matter, however, was not discussed further in the conversation of October 1). Returning to the question of railway cars, Dr. Rajchman said they were urgently needed for another purpose, viz. to bring back displaced Poles from Germany. The need in this case is for closed carriages. Open cars are being used at present but will not be feasible in cold weather. [Page 383] The question is urgent because of Poland’s great need of manpower, not only for the mines but for all industrial purposes.

Dr. Rajchman brought up the subject of credits, saying that Poland would like to have an initial loan of $380 million (of which $190 million would be repaid by means of exports) and an ultimate total loan of $700 million. He said economic aid to Poland would be in accord with the Potsdam agreements. Mr. Gilpatric said that since he had just returned from abroad he did not know the present status of Poland’s application but would look into it and discuss it further with Dr. Rajchman as soon as possible.

Dr. Rajchman also brought up the subject of UNRRA, expressing disappointment that a Canadian rather than an American had been appointed chief of mission to Poland. He said his government had no objection to General Drury9, but would withhold formal consent to his appointment until they were informed of the names; of his two deputies. Mr. Gilpatric said he thought the failure thus far of the U.S. to get top-flight Americans for UNRRA posts was serious, and that it was unquestionably urgent that we remedy this in future.

Dr. Rajchman said that he wished to return to Poland as soon as possible after completing the organization of the Polish Supply Mission, perhaps within the next two or three weeks, but was reluctant to return without some tangible evidence of progress in getting aid for Poland in her present difficulties. Mr. Gilpatric assured him the Department would do all it could to assist, and agreed to meet Dr. Rajchman again on Thursday, October 4, to discuss these matters further.

Pierson Underwood
  1. Donald S. Gilpatric, Chief of the War Areas Economic Division.
  2. European Coal Organization. For documentation regarding participation by the United States in this organization, see vol. ii, pp. 1411 ff.
  3. James A. Stillwell, adviser, War Areas Economic Division.
  4. Brig. Gen. Charles Drury. For a brief description of General Drury’s problems as director of the UNRRA mission in Poland, see Lane, I Saw Poland Betrayed, pp. 214–215.