The Ambassador in Poland (Lane) to the Secretary of State
[Received October 31—5:20 p.m.]
498. Foreign Office has recently orally complained to us regarding news despatches of American correspondents which Foreign Office claims give erroneous and unfriendly account of conditions in Poland.
On Oct 26, Modzelewski in presence of Zebrowski complained to me specifically regarding article written by Larry Allen of Associated Press based on Govt press release that Soviet general assigned to each wojewod. This article published in Le Monde of Paris Oct 23 and headlined “Poland under Soviet Occupation”. Modzelewski also complained regarding article by Gladwin Hill of New York Times indicating Poland under Soviet domination.
Modzelewski started conversation by stating that if Allen continued to write articles in this vein he could not remain in Poland. I asked him whether Polish Govt proposed to ignore terms of Potsdam Agreement guaranteeing Allied correspondents privilege to report regarding conditions here before and during elections. He avoided a direct answer but said that Allen and Hill were not “serious correspondents.” I took exception to this remark as being an affront not only to two well-known correspondents of excellent reputation but to the organizations which they represented. Modzelewski finally changed his attitude but asked that the Govt’s point of view be also given by Allen in his despatches. I agreed to make such a request of Allen who tells me that he has always offered to transmit any statements which the Govt may make available to him. He kindly agreed to [Page 397] approach the Foreign Office and send any statements which it wished to make on general conditions without however prejudicing his right to report other viewpoints.
After Modzelewski had made his complaint I said that I had something to say regarding unfriendly articles which had recently appeared in the Polish press. If there were freedom of the press in Poland, I continued, I would make no objection to articles unfriendly to the US but as I knew from statements made to me by Minister of Propaganda that the Govt controls Czytelnik which publishes a satirical weekly Szpilki, in which offensive cartoons regarding the US had appeared, it is obvious that these had appeared with Govt consent. (As a matter of fact anti-British articles are more numerous and hostile than those against US.) When Modzelewski denied lack of freedom of press I quoted President Bierut as having admitted to me that freedom of press does not exist here according to our conception.
It was evident from my talk with Modzelewski that what he most resented in Allen’s and Hill’s articles was references they had made to unrest in country and possible revolt against present regime.52 Reports of impending difficulties for Provisional Govt are increasing and undoubtedly give Govt much concern.
- In his telegram 587, November 20, 5 p.m., the Ambassador in Poland reported on Foreign Minister Rzymowski’s heated and bitter complaints regarding several allegedly “lying” accounts by American correspondents in Poland (811.91260C/11–2045). For a description of this meeting and a somewhat earlier one with Jakób Berman, see Lane, I Saw Poland Betrayed, p. 187.↩