Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs ( Bonbright ) to the Secretary of State 1
Subject: Proposed Action in Connection with the Closing of Our USIS Activities in Warsaw
At a meeting with Ambassador Flack yesterday (August 8) the Polish Foreign Minister Skrzeszewski requested that the operations of the US Information Service at Warsaw, including distribution of the English and Polish language wireless bulletins, film showings and library activities be terminated as of that day. The only argument advanced for this demand was that these operations “transgressed normal and customary diplomatic functions” and constituted propaganda. Although strong objection was expressed to the policy of the US Information Service, no specific complaints were pressed and Ambassador Flack received the impression that the Minister was carrying out a requirement imposed by Moscow. Since the Minister, however, insisted that this was final on the part of the Polish Government, the Ambassador saw no alternative but to comply and so informed the Minister.2
Although Ambassador Flack reserved all rights for the US Government in this connection, he did not point out that the order could not interfere with the rights of the Embassy to communicate [Page 1504] with other diplomatic missions and could not thus apply to transmission of the wireless bulletin to foreign missions at Warsaw desiring it.
It is believed that appropriate retaliatory action should be taken in response to this move but that stimulation of a great issue with the Polish Government should be avoided lest this lead to a train of action and counter-action creating a situation favorable to a break in diplomatic relations. An appropriate field for counter action might involve the Polish Research and Information Service (PRIS) which is operated by the Polish Government at New York but not as a part of the Consulate General there or the Polish Embassy here. The staff of the PRIS have official (3(1)) visas and PRIS is registered with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Research Act, as amended.
1. That I call in the Polish Ambassador this afternoon if at all possible, and inform him that PRIS must be closed within 24 hours.
2. That the attached press statement be approved for immediate release after my meeting with Ambassador Winiewicz.3
3. That Ambassador Flack be instructed to ask such diplomatic representatives at Warsaw as he considers appropriate whether they wish to continue receiving copies of the wireless bulletin and if so to transmit to them copies without any mention on the masthead of USIS.4
- Drafted by Vedeler (EUR/EE) and concurred in by Cameron (L/A) and apparently Schwinn (P). The source text bears Secretary Acheson’s handwritten endorsement “OK DA”.↩
- Ambassador Flack reported on his August 8 conversation with Skrzeszewski in telegram 138 from Warsaw, August 9. (511.48/8–951)↩
- Regarding Ambassador Winiewicz’ call at the Department on August 9 and the statement issued to the press, see Department of State Wireless Bulletin, August 10, infra.↩
- Instructions for closing down the information program in Poland were transmitted in telegram 57 to Warsaw, August 15. (511.48/8–1551) and subsequent messages in file 124.482.↩