No. 747

611.48/3–1951: Despatch

The Ambassador in Poland ( Flack) to the Department of State

No. 539

Ref: Department’s Instruction Dated December 15, 19501

[Page 1493]

Subject: Comments on Revised Policy Statement on Poland Dated November 27, 1950

In compliance with the final paragraph of the Instruction above cited, I furnish below my comments and recommendations with regard to the revised policy statement on Poland of November 27, 1950. I consider the statement to be a most useful document which evidences careful thought and preparation.

Comments and Recommendations

A. Objectives

I am in agreement with the policy objectives as stated, both longrange and immediate. I feel that the presence of the Embassy Chancery situated in a prominent place in Warsaw, on its principal avenue, having as neighbors on this avenue the Chanceries of the diplomatic missions of most of the other great powers of the Western world, is an important aspect of the stated policy of keeping the Polish people aware of our intention of not abandoning them and of our continuing concern for their welfare. For us to be obliged to move our Chancery away from this avenue would be a distinct loss to this aspect.

The presence of a United States diplomatic mission in Warsaw is further accentuated by the constant display of our flag on the Chancery premises on the principal avenue in Warsaw, a practice which other Western powers likewise follow. Our flag is thus displayed for all who pass by to see, and I feel that any change in the location of our Chancery which would necessitate the removal of our flag to a less prominent place in Warsaw would be detrimental to our interests.

Our presence in Warsaw is further demonstrated daily to the Polish people by the display of the United States flag over the entrance of the Ambassador’s residence and on the right fender of the car of the Chief of Mission. The display of the flag, especially on the car, attracts considerable attention and is a constant reminder to Poles in all parts of Warsaw who see it daily that the United States still has a diplomatic representative in their capital. In recent despatches, our Chiefs of Mission at Prague and Budapest (Prague’s despatch to the Department No. 109 dated October 30, 1950,2 and Budapest’s despatch to Department No. 456 dated December 20, 19503) have recorded similar opinions with regard to [Page 1494] the prominent display of our flag in those capitals on our Government buildings and on the automobile of the Chief of Mission. They likewise have recorded their impression that the location of the Chancery in a prominent place in the capital is an important factor, keeping the general public constantly aware of our continued presence.

I feel that the maintenance of our diplomatic mission in Poland is of major importance in our general policy, and, although harassments increase from time to time, I do not feel that such annoyances should be allowed to interfere with the continuance of our mission on its present minimum basis unless it should become impossible for the mission to operate because of inability to communicate by courier, telegraph and mail with the Department.

Concerning our economic policy, I feel, as the Embassy has previously recommended, that the United States might usefully give consideration to assisting neighboring countries to ease their bargaining position, particularly in coal supplies, in the event that Poland’s position as a leading supplier of necessary coal continues to be employed against them as a lever to siphon off strategic materials for eventual Soviet military use.

B. Policies

I am in full agreement with the statement that Soviet controls under which Poland operates have been intensified and are being progressively developed to bring Poland more within the Soviet orbit. Edward Ochab, secretary of the dominant PZPR (Polish United Workers Party) Central Committee, recently stated in a published article (March 14, 1951) that “in the fight (to liquidate the remnants of the old exploiting classes) the moral-political unity of the Polish nation will crystallize during the struggle, just as it has already crystallized in the Soviet Union.” Accordingly, the conclusion drawn by the Department that our policy toward Poland is increasingly viewed as an aspect of United States relations with the Soviet bloc as a whole seems to me well founded and is based on a relationship of increasing Soviet domination of life in Poland.

History has illustrated the fact that the Poles are impulsive and have been quick at times to adopt rash action in their quests for independence or self-assertion. This aspect is now watched and feared by the present Communist leaders of Poland, and they are particularly alert to developments in Korea and elsewhere which favor the Western powers and which consequently might serve to stimulate resistance or diversion within Poland itself. At the same time, continuation of our diplomatic mission here, even under adverse conditions, demonstrates to the Polish public our sympathy for the Polish people, especially since direct contact with unofficial Poles is likely to entail for them arrest, heavy jail sentences or [Page 1495] worse for their personal association with Westerners as well as public charges of espionage against members of foreign missions who have had or who may be suspected of such contacts.

I am in complete agreement with the view that stimulation of overt Polish resistance should be avoided as costly and futile. However, the Polish people in general are believed to cherish as their only hope of regained national independence, the possibility of a world war, following which Poland, with some luck, they think, might again emerge as a completely free and independent state.

I feel that our most effective attempts to encourage nationalist opposition to Soviet domination are to be found in our publicity programs such as VOA and the distribution of the USA Polish language bulletin once a week to all Ministries of the Government here, as well as the furnishing to many officials of the Polish Government the daily news bulletin in English, American newspapers and weekly periodicals, which we have learned are read with avidity even though perhaps rarely with acceptance of our point of view.

I have felt that it is desirable to extend as far as possible my own acquaintance with Polish officials in the Foreign Office and in other Ministries to provide a basis for an exchange of ideas in the facilitating of at least some routine matters. Although my progress has not been great in this regard, it is my intention to continue it assiduously and to employ such contacts, when feasible and without individual antagonism, to make known our viewpoints and to facilitate our operations, including occupation of adequate Chancery quarters in the light of our policy.

Although some former members of the Polish Government, such as Gomulka, have been known for their distrust of Soviet tutelage, such persons are now sharply criticized in public accusations by members of the Government and may, although they are probably not very numerous, at any moment become the objects of sensational trials. In recent months a purge has been going on within official circles to weed out those considered politically unreliable, so that with the passage of time those who have demonstrated any disaffection presumably will be ousted from their official positions, with little remaining chance of earning a livelihood.

The recent elevation of Dr. Stanislaw Skrzeszewski from the position of Undersecretary in the Foreign Office to replace ailing Foreign Minister Zygmunt Modzelewski would appear to increase our opportunities for accessibility to the head of that Ministry, since the new incumbent, though known to be an old Communist, has shown himself affable and accessible in his contacts with me in his former capacity.

[Page 1496]

The noted decline in Embassy contacts with the Polish clergy has continued and at present is practically nonexistent due to the increasing risk involved on the side of the clergy, as expressed by them, and in some instances for necessary precautionary reasons affecting our personnel. However, I agree that assistance to efforts of the Church in its opposition to Communism should be continued in such ways as may be feasible.

The influence of Polish émigrés on the situation in Poland is considered to be practically nil because they are regarded by the postwar populace as having followed the course of least resistance in going abroad and as being unacquainted with and unseasoned by events which have transpired in Poland since their departure. However, they and their organizations may serve to form abroad a focal point for thinking and keeping alive a resistance sentiment outside of the Soviet orbit, which at some future time might become a more fruitful nucleus if the march of events eventually eased or changed the internal situation.

On the question of United States policy toward Germany and the question of re-emergence of a militaristic Germany, Poland is extremely sensitive. This is due not only to Poland’s deep-seated fear of German motives, but also to the bitter experiences which almost every Pole suffered during the German invasion and occupation following the sudden attack by the Nazis in 1939. This feeling is based not only on the loss of relatives, friends and property at the hands of the Germans, but also on personal suffering and imprisonment inflicted by them. These feelings are very fresh in Poland and are daily reminders to its people of many bitter years. There is also a feeling of some gratitude toward the Soviets for having “freed” many Poles from German concentration camps, which in some matters may have diminished historical dislike of the Russians.

Propaganda emanating from Soviet Russia has therefore encountered only too ready seconders in Poland prepared to associate every action by the United States which might bring Germany again into the fold of nations as a gesture of preparation of aggression against Poland. While this propaganda is unceasingly exploited by Moscow, I reiterate that on such fertile soil of fear and hatred against Germany it requires no particular skill; and before coming to Poland, I was informed by a high official in the French Foreign Office that here was one point of foreign policy on which Poland needed no prodding by the Soviets, since her own fear and hatred of the Germans caused her to see eye to eye with the Soviet mind and propaganda on this question.

Although Poland occupies an extremely precarious geographic position between two of continental Europe’s great forces and has been unilaterally recompensed by the Soviets in their declaration [Page 1497] of a revision of Germany’s eastern frontiers in favor of Poland, it is apparent that retention of this territory by Poland depends on Soviet protection and policy. It has been presented to Poland as a final Western boundary, and consequently any propaganda concerning the so-called Oder–Neisse line to the detriment of Poland’s administration would encounter the bitterest natural opposition in Poland. However, should the Soviets at some future time decide to alter their views about the administration of this territory and for their own reasons decide to permit it to revert to Germany, this too would certainly arouse the strongest Polish opposition and perhaps could be accomplished only through the exercise of considerable military force by the Soviets. At the same time, such an aggrandizement of Germany would incite the Poles to old and new apprehensions, which, on historical grounds, would seem to be entirely justified.

Since Poland is bounded by two such powerful forces, her future national and geographical integrity would seem to have their best chances of survival in the protection of a strong United Nations able to safeguard her against either. Unfortunately, at present the United Nations is in strong disfavor in Poland under the tutelage of her master, the archopponent of the United Nations.

C. Relations with Other States

There has been no essential change in Poland’s relations with other states except the recent intensive efforts on Poland’s part to rouse sympathetic reaction in Belgium with regard to Western rearmament and mutual suffering at the hands of the Germans in previous wars. This effort has been highlighted by the recent visit of a group of members of the Polish Sejm (national legislative body) to repay the visit to Poland of Belgian members of Parliament made some three years ago. As a result, allusions have been made in the press to the “revival of the old friendship between both nations and the establishment of new relations in the cultural and economic spheres.” This appears to point to a belief on the part of the Polish Government that Belgium may be a fertile field for propaganda. In any case, it seems to be a major attempt to try to drive a wedge between Belgium and the West.

Another development of international political significance was the holding of the so-called World Peace Congress in Warsaw last November,4 attended by some 1,600 delegates of various nations of the world, including the United States. This Congress, completely dominated by Communism and by Russian influence, created the Communist-dominated World Peace Council, which recently met in [Page 1498] Berlin, and which is an instrument for the dissemination of the Soviet peace propaganda campaign inaugurated by the Stockholm Peace Appeal, innocently signed by prominent people, among others, unaware of its real import.

However, it has become more evident that General Rokossowski’s assumption of his various duties here, including that of Minister of Defense as well as a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party, has indeed given a new impetus to an acceleration of the elimination of nationalistic elements from Party leadership as well as intensifying the drive for collectivization, industrialization, nationalization and the Six-Year Plan in the economic field. Soviet Russia’s interest in the rapid development of industry in predominantly agricultural Poland is demonstrated by its sponsorship of the proposed new steel mill at Katowice, for which Russia is to supply the equipment and which is intended to serve as a beacon of the Polish Six-Year Plan.

Likewise, in the military field increasing Soviet influence is evidenced in the Polish Navy and Air Force, which are believed now to be headed by Russian officers. Furthermore, Russian personnel are believed to be infiltrating to a considerable extent into the ranks of the Polish Army, evidencing once more the apparent Soviet lack of confidence with regard to Poland and its military capacity.

D. Policy Evaluation

Although, as mentioned above, difficulties in connection with the functioning of the diplomatic mission here increase with the passage of time, as yet freedom of movement of foreign diplomats about Poland has not been restricted as in some of the Balkan countries. There has been an increase to some extent in police intimidation of patrons of the USIS library and theater. In dealing with these situations, the Embassy has sought to avoid any situation which would precipitate the necessity for withdrawal of the mission, since we all agree that every endeavor should be made to keep observers in this important area as long as possible. Although the voluntary reduction in staff undertaken in accordance with the Department’s instructions in 1950 has literally pared our activities to the bone, the Embassy does carry out the following functions:

It includes Service Attaches of the Army, Navy and Air Force and their clerical personnel.
It includes the USIS library, theater and information service which distributes material to a worthwhile audience and list of receivers.
It reports on external and internal political developments, including the development of Communist Party philosophy and activity in Poland.
It analyzes and reports on the internal economic situation, as well as Poland’s economic relations with other countries, and the relationship of economic trends in Poland to the system prevailing in the Soviet Union. In particular, special attention has been given to reporting on the international coal situation during the past winter, with recommendations concerning Polish representation in ECE at Geneva, the Embassy’s view being that ECE provides a meeting and contact opportunity with the Polish delegation along with the possibility of obtaining certain useful information therefrom.
In order to enable smooth functioning of the Embassy’s operations, it maintains an effective administrative section, as well as a consular section to deal with consular work.
It maintains official contact with officials in the Polish Foreign Office and to a lesser extent in some other Ministries with regard to routine matters and special cases which require the Embassy’s action.
It also maintains extensive contact with members of the Western diplomatic missions.

In the light of the foregoing, I feel that the reference to the “tendency of relations to become little more than consular establishment” is perhaps too narrow, although I am one of the first to admit that in Poland official contacts and ability to associate on a free and personal basis with the Chief of State and Cabinet officers, as is the case in many American Republics and some other countries, are on a different plane here in Warsaw. However, I have never admitted to myself that this plane is completely circumscribed.

Another loosening in the bond of contact between Poland and the outside world was the departure and closing up of the office which UNICEF had maintained in Poland for a number of years. This was caused, I understand, by the exhaustion of available funds for this purpose. Another event of note was the departure of Mr. Edward Morrow, correspondent for the New York Times, who, after nearly two years in Poland, was unable to obtain a visa for return to Poland to resume his newspaper work here. As far as the Embassy is aware, this refusal was based on the poorly disguised Polish official view that Morrow was not an “objective” reporter and that in some quarters he was even regarded as a spy. To date, Mr. Morrow has not been able to obtain any reversal in the refusal of his visa request, nor, so far as the Embassy is aware, has a successor been appointed in his place to represent the New York Times in Poland.

In the event that movements of Embassy personnel here are restricted, as they have been in Rumania, Hungary and elsewhere, I [Page 1500] recommend most strongly that retaliatory measures be applied immediately to like Polish officials accredited to the United States.

Joseph Flack
  1. The Department of State Policy Statement on Poland, dated November 27, 1950 ( Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iv, p. 1040) was transmitted to the Embassy in Warsaw under cover of an instruction of December 15, 1950.
  2. Not printed.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iv, p. 1022.
  4. Regarding this congress, see telegram 1082, November 24, 1950, Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iv, p. 331.