52. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, October 8, 1974, 7:30 p.m.1 2


  • President Gerald Ford
  • Edward Gierek, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Polish United Worker’s Party
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Stefan OLSZOWSKI, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Deputy Prime Minister Jagielski





DATE AND TIME: Tuesday, October 8, 1974 7:30 p. m.

PLACE: The Residence

The White House

President: This is where they used to have Cabinet meetings. This is the table Lincoln used.

Gierek: We are restoring a castle in Warsaw that was destroyed by the Nazis in 1939. It has great symbolic value. We can’t invite you there but we have another which housed President Nixon — the Wilanow Palace. It was given to the king who was fighting the Turks at Vilnius, and he won. The Turks still complain about that.

Once again, let me give you my thanks for your assurances and your sympathy to me and my friends and your friendly attitude towards my people. You and all Americans understand Polish affairs. Roosevelt said at Potsdam or Yalta that Poland should be strong, and that strong means influential and having a greater chance to influence for good.

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Home affairs are developing well in Poland. We have good attitudes among the people. We would like to use the coming years for the improvement of housing to a greater extent. There is still a 7-8 year wait for an apartment.

President: Still that much.

Gierek: Unfortunately, Recently we have done a lot on the question of the well being of people — helping women and children — but we still are dissatisfied. Conditions are still worse than in other countries — but t don’t mean to belittle our accomplishments.

President: I know from my visit that you came up from total devastation.

Gierek: I talked to some of your Secretaries today and appealed for a friendly attitude in the affairs in which we are interested. We want nothing free — we can afford to pay back. We are a solid partner. We need something in advance in certain cases. For example, we have a lot of raw materials. Surely in 5-6 years, we can exploit these by ourselves. We can do it faster with American capital. We return everything back with the produce which is produced.

President: Will you take private capital?

Gierek: Of course. First National City Bank is helping with our copper industry and takes the returns in copper. We give them a guarantee. It is the same with Rockefeller and Chase Manhattan. We have much coal, lignite. We shall expand the Polish energy industry.

President: Is it clean coal or is it difficult?

Gierek: The cleanest in Europe. There is no environment problem.

President: Are they deep mines?

Gierek: They average 700-800 meters. We have reserves for 400-500 years. We are interested in the exporting of coal. The one condition is that with our existing production capacity we couldn’t increase our exports. In 1975 our production is committed. So only in ’76 and after can we do it.

We also have much sulfur, zinc, lead.

So our proposals are based on our solid evaluation of our potential.

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President: You want investment in all these areas?

Gierek: Sure. Along the principles we already have with American companies.

Then there is the matter of American know-how. I know some things you can’t make available, but I would appreciate your review of the embargo list.

President: I will certainly try. We will try to coordinate with you what might be helpful to both of us. What in particular do you have in mind?

Gierek: There are several areas: chemicals, electronics.

President: Computers?

Gierek: Parts. Integrated circuits. I know we couldn’t get access to your technicians you offer to all others, but we hope your confidence will gradually extend to us.

President: I hope that will increasingly be possible.

Gierek: There are several other things I would like to raise. Our conversations with the FRG. We discussed this with Secretary Kissinger and he promised help. The FRG should meet our suggestions half-way. What is involved is that we have to have satisfaction to our people — indemnification to our people who were in concentration camps, the fees which the Germans took from the Poles for “insurance.” The Germans have returned to other countries.

President: To all others?

Gierek: Perhaps also to the Soviet Union. I have mentioned to Brandt that I can’t go if I am not sure I can return to tell my people I have taken care of it. Otherwise people will say, “Why did you go?”

President: How much does it amount to?

Gierek: Not much. It is symbolic.

Olszowski: According to us the sum to be returned is 600 million marks in indemnities, plus 700-800 million.

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President: To the government, or individuals?

Olszowski: Through the government to individuals. It would represent…

[Secretary Kissinger arrives.]

Kissinger: The Deputy Prime Minister and I signed a historic double taxation agreement. I have no idea what is in it.

President: We were talking about the FRG indemnification.

Kissinger: I thought that when Schmidt comes we could raise it on a personal basis.

Olszowski: Then there is the credit to Poland for mutual financial ventures and the return to Poland of Gdansk gold.

Kissinger: I think we can help on the gold if we get an understanding on the levels.

President: When will you meet with Schmidt?

Gierek: Within a week of our settling our problems.

Kissinger: The distance between Warsaw and Bonn is greater than that between Warsaw and Washington.

President: This has been very helpful. We will discuss it and be in touch.

Gierek: I have one more question. Wouldn’t it be advisable that if there are any questions where we need assistance, could we write a personal letter?

President: Of course.

Gierek: I had a relationship like this with the President of France. This method is approved. I would use only if there is something urgent.

President: I welcome this kind of personal communication.

[The conversation then ended.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Staff for Europe, Convenience Files, Box 72, October 1974—Poland—First Secretary Gierek (12) WH. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Residence of the White House.
  2. President Ford and First Secretary Gierek discussed U.S.-Polish economic relations and Polish relations with the Federal Republic of Germany and France.