860C.51/11–1345: Telegram

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

552. I agree fully with the Department that, in general, economic rather than political considerations should control the granting of Export Import Bank credits to foreign governments. The situation, however, related to the forthcoming request for probably half a billion dollars credit on part of Provisional Polish Government is not a normal one and is one which has far-reaching political implications which involve the very existence of Poland as a sovereign nation.

In accordance with Department’s request, I submit my comments on views expressed in Department’s 263, November 9, 7 p.m.:

Polish Government, being provisional by agreement with Yalta Powers, would naturally make political capital of receipt of credit for long range purposes which might or might not be approved by the Government constituted following the forthcoming elections. (As [Page 413] reported in my press telegram No. 550, November 12,77 press announced economic delegation leaving for Washington to obtain credit for Polish reconstruction.)
There seems at present little if any hope of “normal processes of international trade” with Poland and I see no likelihood of the borrower being able to service and repay the credits as long as Polish economy is patterned along Soviet lines.
Extension of credit at this time when terroristic activities on part of Polish security police and Soviet NKVD78 are taking place in all parts of country (telegram regarding recent trip of Military Attaché will follow79 showing intolerable conditions in southeast Poland as result of complete Soviet domination and resulting terrorism in that region) would indicate acquiescence on our part in Government and Soviet acts against freedom of speech and other human liberties. Department will recall from my 403, October 13, that outstanding leaders in Krakow including late Vice-President Witos80 expressed themselves to me accordingly.
The following local political developments as directed by Soviet controlled Government group indicate the trend towards a single list in the elections and a consequent muzzling of those who may not vote the Government ticket: limiting the number of parties to six,81 the announcement that a PPA [PPE?] and PPS will be united in the elections,82 virtual impossibility to obtain employment or lodging or UNRRA supplies except on open market for those not affiliated with government or with government controlled parties.
Perhaps the most cogent argument for withholding a credit to this regime at this time is that it is not master in its own house. It [Page 414] requires the Red Army here to maintain it in power. The Soviet Government obviously desires a puppet government here in order that Soviet effectual control of the country may continue to be exercised. It does not seem logical therefore, to assume that there is any possibility of holding free and unfettered elections with secret ballot as long as the Red Army remains in Poland. (It is understandable that Stalin may require two lines of communication between Soviet Union proper and Soviet occupied zone of Germany but it is unreasonable that there should be Soviet troops in every village which members of our staff have visited throughout the country and that in some sections as Stettin, Wroclaw, Poznan and southeast Poland the supreme authorities are Soviet.)
Under the circumstances, Department will appreciate that any credits extended to this regime will be under control, if not actually for benefit, of Soviet authorities who have been and are still moving eastward by train and by trucks huge amounts of material from Poland both from the east and west of Oder.
I reported in mytel 543, November 9, 1 p.m., that I had noted a liberalization of restrictions on freedom of press. I attribute this perhaps immodestly to our having hammered away regarding our displeasure over lack of personal liberty and repercussions which knowledge of such conditions would have in US and hence on possibility of Poland obtaining financial assistance. Despatches from American correspondents have perhaps been more helpful in this regard. I fear, however, that if we relax in our resistance, and certainly the extension of a credit would be interpreted as such, against the despotic rule which is now being perpetrated here we shall not succeed in fulfilling our publicly expressed policy: the maintenance of a strong, free and independent Poland.

  1. Not printed.
  2. People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (Narodny Kommissariat Vnutrennykh Del), the agency of the Soviet Secret Police.
  3. Telegram 557, November 14, 11 a.m., from Warsaw; for a summary of this telegram, see footnote 63, p. 400.
  4. Polish Vice President Wincenty Witos died October 31, 1945.
  5. In telegram 553, November 13, 3 p.m., the Ambassador in Poland reported having been informed by Jacob Berman that on November 5 a meeting of the Council of Ministers was held at which it was decided to limit the number of parties in Poland to the following six: Polish Workers’ Party (the party of the Polish Communists), Polish Socialist Party (pro-Communist socialists), Polish Peasant Party (Mikolajczyk’s party), Peasant Party (pro-Communist peasants), Democratic Party, and United Labor Party (the fusion of the two groups of the Christian Labor Party) (860C.00/11–1345). In telegram 528, November 6, the Ambassador had reported that Warsaw newspapers of November 4 carried the announcement of a decision of the Presidium of the National Council of the Homeland that the national social and political structure was sufficiently provided for by the already active political parties and attempts to establish new political parties would be opposed (860C.00/11–645).
  6. In airgram A–386, November 14, the Ambassador in Poland reported that a resolution had been passed at a recent meeting of the Polish Socialist Party declaring that the Polish Socialist Party would combine its election tactics with those of the Polish Workers’ Party with the aim of creating an election bloc of all “democratic parties” (860C.00/H–1445).