Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Chief of the Division of Eastern European Affairs (Stevens)

Participants: Former Polish Ambassador Lukasiewicz1
Colonel Matecki
Francis B. Stevens, EE

I spent several hours last evening with Mr. Lukasiewicz, a former Polish Ambassador to the Soviet Union and France. He is now residing in London where he maintains close relations with the unofficial Polish Government-in-exile. He has been in the United States for the past two months and expects to return to London shortly.

Mr. Lukasiewicz is actively engaged in building up support among refugees from Eastern Europe for what he prefers to call a Central European Federation. He said that so-called clubs, composed of public figures from various countries of Eastern Europe, had been formed in London, Paris and Rome to win supporters among refugee groups for the idea of such a federation. It is hoped to organize other clubs in the near future in other cities of Western Europe. There is apparently no central organization to coordinate the activities of the clubs in the various cities but a steady exchange of ideas goes on between them.

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Mr. Lukasiewicz candidly admitted that the federation idea was impractical as long as Eastern Europe was dominated by the Soviet Union but looked forward to the day when it might be liberated from Soviet control. He was enthusiastic about the prospects for a Western European Federation and felt that this was a step in the right direction. I inquired how he visualized the Central European Federation and what countries would be included in it. He said that there are two schools of thought on this subject. One advocated a federation extending from the Baltic to the Mediterranean and including all countries between Germany on the west and Russia on the east. This plan envisaged the eventual dismemberment of the Soviet Union and the inclusion of Byelo-Russia and the Ukraine in the federation. The alternative, which he considers more realistic, would consist in reality of two federations—a southern group including Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania, and a northern group consisting of the countries north of the Danube.

I inquired concerning the political orientation of the sponsors of the federation idea. Mr. Lukasiewicz emphasized that the clubs were not party organizations and that they contained representatives of all kinds of anti-communist and anti-totalitarian tendencies. He made clear, however, that the activities of the Peasant International were detrimental to the plans of the advocates of federation, explaining that the Peasant International would constitute Eastern Europe as a predominantly agricultural area which would condemn it to the role of supplying foodstuffs and raw materials and would hamper its industrial development. He predicted that plans to assign to Eastern Europe a primarily agricultural role in the future would meet with little sympathy from the peoples of that area.

I asked whether it was intended to establish clubs in the United States to promote the idea of federation and maintain contact with the clubs in Europe. Mr. Lukasiewicz said that conditions were different in the United States, that European refugees in this country were interested principally in their narrow national problems, and that their political activity was considerably circumscribed by visa restrictions and the requirements of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. In Europe, political activity in exile was much easier. He did not feel that the time was propitious to begin activity in the United States.

Mr. Lukasiewicz said that the Poles in London had no difficulty in maintaining close contact with Poland and in obtaining abundant information concerning developments there. Intellectuals from Poland were constantly coming to London on various missions and, while there, talked freely with their friends and relatives. The information they obtained indicated that every effort was being made to speed up the pace of Sovietization but that all attempts in this direction met with resistance on the part of the Polish people. The Church was the [Page 406] greatest obstacle in the path of the Soviets and there were indications that a showdown with the Church might come shortly.

I asked whether their information indicated that the Voice of America and BBC broadcasts to Poland had much effect. Both Mr. Lukasiewicz and Colonel Matecki said that the broadcasts were avidly listened to and their content passed on to many who did not have access to receivers. They criticized the content of the programs, saying that they were devoted too much to American and British news and contained too little of direct interest to the Polish people. I explained that one of our objectives was to provide objective reporting on events that would otherwise not be available to the Polish people because of censorship. They agreed that this was important but felt that the program should give the audience in Poland more information on Polish events and also provide encouragement to them in resisting the present régime. They suggested that more material be carried based on articles in Polish language papers published in the United States and Western Europe. They said that these papers have been publishing excellent articles on subjects of wide interest to the Polish people.

They also criticized the amount of attention given Mikolajczyk and his activities on the Voice and the BBC and claimed that this was creating suspicion among listeners in Poland. The Poles at home were well aware that Mikolajczyk was not the only Polish émigré. There were other important groups who had their own contacts with Poland and who were working for the restoration of Polish independence. The Polish listener was inclined to ask why Mikolajczyk received so much publicity when little or no attention was given to the activities of other Polish émigrés.

Mr. Lukasiewicz expressed great interest in the possibility of an institute of Eastern European studies, which he said he had discussed some weeks ago with Mr. Thompson.2 He felt that an institute might serve a very useful purpose as an interim stage before renewed political activity in Eastern Europe would be possible. The institute might be half political, half research in nature. It would require substantial financial support, however, and steps would have to be taken to facilitate the entry into the United States of qualified personnel. Without going into detail I outlined our general ideas for an institute and said that plans for its realization were being developed.3

Francis B. Stevens
  1. Juliusz Lukasiewicz served as Polish Ambassador to the Soviet Union and France before World War II. He was President of the Independence League, an organization of Polish exiles.
  2. Llewellyn E. Thompson, Jr., Deputy Director, Office of European Affairs.
  3. In document PPS 22, February 5, 1948, subsequently revised and reissued as PPS 22/1, March 4 and approved by Under Secretary of State Robert Lovett on March 15, neither printed, the Policy Planning Staff proposed measures to encourage the defection of members of elite groups of the Soviet Union and eastern Europe and to utilize such refugees in the interest of the United States. One of the measures proposed was the encouragement of the establishment in the United States of a social science institute composed of refugee and American scholars doing basic research studies on the Soviet world (Policy Planning Staff Files).