The Ambassador in Poland (Flack) to the Department of State1
Warsaw, May 4, 1953—4 p.m.
529. Reference Deptel 167 May 1 repeated Bucharest 174 Moscow 807.2
- Although diet of city families greatly lacking variety and quality and limited by high prices, no evidence of anything approaching near starvation or food shortages so serious as immediately threaten health. Food supplies about same so far as known [Page 58] all parts of Poland. Nothing at this time suggests probability serious shortages later this year.
- Embassy believes regime would violently reject offer such as apparently under consideration not only because of unwillingness to accept distribution through any outside agency, international or otherwise, but because acceptance would indicate regime unable support own people and would run counter basic regime line and socialistic practices. Believe any popular reaction would be controlled by regime propaganda unless acute shortages requiring emergency relief should develop. Regime would make propaganda use of offer by portraying its (in accordance with line taken on Marshall Plan) as effort to dump low grade surplus commodities piled up by “sick” US economy and attempt “bribe” Poland; as proving US knows so little of conditions in Poland as to believe people are starving and using this to discredit general soundness all American propaganda efforts by VOA or otherwise.
- We recognize offers of food items may have considerable propaganda value. The manner in which such offers would be made is particularly important and we suggest that perhaps no one country should be singled out by name. However, so far as Poland is concerned, Embassy recommends project be held in reserve for further consideration if emergency conditions should develop sometime in future. Even at such time consideration would have to be given to fact that in remote contingency offer was accepted, food distribution would serve to strengthen regime insofar as it reduced popular discontent. Moreover, in such case, Embassy questions advisability of supplementing Polish food supply in manner which might permit military stockpiling or diversion Polish food production for general orbit purposes. Believe present system individual gift packages from America most effective type propaganda so far as Polish masses concerned.