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:
- “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.
- “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.
- “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”.
- “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.
- “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.
JOSEPH C. GREW