93. Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Research for the USSR and Eastern Europe (Klosson)1


The following chronology appears firm. The Central Committee of the Polish Communist Party convened Friday morning. Soon afterwards a delegation of Soviet party leaders (Khrushchev, Mikoyan, Kaganovich, Molotov) arrived in Warsaw and went to the meeting.2 Discussions between the Russians and members of the Polish Politburo as well as Gomulka began in the late morning and continued until at least late afternoon, if not later. A joint communiqué was broadcast by the Poles at approximately 2:45 a.m. Saturday, and by Moscow an hour later. The communiquéd simply acknowledged that discussions had taken place and that Polish Communist leaders would visit the USSR “shortly” to discuss cooperation between the two countries.3 A Polish delegation, according to the United Press, arrived in Moscow Saturday night. Its composition was not revealed.

There is no confirmation yet for the following reports:

The United Press correspondent in Warsaw reports— [Page 254]

a statement by a lower-rank Polish Communist leader to a mass meeting in Warsaw that the USSR is moving troops into Poland from East Germany;

sitdown strikes by Polish workers in the major cities;

the occupation of Radio Warsaw by “Polish troops loyal to Gomulka”;

the naming of Gomulka as party First Secretary, replacing Ochab.

The French newspaper Le Monde, which has a correspondent in Warsaw, reports that Soviet troops and 800 tanks have moved from East Germany into Poland and that Polish Communist leaders are distributing arms to students and workers.

The Swedish newspaper Expressen, with a correspondent in Warsaw, according to the United Press, said Khrushchev had warned Poles that the USSR would use force to put down any revolt.

Earlier press reports of unusual military activity around Warsaw remain unconfirmed. The main body of the estimated 50,000 Soviet troops in Poland are in Western Poland, roughly 200 miles from Warsaw. Press reports of the participation of Soviet military chiefs in the Soviet delegation are also unconfirmed, and in the case of Marshal Zhukov seem disproved, since he was reported by the Soviet radio to have attended the party for the Japanese in Moscow Friday night.4

According to the Polish radio, the Polish press this morning gave heavy attention to the Central Committee meeting, but carried no commentary on the Soviet visit. The press included:
an editorial that said “the revolutionary intelligentsia and the working class have made it unequivocally clear that they have at their disposal the force necessary to resist the attempts to check the process of democratization, to implement the Polish road to socialism.”
reports that throughout Poland party organizations are holding meetings and adopting resolutions in this spirit.
a resolution by Warsaw University students last night which reaffirmed the Soviet-Polish alliance as the basis for Polish foreign policy, but asserted that “in no event can this alliance be in the way of the maintenance of the sovereignty of every one of the allied countries and their independent selection of ways leading to socialism.”
On the basis of present information, a picture emerges of increased Soviet concern over the trend of developments in Poland, a sudden decision to go to Warsaw, a possibly heated discussion with Polish Communist leaders, an agreement to continue discussions in Moscow presumably on the grounds of permitting the entire Soviet Presidium to participate, the formation of a new party leadership under Gomulka, and a wave of popular reaction in Poland against the USSR. The size and composition of the Soviet delegation obviously [Page 255] underlines the seriousness of Moscow’s concern and, if Yugoslav reports of a split in the Soviet party Presidium are true, marks an effort to display unity of the Soviet leadership before the Poles. Although Bulganin in July in Warsaw5 had criticized the Polish press for becoming the tool of “hostile elements,” Polish newspapers and journals did not revise their line. Soviet and Polish periodicals have since exchanged criticism on literary principles, which spilled over into ideological discussions, but there had been no major Soviet critical comment. The major Polish development during the past week, which may have sparked the Soviet visit, was Gomulka’s attendance at a Politburo meeting on Monday.6
The Russians this morning showed more public concern over events in Poland than at any time previously. Pravda’s despatch from its correspondent in Warsaw, headlined “Anti-Socialist Articles in the Pages of the Polish Press” goes beyond Bulganin’s criticism. Pravda accuses the Polish press of publishing articles that (1) shake the foundations of the people’s democratic system; (2) publicly renounce Lenin and Marx; (3) contain anti-Soviet pronouncements; (4) seek to undermine socialism in Poland and call for restoration of capitalism; (5) “poison the minds of leaders with the imported venom of an ideology alien to the workers.” The text of the Pravda article has apparently not yet been broadcast by Radio Moscow. Only excerpts from press reports are available.
The Soviet decision to go to Warsaw seems a sudden one. According to a Japanese press correspondent in Moscow, the Russians Thursday night7 suddenly proposed the postponement of a signature of the Soviet-Japanese declaration from Friday until Sunday8 on the grounds that Khrushchev, Mikoyan, and Molotov could not be present. The Japanese turned down the proposal.
The Soviet-Polish talks were apparently polemical. The communiqué says that they took place in “friendly outspokenness,” an uncommon Communist description for party-to-party meetings.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 748.00/10–2056. Confidential. This memorandum evaluated the situation in Poland as of 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 20. It was sent to the Secretary by W. Park Armstrong, Jr.
  2. The Eighth Plenum of the PZPR convened on October 19 at 10 a.m. Its first order of business was to elect Wladyslaw Gomulka, Marian Spychalski, Ignacy Loga-Sowiński, and Zenon Kliszko to the Central Committee. Gomulka was also elevated to the position of Party First Secretary. Among those to be dropped was Konstantin Konstantinovich Rokossovskiy, Marshal of the Soviet Union and Marshal of the Polish People’s Republic, Polish Minister of Defense, and Deputy Commander of Warsaw Pact forces. It was to forestall these developments that the Soviet leaders arrived unannounced in Poland. Following discussions at the Belvedere Palace, the Soviet delegation departed and the Polish Central Committee resumed its session.
  3. Translation of the joint communiqué is printed in Zinner, National Communism, p. 197. Gomulka eventually led a delegation to the Soviet Union where talks were held between November 15 and 18.
  4. Japanese Prime Minister Ichiro Hatoyama led a delegation to the Soviet Union for the purpose of normalizing relations.
  5. Bulganin and Zhukov had gone to Poland on July 20 to participate in the celebration of the twelfth anniversary of the liberation of that country from Nazi occupation. Their stay coincided with the Seventh Plenary Session of the PZPR Central Committee.
  6. October 15.
  7. October 18.
  8. October 21.