Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

Participants: S—Secretary Marshall.
Mr. Arthur Bliss Lane, former Ambassador to Poland.
Present—Mr. Llewellyn E. Thompson, Chief of Division of Eastern European Affairs.

Mr. Lane said he had felt it his duty to inform me of his views on the question of the Polish frontier. He said he had discussed this question with General Eisenhower1 who agreed with his views. He said he had also discussed the matter with the President but felt that the President had been misinformed as to the facts. He said that as Ambassador to Poland, he had been instructed to urge the Polish Government to take humanitarian consideration into account in evacuating German citizens from the territory turned over to Polish administration. Mr. Lane said that he felt that since we had allowed the Poles to evacuate the Germans from this territory, they were justified in [Page 428] thinking that we did not intend to change the frontier. In any event he felt strongly that we should not make enemies of the Polish people.

I replied that I had read his letter2 and was familiar with his views. The President had been obliged to accept at Potsdam an arrangement that was distasteful to him. The Russians had the territory at the time. The Russians had deliberately twisted the meaning of the agreement arrived at, however, as the minutes and the statements of those attending the Conference clearly showed that we had not agreed to a definite frontier. I said that he had been instructed to raise the question of humanitarian consideration because the Poles were actually proceeding to deport the German population, but this did not mean that we had agreed to this.

I went on to explain that we were fully aware of the effect which our policy would have on the Polish population although we did not consider that this would necessarily be permanent. I pointed out that what we were trying to do was to make a peace that would last and that this issue gave us a trading basis. I said for Mr. Lane’s very confidential information I thought our chances for changing the Polish frontier were very slender, but we were hopeful of preventing the establishment of a frontier which would be a tight barrier. We could not establish a lasting peace if Germany were left in an explosive state. If the bulk of her farm land was ruled out, we would have to create a highly industrial state. As it was, we would have to allow a very considerable measure of industrialization in order that the dense population of Germany could be supported. We therefore hoped that we could prevent the establishment of a typical European boundary that would prevent German access to food in this area. I pointed out that this would not be possible if we agreed now to the boundary desired by the Poles. I also mentioned the importance of Silesia and the possibility of offsetting Soviet interests in the Ruhr by our interest in having Silesia integrated into the economy of Europe. I emphasized that the situation had become more difficult as a result of the Soviet rejection of the Four-Power Pact.

Mr. Lane said he had felt obliged to tell me that in his opinion our policy would cause lasting resentment on the part of the Polish people. I replied that it was natural that he would feel this since he was stationed in Poland, and I drew a parallel between his position and that of a theater commander during the war, but said I was sure he would appreciate that my responsibility was to deal with the picture as a whole. I concluded by saying that I would seriously resent his taking a public position criticizing our governmental policy.

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Mr. Lane said he had carefully refrained from doing so and intimated that he would not do so in the future.

George C. Marshall
  1. General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, Chief of Staff of the United States Army.
  2. Supra.