860C.00/1–2147: Telegram

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


107. Following preliminary report on elections is based on observations by Embassy officers in districts of Warsaw, Radom, Kielce, Lodz, Lublin, Bialystok, Wroclaw, Olsztyn, Bydgoszcz and Czestochowa. Supplemental report will follow after return Embassy observers from Szczecin and Rzeszow and receipt reports from Poznan, Krakow and Gdansk.

Great mass of Polish people have felt for some time that “free and unfettered” elections could not be held in Poland owing to complete subservience of Polish Provisional Government to Soviet Russia, presence Soviet Army in force, and repressive measures of Communist Government in Poland. Hence, before January 19, there was conviction among populace that result elections in favor Government whether arranged through coercive or fraudulent counting of votes was foregone conclusion. This attitude of Polish people continued through election day as observed by Embassy officers and American news correspondents and expressed itself in a discernible feeling of apathy, hopelessness and fatalism on the part of the voters.

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Thus far, at has not been possible for Embassy to ascertain percentage of abstention from voting but such abstention as occurred is believed to have been largely result of intimidation, torture, arrests and invalidation by Government of candidates and voters.

There was considerable mass and individual voting for Government bloc by opposition elements owing to widespread pre-electoral intimidation effects of which carried through to depositing of ballots. During election, voters were urged to vote “democratic bloc” through available means propaganda and intimidation both veiled and open including bloc placards mass parades of voters exclusive display of No. 3 government bloc ballots outside and inside polling places, physical scarcity of PSL balloting slips, encouragement of voters to place No. 3 cards in envelopes, et cetera. Vis-à-vis these methods, the PSL was not allowed to make itself seen, heard or felt as evidenced by complete absence of PSL posters or signs of any sort and widespread lack of PSL ballot slips.

Although there were no voting booths or curtains seen in any of the districts reported on although voters were openly encouraged to vote for Government through display on counters of stacks of No. 3 ballots and although prospective PSL voters had difficulty in casting their ballots secretly, secret voting could often be accomplished when voters took especial pains to insert ballots in envelopes which were handed to them by precinct electoral commissions without detection by members such commissions, by military and UB guards and by other voters present.

No disturbances were noted on election day, voting being carried out with calm and quiet. There was general orderliness in voting places, excepting in certain Lublin areas where confusion and disorganization prevailed and several hundred voters were turned away at close of voting at 7 p.m.

With minor exceptions, Embassy observers were well received at voting districts and in most cases admitted freely to polling booths. Accompanied by Mrs. Lane, Dorothy Thompson and Laird of CBS, I was in fact invited to enter polling booth at Sokotow (near Warsaw) January 19 and enabled to observe electoral routine.

Military and Naval Attachés would appreciate prompt transmission contents this telegram to War and Navy.