128. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Polish Views on European Security


  • Foy D. Kohler, Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs
  • Jerzy Michalowski, Ambassador of Poland
  • William A. Buell, Jr., Polish Affairs
[Page 356]

Ambassador Jerzy Michalowski requested this courtesy call on Ambassador Kohler. Ambassador Kohler countered Michalowski’s modest observation about the minor role which Poland played in US foreign policy by pointing out that US-Polish relations had been a most significant factor in the formulation of US policy toward Eastern Europe as a whole. He noted specifically the granting of MFN and the Claims Settlement Agreement of 1960.2 The initiation of the new relationship with Poland at that time was a “test case” between the Executive and the Congress. He said he hoped that the Ambassador would learn here how very real was the separation of powers and how complicated the Executive’s relationship with the Congress could be. At the moment these relations were as difficult as he had seen in 36 years of service under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Michalowski said that he hoped that the time would come when he could help in a change in US policy towards Europe. Ambassador Kohler asked for specifics, noting that our policy had been adaptable to European needs and that it appeared that we had reached a stage of stability in Europe. Michalowski demurred, calling it “an unstabilized balance” which could be upset if further steps were not taken. He noted particularly that the division of Germany was here to stay and that this fact should be recognized. Ambassador Kohler asked if the Poles believed the Germans were reconciled to it. Michalowski said they were advancing in this direction.

Ambassador Kohler noted that we had persuaded the West Germans to a commitment in 1954 to renounce the use of force in any change of frontiers.3 To this the Germans have adhered. He believed the aspirations of the German people on both sides would continue to be for unity, that it was folly to recognize the division and give the Germans the feeling of something imposed upon them, as was the case after Versailles. Michalowski said that by not bringing about a German reconciliation to the division of their country we were leaving them to expect the assistance of the US to change it. Ambassador Kohler said we had proved in 1961 and 1962 that we were prepared to fight to prevent any change being made by the other side but that we had also proved that we did not seek to change anyone else’s position by force. He said that the major contributions to stability had not come from the Eastern but the Western side. Mr. Michalowski said that particularly in recent years there had been much more proof that the Eastern side was not going to change the [Page 357] situation by force. Ambassador Kohler agreed that this appeared to be so—since 1962. Michalowski said that if proof by both sides were furnished that no change was contemplated, the Germans would realize that their interests lay in taking advantage of the existing situation.

Ambassador Kohler said he did not believe that the Poles appreciated the efforts of the new German Government under Kiesinger and Brandt in the direction of detente. On the contrary, the Eastern European leaders had called a meeting in Warsaw to condemn the Germans for their efforts to establish closer relationships with the East. Michalowski said this was to prevent a break in the solidarity of the Warsaw Pact countries and to prevent the weakening of the position of East Germany. Ambassador Kohler asked what would happen in East Germany when Ulbricht passes on. Michalowski said we should not pay too much attention to personalities. Ulbricht is not a Mao and even in Mao’s case his removal would not change the basic situation. The trend since the death of Stalin has been away from personalities.

Michalowski mentioned Polish continuing interest in a European Security Conference. Ambassador Kohler asked what kind of a conference he might have in mind. Would this not be directed against the American presence? Michalowski insisted that the Poles had never suggested that such a conference should exclude the United States. Any conference of this kind without the participation of the US would be absurd. If such a conference could establish the necessary basis for security, this of course, would make further USA military presence unnecessary. He said he did not hope for spectacular solutions, but that we could move ahead step by step.

Ambassador Kohler asked after Gomulka, who Michalowski said had been “quiet” of late. Other Polish personalities of Ambassador Kohler’s acquaintance were discussed briefly, such as Ochab and Jaroszewicz. Michalowski said he hoped that Jedrychowski (Chairman of the State Planning Commission), whose visit to the US had been called off several years ago because of the “world atmosphere“, would be able to come provided this atmosphere improved.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 POL–US. Confidential. Drafted by Buell and approved in G on October 16.
  2. For text of the Claims Settlement Agreement, signed in Washington on April 16, 1960, see 11 UST 1953. Most-favored-nation status was restored on March 26, 1964; see footnote 4, Document 117.
  3. Article 7 of the Convention on Relations Between the Three Powers and the Federal Republic of Germany, as amended, signed in Paris on October 23, 1954. For text, see Documents on Germany, 1945–1970, pp. 425–430.