Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Eastern European Affairs (Durbrow)

Mr. Berard16 called to discuss with me the question of a Polish decree which, according to the French Ambassador in Warsaw,17 will be issued shortly nationalizing all key industries of Poland, including textile plants.18 Mr. Berard stated that this information had been received by the French Ambassador when the Polish Foreign Office informed him that they would have to cancel the proposed visit of an economic industrial committee to visit Poland to discuss the textile industry and French interests therein. The Foreign Office stated that [Page 387] they could not receive the committee since the Polish Government was about to issue a decree nationalizing all industries, including the textile industry.

Mr. Berard stated that the French Government had decided to protest to the Polish Government against this decree in an effort to prevent its being issued, if possible. The French Government is also approaching the Belgian and British Governments to ask them to associate themselves with this French démarche. He stated that the French Government desired to protect the considerable French investments in Poland and felt that because of the large Belgian and British investments, the latter governments might be willing to send in parallel protests.

Mr. Berard asked whether the United States Government was planning to take any action in connection with the possible confiscation of American properties in Poland, although he did not ask that we associate ourselves with the French protest. I told Mr. Berard that we had, as far as I was aware, no information regarding the proposed Polish decree although I stated that in view of the announced policies of the Polish Government it had been anticipated that all basic industries, banks, insurance companies and public utilities might be nationalized. I added that I personally felt that there was little that could be done about this if the Polish Government decided to do it. In the event that this action should be taken and American properties should be nationalized, I expressed as my personal opinion that we would at least demand full compensation for American owners of such properties. I stated further that as far as I was aware we did not contemplate any action which might attempt to prevent the Polish Government from nationalizing basic industries but stated that if they should nationalize industry in general we might perhaps consider taking up the question with the Polish Government.

Mr. Berard asked me whether I thought that this action by the Polish Government was taken at the request of the Soviet Government. I replied that I had no information which would indicate that this was the case but that I could not imagine that the Soviet Government would be against such action.

In the course of the conversation I discussed with Mr. Berard the whole question of the economic blackout which apparently is being imposed by the Soviet Government in eastern and southeastern Europe and I informed him that while, as far as I knew, no definite policy had been fixed by the United States Government in this regard, we did not look with favor on this development and it was possible that we might endeavor to work out arrangements in this area [Page 388] by which all countries would have an equal opportunity to purchase and sell in this area.

There is attached a draft telegram to Mr. Lane,19 asking him to report on the developments referred to by Mr. Berard.

Elbridge Durbrow
  1. Armand Berard, Counselor of the French Embassy.
  2. Roger Garreau.
  3. For text of the law of January 3, 1946, concerning the nationalization of basic branches of the national economy, see Samuel L. Sharp, Nationalization of Key Industries in Eastern Europe (Washington, Foundation for Foreign Affairs, 1946), p. 75.
  4. Not attached to file copy, and no telegram on this subject appears to have been sent.