The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman) to President Roosevelt 83

M–23174. Supplementing my M–23119, March 8th, after 48 hours of continued pressure on the Foreign Office I finally received an answer [Page 1078] last night disapproving General Deane’s trip to Poland on the grounds that as there were no longer any American ex-prisoners of war in Poland the reasons for his trip fell away.

As I have had continued reports on the presence of American ex-prisoners of war including a substantial number hospitalized at various points confirmed by a direct message from our contact officer at Lublin that there were ten seriously sick left there on March 10th and more coming in and out every day, I wrote a strong letter to Molotov84 protesting and insisting that the Soviet Government grant the “small courtesy” to the United States Government of allowing General Deane to make a survey of the situation in Poland and visit our prisoners particularly our sick and wounded who we knew still remained in Poland

Today I am informed by General Deane that the permission for our contact team to remain at Lublin has been withdrawn and that a plane scheduled to leave today from Poltava for Lublin with a load of supplies had been cancelled. This team at Lublin has been the only means by which we have been able to give help to our ex-prisoners in Poland and has been working day and night with those who have found their way to Lublin. I am therefore protesting to Molotov today that our contact team should be allowed to remain in Lublin.

It seems obvious that the Soviets have been attempting to stall us off by misinformation from day to day in order to hold up the sending in of more of our contact officers until they get all of our prisoners out of Poland. General Deane and I feel strongly that we should make an issue of the matter of having our much needed contact officers in Poland which is clearly within our rights under the prisoner of war agreement signed at Yalta, not only in order to take care of those who are still in Poland but also because of the probability that there will be substantial numbers liberated by the Red Army in the future.

I therefore recommend, with General Deane’s concurrence, that you send another message along the following lines to Marshal Stalin:

“There appears to be conflicting information emanating from Poland regarding the status and numbers of American prisoners of war in Poland who have been liberated by the advance of the Red Army. In reply to my last message you indicated that there was no need to accede to my request that American aircraft be allowed to carry supplies to Poland and evacuate the sick because according to your information all of our liberated prisoners, except a very few sick in hospitals, were either in Odessa or en route there. On the other hand, I have had information that I consider positive and reliable that at the present time there are not only a considerable number of sick and injured Americans in hospitals in Poland, but also numbers of liberated prisoners of war in good health who are awaiting entrainment in Poland to the transit camp in Odessa or who are still at large in small groups and have not yet made contact with Soviet authorities.

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In view of this conflicting information I ask that you agree to send General Deane with a Red Army officer to Poland to make a survey of the prisoner of war situation in order that we may work out a method of implementing our agreement signed at Yalta which will be mutually satisfactory both to care for those now in Poland and for those liberated in the future and which will convince the American people that everything possible is being done for their soldiers. In the meantime I also request that you allow our contact officers now in Lublin to remain in Poland and to receive emergency supplies.”

  1. Copy of telegram obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park,. N.Y. This telegram was transmitted through the facilities of the United States Military Mission in Moscow.
  2. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.