Memorandum of Conversation, by the Counselor of the Department of State (Bohlen)

  • Participants: Mr. Stanislaw Mikolajezyk
  • Mr. Charles E. Bohlen
  • Mr. Llewellyn E. Thompson, Office of European Affairs

Mr. Mikolajcyzk said he was leaving for a trip to Europe in a few days and that one of his chief tasks would be to work on the problem of the unification of the Polish emigré movement. He said he had recently talked to Mr. Dewitt Poole of the Free European Committee as a result of which he was a little bit confused about the American attitude toward this problem. He said that he had the impression that the Peasant International was likely to be more or less sidetracked. While he recognized the importance of national committees and the role they should play, he thought it would be a mistake if the Peasant International were not maintained as a vigorous organization. He referred to its excellent record of anti-Communism and the fact that there were in existence among the emigrés groups whose objective was the establishment of socialism, totalitarianism or other systems in the satellite countries when they are liberated. He thought the peasants in all these countries would constitute a bulwark against the imposition of any reactionary ideological concepts. He also stressed the importance of the Peasant International in furthering international cooperation among the countries represented.

With respect to Polish unity, Mr. Mikolajezyk reviewed the well-known difficulties facing the Polish emigrés and particularly the question of legal continuity. He referred to the fact that the Polish government in London had been reconstituted but was even less representative than formerly. He said his group could not accept the principle continuity which meant a commitment that Poland would return to the unsatisfactory situation that existed before the war and would provide an excuse for the imposition of politicians who no longer had popular support. He inquired whether there had been any change in the views of the Department on this problem.

Mr. Thompson said that there had been no change in our views which he had expressed not only to him on the occasion of their last talk but also to Mr. Bielecki and other Polish leaders in exactly the same terms.1 Briefly we were interested in the broadest possible unity among Poles abroad. The problem was one which could only be resolved [Page 292] by the Poles themselves and we were not supporting any individual or group nor did we intend to exert any pressure on anyone. We could not speak for the Free European Committee which was a private organization but it seemed reasonable to suppose that in their case as in the case of the Department, the broader the scope of unification the more interest and sympathy we would have for any Polish organization that might be created. We could not permit in the United States any group which purported to be a government-in-exile. The question of legal continuity was not one on which we wished to take any stand except as it might relate to the question of whether or not a given Polish organization purported to be a government. This would not preclude members of a Polish committee from individually supporting the idea of legal continuity or even the London government although we would probably not find acceptable as members of such a committee any Pole who was also a member of the London government.

Mr. Mikolajczyk discussed briefly the current situation in Poland which he said was deteriorating. He put the number of Soviet troops at around 300,000 and said they were mostly in the new territories. He referred to the fact that a number of war-time airfields were being rehabilitated and attributed these and other measures largely to an attempt to offset the impression and the effects of the Berlin airlift. He thought the Russians were concerned about the training advantages we had received from this operation. Mr. Mikolajczyk thought it was unwise to attempt to carry out any underground activities in Poland at this time but thought the creation of some organization to maintain contact was important.

On the subject of the use of emigrés on live broadcasts to Poland, he expressed the opinion that the important thing was to show the Polish people that someone was interested in their fate and was informed about developments. He said that there were a large number of radio sets in Poland and that he hoped we would not oppose in any trade agreements that might come up for consideration the supply of vacuum tubes to Poland since otherwise many of these sets might go out of use.

When I mentioned that I thought the Polish Government was worried for fear the Russians would sell them out on the frontier issue at the Paris Conference,2 Mr. Mikolajczyk remarked that all Poles had been worried about this and he made clear his support of the present frontiers. I pointed out that our position was that this problem should be studied and that this continued to be our position. I did however indicate that some people felt the Poles should think very hard about [Page 293] how the real long-range interests of Poland on this question could best be served. Whatever Mr. Mikolajczyk’s real views on this question may be, he will clearly stick to the position that the present frontier should be maintained.

Charles E. Bohlen
  1. Regarding the conversations under reference here, see footnote 5 to the memorandum of conversation toy Thompson, March 30, p. 284.
  2. The reference here is to the Sixth Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, held in Paris, May 23–June 20, 1949. For documentation on that session, see vol. iii, pp. 856 ff.