Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge of Polish, Baltic, and Czechoslovak Affairs ( Salter )

Participants: Mr. Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, Polish Peasant Party
Mr. Karol Popiel, Christian Labor Party
Mr. Stanislaw Olszewski, Labor Party
Mr. Stanislaw Wojcik, Peasant Party
Mr. Konrad Sieniewicz, Christian Labor Party
EE—Mr. Salter

Mr. Mikolajczyk, accompanied by the gentlemen listed above, called at the Department late this afternoon to inform us that representatives of three Polish political parties (Peasant Party, Christian Labor Party and Democratic Party) had established, on May 2, 1950, the [Page 348] Polish National Democratic Committee, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. The aims of the new organization as well as a list of its members were supplied in a Declaration which was left by Mr. Mikolajczyk, who at the same time presented a brief letter addressed to the Secretary announcing the formation of the Committee and expressing the hope that the United States Government would acknowledge and support the Committee.

The executive organs of the Committee include a Praesidium and an Executive Board. Mr. Mikolajczyk heads the Praesidium and is an ex-officio member of the Executive Board, which is headed by Mr. Popiel. Membership of both the Praesidium and the Executive Board is limited to five persons. Present membership of the National Democratic Committee totals 35 Polish émigrés, whose residences are in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium and Great Britain. Those members of the Committee not in the United States were consulted by mail about its formation, Mr. Mikolajczyk explained.

The chief aims of the Committee are:

Liberation of Poland from Communist dictatorship
Establishment of a system of true democracy in Poland
Representation of the Polish cause and the interests of the Polish people in the field of international relations
Cooperation with the free representatives of Iron Curtain nations and cooperation in the efforts aimed at the unification of the whole of Europe
Informing free nations about Polish affairs and informing the people in Poland about the aims and achievements of the West in the fight against communist tyranny
Cooperation in bringing help to the Polish people

Background Data

The historical background of the establishment of the National Democratic Committee should be mentioned here. Toward the end of 1948 Mikolajczyk went to Europe in the hope of forming some kind of a Polish National Committee with which American agencies such as the National Committee for Free Europe, Inc., might work. He held extensive conversations with Polish political leaders in Europe and, on November 15, 1948, announced from London the formation of the Alliance of Polish Democratic Parties. Included in this Alliance were the Peasant Party, the Socialist Party, and the Christian Labor Party. Subsequently the numerically small Democratic Party joined the Alliance, but Mikolajczyk was never successful in his efforts to get the influential National Democratic Party of Mr. Bielecki into the fold. In December 1949 the Socialist Party withdrew from the Alliance and joined the National Democrats and the NiD (Democracy and Independence) group in the formation of the Polish Political [Page 349] Council, with headquarters in London.1 At the same time two of the most influential members of the Peasant Party defected and joined the Political Council, which recently set up a Working Body in the United States. It is, therefore, the residual membership of the Alliance of Polish Democratic Parties which has formed the Polish National Democratic Committee.

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General Remarks about Committee and its Program

The Declaration of the three parties composing the National Democratic Committee looks quite good on paper, although it contains some obviously weak points. The main emphasis of the Declaration is on the liberation of Poland from Communist control and the securing to Poland of a truly democratic system. While the three parties strongly affirm their support of the Oder-Neisse frontier, they are less categorical in their views on the Polish territory in the east now under Soviet control. One notable weakness of the Declaration would seem to be its failure to hope, or provide, for cooperation with other exiled Polish political parties and personalities, including the London Polish Government.2 No door apparently is left open for this. It is also highly doubtful that the three parties represent, as claimed in the Declaration, “the decided majority of the Polish nation”.

It remains to be seen what effect, if any, the inclusion of General Modelski3 among the members of the new Committee will have on future developments. It is possible Mikolajczyk may be attacked by his political opponents on this account. Mikolajczyk himself is thoroughly distrusted by large numbers of Polish émigrés and his new association with General Modelski, who was until recently an ostensible servant of the Warsaw Communist government, is hardly calculated to dispel misgivings.

Departments attitude toward new Committee

There are now two organizations of Polish political exiles operating in the United States: (1) the Political Council and (2) the National [Page 350] Democratic Committee. Together, these two groups embrace the historical Polish political parties, a contingent of private or non-political personalities, and a portion of the military element. This crystallization of the exiled Polish democratic forces should be welcomed and encouraged informally. At the same time the desirability, from both the American and Polish viewpoints, of the formation of a single widely-representative organization of Polish émigrés should continue to be stressed in conversations with members of the two existing Polish committees. Such a development among the Poles would be in complete harmony with current United States policy toward political refugees in this country and would make the task of unofficial American agencies capable of helping exiles, including those from Poland, considerably easier. Owing to the failure of the Poles to form one fully representative committee, private American agencies have been forced hitherto to extend aid to Polish émigrés more or less on an individual basis. This policy should be continued for the present in the hope, now somewhat remote, that a consolidation of the two Polish groups set up in the United States might develop. If this should not occur, neither of the two groups should be accorded exclusive privileges or support by the unofficial agencies. Relations might be maintained, however, informally with each group as a body. As the unofficial agencies prepared to increase their activities on behalf of the refugees (broadcasting, for example) the necessity for coordination and cooperation among the Poles will undoubtedly become clearer and more important to them, and it is not impossible that the pressure of such developments will tend to force them to achieve unification—or at least to agree upon a modus operandi with the unofficial agencies.

Fred K. Salter
  1. In December 1949, Polish exile leaders established in London a Polish Political Council to act as a spokesman for various exiled Polish political parties. Representatives in the United States of the Polish Political Council called at the Department of State on March 27, 1950, to inform Department officers of the organization (memorandum of conversation by Salter, March 27, 1950: 611.48/3–2750). Salter discussed the new Council during a conversation with Lord Jellicoe, Second Secretary of the British Embassy, on March 16, 1950. Salter indicated that it was his personal view that the formation of the Council had not contributed substantially to unity among the exiled Polish political leaders. Salter explained that the United States did not favor any particular group of Polish exiles, but encouraged them all to bury their differences and to unite (memorandum by Salter, March 16, 1950: 748.00/3–1650).
  2. A Polish exile group in London claimed the legal continuity of the wartime Polish Government in Exile.
  3. Gen. Izydor Modelski was Military Attaché of the Polish Embassy in the United States until his defection in September 1948.