Documents on the Grand Alliance

1945

Excerpt from Third Plenary Meeting, Yalta Conference (Feb. 6, 1945) | Memorandum of a Meeting at the White House (April 23, 1945) | Memorandum of a Conversation (April 23, 1945) | President Truman to the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Soviet Union (Stalin) (April 23, 1945) | Memorandum by the President’s Adviser and Assistant (Hopkins) of a Conversation During Dinner at the Kremlin (June 1, 1945) | Letter from the Acting Secretary of State (Grew) to Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg (July 17, 1945)

Excerpt from Third Plenary Meeting,

Valta Conference
Feburary 6, 1945
Foreign Relations of the United States: The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, pp. 667-71.

THE POLISH QUESTION

THE PRESIDENT inquired whether the Polish question should be taken up now or postponed until the next meeting.

THE PRIME MINISTER said that he hoped that at least a start could be made today.

THE PRESIDENT said that the United States was farther away from Poland than anyone else here, and that there were times when a long distance point of view was useful. He said that at Tehran he had stated that he believed the American people were in general favorably inclined to the Curzon Line as the eastern frontier of Poland, but he felt that if the Soviet Government would consider a concession in regard to Lwow and the oil deposits in the Province of Lwow that would have a very salutary effect. He said that he was merely putting forth this suggestion for consideration and would not insist on it. He said that in regard to the government he wished to see the creation of a representative government which could have the support of all the great powers and which could be composed of representatives of the principal parties of Poland. He said one possibility which had been suggested was the creation of a Presidential Council composed of Polish leaders which could then create a government composed of the chiefs of the five political parties–Workers Party, Peasant Party, Socialist Party, etc. He said that one thing must be made certain and that was that Poland should maintain the most friendly and co-operative relations with the Soviet Union.

MARSHAL STALIN replied that Poland should maintain friendly relations not only with the Soviet Union but with the other Allies.

THE PRESIDENT said he had merely put forth a suggestion but he thought if we could solve the Polish question it would be a great help to all of us. He added he didn’t know personally any members of the London government or Lublin government, but he had met Mr. Mikolajczyk who had made a deep impression on him as a sincere and an honest man.

THE PRIME MINISTER said that he had consistently declared in Parliament and elsewhere that the British Government would support the Curzon Line, even leaving Lwow to the Soviet Union. He had been criticized for this and so had Mr. Eden, but he felt that after the burdens which Russia had borne in this war the Curzon Line was not a decision of force but one of right. He said he remained in that position. Of course, he added, if the mighty Soviet Union could make some gesture to the much weaker country, such as the relinquishment of Lwow, this act of magnanimity would be acclaimed and admired. He said he was much more interested in sovereignty and independence of Poland than in the frontier line-he wanted to see the Poles have a home where they could organize their lives as they wished. That was an objective that he had often heard Marshal Stalin proclaim most firmly, and he put his trust in those declarations. He said that he therefore had not considered the question of the frontier as a question of vital importance. It must not be forgotten, however, that Great Britain had gone to war to protect Poland against German aggression at a time when that decision was most risky, and it had almost cost them their life in the world. He said Great Britain had no material interest in Poland, but the question was one of honor and that his government would therefore never be content with a solution which did not leave Poland a free and independent state. The freedom of Poland, however, did not cover any hostile designs or intrigue against the U. S. S. R., and none of us should permit this. It is the earnest desire of the British Government that Poland be mistress in her own house and captain of her soul. He said that the British Government recognized the present Polish government in London but did not have intimate contact with it. He said he had known Mr. Mikolajczyk, Mr. Grabski and Mr. Romer and had found them good and honest men. He inquired whether there might be some possibility of forming a government here for Poland which would utilize these men. If this could be done all the great powers could then recognize it as an interim government until such time as the Poland government [Polish people?] by free vote could select and form their own government. He concluded by saying he was interested in the President’s suggestion.

At the suggestion of Marshal Stalin, there was a ten-minute intermission.

MARSHAL STALIN then gave the following summary of his views on the Polish question: Mr. Churchill had said that for Great Britain the Polish question was one of honor and that he understood, but for the Russians it was a question both of honor and security. It was one of honor because Russia had many past grievances against Poland and desired to see them eliminated. It was a question of strategic security not only because Poland was a bordering country but because throughout history Poland had been the corridor for attack on Russia. We have to mention that during the last thirty years Germany twice has passed through this corridor. The reason for this was that Poland was weak. Russia wants a strong, independent and democratic Poland. Since it was impossible by the force of Russian armies alone to close from the outside this corridor, it could be done only by Poland’s own forces. It was very important, therefore, to have Poland independent, strong and democratic. It is not only a question of honor for Russia, but one of life and death. It was for this reason that there had been a great change from the policies of the Czars who had wished to suppress and assimilate Poland. In regard to the questions raised here on which we have different opinions, the following might be said:

In regard to the Curzon Line, concessions in regard to Lwow and the Lwow Province, and Mr. Churchill’s reference to a magnanimous act on our part, it is necessary to remind you that not Russians but Curzon and Clemenceau fixed this line. The Russians had not been invited and the line was established against their will. Lenin had opposed giving Bialystok Province to the Poles but the Curzon Line gives it to Poland. We have already retreated from Lenin’s position in regard to this province. Should we then be less Russian than Curzon and Clemenceau? We could not then return to Moscow and face the people who would say Stalin and Molotov have been less sure defenders of Russian interest than Curzon and Clemenceau. It is, therefore, impossible to agree with the proposed modification of the line. I would prefer to have the war go on although it will cost us blood in order to compensate for Poland from Germany. When he was in Moscow Mr. Mikolajczyk was delighted to hear that Poland’s frontier would extend to the West Neisse River and I favor the Polish frontier on the West Neisse and ask the conference to support this proposal.

As to the question of the Polish government, Mr. Churchill has said it would be good to create a Polish government here. I am afraid that was a slip of the tongue, for without participation of the Poles it is impossible to create a Polish government. I am called a dictator and not a democrat, but I have enough democratic feeling to refuse to create a Polish government without the Poles being consulted the question can only be settled with the consent of the Poles. Last autumn in Moscow there was a good chance for a fusion of the various Polish elements and in the meeting between Mikolajczyk, Grabski and Lublin Poles various points of agreement were reached as Mr. Churchill will remember. Mikolajczyk left for London but did not return since he was expelled from office precisely because he wanted agreement. Artieszewski [Arciszewski] and Raskiewycz [Raczkiewicz] are not only against agreement but are hostile to any idea of an agreement. Artieszewski has characterized the Lublin Poles as bandits and criminals and they naturally pay him back in the same coin. It will be difficult to bring them together. The Warsaw Poles, Bierut and Osubka Morawski, do not even want to talk about any fusion with the London government. I asked them what concessions they might make in this respect and they said they could tolerate Jelikowski [Zeligowski] or Grabski but they do not even want to hear about Mikolajczyk being prime minister. I am prepared to support any attempt to reach a solution that would offer some [chance] of success. Should we ask the Warsaw Poles to come here or perhaps come to Moscow? I must say that the Warsaw government has a democratic base equal at least to that of de Gaulle.

As a military man I demand from a country liberated by the Red Army that there be no civil war in the rear. The men in the Red Army are indifferent to the type of government as long as it will maintain order and they will not be shot in the back. The Warsaw, or Lublin, government has not badly fulfilled this task. There are, however, agents of the London government who claim to be agents of the underground forces of resistance. I must say that no good and much evil comes from these forces. Up to the present time they have killed 212 of our military men. They attack our supply bases to obtain arms. Although it has been proclaimed that all radio stations must be registered and obtain permission to operate, agents of the London government are violating these regulations. We have arrested some of them and if they continue to disturb our rear we will shoot them as military law requires. When I compare what the agents of the Lublin government have done and what the agents of the London government have done I see the first are good and the second bad. We want tranquility in our rear. We will support the government which gives us peace in the rear, and as a military man I could not do otherwise. Without a secure rear there can be no more victories for the Red Army. Any military man and even the non-military man will understand this situation

THE PRIME MINISTER said that he must put on record the fact that the British and Soviet Governments have different sources of information in Poland and therefore they obtain different views of the situation there. He said it is possible that their reports are mistaken as it is not always possible to believe everything that anyone tells you. He believed, he added, that with the best of all their information he could not feel that the Lublin government represents more than one third of the people and would be maintained in power if the people were free to express their opinion. One of the reasons why the British have so earnestly sought a solution had been the fear that the Polish underground army would come into collision with the Lublin government, which would lead to great bloodshed, arrests and deportations which could not fail to have a bad effect on the whole Polish question. The Prime Minister said he agreed that anyone who attacks the Red Army should be punished, but he repeated that the British Government could not agree to recognizing the Lublin government of Poland.

The Conference then adjourned until four o’clock tomorrow.

Memorandum by Mr. Charles E. Bohlen, Assistant to the Secretary of State, of a Meeting at the White House

April 23, 1945, 2:00p
Foreign Relations of the United States, 1945, vol. 5: Europe, pp. 252-59.

PRESENT: The President [Harry S. Truman]
The Secretary of State [Edward Stettinius]
The Secretary of War [Henry Stimson]
The Secretary of Navy [James Forrestal]
Admiral Leahy [Military Chief of Staff to the President]
General Marshall [U.S. Army Chief of Staff]
Admiral King [Chief of Naval Operations]
Mr. Dunn [Assistant Secretary of State]
Ambassador Harriman [U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union]
General Deane [U.S. Military Mission to the USSR]
Mr. Bohlen

THE SECRETARY OF STATE told the meeting that Mr. Molotov had arrived in good spirits yesterday and had had a good talk with the President yesterday evening but that at the Foreign Ministers meeting later great difficulties had developed over the Polish question. The continuance of the meeting this morning had produced no improvement and a complete deadlock had been reached on the subject of the carrying out of the Yalta agreement on Poland. The Secretary said that the truth of the matter was the Lublin or Warsaw Government was not representative of the Polish people and that it was now clear that the Soviet Government intended to try to enforce upon the United States and British Governments this puppet government of Poland and obtain its acceptance as the legal government of Poland. He said that as they all recalled at Yalta an agreement had been reached regarding the formation of a new Polish Government representative of the people by means of the reorganization of the present provisional government in consultation with other Polish democratic leaders. He said it had been made plain to Mr. Molotov how seriously the United States Government regarded this matter and how much public confidence would be shaken by our failure to carry out the Crimean decision.

THE PRESIDENT said that he had told Mr. Molotov last night that he intended fully to carry out all the agreements reached by President Roosevelt at the Crimea. He added that he felt our agreements with the Soviet Union so far had been a one way street and that could not continue; it was now or never. He intended to go on with the plans for San Francisco and if the Russians did not wish to join us they could go to hell. The President then asked in rotation the officials present for their view.

MR. STIMSON said that this whole difficulty with the Russians over Poland was new to him and he felt it was important to find out what the Russians were driving at. He said in the big military matters the Soviet Government had kept their word and that the military authorities of the United States had come to count on it. In fact he said that they had often been better than their promise. He said it was important to find out what motives they had in mind in regard to these border countries and that their ideas of independence and democracy in areas that they regarded as vital to the Soviet Union are different from ours. Mr. Stimson remarked that they had a good deal of trouble on minor military matters and it was necessary in these cases to teach them manners. In this case he said that without fully understanding how seriously the Russians took this Polish question we might be heading into very dangerous water. He remarked that 25 years ago virtually all of Poland had been Russian.

MR. FORRESTAL said that he felt that this difficulty over Poland could not be treated as an isolated incident, that there had been many evidences of the Soviet desire to dominate adjacent countries and to disregard the wishes of her allies. He said he had felt that for some time the Russians had considered that we would not object if they took over all of Eastern Europe into their power. He said it was his profound conviction that if the Russians were to be rigid in their attitude we had better have a show down with them now than later.

AMBASSADOR HARRIMAN said that in regard to Mr. Stimson’s question as to the issues and the motives he felt that when Stalin and Molotov had returned to Moscow after Yalta they had been informed by Bierut (the present head of the provisional government) concerning the situation in Poland and had realized that the provisional government was in a shaky condition and that the introduction of any genuine Polish leader such as Mikolajczyk would probably mean the elimination of the Soviet hand-picked group. He remarked that the real issue was whether we were to be a party to a program of Soviet domination of Poland. He said obviously we were faced with a possibility of a real break with the Russians but he felt that if properly handled it might be avoided. The President said that he had no intention of delivering an ultimatum to Mr. Molotov but merely to make clear the position of this Government.

MR. STIMSON observed that he would like to know how far the Russian reaction to a strong position on Poland would go. He said he thought that the Russians perhaps were being more realistic than we were in regard to their own security.

ADMIRAL LEAHY said that he had left Yalta with the impression that the Soviet Government had no intention of permitting a free government to operate in Poland and that he would have been surprised had the Soviet Government behaved any differently than it had. In his opinion the Yalta agreement was susceptible to two interpretations. He added that he felt that it was a serious matter to break with the Russians but that we should tell them that we stood for a free and independent Poland.

THE SECRETARY OF STATE then read the part of the Yalta decision relating to the formation of the new Government and the holding of free elections and said he felt that this was susceptible of only one interpretation.

GENERAL MARSHALL said he was not familiar with the Polish issue and its political aspects. He said from the military point of view the situation in Europe was secure but that they hoped for Soviet participation in the war against Japan at a time when it would be useful to us. The Russians had it within their, power to delay their entry into the Far Eastern war until we had done all the dirty work. He said the difficulties with the Russians such as in the case of CROSSWORD usually straightened out. He was inclined to agree with Mr. Stimson that possibility of a break with Russia was very serious.

Mr. STIMSON observed that he agreed with General Marshall and that he felt that the Russians would not yield on the Polish question. He said we must understand that outside the United States with the exception of Great Britain there was no country that understood free elections; that the party in power always ran the election as he well knew from his experience in Nicaragua.

ADMIRAL KING inquired whether the issue was the invitation to the Lublin Government to San Francisco. The President informed him that that was a settled matter and not the issue. The issue was the execution of agreements entered into between this Government and the Soviet Union. He said he intended to tell Mr. Molotov that we expected Russia to carry out the Yalta decision as we were prepared to do for our part.

AMBASSADOR HARRIMAN then remarked that while it was true that the Soviet Union had kept its big agreements on military matters that those were decisions which it had already reached by itself but that on other military matters it was impossible to say they had lived up to their commitments. He said for example over a year ago they had agreed to start on preparations for collaboration in the Far Eastern war but that none of these had been carried out. He asked General Deane to express his opinion.

GENERAL DEANE said that he felt that the Soviet Union would enter the Pacific war as soon as it was able irrespective of what happened in other fields. He felt that the Russians must do this because they could not afford too long a period of let down for their people who were tired, there was only a short season in which offensive action against Manchuria was possible and that they would not dare attempt a Bulgarian gambit in the Far East. He said he was convinced after his experiences in Moscow that if we were afraid of the Russians we would get nowhere and he felt that we should be firm when we were right.

THE PRESIDENT then thanked the military representation and said that he felt that he had their point of view well in mind and would ask the Secretary of State and his advisers to stay behind to work out the details of his forthcoming talk with Mr. Molotov.

The President then said that he was satisfied that from a military point of view there was no reason why we should fail to stand up to our understanding of the Crimean agreements and he requested the Secretary of State to prepare for him (1) a statement to be handed to Mr. Molotov for communication to Marshal Stalin, (2) a list of points he might mention orally to Mr. Molotov and (3) a draft of a statement to the press. He said he would be prepared to receive the Secretary of State and his advisers just as soon as this could be done and afterwards he would see Mr. Molotov. The Secretary agreed and said he would have the drafts in the President’s hands by 5: 00 o’clock.

CHARLES E. BOHLEN

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Charles E. Bohlen, Assistant to the Secretary of State

Washington
April 23, 1945

Participants: The President
The Secretary of State
Mr. Molotov
Ambassador Harriman
Ambassador Gromyko
Admiral Leahy
Mr. Pavlov
Mr. Bohlen

After greeting Mr. Molotov the President said that he had been sorry to learn that no progress had been made towards a solution of the Polish question. Mr. Molotov said that he also regretted that. The President then stated that the proposals contained in the joint message from himself and the Prime Minister were eminently fair and reasonable and that we go as far as we can to meet the desires of the Soviet Government as expressed in the message which Marshal Stalin sent on April 7. He emphasized that the United States Government could not agree to be a party to the formation of a Polish Government which was not representative of all Polish democratic elements. He added that the United States Government was deeply disappointed that the Soviet Government had not found it possible to carry out the consultation with representatives of the Polish Government other than those who were not officials of the Warsaw regime. He said that the United States Government is determined together with other members of the United Nations to go ahead with plans for the world organization no matter what difficulties or differences may arise with regard to other matters. He felt nevertheless that the failure of the three principal allies who had borne the brunt of the war to carry out the Crimea decision with regard to Poland will cast serious doubt upon our unity of purpose in regard to postwar collaboration. He mentioned that in his last message to Marshal Stalin on April 1 President Roosevelt had made it plain that no policy in the United States whether foreign or domestic could succeed unless it enjoyed public confidence and support. He said that this applied of necessity to economic collaboration as well as political. The President added that legislative appropriation was required for any economic measures in the foreign field and that he could not hope to get these measures through Congress unless there was public support for them. He concluded by expressing the sincere hope that the Soviet Government would keep these factors in mind in considering the request that the British and American proposals in the joint message from himself and the Prime Minister on Poland be accepted and that Mr. Molotov be authorized to continue the discussions in San Francisco on that basis. He then handed to Mr. Molotov with the request that it be transmitted immediately to Marshal Stalin the attached message.

Mr. Molotov asked if he could make a few observations. Mr. Molotov said that he hoped he expressed the views of the Soviet Government in stating that they wished to cooperate with the United States and Great Britain as before. The President said he agreed; otherwise, they would not be talking today. Mr. Molotov continued that he had been authorized to set forth the point of view of the Soviet Government. The basis of collaboration had been established and that although inevitable difficulties had arisen the three Governments had been able to find a common language and that on this basis they had been settling these differences. He said the three Governments had dealt as equal parties and there had been no case where one or two of the three had attempted to impose their will on another. He said this was the basis of cooperation and the only one acceptable to the Soviet Government.

The President agreed and said that all we were asking was that the Soviet Government carry out the Crimean decision on Poland.

Mr. Molotov said that as an advocate of the Crimean decisions his Government stood by them and that it was a matter of honor for them; that his Government felt that the good base which existed was the result of former work and offered even brighter prospects for the future. He said that the Soviet Government was convinced that all difficulties could be overcome.

The President replied with great firmness that an agreement had been reached on Poland and that it only remained for Marshal Stalin to carry it out in accordance with his word.

Mr. Molotov replied that Marshal Stalin in his message of April 7 had given his views on the agreement and he personally could not understand why if the three Governments could reach an agreement on the question of the composition of the Yugoslav Government the same formula could not be applied in the case of Poland. The President replied sharply that an agreement had been reached on Poland and that it only required carrying out by the Soviet Government. Mr. Molotov said that his Government supported the Crimean decisions and then said that he could not agree that an abrogation of those decisions by others could be considered as a violation by the Soviet Government. He added that surely the Polish question involving a neighboring country was of very great interest to the Soviet Government.

The President repeated that as he had said last night the United States Government was prepared to carry out loyally all the agreements reached at the Crimea and he only asked that the Soviet Government do the same. The President said that he desired the friendship of the Soviet Government, but that he felt it could only be on the basis of mutual observation of agreements and not on the basis of a one way street. In conclusion he arose and handed to Mr. Molotov the press release which he stated he intended to release to the press this evening. Mr. Molotov read the release and thanked the President for the information.

CHARLES E. BOHLEN

President Truman to the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Soviet Union (Stalin)

Washington
April 23, 1945

There was an agreement at Yalta in which President Roosevelt participated for the United States Government to reorganize the Provisional Government now functioning in Warsaw in order to establish a new Government of National Unity in Poland by means of previous consultation between representatives of the Provisional Polish Government of Warsaw and other Polish democratic leaders from Poland and from abroad.

In the opinion of the United States Government the Crimean decision on Poland can only be carried out if a group of genuinely representative democratic Polish leaders are invited to Moscow for consultation. The United States Government cannot be party to any method of consultation with Polish leaders which would not result in the establishment of a new Provisional Government of National Unity genuinely representative of the democratic elements of the Polish people. The United States and British Governments have gone as far as they can to meet the situation and carry out the intent of the Crimean decisions in their joint message delivered to Marshal Stalin on April 18th.

The United States Government earnestly requests that the Soviet Government accept the proposals set forth in the joint message of the President and Prime Minister to Marshal Stalin. And that Mr. Molotov continue the conversations with the Secretary of State and Mr. Eden in San Francisco on that basis.

The Soviet Government must realize that the failure to go forward at this time with the implementation of the Crimean decision on Poland would seriously shake confidence in the unity of the three Governments and their determination to continue the collaboration in the future as they have in the past.


Memorandum by the President’s Adviser and Assistant (Hopkins) of a Conversation During Dinner at the Kremlin

Top Secret
Moscow
June 1, 1945
Foreign Relations of the United States: The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, vol. I, pp. 57-59.

PRESENT: Mr. Hopkins
Marshal Stalin
Mr. Pavlov
SUBJECT: Poland

Last night after dinner I saw Stalin alone with Mr. Pavlov, interpreter. I told him that I wanted to impress on him as earnestly as I knew how the unfavorable effect in America caused by the detaining of the fourteen Poles within Poland and, specifically, those that were charged only with having illegal radio transmitters. I made it clear to him that I was not talking about the others charged with more serious crimes. I told him that I believed we would have no great difficulty with getting the list approved of names who might come to Moscow to consult with the Moscow Commission, if this business could be settled. I made it clear that while I did not know anything about the merits of the case, I nevertheless felt that even though the Marshal thought the offense was far more serious than it appeared to us, it was in the interest of good Russian-American relations that I hoped he would release these prisoners.

I told Marshal Stalin that if the solution of the Polish matter waited until the conference in Berlin on the 15th of July it would stir up endless trouble and probably take most of the time of the Berlin meeting. I outlined at great length the American position in regard to the Soviet Union after the war and told him that we believed the repeated assurances which he had given us that the Soviet Union also wanted to have a firm and friendly understanding with us; that we assumed that that was correct. But if that were to be accomplished I told him it had to be done in an environment that made it possible for President Truman to carry American public opinion with him.

I reminded him again of the many minority groups in America who were not sympathetic to the Soviet Union and told him very forcefully that he must believe me when I told him that our whole relationship was threatened by the impasse of Poland. I made it clear again to Stalin that Poland was only a symbol, that the United States had equal interests in all countries in this part of the world and that if we were going to act or maintain our interests on a tripartite basis, it was hopeless to do so without a strong American public opinion. I told him there was no hope of getting certain minority groups in sympathy with this position for many years and perhaps never, and reminded him again that he should not assume that the Chicago Tribune or the Hearst press had any real influence on American public opinion; that I was speaking for and on behalf of the millions of Americans who support a policy of cooperation with the Soviet Union.

I told Stalin further that I personally felt that our relations were threatened and that I frankly had many misgivings about it and with my intimate knowledge of the situation I was, frankly, bewildered with some of the things that were going on.

Stalin then said that he was unwilling to order those Poles released who were charged only with the use of illegal radio sets. He stated that he had information in regard to these prisoners which was not available to us and inferred that all of them were engaged in what he called diversionist activities. He stated that he believed that Churchill had misled the United States in regard to the facts and had made the American Government believe that the statement of the Polish London Government was accurate. Just the opposite was the case.

Marshal Stalin stated that he did not intend to have the British manage the affairs of Poland and that is exactly what they want to do. Nevertheless, he stated that he believed me when I told him it was having an unfavorable effect on public opinion in America and he assumed the same was true in Great Britain, and therefore he was inclined to do everything he could to make it easy for Churchill to get out of a bad situation because if and when all the evidence is published it would look very bad for the British and he does not want to make the situation worse than it is. He stated that the men must be tried but that they would be treated leniently and he clearly inferred that he was going to consider at once what could be done in regard to these prisoners that I was concerned with to clear the matter up.

He did not, however, indicate at any time that he was not going to have them tried. I asked him that if he was determined to go through with the trial, when the trials would be held, reminding him that so long as things were in this kind of a state it was bound to create friction between all of us.

His reply to that was he did not know but that he would find out and let me know tomorrow. He said that we must take into consideration Russian opinion as well as American opinion; that it was the Russian forces that had liberated Poland and said that if they had not gained the victory in Poland, with such a great loss of Russian life, nobody would be talking about a new Poland. He said several times that he blamed the British for conniving with the London Poles, and each time I reminded him that we had no desire to support in any way the Polish Government in London.

He listened very attentively to everything I said in the first part of the conversation and I gained the impression that he is going to consider the move which the Soviet Union will make and that we would hear from him at an early date.

I closed the conversation by telling him that I thought the real solution lay in his releasing these men entirely so that we could clear the atmosphere not only for the immediate discussions about Poland but in preparation for the Berlin Conference.

He repeated that the men should be tried but that he would let me know.


Letter from the Acting Secretary of State (Grew) to Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg

Washington
July 17, 1945
Foreign Relations of the United States: The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, vol. II, pp. 1105-07.

MY DEAR SENATOR VANDENBERG: I have received your letter of July 9, 1945 in which you raise several questions concerning the new Polish Provisional Government of National Unity, recently established in Warsaw, and the United States Government’s policy toward that Government. For greater convenience to you, I have considered individually, in the order of their appearance in your letter, your several statements and questions:

  1. “There still seems to be no clear assurance that the Polish people will themselves have the final opportunity of untrammeled self-determination under this new Provisional Government which is imposed upon them by Britain, Russia and the United States, within Polish boundaries similarly dictated by these external powers.”

Since the rival Polish groups in Poland and in London were unable to settle their differences, it was decided at Yalta to set up a Commission, composed of Mr. Molotov, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R., Sir Archibald Clark Kerr, British Ambassador to the U.S.S.R., and Mr. W. Averell Harriman, American Ambassador to the U.S.S.R., which would be empowered to bring these groups together in order that members of the Polish provisional government then functioning in Warsaw and other Polish democratic leaders from within Poland and from abroad could consult with a view to the reorganization of the provisional government on a broader democratic basis, and the formation of a new Polish Provisional Government of National Unity with which the Governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union could establish diplomatic relations. Arrangements were finally made to bring the three groups of Poles together and they met in Moscow between June 17 and June 21 to discuss the composition of the new government. On June 21 the leaders informed the Commission established by the Crimea Conference that complete accord had been reached by them regarding the formation of a new Polish Provisional Government of National Unity. After studying the report submitted by the Polish leaders, the three Commissioners concluded that the Polish groups represented had set up a government in conformity with the Crimea decisions. The Commission’s decision was accepted by the Governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union.

Thus, since this Government was set up by the Poles themselves, the new Government was not imposed upon the Polish people by the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union.

  1. “I wish to inquire whether our responsibility, under the Yalta Agreement, is presumed to have been discharged by the creation of this new Provisional Government or whether the three-power obligation continues until the promised ’free elections’ have actually occurred?”

The formation of the new Polish Provisional Government of National Unity constituted a positive step in the fulfillment of the Crimea decisions. The decisions will be further implemented when the new Government carries out its pledge to hold free and unfettered elections as soon as possible on the basis of universal suffrage and the secret ballot. In this connection the Crimea decisions also provide that the Ambassadors in Poland of the three powers shall keep their respective Governments informed about the situation in Poland. It is clear, therefore, that the creation of the new Government does not alone discharge us from the responsibilities we assumed at Yalta.

  1. “When the new Provisional Government begins to operate, will the United States be permitted to send full diplomatic and consular representatives into Poland?”

Mr. Osbbka-Morawski, Prime Minister of the new Polish Provisional Government of National Unity, in his message to President Truman requesting the establishment of diplomatic relations with his Government stated:

“I have the honor in the name of the Provisional Government of National Unity to approach the Government of the United States of America with a request for the establishment of diplomatic relations between our nations and for the exchange of representatives with the rank of Ambassador.”

On the basis of the assurances given by the United States at the Crimea Conference, President Truman established diplomatic relations with the new Government and informed the Prime Minister that he had chosen as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Poland the Honorable Arthur Bliss Lane. Ambassador Lane and initial members of his staff are making arrangements to proceed to Warsaw as soon as possible and, thus in accordance with the Crimea decisions, the Ambassador will be in a position to keep this Government “informed about the situation in Poland”.

  1. “Will the American Press be permitted to send its uncensored correspondents into Poland?”

In the discussions relative to the recognition of the new Polish Provisional Government of National Unity, the United States Government made it clear that it expected American correspondents to be permitted to enter Poland in order that the American public may be informed of the situation in that area. You may be assured that the United States Government will use its full influence to attain this desired end.

In addition to these conversations regarding the entry of American correspondents into Poland, the Department of State has for some time been pressing the Soviet authorities for authorization for American correspondents to enter eastern and southeastern Europe in order to be in a position to report accurately to the American public on developments there. The Department will continue its efforts to obtain permission for American correspondents to operate freely in all areas.

  1. “Will the United States participate, on an equality with the other powers, under their Yalta obligation, in a general supervision of these ’free elections’ to make certain they are ’free’ in fact as well as name?”

President Truman in his message to the Polish Prime Minister stated that “I am pleased to note that Your Excellency’s Government has recognized in their entirety the decisions of the Crimea Conference on the Polish question thereby confirming the intention of Your Excellency’s Government to proceed with the holding of elections in Poland in conformity with the provisions of the Crimea decisions.” This undertaking with regard to the holding of free and unfettered elections was one of the vital points considered in connection with the establishment of diplomatic relations between this Government and the new Polish Provisional Government of National Unity.

As indicated above, the American Ambassador and his staff will make reports on the situation in Poland and on the basis of these reports this Government will give consideration to the question of whether supervision of elections would be advisable. If it is decided to supervise the elections, the United States Government will, of course, insist upon its right to participate on an equal basis with the other powers.

In conclusion, I wish to point out that American policy with regard to Poland continues to be based on the decisions of the Crimea Conference. Both President Roosevelt and President Truman have gone on record that the United States Government stands unequivocally for a strong, free and independent Polish state.

I welcome this opportunity to exchange views with you, since I believe it is of vital importance that the members of the Congress be afforded a clear understanding of questions relating to our foreign relations and policy. Under such conditions the State Department can best carry out the foreign policy of the United States as determined by the President and the Congress.

Sincerely yours,
JOSEPH C. GREW

TeachingAmericanHistory.org is a project of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University

401 College Avenue | Ashland, Ohio 44805 (419) 289-5411 | (877) 289-5411 (Toll Free)

info@TeachingAmericanHistory.org