Memorandum of Conversation, by Robert A. Lovett, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State

Participants: Polish Ambassador, Mr. Jozef Winiewicz
Robert A. Lovett, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State1
Present—Mr. Llewellyn E. Thompson, Chief, Division of Eastern European Affairs

The Ambassador handed me the attached statement2 concerning the food situation in Poland and said that while he would not repeat the information contained therein he wished to emphasize the following:

The food situation in Poland was critical largely due to the fact that Poland had experienced an exceedingly severe winter. The United Nations conference on post-UNRRA activities had listed Poland as one of the countries that would need assistance. The Ambassador mentioned that his Government was exceedingly grateful for the assistance which had already been extended to it by the Government of the United States. He said that during the months of April, May and June the Polish Government had been able to meet the situation only by mortgaging or selling its gold reserves which were badly needed as a cover for its currency. The hopes of his Government for the succeeding period lay with the $350,000,000 relief program which had been approved by the United States Congress. His Government had been obliged to reduce rations and this had already had the effect of reducing the output of coal and other production. His Government was also concerned about their winter sowing program which would begin in September because of the difficulty in obtaining seed and grain. He said that he had discussed this problem through every channel open to him and was now taking the matter up on the highest level in order to emphasize the necessity for speed since the question of assistance to Poland seemed to be meeting with delays. He said that while he did not wish the matter to become public he could mention that the critical nature of the situation was indicated by the fact that food riots had already taken place in Poland.

I replied that I could only state that we had received conflicting reports about the situation in Poland and that we could make no decision until our new Ambassador had arrived in Poland and was able to submit his report.3 I mentioned that we were also endeavoring [Page 434] to send a representative of the Department of Agriculture to Poland to assist the Ambassador in his task.4 I emphasized that we were not able to meet all of the demands for relief assistance that were being made upon us and I mentioned that in England, France and other countries there had also been severe winter conditions. It was necessary for us to examine the relative needs of Poland since other countries felt that their needs were even greater.

The Ambassador said he realized this and could only repeat that he hoped for early action.

Robert A. Lovett
  1. Lovett assumed office as Under Secretary of State on July 1.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Appointed Ambassador Stanton Griffis arrived in Warsaw on July 7; see the editorial note, infra. The Ambassador’s expected report under reference here, telegram 1174, July 23, from Warsaw, not printed, suggested the usefulness of at least a token food relief program for Poland (800.48 FRP/7–2347).
  4. Regarding the mission and recommendations of Col. R. L. Harrison under reference here, see the second editorial note below.