860C.51/10–1345: Telegram

The Ambassador in Poland (Lane) to the Secretary of State

403. I have just returned from 6–day trip to Katowice, Krakow, Oswiecm,20 Wroclaw21 and Lodz. At Krakow I had extended conversations with Professor Kutrzeba,22 Archbishop Sapieha,23 former Premier Wincenty Witos and Professor Zulawski, President of the old Polish Socialist Party. At Wroclaw I spoke with General Rumel24 defender of Warsaw in 1939. All five confirmed definite feeling which Embassy has had for some weeks to the effect that there is no freedom of press and that terroristic activities of security police are demoralizing the country.

Emphasizing my statement was personal and confidential I said to each of five persons mentioned that in my opinion a great mistake would be made if we granted credit of half billion dollars to Poland at this time: (1) lack of rate of exchange prevents the establishment of private trade between Poland and the US; (2) granting of credit to a country which prevents freedom of press either through censorship or refusal to allot sufficient newsprint would be greatly resented by American people and (3) American people abhor terroristic-activities of secret police which are reminiscent of Nazi regime. I said that I appreciated that there is a cogent argument on the other side namely that if we refused to extend credit Poland will be more than ever economically dependent on Soviet Union. I asked each of five for their frank opinion.

It is significant that all answered in virtually the same manner: Poland would never understand our granting a credit at this time as it would be interpreted as an acquiescence on our part in nondemocratic [Page 389] and brutal practices which exist in Poland today.25 They said that the Polish people understands clearly present developments and would appreciate our stand which would be quickly known in declining to give financial aid to a Government which has only the support of a very small majority of people (Archbishop Sapieha said that 10 percent would be a very liberal estimate of people backing Government).

The fact that Rola-Zymierski (mytel 342, October 3, noon26) stated that portion of credit would be partially used to maintain army of 350,000 men including security police is further valid reason for our declining to accede to Polish Government request.

I am apprehensive that even if we should extend only a small portion of credit requested we will have allowed the Government and its mentors to the east to put their foot in the opened door. This would in turn involve further requests for our material assistance and would indicate to Polish people that we do not appreciate the true situation in the country.

Accordingly, I should deeply appreciate telegraphic instructions from the Department authorizing me to convey to President Bierut and other officials of the Government the deep concern of the Government of the US over developments in Poland; that while we appreciate the great difficulties under which the Provisional Government is laboring as a result of the destruction created in Poland we feel that Polish Government has a definite obligation under the Yalta decision which resulted in the recognition of the Government by Great Britain and the US. Also under the Potsdam assurances to maintain freedom of the press as well as liberty of speech; that information which has come to the Embassy from many well-informed sources in Poland gives us grave doubt as to the intentions of the Polish Government in these respects; that the Government of the US feels that the Congress and people of the US would not approve the extension of credit facilities to a Government which has not accorded to the people of Poland Democratic facilities such as freedom of speech and of the press which are among the main bases of the American conception of democracy. We also have received with apprehension reports that the Polish Government intends to nationalize foreign-owned property without adequate compensation.

I feel that unless we speak clearly and emphatically to the Polish Government at this moment, when the regime here is requesting definite [Page 390] financial assistance, we will be losing an opportunity to make felt our prestige and at the same time we may be able, as has been shown on other occasions in Soviet-controlled territory, to influence conditions for the better by taking a strong determined stand against any movement to stifle democratic life in Poland.27

  1. In German, Auschwitz.
  2. In German, Breslau.
  3. Stanislaw Kutrzeba, Polish jurist, historian, and educator; President, Polish Academy of Science and Letters.
  4. Adam Stefan Sapieha, Archbishop of Kraków.
  5. Maj. Gen. Juliusz Rommel.
  6. In his telegram No. 602, November 27, 11 a.m., the Ambassador in Poland reported that during a conversation with Vice Premier Mikolajczyk, the latter had expressed his entire agreement with the views expressed here, and Mikolajczyk had added that the Polish people would understand the action of the United States, which they would prefer even though it might result in the loss of much needed material assistance (860C.00/11–2745).
  7. See footnote 10, p. 383.
  8. In telegram 450, October 22, from Warsaw, Ambassador Lane reported that Stanislaw Grabski, Vice President of the Polish National Council of the Homeland, had recently expressed to him the opinion that it would be a great mistake if the United States Government extended any credits to Poland until freedom of the press was restored and until the terroristic activities of the security police were terminated (860C.51/10–2245).