43. Memorandum From Edward Weintal of the United States Information Agency to the Director of the United States Information Agency (Shakespeare)1


  • Radio Free Europe

Memorandum of conversation with Polish Ambassador, Jerzy Michalowski

I lunched today with Ambassador Michalowski at the International Club—at his invitation.

After an exchange of amenities, the Ambassador came right to the point and asked whether Charles Bartlettʼs story describing the Presidentʼs “intervention” in the matter of RFE was accurate.2

I replied that I knew nothing of the Presidentʼs “intervention” but did know that the President, as well as the concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, felt very strongly about assuring the continued existence of RFE.

The Ambassador replied he understood our concern because once RFE was removed from Munich, it would be “dead.” “I am sure,” he said, “that neither Spain nor Turkey would have it.”

Michalowski then said that the Polish Government has not yet made the elimination of RFE a condition of the basic agreement with the Federal German Government. “We donʼt want to do that at this stage, but as soon as the basic agreement is concluded, we shall certainly return to RFE.”

Following the basic agreement, Michalowski said, there will be another round of negotiations dealing with “Normalization of Relations.” This will include establishment of Embassies, Consulates, etc. It is at that stage that the Poles intend to make the elimination or at least sanitization of RFE as a condition sine qua non. The Ambassador made it clear that Gomulka himself and the top leadership of the Government and Party were involved in this.

“I feel certain,” the Ambassador continued, “that at that point we will be told by the FRG Government that they agree with us but that the ‘Americans won’t let us touch RFE’.”

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“In that case, we shall face a Polish-U.S. confrontation. This is the last thing I want.”

“If there is a conflict between FRG and U.S.A. this does not concern me in the least,” the Ambassador continued. “If as a result of the RFE, there should be a Polish-FRG conflict this may concern me a little more. But if I am faced with a Polish-U.S. conflict, I shall be directly concerned and I must try to avoid it at all costs.”

I asked the Ambassador what he meant by confrontation.

He replied that obviously “there would be no war,” but U.S.-Polish relations which he had tried hard to improve would deteriorate “and no one wants that.”

I remarked that I have heard a lot about the wickedness of RFE, but have yet to see specific charges against it.

The Ambassador said that RFE really was nothing but a “gossip column” run by malicious but extremely able journalists. (“I wish I could hire them for the Polskie Radio,” he said at one point.)

“They often goof, though. In one case they had to apologize to a woman writer whom they accused of being a U.B. agent. In another, they charged a prominent labor leader with being a collaborationist during the war. All the man did was to write a poem for a German-sponsored newspaper in Cracow. The man had already been tried in 1945 and exonerated.”

The Ambassador contrasted RFE policies with his own. When a Polish paper wrote an article abusive of Martha Mitchell, he said, he had personally written to Warsaw to have such attacks stopped. And, he says, they were stopped.

I then remarked that I had yet to hear from him what the Polish Government would be willing to offer as a quid pro quo in the unlikely case the Germans would agree to some sort of curbs on the RFE. He said there was very little the Poles could do, but mentioned compensation to holders of pre-war Polish bonds as one of the quids, i.e. “provided we would be given access to Exim Bank loans.”3

At this point the conversation turned to Viet Nam, Cambodia, and the Middle East. The Ambassador contributed nothing of interest.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 683, Country Files, Europe, Germany, Vol. V. Confidential. The memorandum was forwarded to Kissinger by USIAʼs Acting Director, Henry Loomis, under a July 8 covering memorandum.
  2. For the relevant excerpts from Bartlettʼs article, see Document 39.
  3. Regarding Polandʼs request for Export-Import Bank loans and the related issue of Polandʼs debts to U.S. holders of pre-World War II bonds, see Documents 132, 152, 168, 169, 170, and 175.