761.63/2–2048: Telegram

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


270. Weight of opinion here is reluctant to accept suggestion in Moscow’s telegram 282 February 121 (repeated Warsaw as 8, Berlin 29, London 15) that Kremlin long-range planning envisages incorporation Poland into USSR “in not too remote future”. Opinion that Soviet Russia intends remain east Germany of course brings up whole question of westward limits Soviet expansion in Europe, a question upon which Kremlin has perhaps not yet completely clarified its own thinking.2

Broad Russian strategy to date has been apparently to create cordon sanitaire against western Europe reversing process employed by western powers after 1918 against communism. Thus Moscow has (a) created convenient cushion to absorb shocks and reduce friction at point where two worlds impinge upon each other (b) increased number pro-Soviet votes in UN and international forums and (c) established bridgeheads in potentially enemy territory.

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To incorporate satellite border states would be to sacrifice foregoing advantages and, confining our observations to Poland, would in addition tend to set up following disadvantages: (a) eliminate issue of Polish western boundaries by which USSR as guarantor these frontiers popularizes Poland–USSR alliance and helps remove sting loss east Poland; (b) catalyze latent forces Polish opposition, drive masses underground, disrupt economy and recovery which requires trade with west for capital goods which USSR unable supply; (c) greatly increase administrative burden in acquired territory.

Though USSR may be determined maintain hold on east Germany and integrate its economy with that of Silesia, development Silesian economic potential requires Polish labor and capital goods from west. Annexation Poland would seriously disturb productivity of labor and might interrupt process of obtaining necessary capital goods from west.

It generally acknowledged Poland is most indigestible and difficult problem to Moscow of satellite states; however Polish Government steadily evolving an approved Soviet pattern whose economy and policy well serves Kremlin purposes; Poles with admirable energy are building a stronger but not necessarily more independent satellite.

Sent Department 270, repeated Moscow 27, Berlin 75, London 42, Prague 13, Belgrade 24.

  1. Not printed. Ambassador Smith and other Embassy officers gave their considered views regarding the intentions of the Soviet Union in northeast Europe in consequence of the recent Polish-Soviet Union economic agreement. They believed: “First of all, it confirms our opinion that Kremlin has reached definite decision never to let go of east Germany. Importance which gives to status Poland is obvious and even Communist Polish Government pleasure at evidence Soviet continued interest in revitalization Silesian industry and maintenance Poland’s western frontiers might be dampened by consideration deeper and more ominous implications of that continued interest. For if USSR intends remake and incorporate east Germany in Soviet system, then it must also have decided firmly to do same with regard Poland. We consequently believe that, far from being permited to participate in any east European federation …. Poland will be first target for development toward incorporation in USSR. Timing would depend on international developments, of course, but if east-west cleavage continues and deepens, absorption might well take place not too remote future.” (660c.6131/2–1248)
  2. In telegram 2442 from Moscow on October 25, Ambassador Smith expressed the opinion that “Germany is far more important for both Western powers and Soviets than Poland, and struggle for power has not yet been decided there as it has in Poland. Soviets undoubtedly regard German-Polish frontier as their ace in hole which they hope to play out some day when considered of decisive importance for realization German objectives.” (760c.6215/10–2548)