611.60C31/3–1949: Telegram

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


421. Re final paragraph Deptel 142, March 11.1

1. Our thesis is that propaganda-wise, we are not in strong position attack Soviet economic hegemony over Poland for reason that friendly Poles, and even certain astute western diplomatic representatives, believe US economic policy has accelerated Sovietization of Poland by accentuating Polish dependence on USSR earlier than would otherwise have occurred. Eloquent testimonials this viewpoint contained in airgram A–194, February 18 and Embassy despatch 576, [Page 97] August 26, Embtel 51 to Geneva August 18, repeated Department as 1102, and airgram 734, May 31, 1948.2

Composite substance viewpoint is: west sold Poland into political bondage at Tehran and Yalta but nevertheless pledged a “strong and independent Poland.” Although UNRRA and economic assistance in pre-election period did not prevent extention Soviet political power over Polish Government, our curtailment economic assistance thereafter (denial post-UNRRA relief, wheat allocations, cotton credit and our reputed opposition to International Bank loan) undermined faith of Polish people in our continued interest in their welfare, reduced their powers of resistance to Communists who could turn to Moscow for the impossible, weakened influence of pro-western and opposition forces in government, eased task of Soviet Union and puppet Polish Government in consolidation their hold over Polish economic apparatus, and limited measure of independence nationalistic Polish Communists could achieve from Kremlin. Development our export licensing policy then oriented Polish trade policy toward greater reliance on Soviet Union, stimulated interest in erection of self-sufficient eastern bloc, and because of fear of reprisals and boycotts, influenced government to rely more heavily on trade pattern of bilateral pacts with trading partners who could not successfully boycott Poland under US pressure because of reliance on Polish exports. Furthermore, it is argued (airgram 734) that we have handed Soviet Union handsome propaganda advantages: Soviet Union seized opportunities afforded by our curtailments and its wheat deliveries, credit for capital goods, small foreign exchange loans and professed paternal interest in development Polish economy have been exploited to utmost. This school of thought, reflecting dominant nationalism of Poles, rejects tenet that dollar for Poland is dollar for Russia, believes viable Polish economy geared to west would retard Sovietization of country, and feels more liberal US economic policy would be more beneficial in sustaining hopes and resistance of Polish people than aggregate our propaganda and political moves to date.

2. It is of course difficult to assess validity this line of reasoning after the event. It contains elements of truth and many of wishful thinking. Point we make is that it represents considered conclusion of numerous Poles and is fact which must be consulted in framing our propaganda and economic policy vis-à-vis Poland. We think most that can be said is that more liberal economic policy would merely have reduced tempo of Sovietization. We agree that at this stage our strategy should be to prevent, insofar as feasible, development Soviet war potential and to guarantee that competitively economies of WE recover more rapidly than those of EE and maintain their present preponderance [Page 98] of industrial potential. Nevertheless, necessity of east-west trade is recognized and our long-range political aims are not advanced if in pursuing this strategic objective we unnecessarily alienate public opinion and overlook tactical possibilities of retarding Sovietization of EE and Poland.

Our export licensing policy has definitely alienated friendly non-Communist officials. Fact that we will [not] export machinery and raw materials which we refuse to license, together with our past attitude re such commodities as dyestuffs and cotton, have awakened [weakened?] our case and exposed us to charge that our policy is discriminatory and arbitrarily political. Implementation this policy in extreme form witnessed through past year has no doubt contributed to fall from power of such pro-western officials as Grosfeld and Horowitz (Embtel 396, March 163), to our disadvantage. Although we have never questioned that such officials represent essentially impermanent fixtures in Polish Government (Embdesp 5764), our interests are best served by showing them up as long as possible. We feel that recent UK-Polish trade pact5 is case in point of how economic approach may be utilized to foil and delay Soviet plans re Poland and strengthen pro-western elements without perhaps subtracting unduly from achievement our strategic objectives since, from available evidence, it appears agricultural export commitments undertaken by Poland have placed definite brake on collectivization program and may compel pro-Kremlin Communists to relax class struggle against Kulaks in interest of meeting export quotas. Other similar opportunities could no doubt be developed. It was with these considerations in mind that we recommend in Embdesp 576 adoption of a highly flexible approach in application of our export license policy to Poland.6

  1. In the paragraph of the telegram under reference, not printed, the Department of State requested a detailed exposition of certain Embassy views set forth earlier in telegram 231, February 15, from Warsaw (611.60C31/2–1549). That earlier telegram suggested that American propaganda attacks against Soviet economic hegemony in Poland had dangers inasmuch as many friendly Poles felt that the United States had hastened the Sovietization of Poland by curtailing economic assistance and that current American economic policies drove Poland more securely into Soviet control (864.404/2–1549). Regarding this telegram, see also the editorial note, p. 226.
  2. None of the messages under reference here is printed.
  3. Not printed. It reported the-announcement of the appointment of Tadeusz Gede, “a comparative nonentity”, as Minister of the newly-created Polish Ministry of Foreign Trade and relegation of Dr. Ludwik Grosfeld, heretofore Vice Minister of Industry and Commerce and a leading Polish foreign trade official, to an obscure position. It also reported that the responsibilities of L. Horowitz, Grosfeld’s principal assistant and negotiator of the recent Polish-British trade agreement, had been greatly curtailed (860C.002/3–1649).
  4. Not printed.
  5. The reference here is to the United Kingdom-Polish Trade and Finance Agreement of January 14, 1949. Under the terms of the agreement, trade between the two countries would total more than $1 billion over a five year period. Polish exports, which would be more than 70 percent agricultural, would require reorientation of Poland’s export economy to British requirements. The United Kingdom would in return supply raw materials and capital equipment.
  6. Telegram 525, April 4, from Warsaw, not printed, reported that Vera Michelis Dean, Research Director of the Foreign Policy Association, had informed the Embassy of her conversations with Polish Foreign Minister Zygmunt Modzelew-ski and other high Foreign Ministry officials. In expressing deep concern over American export licensing procedures, the Polish officials seemed to admit that Polish industrialization plans were doomed unless American and West European export policies were relaxed (860C.00/4–449).