142. Memorandum From Robert P. Joyce of the Policy Planning Staff to the Deputy Under Secretary of State (Matthews)1


  • [less than 1 line not declassified] Activities directed against Poland

I attach hereto a copy of Warsaw’s cable No. 338 of December 27, midnight.2 Yesterday I called [less than 1 line not declassified] to meet with me and Mr. Vedeler of EE for a discussion of the implications of this cable and the broadcast on December 29 by the Warsaw station in English Morse which sets forth the Polish line on American espionage activities in Poland, etc. I attach hereto FBIS Report No. 252,3 which I think you will desire to read in full.

[1 paragraph (14 lines) not declassified]

At the meeting of the Consultants to OPC yesterday afternoon (General Magruder for Defense, Colonel Wright representing General Young of the JCS, and myself representing this Department), the whole Polish operation was gone into at length [less than 1 line not declassified]. The following facts and assumptions emerged:

[6 paragraphs (18½ lines) not declassified]

I need not point out that this affair represents an appalling setback [less than 1 line not declassified] the U.S. Government. There may be political repercussions which might make it exceedingly difficult or impossible for our diplomatic mission to maintain itself in Warsaw. Another telegram in from our Embassy on December 27 pointed out that the Polish Foreign Office had advised the Embassy that only American Embassy officers on the diplomatic list would be immune from Polish jurisdiction, including the provisions of the Polish legislation on espionage activity.4 We know too little today to arrive at any conclusion as to whether [less than 1 line not declassified] activities in Poland over the past two years are directly related to recent moves indicating that the Polish authorities are moving in on the American Embassy in the same pattern that has been established in other Eastern Satellite capitals. EE is watching this entire situation closely, and I have arranged [Page 388] for [less than 1 line not declassified] to bring in as soon as it is received all information received from abroad [less than 1 line not declassified].

[3½ lines not declassified] You will recall that the Korean war was already three or four months old, and that there was a very strong feeling within the Military Establishment that the Korean war, as an act of overt Communist military aggression, probably represented the opening stage of Soviet aggression involving real danger of an all-out conflict. Late in 1950 and early in 1951 the Military Establishment became intensely interested in the concept of “retardation”. This concept meant that everything possible should be done [less than 1 line not declassified] to develop resistance mechanisms within the Eastern European Satellite area which might be activated and heavily re-supplied in the event of war. The objective was to develop large-scale guerrilla warfare and sabotage forces behind the Soviet lines. [less than 1 line not declassified] heavy pressure by our Military Establishment to accelerate these activities.

You will recall that early in 1951 General Smith produced his so-called Scope, Pace and Magnitude Paper, and there was consideration by the NSC of the CIA’s mission.5 More than anything else, this U.S. Military requirement for retardation on a vast scale impelled General Smith to have the NSC re-affirm his charter, particularly as related to the vastly expensive activities in connection with the development of retardation.

During this period almost two years ago, both the State Department, the CIA and notably General Magruder were convinced that the Psychological Warfare Division (General McClure) in the Department of the Army as well as other senior officers in the Army and Air Force were engaging in a very great deal of wishful thinking as to what could be done by clandestine means in Eastern Europe to develop resistance mechanisms capable of producing a massive retardation contribution. This thinking within the Military resulted from, in my opinion, almost complete ignorance of Eastern Europe and what a highly developed totalitarian police state could accomplish in the way of snuffing out anything remotely related to so-called resistance organizations. Nevertheless, the CIA, General Magruder and I did not feel that we could block what the Army desired to see accomplished in this field. We could only, and we did what we could, endeavor to educate the Army to the realities of life in an Eastern European Soviet Satellite and to warn that perhaps very little indeed could be accomplished in peace time in the way of setting up an organized mechanism capable of springing into [Page 389] being on D-Europe Day. The State Department representatives naturally could not oppose covert activities, the objectives of which related to the national security and were designed to contribute to the military effort of the Western Allies in resisting Soviet attack on Western Europe. As stated above, General Magruder and I, as well as General Balmer, the Joint Chiefs of Staff representative as a consultant to OPC of CIA, could only point out the extreme difficulties of accomplishing anything and endeavor to persuade the Military that their Planners should not, repeat not, in the development of strategic plans, count on a resistance potential behind the enemy lines in the first stages of an all-out war.

In the meeting [less than 1 line not declassified] yesterday both General Magruder and General Balmer stated that there still exists in the Department of the Army a highly optimistic appreciation of what can be done in the way of guerrilla activity in time of war based on resistance mechanisms developed in times of peace. General Magruder recalled that recently in a briefing General Collins himself had referred to the destruction by resistance elements of bridges behind the enemy lines in Eastern Europe in case of war, his idea apparently being that such actions present no great difficulties of accomplishment. The fact is that large bridges to be destroyed by demolition require charges involving tons and tons of explosives which must be carefully and sometimes painfully placed. Needless to say, all strategic bridges will be heavily guarded by military detachments in time of war.6

The Air Force has also exerted pressure on the CIA to develop escape and evasion capabilities in Eastern Europe in time of war. The Air Force interest is, of course, easily explained and quite understandable. The fact remains that the setting up of escape and evasion routes, safe houses and recruiting of native personnel in peace time is an infinitely complicated, dangerous and time-consuming process.

Prior to the meeting in Paris early in March, 1952 of the Eastern European Chiefs of Mission, I addressed a memorandum on February 1, 1952 to Messrs. Bonbright, Barbour and Campbell,7 which contains the following paragraphs:

“A general explanation might be given to the chiefs of mission alone, as to the aspects of so-called positive political action within the Soviet orbit, i.e., plans and preparations which are designed to lay the groundwork for massive internal resistance in case of war. In the light of these considerations, do the chiefs of mission consider that the risks involved should and must be taken?

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“What suggestions have the chiefs of mission for the timing, phasing, scope and pace of positive political action by covert means behind the Iron Curtain? This question might be dealt with country by country and individually with the several chiefs of mission.

“It seems to me that these questions lie close to the heart of our strategy for the cold war for the next few years. I believe that our representatives on the spot not only could contribute a great deal which would be helpful in Washington but also that they should be aware of current plans and activities in the countries to which they are assigned.”

The Record of Discussions of the meeting in Paris contains the following paragraph under “Conclusions and Recommendations”:8

“II. 3. Covert Operations. Such operations are a necessary part of the total effort aimed at weakening the Soviet grip on the satellites. They should be aimed not only at securing a maximum of intelligence but also at breaking down the Soviet system of control and building organizations for future action. It must be recognized, however, that operations of this character may endanger the continued functioning of our diplomatic missions in the countries concerned.”

The point of the foregoing is to illustrate that all of the Chiefs of Mission present at the Paris meeting agreed that in the national interest it was necessary for the CIA to do what it could to develop covert mechanisms within the Eastern European satellite countries. With respect to Poland, I talked in Paris individually with Ambassador Flack. He referred to the fact that the United States had more friends to the square inch in Poland than perhaps in any other satellite country and mentioned the five million Poles in the United States. He did point out, however, that the Sovietization of Poland had moved forward rapidly and that Poland had now become an efficient Police State with informers everywhere and with Soviet officials in all key points of the government, particularly in the US. In other words, in spite of the extreme difficulties and risk, Flack’s own judgment was that it might be possible to do something in Poland, and in any event the attempt should be made.

[1 paragraph (11½ lines) not declassified]

General Balmer of the Joint Chiefs of Staff attended the meetings with the British and was provided with a copy of the agreed minutes. He has advised me that the somewhat pessimistic evaluation of capabilities for clandestine activities in Eastern Europe which came out of these meetings with the British was very useful indeed in counteracting some of the far too optimistic ideas existing within the Departments of the Army and the Air Force.

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The Military Establishment for obvious strategic reasons was primarily interested in Poland insofar as retardation and escape and evasion were concerned. In addition, opportunities within Poland were regarded as much greater than in the other satellites, with the possible exception of Albania. The Poles historically hate and fear the Russians. The Poles have perhaps the strongest feeling of nationalism in Eastern Europe and a long tradition of conspiratorial and underground activity. [3 lines not declassified] To sum up, the situation was about as follows:

Pressure on the CIA by our Military Establishment to develop something in Poland was very great indeed.
The Department of State could not and did not oppose [less than 1 line not declassified] efforts to develop resistance organizations in Poland, and the Department was constantly advised of what was being done [less than 1 line not declassified].

The end result was as set forth in the first part of this memorandum. In other words, the efforts in Poland resulted in an extremely important set back which might have serious repercussions on the operations of our Embassy in Warsaw. In addition, the Polish UB has obtained information on the techniques and objectives of American clandestine activities. The Warsaw Government has made extremely clever and probably most effective propaganda use out of this fiasco. (See FBIS Report No. 252–1952)

[4 lines not declassified] I suggest that the following conclusions might possibly be derived from this experience in Poland:

It has become impossible, with only the existing techniques and contacts, [less than 1 line not declassified] to operate in the satellite area of Eastern Europe. The perfection of totalitarian police state techniques is approaching “1984” efficiency to a degree where “resistance” can probably exist only in the minds of the enslaved peoples of the Soviet orbit in Europe.
No resistance organization can survive in the Soviet orbit, with the possible exception of Albania.
[8 lines not declassified]
Unless new techniques are developed, perhaps nothing can be accomplished in the Soviet orbit in Eastern Europe except by a mass approach through the air waves, balloon operations and leaflet drops.


The Department of State should devote careful study to [less than 1 line not declassified] operations within Poland. The Department should then provide political guidance [less than 1 line not declassified] in terms of long-range political objectives in Eastern Europe, such guidance to provide the framework within which covert operations should or should not be attempted.
The entire subject of cold war activities by clandestine means directed against the Soviet orbit in Eastern Europe should be studied [Page 392] by the Psychological Strategy Board or whatever top level agency might succeed it under the new Administration. (Perhaps the committee presided over by Mr. William H. Jackson9 might review the documentation mentioned in this memorandum. I understand this committee will review “cold war” activities, particularly in the Soviet orbit in Europe.)
Robert P. Joyce
  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, NSC 10 Series, 1952. Top Secret. A notation on the memorandum reads: “Please return to S/P—Joyce.”
  2. This telegram transmitted a Polish newspaper account that reported that Polish authorities had apprehended two U.S. spies who had parachuted from a plane into Poland. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–54, 711.5248/12–2752)
  3. Not found.
  4. Not found.
  5. Reference is to Smith’s paper (see Document 68) which was the basis of NSC 10/5 (Document 90).
  6. A handwritten notation in the margin reads, “and peace!”
  7. Not found.
  8. Not found.
  9. See Document 151.
  10. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.