74. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Conversation Between Gomulka and Vice President


  • Poland
    • W. Gomulka, First Secretary, Polish United Workers’ Party
    • J. Cyrankiewicz, Prime Minister of Poland
    • A. Rapacki, Minister of Foreign Affairs
    • J. Winiewicz, Deputy Foreign Minister
    • Z. Janczawski, Interpreter, Polish Foreign Office
  • United States
    • The Vice President
    • Dr. Milton Eisenhower
    • Jacob D. Beam, American Ambassador
    • Foy D. Kohler, Deputy Assistant Secretary
    • Edmund Glenn, Interpreter

Following introductions and greetings, and press photographs, Mr. Gomulka, who presided on the Polish side of the table, welcomed the Vice President to Poland. He said the Polish leaders had been happy in 1957 when they had learned of the Vice President’s desire to visit Poland and were glad that the occasion had now arrived for the realization of this event, though only too briefly. He hoped the meeting would give an opportunity for a broad exchange of views on both Polish-American relations and broader international questions.

First, however, Mr. Gomulka felt it necessary to deal with a certain fact which the Poles had found rather strange and rather unpleasant. The Polish leadership had been taken aback by the recent Congressional resolution and by the President’s proclamation based thereon establishing the “Week of the Captive Nations.”1 They had been especially astonished that this proclamation was issued on the eve of the Vice President’s visit. It was bound to cast a shadow on Polish-American relations which had recently been developing in a satisfactory way.

Mr. Gomulka said he must ask the Vice President how he explained this event. Did the Vice President consider the Polish leaders on the other side of the table as representatives of an enslaved nation or of the [Page 193] Polish people? If the Vice President saw them as captives, or perhaps as those who were keeping the Polish nation in bondage, then it would be hard to find a common language for the talks. If the Polish Sejm should have passed a resolution calling for the abolition of capitalism, how would the Vice President feel about the situation?

Mr. Gomulka then went on to say that he did not want to attach undue importance to the resolution and proclamation. The Polish leadership has tried to understand what might be the motivation, and, of course, considered that it might be a matter related to U.S. domestic politics, that is, related to the views and pressures of minority elements of the U.S. population. In any event, he would be glad to see and hear the Vice President’s elucidation.

The Vice President: The Vice President said that Mr. Gomulka had referred to the fact that the U.S. population contained many citizens originating from other countries. Our population is very diverse. For example, we count our American citizens of Polish background at something over 6 million persons. As Mr. Gomulka has also noted we do have in the U.S. and Poland different political and economic systems. In the captive nations resolution, the Congress was expressing views held by substantial groups of the U.S. population. These are views that have been held over a very long period and the resolution represented this long-held opinion of many citizens that the governments of their countries of origin did not represent the expressed will of the people of these countries.

The Vice President went on to say that he wanted to make this question clear from a practical point of view. The U.S. Congress passes resolutions as and when it decides to do so. This was not a case in which the President had sought the passage of the resolution. He also wanted to make it clear that the U.S. Government respects the right of each and every country to have the political and economic systems it wants. Perhaps the best example of this is the current relationship between the U.S. and the Polish People’s Republic. We believe that it is essential to develop exchanges of persons and to expand trade and economic activities. Under no circumstances will the Government of the United States attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of the Polish People’s Republic.

It must also be borne in mind, he continued, that we are constantly faced with many statements to the effect that the U.S. will not maintain its present system, but will turn communistic. We do not object to such statements since we believe that their authors are entitled to express their opinions. However, as a principal basis for our relationship we must recognize that despite our different systems our two countries can and should work together. The very purpose of this visit is to explore ways in which it might be possible to increase exchanges and contacts [Page 194] between the two countries, which have already been developing in a constructive way, particularly within the last two years. He thought it would be possible to do this without having the illusion that we will convert each other to the other’s system. He wanted to assure Mr. Gomulka that the President wanted this visit to be constructive and that he had come here in that spirit.

Mr. Gomulka: Mr. Gomulka said that he entirely agreed with many elements of the Vice President’s statement. He noted with particular satisfaction the Vice President’s assurance that he came here in the spirit of cooperation; also that the United States would not interfere in Poland’s internal affairs. Unfortunately, he must say, in the latter connection, that the resolution and proclamation were themselves expressive of a form of interference in internal affairs. He did not want to pass judgment on the opinions of Americans of Eastern European origin. If those opinions were as expressed in the resolution, this only proved that they were badly misinformed. He recognized that perhaps the U.S. Government should not be held responsible for the press treatment afforded the new Poland in the United States. In earlier years, Poles had emigrated on account of poverty. This was no longer the case. At present Poland needs more people to do the work. In fact, if the resolution had emanated from some kind of Polish-American society, this would be understandable, but it had been passed by the United States Congress. What would be the reaction in the U.S. if the Polish Sejm had passed a resolution calling for the U.S. to adopt communism?

The Vice President: The Vice President said that the leaders of the communist parties were constantly saying worse things than were contained in this resolution with respect to the United States, calling us colonialists, capitalists, imperialists and the like. He repeated that we did not mind such expressions of opinion, although they show a great lack of understanding of the U.S.; in particular there is very little in common between the conditions which prevailed in Poland before the war and American people’s capitalism. In any case, he had already been glad to learn in the few hours he had been in Poland that conditions in the fields of agriculture, education, religion and the like were different from the ideas regarding these conditions held by many persons in the United States.

He wanted to say to Mr. Gomulka that he (Gomulka) had many admirers in the United States, including some members of the group on the American side of the table, for what he had done for Poland and for the Polish patriotism he had demonstrated. He was glad that Gomulka had brought this subject up for a frank discussion at the outset because it was unpleasant and indicative of the fact that some basic differences do exist. However, he wanted to believe that they could talk effectively despite [Page 195] these differences about cooperation. A basis was provided by the great affection felt in the United States for Poland and the Polish people.

Mr. Gomulka: Said he would like to conclude the discussion of this subject. He knew of no similar official action in any of the socialist countries which called for a change of government in the United States and went beyond the bounds of an ideological discussion. The Poles were very sensitive on the question of their independence because of their historical sacrifices for attaining it. This Congressional resolution and the President’s Proclamation were official and in effect could only be interpreted by the Poles as a call for the overthrow of their present government. However, he would repeat that he did not want to exaggerate the importance of this matter. He thought perhaps it would not provoke too much reaction either in Poland or in the United States.

The Vice President: Said Mr. Gomulka had put his fingers on an essential point. It might be that there had been no declaration passed by the Sejm with respect to the U.S. political system. However there was the Moscow Declaration of the twelve Communist parties in 1957 which Mr. Gomulka signed and which called for the overthrow of capitalist system everywhere throughout the world.2 (Gomulka demurred) The Vice President considered that these declarations represented a clash of opinions but not a call for action on either side.

Mr. Gomulka: Said that if the U.S. Resolution had been issued by the Republican Party then this would be more understandable in the Vice President’s sense.

The Vice President: Observed that the Communist Party is a lot stronger in Poland than is the Republican Party in the U.S.

Mr. Gomulka: Resumed saying that the resolution was passed by both parties in the American Congress and without any discussion. In the Polish Sejm there always is some discussion and dissent.

The Vice President: Said he thought this was a problem which could not be settled at the present discussion. He respected Gomulka for the position he had taken. If he were sitting on the other side of the table he would probably be saying the same things. However, he hoped we could go on to talk about constructive proposals. If so, we could perhaps eventually reduce the chance that there would be a repetition of such discussions in the future.

Mr. Rapacki: Said he wanted to make a marginal remark. The Vice President had referred to the Polish Americans. They were American citizens. From the Polish Government’s point of view he would hope that this element would contribute to good relations rather than to impairment of relations.

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The Vice President: Felt that exchanges of persons would lead to extension in the area of understanding and in consequence that the day might well come when this would be the case. He pointed out that, as Mr. Gomulka knew, he had a reputation as a defender of our economic system as against the Communist system. However, he had been one of the first to urge that U.S. aid be extended to Poland and he did so even before a decision was reached on this subject. As to the Polish Americans a majority of them had responded favorably to this speech3 even at the time and supported the policy. He thought this showed that peoples with different systems could find areas of cooperation. In fact he had agreed to the same proposition with Soviet Prime Minister Khrushchev only a week ago.4

Mr. Gomulka: Wanted to say a few words about visits of Polish Americans to the Polish homeland. The Polish Government placed no obstacles on such visits. On the contrary they were quite happy about them and felt that both for Poland and for the system they were good. Many of the returnees had visited the places in Poland they had left perhaps thirty years ago. When they had compared the conditions they left with those they found now, they had invariably been astonished at the improvement which had taken place. In the light of this he could not understand the series of U.S. press articles on the bad conditions alleged to prevail in Poland. Clearly the U.S. needed to know much more about today’s Poland. The Poles used to emigrate because of poverty, looking for bread. For example, on the paternal side there were more members of his own family in the U.S. than in Poland. Indeed, some of his closest relatives lived in the U.S. Today there is bread and employment for all in Poland. The people who were leaving old Poland were its best elements. Now the best people are staying. This is at least one fact demonstrating the superiority of the socialist system.

Mr. Gomulka now wanted to turn to more concrete discussions of differences in the ideological field and also with respect to international issues. He had been glad to hear the Vice President speak of his agreement with “our good friend Khrushchev”. Such agreement was absolutely necessary. The different systems must be able to coexist and to cooperate. As to bilateral relations, the Polish Government had welcomed their improvement and wanted them to become even better. As to what he had said personally and what the Polish press had said, he did not feel that we had cause for complaint. In fact the Polish leaders at [Page 197] times remained silent when they should have answered attacks from the West.

The Vice President: Said he had read the Trybuna Ludu editorial of yesterday with respect to his own visit and he wished to say he had found it very fair.

Mr. Gomulka: Pointed out that the Trybuna Ludu editorial represented Polish policy with regard to all states whether socialist or capitalist. The policy of all the other socialist countries is similar. However some things they might be compelled to answer in future, for example, the article in the New York Times reporting and commenting on the Vice President’s visit to Warsaw.5

The Vice President: (After consultation on the American side) Said we were not aware of the article Mr. Gomulka was talking about. He could say that we had a free press and might observe that toward him personally the New York Times was usually more unfavorable than favorable.

Mr. Cyrankiewicz: Interjected that the New York Times article was in fact provocative.

Dr. Eisenhower: Stressed that the U.S. Government has no control over the American press.

Mr. Cyrankiewicz: Resumed saying that the article molds U.S. public opinion in the spirit of cold war. The article in fact claimed that the Polish people’s reception of the Vice President constituted a demonstration against the Polish Government, whereas it was only an example of the traditional hospitality of the Polish people.

The Vice President: Said he wanted to make it clear that he considered the warm reception accorded him purely a demonstration of the real friendship between Polish and American peoples and would certainly say so to the press whenever asked. He would also say that the Trybuna Ludu article had in his mind actually contributed to the warmth of that reception.

Mr. Gomulka: Summarized by saying that to this point in the discussion, it could be said that we had agreed on the need for cooperation between the two countries. Now he would raise some questions on which we might differ.

The Vice President: Welcomed such discussions, pointing out that both Mr. Gomulka and himself had a reputation for being frank and straightforward.

Mr. Gomulka: Warned that he was not a good diplomat.

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The Vice President: Rejoined that he was not either. He liked to put the cards on the table.

Mr. Gomulka: Said that the principal difference between Poland and the U.S. is the U.S. policy on German rearmament.

Throughout history the Polish-German relationship has been featured by repeated German aggression. Especially in World War II Poland had paid dearly for the independence it enjoys today. No other nation had suffered such losses. Two hundred and twenty-two out of every thousand, or 22 per cent of the entire population, had lost their lives. Economic losses had been on a relative scale and much heavier than those suffered by any other German victim. Over 38 per cent of Poland’s entire national wealth had been destroyed, which could be conservatively evaluated at a cost of over 50 billion dollars in pre-war U.S. dollars. Yesterday the Vice President in his arrival address had referred to the Warsaw Uprising against the German occupiers fifteen years ago; this alone had cost over 200,000 lives. The Poles were especially sensitive on this question and must judge other countries’ foreign policies from this standpoint. The West German leaders did not hide their purpose of undertaking armed aggression against Poland. Consequently the Poles could only be worried about a U.S. policy of supporting and contributing to German rearmament. Despite our traditional friendship, if a plebiscite could be held tomorrow, the Polish people would vote unanimously to condemn this U.S. policy. The German question was the main obstacle between the two countries.

He would talk on another and related question, that of the western borders of Poland. The Potsdam Agreement dealt with this question in a preliminary way, though naturally that conference had not finalized the decision and was not in a position to do so.6 This was to be left for the German peace treaty. Now, however, fourteen years have passed and there is still no peace treaty. It was the official policy of the Western German Government not only not to accept but actually to seek a change in the Polish-German frontiers. This was indicated by statements by Chancellor Adenauer himself and by the German Minister of Refugee Affairs Oberlander, as well as by repeated demonstrations, declarations—such as a convention of the so-called “Silesians”—and the like. In the face of this, the U.S. position had been one of silence, neither approving nor rejecting the Potsdam frontier but leaving the decision for a peace conference. This policy encourages the West German militarists. The Polish Government considers that it would be a useful contribution, both to peace and to the improvement of relations, if the United States would [Page 199] confirm the frontier as “final,” as had General De Gaulle.7 Such action would not change the legal situation with respect to a final peace treaty but it would clarify the political situation. He wanted to make it clear that there was no possibility of any change in the existing border except by war. Demands for a change in the frontier were equivalent for a demand for war. Any talk of a possibility of changing these borders by peaceful means is a lie. He raised the question not because of Polish lack of confidence in a permanence of stability of the Polish-West German border, which were guaranteed by Polish alliances and by Poland’s own military strength, but because such an agreement on the part of the United States would be received with real approval by Polish public opinion, and be in the best interests of peace and of the United States.

The Vice President: (When Mr. Gomulka started to go on to other questions) Suggested that he might rather comment on the questions raised so far. He wanted to point out that the United States and Poland had twice been allies in wars against the Germans. He fully appreciated that the Poles had suffered more than had we; this, however, does not mean that we have no understanding of Poland’s suffering. He had heard a graphic account from President Eisenhower about the devastation he had seen when he visited Warsaw in 1945.8 He realized that we had different points of view with respect to this question. He wanted to state the U.S. position and the reasons therefor. First, we believe that today’s Western Germany is a really new Germany. He had entertained Chancellor Adenauer in his own home only a month ago.9 The Chancellor had spoken as eloquently as anyone he had ever heard with respect to the necessity of taking measures to prevent aggression and to ensure peace. With respect to German rearmament, the important factor is that Germany is an integrated part of Europe and thus comes under the control of the European community. The greatest danger to peace was that if Germany continued to be divided and were to be separated from the rest of Europe, a German leader would arise in one part or the other who would seek to reunite the two parts at any cost. Surely Mr. Gomulka realizes that the United States has never been and will never be an aggressor. Today the United States is strong and has a series of collective defense agreements. These arrangements, he wanted to emphasize, however, are only for defense. Why do we have them? He would cite a few of the reasons. They included the Berlin blockade, the war in Korea [Page 200] and consistently repeated threatening statements of aggressive intent from the Communist leaders.

The Vice President continued that the United States Government and the American people are dedicated to the cause of peace. He would repeat that we have never committed aggression. We will never do so and will never allow any of our allies to do so. We have the power to control the situation. If in the future a different government should arise in Germany which committed aggression against Poland he could assure Mr. Gomulka that the first to come to the aid of Poland would be the United States. He then in this connection recited the Suez crisis in which America’s closest allies, England and France, had undertaken aggressive action against a power which had not been very friendly toward the United States. Despite this, we had strongly and effectively opposed the action. In summary, he felt that our policy was the best way of maintaining peace. It was essential to keep Germany inside the European community where it would be subject to the influence of the European states and the restraint of the “enormous power” of the United States.

The Vice President then said that on the question of Polish-Western frontiers he would like to call on Mr. Kohler for a statement of the official United States policy, then he would add a practical observation of his own.

Mr. Kohler: Pointed out that in the Potsdam Agreement the United States had recognized the right of Poland to occupy and administer the Western Territories. There had been no change in this policy. The United States was not challenging Poland’s continued exercise of these rights of occupation and administration. In our view, however, the peaceful solution of the all-German problem was so overwhelmingly important for the security of all of us and for the peace of the world that we had been and continued to be unwilling to engage in partial and piecemeal settlements of separate aspects of the problem. While we recognized the importance of the border problem to the Poles and their very particular interest in it, it was only one element of the larger whole. In a sense, the Geneva Conference10 right now was grappling with the German problem and here, too, we were opposing partial solutions. However, we wanted to assure Mr. Gomulka that his presentation of Polish views on the border problem would receive the careful and sympathetic attention of the U.S. Government.

The Vice President: Said he would comment on the practical problem involved. He said he asked about the population in the Western Territories [Page 201] and understood that there were about 7 million Poles residing in the area, many of whom had now been born in these provinces. He also asked how many Germans lived there, to which Mr. Gomulka answered that there were a few thousand at most. He said that the sympathetic attitude which had been expressed by Mr. Kohler certainly took into account this fact. Naturally, this would be a major consideration in connection with an all-German settlement.

Mr. Gomulka: Interjected, however, this part of a German settlement is not negotiable.

The Vice President: Continued, “from a legal point of view—”

Mr. Gomulka: Interrupted to say that it was not a legal but a political problem. He said the Poles understood the legal aspect of the matter and knew that the final decision must be confirmed in a peace treaty. However, what the Poles are interested in now is political action along the lines of the De Gaulle statement. In this connection he wished to stress the favorable reaction which had been created in Poland by even such a small thing as the fact that the map providing the background for President Eisenhower’s recent television address had shown the Western Territories as a part of Poland.11

The Vice President: Said he should again make clear at this point that under his constitutional position as Vice President of the United States he does not originate foreign policy nor does he engage in negotiations. He would report fully to the President and to the Secretary of State the views expressed by Mr. Gomulka on this subject. Obviously, as a practical man he would cite the facts regarding the population of the Territories. He would say that Mr. Gomulka had made a stronger case for Poland than he had ever heard before. He had not previously fully understood Polish anxiety and desire for moral support of their position as distinct from their desire for eventual legal commitment and confirmation of Polish possession of the area.

Mr. Gomulka: Replied that, as the Vice President had recognized, we have differences of view on the German problem. The United States sees integration of Germany in Europe as the solution, while the Poles believe that the German militarists will find ways to influence the policies of other European states. In doing so, they will take advantage of opportunities presented by the lack of clarity of U.S. policy on the Polish-German frontier. He was very happy to take note of the Vice President’s statement that the U.S. would be the first to act in the event of German aggression. He was also very happy to note the Vice President’s [Page 202] recognition of the Polish desire for moral support and of the importance of the facts with respect to population. Whichever of the two manners of preventing the danger of a resurgence of German militarism is contemplated, such moral support is not inconsistent with it.

The Vice President: Stressed again that this was a decision which could only be made by the President but repeated his assurance that Mr. Gomulka’s persuasive remarks would be reported directly to the President by him, and by Dr. Eisenhower as well.

Mr. Gomulka: Said the Poles had not expected and would ask for no more than this. He repeated that they greeted with great satisfaction the Vice President’s statement and Mr. Kohler’s assurances that their views would be given consideration.

The Vice President: Returned to the general subject of Germany and asked whether Mr. Gomulka did not see great danger in formalizing the division of Germany. In this connection he compared the historic partitions of Poland.

Mr. Gomulka: Said this was a frank and straightforward conversation. He therefore wanted to outline Poland’s general position. The Poles recognized the right of each people to live in one national unit. However, the facts must be recognized. There are now two German states. The West and Adenauer contemplated that Germany would be reunited by the disappearance of the German Democratic Republic. If the process were peaceful, Poland could not oppose it. However, the Poles would be very unhappy to see something which would amount to an extension of the Adenauer policy to all of Germany. Mr. Gomulka did not consider that the comparison of the division of Germany with the partitions of Poland was an accurate parallel. Poland had just completely disappeared as the result of partitions. The Americans and the Poles might disagree as to who is responsible for the present division of Germany, but it is a historic fact that there are two German states. He believed that some day the two would be combined. However, the conditions under which this could happen were not presently foreseeable and it was hardly useful to discuss the question at present. Reiterating that we were talking frankly and in private discussion, he stressed his view that no one wanted German reunification at the present time—neither France, nor the UK, as it would be against their economic and their national interests, nor even Adenauer. Consequently, we would have to see what the future would bring.

Mr. Rapacki: Intervened saying he wanted to cite two statements to demonstrate why it would not be in Polish interest to support an agreement for reunification. The first was a statement made by the GFR Minister of All German Affairs in January, 1958, to the effect that the question of German borders should not be raised before the reunification [Page 203] of the country took place;12 after reunification it would be up to the German Government then in power to put forth German territorial claims. The second statement issued somewhat later from Adenauer, who thus backed his Minister, and was to the effect that the world has not yet arrived at the stage where it is possible to put the question of the East German border on the agenda.13 Such statements as these must guide Polish policy and were the justification for that policy. German reunification could only be looked on favorably by Poland if it took place under conditions which constituted no danger to Poland or to world peace. (The Vice President interjected that he agreed with this latter statement.) Mr. Rapacki continued, stressing that in the view of the Poles the present situation on the borders could not be changed by force since this would risk world conflict. There are two German states. Reunification of these two states would be possible only by means of an understanding between the two. But how can such different political and economic systems and different foreign policies be reconciled? It might be possible that steps be taken to increase cooperation in certain limited fields but it was inconceivable that there could be an agreed harmonization of general policy. In any case, he would emphasize again that no one wants German reunification at the present time. It is inevitable and necessary that there be a long period during which tensions are relaxed and a new climate created in the world. Then, perhaps, there would be possibilities of peaceful reunification.

Mr. Gomulka: Intervened to say that Polish leaders are trying to make their contribution to the relaxation of tensions, of which Mr. Rapacki had spoken, particularly by their proposals for an atom-free zone in Europe.14

Mr. Cyrankiewicz: Wanted to add a point. The West and particularly Adenauer’s Germany considered that reunification would amount to the absorption by West Germany of the GDR. This is impossible. Moreover, no one in Poland wants Adenauer and Strauss to be poised on the Polish border.

The Vice President: Said that he had noted that Mr. Gomulka supported Khrushchev’s proposal contemplating a separate peace treaty with the GDR. He supposed this meant the Poles considered that there was no danger to Poland from Eastern Germany. He repeated that we recognize that there are difficult problems for the Poles and fundamental [Page 204] differences in our views on the German problem. He wanted to stress again, however, that in our view the only safe solution is the peaceful reunification of Germany and its integration in Western Europe under the influence and restraint of the great power of the United States. Who would control the Germans if they were to be reunited on their own?

Mr. Cyrankiewicz and Mr. Winiewicz: Both intervened at this point to ask: “Why not join our power with that of the USSR to insure against any revival of German militarism? Why should not the wartime alliance of the Great Powers be restored for this purpose?”

Mr. Gomulka: Replied to the Vice President’s question with regard to Polish support of Khrushchev’s proposal for a separate peace treaty with the GDR, saying that such a proposal as described by the Vice President was not known to them. It was true that a draft peace treaty, with respect to which Poland had been consulted, had been presented by the USSR. However, it was contemplated that this peace treaty would be concluded with both German states and that a separate treaty would be concluded with the GDR only as a last resort, if this were impossible. If the U.S. continued to insist that there could be a peace treaty only after the reunification of Germany, this amounted to perpetuating the present situation in which there was no peace. Reunification of Germany was not presently feasible. The Poles did not want to think that only a separate peace treaty with the GDR would be possible. They wanted a peace treaty with both German states. Moreover, they believed that the problem could be solved if there were good will on both sides. Of course, he added, this is basically a problem between the United States and the USSR.

The Vice President: Asked Mr. Gomulka whether he considered this two Great Power situation bad or good.

Mr. Gomulka: Replied that it was simply “a historical fact.”

The Vice President: Reiterated he would like to know whether Mr. Gomulka regarded the fact as good or not. Should not Poland be consulted?

Mr. Gomulka: Replied that this was an academic question and that he was not an academician.

Mr. Rapacki: Intervened to say that of course the small states should and do have influence. That is the reason why he has undertaken to be the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Poland. Obviously, their role is a lesser one. The Poles are, of course, consulted (impliedly by the USSR). However, it would have been better if they had been allowed to take part in the Geneva Conference.

Mr. Cyrankiewicz: Said that the Poles had wanted to participate in the Conference and, indeed, had been invited to do so by the USSR.

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Mr. Gomulka: Repeated that it was his strongly held opinion that the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. must reach an understanding. He saw no other way out of the world’s difficulties. Such an understanding would be in the interest of all the small countries, as well as in the interest of the U.S. and of the entire world. He said that he was very close to Mr. Khrushchev and he was convinced that Mr. Khrushchev was sincere in his desire for peace.

The Vice President: Said that he would take this opportunity to convey to Mr. Gomulka, on the authorization of President Eisenhower, the information that following some exchange of correspondence, the President would announce later today that Mr. Khrushchev would visit the U.S. next month, probably about September 15.15 He asked Mr. Gomulka if he considered such a visit a good idea.

Mr. Gomulka: Replied that there was no better idea. The only improvement which could be added would be a return visit by the President of the U.S.A. to the USSR.

The Vice President: Said that he could inform Mr. Gomulka that such a return visit was contemplated, though of course this was a question for the President as to when and how. He wished to return to the subject of Germany. He agreed with Mr. Gomulka that German reunification was bound to take place. The question was how best to arrange for reunification under conditions insuring security protection for Poland and for the U.S. and for everyone else. The U.S. believed that reunification was better and safer under conditions of Four Power responsibility than if a separate treaty should be concluded with two German states which would then be free to bring about reunification in their own way. He wanted to stress the sincerity and firmness of our views on this question. It would be most unfortunate if unilateral action were taken in this matter which led to a situation in which a German leader might arise on one side or the other who would attempt to bring about reunification at any cost. This bluntly was the U.S. position.

Mr. Gomulka: Thanked the Vice President for the information with respect to Mr. Khrushchev’s visit and asked whether the U.S. had informed its allies.

The Vice President: Said that he had been somewhat out of touch with developments during his travels but he assumed we had done so as it was our usual practice to be in touch with our allies on such questions.

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Mr. Gomulka: Then said that the Poles had been informed by the Soviet Government.

The Vice President: Said there was a point he wanted to add to this discussion. President Eisenhower feels basically that the concept of two Great Powers settling the affairs of the world is an unhealthy one. The Khrushchev visit will not be for the purpose of negotiating settlements but will be intended as conversations to clarify and define the issues. He wanted to make it clear that in seeking solutions of world problems it was the intention of President Eisenhower to work closely with the U.S. allies.

Mr. Gomulka: Wanted to reply to another question asked by the Vice President. He said the Poles saw no danger to them from East Germany. A treaty had been concluded with the East Germans some eight or nine years ago recognizing Poland’s Western borders.16 Moreover, the East Germans were sincerely fulfilling their responsibilities in this regard by re-educating the people of East Germany on this subject in order to eliminate revanchist tendencies. If West Germany would do the same, then it would become possible to have diplomatic relations and a generally improved situation between Poland and the GFR.

Mr. Gomulka continued, saying that he considered that it had been very useful to discuss these general questions. Now he wished to turn to bilateral matters. Poland is indebted to the U.S. to the extent of something like 250 million dollars. (There was some discussion among the Poles as to the precise figure.) All this debt had been accumulated since World War II. For Poland the sum was relatively high. It was nice to be able to borrow but Poland must think about the question of repayment. It would be necessary that Poland be enabled to do this under the best economic conditions because of the limitations of Poland’s capacity to repay otherwise than by trade with the U.S. This last is difficult, particularly since its exports were restricted by the lack of most-favored-nation treatment. Poland needed goods from the U.S. but fully realized that in order to buy it must be able to sell. The Polish Government is now paying around 6 million dollars per year to the U.S. on all U.S. loan accounts. This did not seem like a large figure but it was an important one for Poland, particularly since the absence of MFN treatment puts a ceiling on Polish exports. The Poles would hope for restoration of MFN treatment and the development of broader trade exchanges.

Mr. Gomulka then said there were some questions in the minds of the Poles related to this matter of loans. The Poles needed and wanted more credits but it had been suggested that there was the question of a [Page 207] link between this and the settlement of the nationalization claims. Was this true or not? Moreover, the Poles had felt that they were held on a leash with respect to credits. The uncertainty relating to a possible tie-in and, consequently, to the possibility of future loans, makes planning difficult. So far these credits had covered many consumption items, mainly in the form of surplus agricultural products under US PL 480. These were useful and enabled the Poles to spend money for other things. However, they would like to move into the field of investment. He would like to have clarification of these matters but wanted to repeat that the Poles did not want to incur a debt they could not repay.

The Vice President: After repeating that he was not here for the purpose of negotiating, said he would be glad to give Mr. Gomulka a statement of our general policy. The U.S. desires to normalize its over-all relationship with Poland, including the economic relationship. He thought Mr. Gomulka appreciated from his own experience and from observing our practice everywhere that it was our policy not to tie our loans and aid to political conditions.

Mr. Gomulka: Interjected that this was true as respects the U.S. Government but did not seem to be true as respects the American press.

The Vice President: Replied that, as he had said to Khrushchev, it was necessary to know how the American press operates. Specifically, the Vice President continued, we make no official link between the question of further loans and that of the settlement of the nationalization claims. However, Mr. Gomulka must appreciate that we have a practical problem. The Administration had to go before the Congress for appropriations to enable it to make loans. A better climate would certainly be created in Congress by the settlement of the claims; our chances would be improved for securing appropriations for further loans. He did not want to suggest that our future economic relationship depended on the claims settlement or that he wanted to drive a hard bargain. He would repeat, however, that such problems as the claims constituted a continuing irritation in the relationship and he felt it advisable that they be settled quickly. He would ask the Ambassador to amplify his remarks on this question.

Ambassador Beam: Said the claims negotiations are now going on. He wanted to point out with respect to the 25 million dollar export figure Mr. Gomulka had cited, nearly 23 million dollars of this has been in Polish hams. The U.S. had suggested that the Poles make an effort to diversify their exports to the U.S. and in that connection the U.S. had brought over two trade missions to consult and advise the Poles.17 The [Page 208] U.S. knows that the Poles have a good reputation for repayment and want to pay and it was our purpose to try to make the conditions as easy as possible. However, it was necessary to consider the overall picture of the economic relationship. Beginning in 1962, the Poles would be faced with a very heavy repayment schedule. Consequently, with respect to all further credits, the balance of payments situation was very important. He recognized that the question of MFN treatment was a factor. Settlement of the nationalization claims was also a factor. He hoped that we could soon get a just agreement on this latter which would be fair to the U.S. claimants and within the capacity of payment of Poland. We now seemed, however, very far apart. He thought there was some misunderstanding as respects the basis for a fair evaluation of the claims. The U.S. had put forward initially the figure of 125 million dollars which had now been reduced to 75 million dollars. The Poles had initially offered 20 million dollars and had now raised this figure to 24/25 million dollars. Negotiations are continuing and if agreement can be reached the situation will clarify since the question of claims is a part of the overall, long-term economic picture. Settlement of the claims would open up new credit possibilities, not only from the U.S. Government but from other sources as well, and provide a much broader base for the economic and financial relationship.

The Vice President: Wanted to add to the Ambassador’s statement by reiterating that we desire to normalize economic relations. While he would repeat that we are posing no conditions we must all realize that the claims question is a part of the whole broad picture. If both sides approach the question with good will and a sincere desire to reach agreement, this would certainly be possible.

Mr. Gomulka: Agreed that good will should prevail on both sides but pointed out that the U.S. was in the happy position of being able to offer, whereas the Poles were in the onerous situation of having to ask.

The Vice President: Said it should be realized that there was some real resistance in the U.S. on the question of foreign loans and aid. This was not directed toward Poland but against the general policy for loans and aid. Such opposition was reflected in the Congress and the President had to go to the Congress for his appropriations, as he had pointed out earlier today. The U.S. wants the Poles to help in settling these problems which stir opposition among our people and in the Congress.

Mr. Gomulka: Said he was not familiar with the details of the claims negotiations. However, he wanted to say that the Poles would follow the same policy with respect to U.S. claims that it had with respect to others already settled. It had been a basic principle that Poland could and would pay such claims only in terms of its exports, which in fact constituted the only possibility of payment it had. This was the principle which had been applied in the settlements with the U.K., France and [Page 209] others. He repeated that he did not know the details, but said there was a big difference between the two positions and the U.S. claims as presented had been highly exaggerated as to value.

The Vice President: Repeated that if there were good will, the problem certainly would be settled. However, both sides must give a little and most of the give had so far been on our side.

Mr. Gomulka: (Becoming rather emotional and talking rapidly and heatedly) Said the Poles want an early solution of this question. They had first sought a settlement in 1947, then later in 1957 and had been prepared to negotiate actively during the past two years. He understood that a settlement would help though the U.S. was not specifically imposing conditions on the settlement. However, the settlement must be just and fair. He must repeat that our original demand had simply not been a true or valid evaluation. The Vice President had said foreign loans were not popular in the U.S. He had to say that they were not popular in Poland either since the question of repayment always had to be faced. In some cases, Polish payments for claims settlements and other purposes had been based on clearing arrangements. He understood that under our practices this might not be possible for the U.S. However, he must stress that for Poland to be able to pay, increased trade would be essential. There must be an end to discrimination, and there must be MFN treatment.

Moreover, he continued, there was another aspect of this matter which he wished to mention. For our credits to be beneficial to Poland there must be some better understanding between us on the subject and some stability in the situation. Poland could not plan on a year-to-year and haphazard basis and did not know what it could depend on. This year Congress had passed the “Captive Nations Resolution.” Next year they could pass a resolution terminating trade. Then Poland would be in the situation of having obligations but no way to meet them. For the Poles it was important that there be some longer-term guarantees; this element is as important in fact as the actual amount of the credits. He realized, of course, that we were not negotiating and that no solution could be arrived at today. However, he did ask the Vice President to consider this aspect and to use his influence so that we could arrive at a better understanding in our common interests. He repeated that it was essential that Poland tie its foreign commitments to its possibilities of repayment of those commitments.

The Vice President: Cited frequent references to pleas for “deeds not words” in international relations. He thought that the U.S. deeds in this respect spoke for themselves. The U.S. record of helping Poland over more than two years had been good and consistent. This provided a good foundation for moving ahead in the future. He wanted to comment on a problem that was more important than that of the claims. [Page 210] These could certainly be settled with a little time and with give and take on both sides. As to trade, we hoped that Poland would be able to diversify its export possibilities so that the U.S. could and would buy more Polish exports. Taking a long-range view, it should be appreciated that the economic relationship must be a two-way street. We do not want to condition our economic relationships on foreign policy considerations. However, if we are to continue and expand relationships, in a situation where there are important differences between the two sides, it is essential that neither side take actions which would irritate the other. It is clear that we share an interest in repayment possibilities. This is a healthy mutual interest.

Mr. Gomulka: Said the Vice President was putting the economic question in a much broader context. To some degree he felt that the Vice President’s remarks did make some connection between trade and foreign policy. He did not see that the Poles had done anything which should have hampered the economic relationship.

The Vice President: Said that he was not making any criticism of anything that may have happened in the past. He was simply stating his opinion about future development of the economic relationship. He felt that this should be constructive as was the talk today.

Mr. Gomulka: Said that he agreed with the Vice President about the need for adopting a constructive attitude. It is the Poles who have cause to be irritated because of the constant U.S. press campaign asserting that the U.S. is providing credits to Poland in order to weaken the links between Poland and the USSR. He realized that this was not being said by the U.S. Government itself but the repeated press reports reach here and sometimes make the Poles ask themselves if American aid is really worth the price. He was not protesting but only asking that the American Government understand the Polish point of view. Polish foreign policy was determined by two main factors: first, preoccupation with their own security and second, the necessity of having good relations with their great neighbor to the East. In this context the press campaign was harmful and could even endanger the integrity of the Polish nation. (As will be noted below, Mr. Gomulka did say this but later weakened his stand under the influence of the other members of the Polish delegation—E.S.G.) The U.S. should understand these basic points of Polish foreign policy. While Poland is a small country, it knows what is good for itself. It will support constructive proposals which come from the West, either openly or otherwise, and do its best to contribute to a better world climate. Mr. Gomulka welcomed the Vice President’s statements on long-range development of good relations and hoped that concrete proposals would be advanced to implement this goal. He again asked the U.S. to understand the Polish point of view.

[Page 211]

The Vice President: Asked what Mr. Gomulka meant by his reference to the danger to the integrity of the Polish nation. (This led to some discussion as to the interpretation of what Mr. Gomulka had said which he clarified by saying that the remark had been misunderstood; that he was only saying that these press charges were an irritation which sometimes forced the Poles to make statements which otherwise would not be made and in turn further irritated the relationship.) After indicating his acceptance of Mr. Gomulka’s explanation, the Vice President resumed, saying he would like to ask very frankly whether Mr. Gomulka felt himself on the spot as regards his U.S. relationship. Did Mr. Khrushchev object to this? If so, Khrushchev did not say this to the Vice President during their recent talks.

Mr. Gomulka: Quickly replied, “No, surely not.” Then added that moreover, “it is none of his business.”

The Vice President: Said that he had only wanted to clarify this question. He said the U.S. fully understands that the Poles must have friendly relations with their neighbor, the USSR. He hoped, however, that the Poles could have good relations with both the USSR and the U.S.

Mr. Gomulka: Replied certainly they could, that they expected to have friendly relations with all nations.

The Vice President: Said that a main purpose of this visit to the USSR had been not to negotiate but to have a frank discussion of all the problems between us. He had stressed and would stress again to Mr. Gomulka that two strong nations like the U.S. and the USSR must find a way to settle their differences peacefully.

Dr. Eisenhower: Intervened to comment on Mr. Gomulka’s reference to the United States’ press. He said that during our travels through the USSR we had read in the newspapers anti-American articles which had appeared in what we understood were papers controlled by the government itself. Indeed many of the Vice President’s statements in the USSR had been distorted or not reported. He wanted to say that he believed what we profoundly need is better human understanding. This could clearly not be reached overnight but he felt we had arrived at a point where the direction must be changed. Consequently, the Vice President had proposed while in the USSR that all of President Eisenhower’s statements on foreign affairs be published in the Soviet press and that we in turn would see to it that all of Mr. Khrushchev’s statements were published in the U.S. press. Speaking as a private citizen and as an educator, he felt that the world needs intellectual disarmament as much as it needs physical disarmament. We should forget ideas of cleverness and propaganda. We should tell the truth as accurately as we are able. We should not fear a competition of ideas and free information. Surely this would not injure the USSR or Poland. While human understanding alone would not build peace, neither, in his view, could [Page 212] there be peace without such human understanding. So he would repeat as a private citizen and as an educator that we must dedicate ourselves to this cause. He personally pledged himself to do everything possible toward this goal of intellectual disarmament, after he returned to the United States, on the basis of what he had learned on this trip.

Mr. Gomulka: Had heard with great interest the statement of Dr. Eisenhower. He recognized the U.S. Government’s position that it could not control the United States’ press, although he thought any government had some influence with its own press and could cite many harmful articles. However, he could cite Radio Free Europe which the U.S. Government subsidizes and, therefore, can control. If there was ever a case of indirect aggression, RFE was one and it was high time that its operations be brought to an end. If we are to have the intellectual disarmament of which Dr. Eisenhower spoke, then it was certainly time to end such abuses as those emanating from RFE. He accepted discussion as proper and added that there are papers in Poland which defend an ideological or Catholic point of view, but he could not accept wanton libel and gross personal attacks. Mr. Gomulka thought that the distortions Dr. Eisenhower had complained about were those of American reporters. After being set straight by Messrs. Rapacki and Cyrankiewicz, he said that: It might be true that there were abuses in the USSR in this connection. However, the fact is that Poland is attacked 18 hours a day by crude, insulting propaganda emanating from the territory of Western Germany, that is, Adenauer’s Germany, which is symptomatic in itself. The time has come to put an end to this. The Poles have refrained from interfering with these broadcasts in recent years because they consider, as the saying has it, that “lies have short legs.” He was sure that Ambassador Beam followed the RFE broadcasts, since this must be a part of his duties, and was familiar with their insulting content. He wanted to say that it had never happened in the Polish press that there was a libelous attack on leaders of a foreign government, as was the practice of RFE.

The Vice President: Said he wanted to repeat that the Polish press had been very fine in their treatment of his visit. However, he wanted to say again that this is a two-way street. The Moscow Declaration of 1957 was not exactly designed to make the American people feel happy. Moreover, he could speak with some personal feeling with respect to Soviet broadcasts. When he and his wife visited Venezuela last year they were almost killed by Communist mobs.18 Radio Moscow, two weeks prior to their visit, had been emitting broadcasts hour after hour, urging [Page 213] violence against the Vice President of the United States. He understood that this was not Poland or Polish action. However, if we were to be reasonable, there could not be complaints about the American free press and forgetfulness about provocation coming from the other side. His own view was that restraint was needed on both sides. Again he wanted to repeat that he was raising no question with respect to the Polish press. He was simply speaking to Dr. Eisenhower’s point. He had said the same thing to Mr. Khrushchev.

Mr. Cyrankiewicz: Interjected that there still remains the question of RFE.

The Vice President: Added—“and of the Moscow Declaration and of Communist Party activities throughout the world.”

Mr. Gomulka: Said he wanted to be frank as had been agreed these talks should be. Therefore the question of RFE shouldn’t be broadened, as this amounted to side-stepping the issue. The 12-party Moscow Declaration was a purely ideological document. It was placed in the context of the concept of peaceful coexistence of the two systems. Moreover, it was accompanied by a peace manifesto signed by all the Communist Parties. Polish influence had been brought to bear on the preparation of these documents. However, he wanted to repeat that the Vice President could not broaden the discussion to avoid replying to a concrete question. The Communist Parties in various countries were strictly an internal matter. They develop within the working class quasi-automatically, as soon as historical conditions call for it. The United States as yet had nothing to fear from its Communist Party. Historic conditions were not yet ripe. This was a matter of historical development and no one could change the process. As to the personal attacks on the Vice President, Mr. Gomulka could hardly believe that Radio Moscow preached violence against him. Violence against individuals is contrary to Communist principles. Moreover, he could hardly believe that the attacking crowds were Communists and thought they must have been rather only the people of the country.

The Vice President: Retorted that he had read the transcripts of the broadcasts.

Mr. Rapacki: Interjected that he had certainly never seen such things out of Poland. The Poles are against such practices.

The Vice President: Indicated agreement with Mr. Rapacki. He repeated, however, that we must recognize need for freedom to present ideas on both sides. What had been said on the Polish side seemed to suggest that calling for a change in the capitalistic countries was all right but calling for a change in the Communist countries was wrong.

Mr. Rapacki: Said that advocating ideas was proper, but that personal attacks were inadmissible.

[Page 214]

Mr. Gomulka: Charged that RFE is not advocating ideas. It simply piles abuse on everything and everyone in Poland. He was not concerned about its effect in Poland but its broadcasts were certainly bad for the creation of a better climate. Now he wished to proceed to the logical conclusion of the discussion. He was pleased to hear that the Vice President had no reservation or criticism as respects the Polish press. He stated that the Polish Government can and will influence its press. The Poles do not engage in any campaign of hatred. They publish and will publish critical comments but based on facts, reasonable in tone and containing no abuse and no incitement to violence. He believed every government could influence its press, to some extent at least, but would accept the American position on this. However, the concrete problem remained of the U.S. Government-financed RFE pouring out hours of abuse daily into Poland. He could not absolve the United States Government from responsibility for RFE.

The Vice President: Responded by asking whether Mr. Gomulka believed that the USSR should cease its interference in internal affairs of other countries through its broadcasts.

Mr. Gomulka: Replied that he is not a spokesman for the USSR.

Mr. Rapacki: Referred to his talk on the subject of RFE in 1957 with Secretary Dulles. He said when he brought the subject up, Mr. Dulles turned to an aide and said: “What! Are they still continuing their broadcasts in Polish?”19

The Vice President: Said he wanted to ask on a personal basis for Mr. Gomulka’s further comment on the meaning of his earlier statement that the USSR has changed since Stalin. He wanted to make it clear that he was not asking this question in any provocative sense but for information and because his talks in the USSR had been as friendly and frank as those with Mr. Gomulka today.

Mr. Gomulka: Said that he was quite prepared to reply to this question on the basis of his personal experience. He had often been in the USSR during the time of Stalin. Stalin was neurotic, opinionated and ignorant of facts, especially in his later years. He had had many talks with Stalin. Despite this, he did not want to base his comments only on his own subjective opinions. He felt that the facts speak for themselves. In Stalin’s time there were many problems between Poland and the USSR which it was impossible to settle as they are now settled. Stalin was always right, had little experience outside the USSR and little understanding. However, Khrushchev was a man with whom one could exchange opinions and even quarrel. It is possible to show him the facts and to [Page 215] convince him of the rightness of one’s position. When satisfied that he had been wrong, Khrushchev was prepared to admit this and to yield. A good example was in the economic field. Sixty per cent of Poland’s trade is with the other socialist countries, much of it with the USSR, and 40% with the capitalist world. Since Stalin’s death, Poland and the USSR have quarreled on the subject but the USSR had taken no punitive steps against Poland. On one occasion, despite the fact that they were then having a disagreement, bad planning had caused Poland to have an urgent need for iron ore; they had asked the USSR for help and got it. As a second example, Poland had had a trade agreement with the USSR, comparable to the Surplus Property Agreement with the United States.20 The Polish Government considered this agreement to be harmful to Polish interests. It had been signed when there was no condition of equality between the two. The Poles presented their case and got the trade agreement changed.21 If the agreement had been with a capitalist country there would have been no change because the capitalists would have demanded that Poland stand by its pledge. (The Vice President objected to this statement, saying that the United States had many times revised such agreements.) Mr. Gomulka continued that Khrushchev’s government had not only changed the agreement but had gone so far as to pay back to Poland, retroactively, for a period of seven years the difference on stipulated coal prices as against world coal prices.

Mr. Gomulka continued with reference to conversations he had had with Khrushchev about foreign affairs. (His account ran almost exactly parallel to that given to the Vice President by Khrushchev himself of his relations with Molotov. This included Khrushchev’s opposition to Molotov’s fixed policies on such subjects as Austria and Soviet bases in Finland, in which Khrushchev had effected a change.) Mr. Gomulka then mentioned Yugoslavia but quickly said this was not a subject to go into now.

The Vice President: Said that as we go into critical weeks ahead he thought Mr. Gomulka’s constructive attitudes could be important factors, whether they related to RFE or to the other side.

Mr. Gomulka: Interjected that the Vice President was apparently applying the principle of collective responsibility to Poland, USSR and China.

[Page 216]

The Vice President: Resumed by saying he meant that Mr. Gomulka could render a constructive service to the world because of his closeness to and influence with Mr. Khrushchev. Mr. Gomulka was closer to Mr. Khrushchev than we are and understood him better. He was not suggesting that Mr. Gomulka would or should have a different attitude but was suggesting that in the months ahead it was important that all statesmen show restraint and have an understanding of the other side as well as of their own side. Mr. Gomulka understands European and American reaction. Mr. Khrushchev has not had the same opportunities to gain an understanding of the West. It will be important to avoid impulsive or provocative actions. If these high-level exchanges are to be useful, they must take place in the best obtainable international climate. The Vice President recognized that the U.S. has a responsibility in this matter, too, and was prepared to grant that we could be at fault, but he would again repeat that this is a two-way proposition. Between such great powers there must be mutual respect.

Mr. Gomulka: Interjected that mutual respect should exist even when there was no great power.

The Vice President: Replied that he had only meant that this great power could do harm to all.

Mr. Gomulka: Said that there was need for mutual trust and confidence. He himself had all confidence in Mr. Khrushchev and in his sincere desire for peace. Mr. Khrushchev was a Communist and so was he. He thought they spoke a somewhat different language between themselves than the Westerners spoke among themselves. He felt that they were more honest with each other and he knew that Mr. Khrushchev was not a man who had a knife behind his back. Khrushchev considers war an absurdity which could be launched only by a mad man. However, he agreed with Mr. Khrushchev in seeing the possibility of mad men existing in the world.

For many years to come, he continued with mounting emotion, the American and Polish peoples will not have a common attitude on the German problem. Attitudes tend to be different if they are based only on what is read than if they are based on actual experience. The Poles have seen their relatives and friends shot by Germans, blindfolded before a wall with their mouths plastered over, members of their families forced to witness. It was a pity that the Vice President’s stay was so short that he could not go to see Auschwitz and the traces there of German bestiality. After Lublin was liberated in 1945 he had gone to see Maidanek. There he had seen piles of human hair sorted out to be used as raw materials. Great stacks of human belongings had been salvaged and stacked. Cabbages were growing luxuriantly in the fields, fertilized by human ashes. Deep trenches had been opened up which were filled with human bodies. Every stone in Poland was drenched with the blood of some Poles. [Page 217] (Mr. Gomulka became impassioned, his whole face growing redder as he went along.) There was not a family in Poland which was not affected. While more people are killed in auto accidents in the United States than were killed during the war, Americans have no direct experience of the horrors of war. But now, he continued, you are trying to convince us about German policy. Do you think even the USSR influences us on this? No. It is not even I who determines this. This is a national feeling, and it is the Polish attitude which is tougher than that of the USSR.

We have been denied the right to be represented in Geneva. Who has a greater right? The United States and the West opposed Polish participation. We must draw our conclusions from the facts. This is a fact and so is RFE. The United States has not paid the price of German aggression. We did. We want no war. We do not want to die again. We want no German militarism. We do not want to be trampled over. He realized that perhaps he was speaking in an emotional way but he had seen all this with his own eyes. He had spent the whole period of the war and occupation in Poland with the Polish population. There is no problem more important for the Poles than peace. Even in Warsaw you still see the damages. Even today we have not been able to reconstruct houses for our people; we have much to do.

I do not believe in war and neither does Khrushchev. Any war will be suicide. But there are people who want to commit suicide. Eventually there must and will be one world. It is useless to discuss now whether that world will be socialist or capitalist.

The Vice President: Interjected—Maybe it can be both. Things change.

Mr. Gomulka: Agreed, saying that the socialist world will change, that socialism is subject to change, that everything is subject to change. He hopes to live to the day when we could only reminisce with the Vice President on today’s differences. He repeated that the socialist world is changing. The first thing which we must do is to raise the standard of living. This will be done and the socialist countries will reach the same standard of living as the more advanced West. Then agreement may come. There will be no need for propaganda, no need for press attacks and distortions. People will see for themselves.

The time has come for the capitalists to stop hating and fearing Communism. Our people live—some more, some less, content. But the people, all the people, do not want war. No propaganda can make them want war if they are against it. We must gradually liquidate points of possible conflagration.

The Vice President: Asked Mr. Gomulka if he had ever met President Eisenhower. (Mr. Gomulka replied: “unfortunately, not yet”.) The [Page 218] Vice President continued that he had heard President Eisenhower describe the devastation in Warsaw in 1945. We could appreciate Polish feelings even if we had not experienced the same horrors. We certainly feel as strongly as does Mr. Gomulka on the question of peace. Mr. Gomulka would agree that President Eisenhower had seen war. He (the Vice President) had been sitting at the Cabinet meetings with the President for 6–1/2 years, just across the table. Every week he had heard the President talk of the need to build peace and a better life for all. He had heard the President say that if the world disarmed, substantial savings could be available for aid in the development of backward countries. The Vice President knew that it was sometimes said that the American people were for peace and that the U.S. Government was not. Nothing could be further from the truth. We had had our losses, too, in our war experience. Secretary Herter had lost a brother. He had been himself in the Pacific Theater and seen his friends killed around him. He wanted to assure Mr. Gomulka that the United States’ power would always be used for peace and against aggression from whatever source.

The Vice President then suggested that we had already taken too much of the time which Mr. Gomulka had so generously put at our disposition and the meeting terminated at 17:45.

In parting—

Dr. Eisenhower: Assured Mr. Gomulka that he would report not only the substance but the spirit of today’s conversations to President Eisenhower.

The Vice President: Told Mr. Gomulka that he had come here a friend of Poland—he would leave a better friend of Poland.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.1100–NI/8–359. Secret. Although the source text indicates Kohler was the drafter, the verbatim nature of the text and the contents of the parenthetical remarks suggest that Glenn probably initially drafted it. This memorandum was approved by Kohler on August 31.
  2. On July 17, in response to a Congressional Joint Resolution, President Eisenhower issued Proclamation 3303 designating the third week in July as “Captive Nations Week.” For text of the proclamation, see Department of State Bulletin, August 10, 1959, p. 200. See Part 1, Documents 20 ff.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 49.
  4. A copy of Nixon’s speech at Michigan State University on June 9, 1957, is in the Eisenhower Library, White House Central Files.
  5. No record of Nixon’s and Khrushchev’s agreement to this proposition has been found.
  6. Reference is to the article reporting on Nixon’s welcome on arrival in Warsaw in The New York Times, August 3, 1959.
  7. See footnote 1, Document 50.
  8. Reference is to De Gaulle’s statement made at his first press conference at the Elysée Palace on March 25. For text of De Gaulle’s statement, see Major Addresses, Statements and Press Conferences of General Charles de Gaulle, May 19, 1958–January 31, 1964, pp. 41–51.
  9. Eisenhower visited Warsaw September 21, 1945.
  10. No record of such a meeting between Nixon and Adenauer has been found.
  11. Regarding the Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union at Geneva to discuss Berlin and Germany, see volume VIII.
  12. In Eisenhower’s radio and television address to the American people on March 16, he reiterated his firm resolve to resist the Soviet Union’s attempts to alter the status of West Berlin and used a map of Germany to illustrate his point. For text, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1959, pp. 272–282.
  13. Reference is to a statement by Brentano on January 23, 1958, on the question of German borders.
  14. Reference is presumably Adenauer’s statement about German reunification, disarmament, and the Rapacki Plan made on March 20, 1958, the first day of a 4-day debate in the Bundestag on foreign affairs and defense.
  15. Reference is to the Rapacki Plan; see footnote 5, Document 48.
  16. For text of the statement read by the President at a news conference at the White House on August 3 announcing that Khrushchev would visit the United States in September, see Department of State Bulletin, August 24, 1959, p. 263.
  17. On June 6, 1950, East Germany and Poland signed an agreement that recognized the Oder-Neisse line as the final German-Polish frontier.
  18. Documentation on the U.S. trade missions to Poland, May 24–June 26, 1958, and May 20–June 20, 1959, is in Department of State, Central File 411.4841.
  19. Nixon visited Venezuela May 13, 1958, while on a good will tour of eight South American countries April 27–May 15, 1958.
  20. Regarding Rapacki’s talk with Dulles in Washington, October 16, 1957, see Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XXV, pp. 671677.
  21. The Surplus Property Agreement between Poland and the United States, a credit arrangement for the purchase of American surplus property abroad, was signed at Washington on April 22, 1946, and entered into force on April 22. (12 UST 368)
  22. Reference is to the 5-year trade agreement that the Soviet Union signed with Poland on June 26, 1948. During Gomulka’s visit to Moscow, October 24–November 12, 1958, the agreement was changed. The terms of the agreement were embodied in the joint communiqué issued on November 10, 1958; see footnote 2, Document 56.