133. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • U.S.-Polish Bilateral Relations


  • Polish Ambassador Jerzy Michalowski
  • Mr. Walter J. Stoessel, Deputy Assistant Secretary
  • Ambassador John Gronouski
  • Mr. Doyle V. Martin, Polish Affairs Officer

Ambassador Michalowski said that he was returning to Warsaw for consultation and, before going, he wanted to have a general discussion of bilateral relations. He realized that current relations were less than fully satisfactory but thought it important that there be no further deterioration. Mr. Stoessel agreed that we seem to be at a low point and said we quite frankly have a problem resulting from the “anti-Zionist” campaign in Poland.2 We are under considerable pressure to make statements or take other actions which might have an unfavorable impact but have so far been able to resist those pressures.

[Page 365]

Ambassador Michalowski denied that anti-Semitism was involved in events in Poland and said a “great deal of fuss has been created because 60 or 70 people lost their jobs.” He said that while “unpleasant things happen from time to time,” many of the people fired were not Jewish. He believed an “anti-Polish campaign” had been mounted by Jewish interests which resented Poland’s policy in the Mid-East War last June. He feared, however, that the reaction of Congress to these pressures might have an effect on MFN treatment for Polish trade with the United States. He said he was aware that the U.S. Administration had taken a firm stand on this matter in the past and asked if there was likely to be any yielding now.

Mr. Stoessel replied we believe MFN should not be given or taken away on such a basis and we would certainly oppose any Congressional action affecting Poland. At the same time, it would be most helpful if this “anti-Zionist” agitation were to die away.

Ambassador Michalowski said there were other fields in which he would like to see more done. He regretted the ending of the IMG program in Poland and thought it was most unfortunate that American books, films and plays were unavailable to Polish audiences because of a lack of foreign exchange. He also noted that an inspection team from the U.S. Department of Agriculture had recently found three Polish slaughter-houses below standard for meat exports to the United States and he wanted to make clear that the Polish Government would move rapidly to improve conditions to have them restored to our list. The Polish Government accepts our reports on them and will comply with our recommendations immediately.

Ambassador Gronouski said we have other small problems at the moment including Polish requests for us to pay certain shipping costs in hard currency. He hoped that problem would be resolved “before it becomes a cancer.” There is also the question of use of Polish zlotys for research facilities at the Krakow hospital. He thought it should be possible to arrive at some “middle ground” between the Polish position that near-end zlotys must be used and our position that they should come from the far end of the debt repayment schedule. He thought this type of relationship should not be allowed to lapse and noted that construction of these facilities would involve a hard currency input of about $600,000. He was sorry that the outlook for the English-teaching program was not optimistic but realized the problems were on our side and not with Poland.

Ambassador Gronouski (who joined the conversation at this point) said he thought Ambassador Michalowski was going back into a most interesting political situation in Warsaw and he wondered what changes were to be expected. He thought Interior Minister Moczar’s star was rising now and he would probably occupy a more important Party position [Page 366] in the near future. For the long term, however, he thought Katowice Party First Secretary Gierek will rise in importance and he may eventually replace Gomulka.

Ambassador Michalowski said that although the country is changing, he expects a realignment of the leadership and not a new leadership. He did not believe Gomulka would be replaced in the near future. Ambassador Gronouski agreed that Gomulka would probably remain in office but thought he did not have “the kind of control” he had formerly exercised. He said there was a great deal of ferment in Warsaw and had even heard that Ambassador Michalowski might not return from his consultation. Ambassador Michalowski shrugged and said that would be all right with him since his time here had not been particularly happy.

On the way down in the elevator after the meeting, Ambassador Michalowski said he thought it would be most unfortunate if Ambassador Gronouski were not replaced soon.3 He thought that if the post were left vacant, it would be misunderstood as a political decision “particularly if my post were vacant at the same time.”

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL POL–US. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Martin.
  2. Following student demonstrations in March 1968, the ultra-nationalist “Partisan” faction of the Polish Communist Party attacked the “Zionism” of certain members of the Polish Government and Party and called for their removal. A purge of Jewish and more liberal Party members followed. An estimated one-half of the small Polish Jewish community applied for visas to Israel. At a July meeting of the Communist Party, First Secretary Gomulka condemned anti-Semitism. However, the Partisan faction remained strong and Gomulka was forced to give ground to its demands at a November Party congress. Gomulka finally put an end to the anti-Zionist campaign in February 1969.
  3. Ambassador Gronouski left post on May 26. Ambassador Stoessel presented his credentials on September 12.