860C.00/1–2347: Telegram

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

top secret

131. For Secretary Marshall. All our teams having returned to Warsaw after observing elections in various parts of country, I feel [Page 412] in a position now to submit preliminary recommendation which will be supported by individual reports from all our observers in despatch which will leave Warsaw by pouch next week (districts covered are following: Warsaw, Wroclaw, Szczecin, Bialystok, Radom, Kielce, Lodz, Torun, Bydgoszcz, Rzeszow, Przemysl, Czestochowa, Lublin, Olsztyn, Krakow, Poznan, and Gdansk).

As anticipated in mytels 1972, 22nd, 2017, and 2018, 31st, all of December, 1946,1 the election itself was a mere formality in implementing the decision which had obviously been previously reached between the govt bloc parties and the Soviet Govt to retain in power the Communist controlled minority. The steps which were taken are amply described in Mikolajczyk’s note to the Yalta representatives dated December 18, 1946. These steps have been confirmed by our observers, who were instructed by me to contact observers both govt and opposition (but not underground) in various districts. The election itself was therefore merely a mechanical routine to indicate, as did the so-called votes of confidence given to Hitler following the Austrian Anschluss in 1938, a legal justification for continuing in power. What to my mind is more significant is that yesterday, when the govt declared half holiday to permit all govt employees to manifest their “satisfaction” on the result of the election, the apathy was so evident as to occasion mirth on the part of the non-govt spectators. The US Govt, as one of the Yalta participants, must now make its decision, the gravity of which is obvious, for Poland. All Poles with whom we have been in contact directly or indirectly, even including govt officials, are asking this question: “What is the US going to do?” I revert to my letter of March 1, 1946,2 to Mr. Matthews in which I expressed the opinion which I still hold that only through the exercise of American public opinion can the Soviet Govt be prevailed upon to ease its policy of domination of European countries which do not desire such domination, and to refrain from further imperialistic expansion; in other words, to invade politically nations which in the past it was willing to regard as political spheres of influence of the western powers.

Tomorrow I propose to have a meeting with the representatives all Warsaw papers and press associations. At this meeting I propose to tell them, without attribution to the Embassy (although surely this information will indirectly reach the Polish Govt) that, according to reports which I have received subsequent to the elections, the elections took place in accordance with the views expressed in the US Govt’s notes of January 6, 1947, to the Soviet Govt, and of January 9, 1947, to the Polish Govt.

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I earnestly urge the Dept as soon as my written report is received based on the observations of more than twenty members of the Embassy Staff, including newspaper correspondents who were invited to join the Embassy teams, that our position be made emphatically clear and publicly to the Soviet and Polish Govts (with a copy sent to the British according to diplomatic etiquette) that the US Govt cannot acquiesce in result of elections in which, despite Soviet note of January 13, and Polish Govt note of January 14, we had direct obligation as a result of Yalta and Potsdam decisions, and that US Govt reserves its right as a participant in those decisions to determine its future policy towards Polish Provisional Govt on the basis of what it considers to be fraudulent elections.

As I explained to officials of Department in November, I believe it would be most inadvisable to break diplomatic relations to indicate our dissatisfaction. Nothing would be more satisfactory to Communist clique if we withdrew our influence and prestige from Poland. If the President and Dept concur in views expressed above, I should appreciate it if the President would permit me either to be transferred to another post as suggested to Secretary Byrnes in my letter of December 23, 1946,3 or to be permitted to retire.

For all practical purposes, my mission to Poland is ended, and I believe that I could do more in educating American public opinion through the writing of articles as a private citizen, or as an Envoy in some other country than I can by remaining here, where my continued presence would—in the unquestioned absence of publication of our views in Poland—be considered as tacit acquiescence in the recent fraud.4

We are in a very different position from the British. The British Ambassador probably will be declared persona non grata. In fact, Zebrowski,5 of Polish Foreign Office, is believed to be leaving for London to arrange for Bentinck’s recall. I do not believe that Polish Govt will take similar action towards me, or against any US Ambassador succeeding me, because of its having to depend on US for financial and economic assistance.

I should be very grateful if the Dept would give me its impressions on my views on a situation which I regard as objectively as one can [Page 414] judge any situation from a post like Warsaw as one of the most far-reaching in its implications insofar as American foreign policy and the possible creation of military hostilities are concerned. I believe that now is the time to state our policy clearly and emphatically, and without diplomatic evasion or reserve. Most respectfully, I urge that this policy be enunciated before the meeting at Moscow takes place.

  1. None of the telegrams under reference here has been printed.
  2. Arthur Bliss Lane, I Saw Poland Betrayed: An American Ambassador Reports to the American People (New York, Indianapolis, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1948), pp. 193–196.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Telegram 82, January 28, to Warsaw, replied on this point as follows: “Your desire terminate your mission in Poland and reasons therefor are fully appreciated. It is contemplated that orders for your return to Washington for consultation will be issued shortly.” (860C.00/1–2347)

    In accordance with subsequent Departmental instructions, Ambassador Lane left Warsaw on February 24 and arrived in Washington on March 6.

  5. Thaddeus Zebrowski, Director, Anglo-American Division, Polish Foreign Ministry.