77. Report by Milton S. Eisenhower0

[Here follows Eisenhower’s report on the Vice President’s visit to the Soviet Union.]


(The following portion of this brief report was written on the day after our return to the United States).

After the tumultuous reception which the Vice President and his party received upon their arrival in Warsaw, there could be no doubt of the friendly feeling the people of Poland have for the people of the United States.

On the basis of the Vice President’s five-hour discussion with Mr. Gomulka1 and other visits which I had with officials, high and low,2 I have reached these conclusions:

The people of Poland have a warmer feeling for the United States than they do for the USSR.
The leaders of Poland, firm communists and therefore closely tied to the USSR, nonetheless are also militant nationalists and will continue to insist upon a degree of independence and freedom of action.
While the people are divided in their allegiance to socialism and private enterprise, they show no evidence of a willingness to revolt.

Radio Free Europe’s broadcasts are strengthening the hands of Poland’s communist leaders, rather than weakening them. This assertion requires some explanation.

No nation in the world has suffered more from war than has Poland. It has disappeared and reappeared, had its boundaries shifted, its people and resources destroyed time and time again. The people want no more of this. They want to be independent and live in peace. They feel they cannot exist without a powerful ally to protect them. Between Germany, which they hate with indescribable intensity, and the USSR, which they fear, they believe they have no other choice than to depend upon Soviet power, Their present leaders have given them some degree of national independence, have lessened internal tensions, have tried to satisfy the rural population by restoring private ownership of land, and have led the nation upward economically. Life in Poland is ever so much better than it is in the USSR.

Propaganda efforts to drive a wedge between Poland and the USSR, or to discredit their leaders, frighten the people. Further, some of these broadcasts, evidently patterned after early American “yellow journalism”, telling tales of the sex life of leaders and their wives, and otherwise seeking to ridicule the leaders, cause the people to discredit the credibility of all the broadcasts.

My information is based solely upon long conversations with three different individuals who themselves have listened to these broadcasts.

It must be kept in mind that the leaders and people of Poland believe Radio Free Europe is an official voice of the United States government—not a private enterprise. Indeed, several times Mr. Gomulka and other officials stated that these were official broadcasts and neither the Vice President nor Ambassador Beam felt they could assert otherwise.

Quite apart from any other consideration, it is, I think, degrading to our government to be associated with broadcasts of the type indicated.

It seems to me that at once we should (a) have only American citizens do the broadcasting in Polish on Radio Free Europe, (b) greatly improve their tone, eliminating “yellow journalism” material, (c) by constantly telling only the truth, establish these broadcasts as a primary source of news and ideas. This does not mean that we should not keep telling the Polish people that life would be better in a free society, that they should have free elections, and so on. It merely means that we must make effective what I assume our purpose is in having the broadcasts at all.

Poland is probably the “Achilles Heel” in the Socialist camp. It is therefore of crucial importance that the programs of all American agencies, including the broadcasts of Radio Free Europe, be integrated and consistent, one with the other.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Name Series. Confidential. Eisenhower wrote this report at the request of Vice President Nixon. The first eight pages of the report, on the Soviet Union, are not printed. Under cover of a letter of August 7 to Ann Whitman, Milton Eisenhower transmitted a copy of the report and wrote, “The President might like to see it. If he reads nothing else, I hope he will glance through the section on Poland. I think Radio Free Europe broadcasts to Poland should be reconsidered, at the highest level—but not before the Vice President expresses his judgment on this to the President.” The President wrote the following note on this letter and initialed it: “Show comments on Poland to Gen. Allen, Sec. Dillon, Allen Dulles, and send each a copy.” Under cover of a memorandum dated August 12, Kohler sent Dillon a copy of Milton Eisenhower’s report. A copy of this report and Kohler’s memorandum, which bears Dillon’s initials, is in Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1411.
  2. See Document 74.
  3. Despatch 67 from Warsaw, August 13, summarizes the conversations of members of Nixon’s party with Polish officials. (Department of State, Central Files, 033.1100–NI/8–1359)