110. Memorandum of Conversation0

SecDel MC/93


New York, October 3–7, 1960


  • US
    • The Secretary
    • B.E.L. Timmons, Adviser, US Delegation to the UNGA
  • Poland
    • Mr. Wladyslaw Gomulka, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party; Chairman of the Polish Delegation
    • Mr. Jozef Winiewicz, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs
    • Mr. Zbigniew Janczewski, American Section, Ministry of Foreign Affairs


  • U.S.-Polish Relations
[Page 296]

Gomulka (with Janczewski translating) said that this was his first visit to the United States and that he was glad to have this opportunity to exchange opinions with the Secretary.

Turning first to bilateral matters, Gomulka referred to the visit of Vice-President Nixon to Poland and to the lengthy conversation they had had at that time.1 Gomulka then brought up the question of investment credits to Poland from the United States. He said he was sure he did not have to explain Poland’s needs. Credits would create great possibilities of satisfying such needs, and to a certain extent this would have an influence on the improvement of East-West relations. He said he wished to state openly that Poland was a member of the Eastern Bloc and that no credits could ever influence the direction of her foreign policy. Nevertheless, good bilateral relations between the United States and Poland could have “their own beneficial influence” in the direction of reducing international tensions. He went on to say that Poland has no “decisive influence” but “was a country, the voice of which is listened to attentively by the leader of our camp, the Soviet Union. This aspect of the matter should not be underestimated.”

Gomulka then referred to the successful conclusion of P.L. 480 agreement and the claims agreement.2 The two subjects had been “connected”. He then said he wished to raise the question of MFN treatment for Poland.

The Secretary said the United States Government had notified Poland that we wished to postpone for a short while the MFN announcement only because of the forthcoming United States election.3 Otherwise it might become a controversial matter. The announcement will be made in the second week of November.

Gomulka said he had already received word of Kohler’s talks with the Polish Ambassador. The Secretary said the MFN extension was the right thing to do, that we wanted to do it, and we did not wish to complicate it. Gomulka then asked whether the matter could be considered closed, and the Secretary replied in the affirmative.

Returning to the subject of Ex-Im credits, Gomulka said the case was “still open” and asked whether the Secretary would be able to tell him more than the Polish delegation had already been told. The Secretary replied that he was sorry he could not. He said, however, that he would look into the status of the matter and see if there was anything that could be added.

[Page 297]

Gomulka pressed for the Secretary’s personal view, and the Secretary pointed out that loan applications are made direct to the Bank, which is an independent institution. Winiewicz said Poland had an excellent credit record and the Ex-Im Bank shouldn’t hesitate. Gomulka added that “certain firms” in the United States are interested in Poland’s getting credits.

The Secretary said that the United States is strongly in favor of closer economic ties, exchanges of persons, and closer relations with Poland, in the full realization of what Gomulka had said earlier. The United States is not trying to buy a change in Poland’s foreign policy. Gomulka said that, however, the opposite was sometimes suggested in the United States press and on “the so-called Radio Free Europe.”

Gomulka then brought up the subject of Germany. He said that Poland’s attitude had already been expressed in his speech in the UNGA debate.4 Poland understands that German problem is in the whole context of the present international situation and said that the German problem greatly complicates the latter. He wanted the United States to understand how sensitive the Polish people are to the rearming and remilitarization of the German Federal Republic. Poland cannot understand the “official silence maintained by the United States Government on the revisionist claims put forward against Poland by representatives of the GFR.” This matter is the paramount issue in Polish public opinion. There are, Gomulka said, no differences among the Polish people on this score, “however they may assess our system.”

The Secretary reminded Gomulka that the United States had fought two wars against Germany. But now Germany has become a member of NATO, whose sole purpose is collective defense. The United States has opposed and will continue to oppose any independent rearming of Germany or any independent capacity of Germany to wage war. As for the border problem, the United States acknowledges the right of Poland to exercise administrative control in the former German territory. But the United States is opposed to piecemeal solutions of the separate aspects of the German problem. We hope that a solution can be found to the entire relationship of Germany to Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union. We are disturbed, as Poland is, about some statements on the “recovery of lost lands.” But we have absolute assurances from the GFR that it will not attempt to alter borders by force. The United States hopes (and sometimes despairs) that a general agreement will be reached on Germany, Berlin and disarmament. Some may doubt U.S. sincerity, but [Page 298] he wished to assure Gomulka that the United States wants to see these problems settled and settled amicably.

Gomulka said that the weakest point in what the Secretary had said is the claim that Germany does not want any solution except a peaceful one. This cannot be substantiated. The Secretary replied that it is substantiated in our eyes. The U.S. can understand that the Poles may view this matter with some skepticism, but he wished to point out that the GFR has very little independent potential and that there is no support in NATO for adjusting frontiers by force. Gomulka said the GFR has now the strongest armament potential in Western Europe. The Secretary said this was true economically, and Gomulka replied that Germany is already the strongest military power today, with most of France’s forces in Algeria and the UK weak. The Secretary said there are no German forces that are not under NATO. Gomulka said it was true they were under NATO command, but he believed that the country that has the strongest forces has the decisive voice. Poland believes that the GFR is pushing the policy of NATO members toward “encouraging and exciting the cold war.” “The German horse” will drag the Western countries even further than they wish to go. Gomulka said the U.S. arguments could not diminish Polish concern. Poland does not believe Adenauer’s statements. No one believes them and “it is impossible that they could be true.” The problem of frontiers no longer exists; the only problem is that of war or peace.

Gomulka then continued to develop the usual Polish propaganda line by saying that the “most inflammatory” issue was that of West Berlin. The GFR wishes to make West Berlin another factor in the aggravation of international tensions. He said that the GFR embargo on trade with the DDR made clear the GFR motives. The Secretary pointed out that action by the GFR had come only after there had been a considerable number of moves on the other side toward throttling the economy of West Berlin. Gomulka said he did not know of any such moves and the Secretary mentioned the travel restrictions. Gomulka attempted to dismiss this question by saying it was only a matter of “passports”. He said that West Berlin is not part of the GFR but the GFR was nevertheless giving passports to West Berliners. The DDR had to question this. The Secretary said it was obvious this issue could not be settled in the present conversation. He wished, however, to emphasize the strong feeling on the part of the United States Government that certain arrangements had been made and re-affirmed, and that they cannot be unilaterally abrogated. He agreed it was desirable to settle overall German problems as soon as possible.

Gomulka responded that this was also Poland’s ardent desire. Poland has put forth certain specific proposals, and here he mentioned the Rapacki plan but did not develop the subject further. In conclusion, [Page 299] Gomulka said that he had been glad to present to the Secretary the Polish attitude of bilateral relations between their two countries. He believed that there were many forces “in the U.S.” acting for the development of good relations. He was glad and happy over this attitude of “extending relations”, which is also the attitude of Ambassador Beam. Gomulka hoped these efforts would have positive results not only in the Polish but also in the common interest. The Secretary said he appreciated these sentiments and expressed great confidence in Ambassador Beam, saying that he hoped that if there were any matters which Gomulka wished to discuss with the United States he would feel free to do so through Ambassador Beam.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 559, CF 1767. Confidential. Presumably drafted by Timmons and approved in S on October 10. This conversation was held at the U.N. Building. Gomulka arrived in New York on September 16 to head the Polish Delegation.
  2. See Document 74.
  3. See Document 103.
  4. A copy of the memorandum of this conversation between Kohler and Spasowski, October 6, is in Department of State, Central Files, 611.48/10–660.
  5. Gomulka addressed the 874th meeting of the U.N. General Assembly on September 27. For text of the speech, see U.N. Official Records, Plenary Session, 1960, vol. I, pp. 157–165.
  6. In a letter of October 12, Beam thanked Herter for his statement of confidence expressed during Herter’s talk with Gomulka on October 7. A copy of Beam’s letter is attached to a letter from Kohler to Beam, October 27, in Department of State, Central Files, 762.00/10–1260.