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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 11, 1958

DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ORGANIZATIONS, 'FILE NOTE REGARDING REACTIONS TO MINISTER RAPACKI'S UN PROPOSAL'

This document was made possible with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)

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    Report on the positive reception to the Rapacki Plan on the part of several countries, namely Czechoslovakia, the GDR, and Belgium. The note discusses the importance of the plan in terms of the disarmament debate.
    "Department of International Political and Economic Organizations, 'File Note regarding Reactions to Minister Rapacki's UN Proposal' ," January 11, 1958, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Polskie dokumenty dyplomatyczne 1958 (Warszawa: Polski Instytut Spraw Międzynarodowych, 2011), Document #16, pp.35-37. Translated by Jerzy Giebułtowski. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/208862
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16

January 11, file note of Department of International Political and Economic Organizations:

reactions to the Rapacki Plan

Warsaw, January c11c, 1958

File note

regarding reactions to minister Rapacki’s UN proposal

1. In his speech before the UN General Assembly on October 2, 1957, minister Rapacki made the following declaration on behalf of the PRP [People’s Republic of Poland] government:

“In the interest of Poland’s security and European détente, having agreed our initiative with other members of the Warsaw Pact, the Government of the PRP [People’s Republic of Poland] declares that should both German states agree to a ban on production and storage of atomic and thermonuclear weapons on their territories, the People’s Republic of Poland is prepared to introduce a similar ban on its territory.”

At the next session of UN General Assembly, the chief of the Czechoslovak delegation, minister of foreign affairs V. David made a statement in which he said, among others: '”Based on the instructions of the CSR government, I have the honor to inform all representatives of UN member states that in the interest of reducing international tension, Czechoslovakia is ready to accept the Polish proposal and refrain from production and stationing of nuclear weapons on its territory provided that both German states reach agreement on the ban on production and stationing of nuclear weapons on German territory, as proposed by the German Democratic Republic.” What merits attention is the phrase: “if both German states agree….”

This phrase was used twice in min. David’s speech, who described the Polish proposal in the following words:

“A proposal was put forward, according to which the manufacture of nuclear weapons on Polish territory would cease should the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany come to terms and both German governments would undertake commitments in accordance with the former GDR commitments.”

Apart from the speech of the Czechoslovak delegate at the general assembly, no other speeches included references to minister Rapacki’s proposal.

2. In a speech delivered on October 18, 1957 regarding disarmament on Committee I, deputy minister Winiewicz said the following:

“Desiring to contribute, as far as possible, to reduce the threat of a nuclear and thermonuclear war, the Polish delegation made a declaration on behalf of the government of PRP [People’s Republic of Poland] at the General Assembly, undertaking the commitment to introduce a ban on manufacture and stationing of nuclear weapons, if German agree to introduce an identical ban on their territories. Our initiative was taken no in Czechoslovakia, which borders on us as well as on both German states. The GDR’s position on this issue is also favorable. Realization of this initiative depends on FRG’s position. We uphold our proposal, which would help us avoid turning the heart of Europe in one giant nuclear powder magazine.

Our proposal has been agreed upon with all the members of the Warsaw Pact, with which we are conjoined for defense reasons. It would be reasonable to assume that NATO member states, with which the FRG is bound by an alliance, should not oppose FRG’s acceptance of our proposal. This would allow to prevent a nuclear arms race, at least at the point of contact of two great political and military does at the heart of Europe a race whose pace would have accelerate the plans to equip the West German army with atomic and thermonuclear weapons. Were to be realized.”

In reference to the above statement by deputy minister Winiewicz, the French delegate Mr. Moch said among others: “The Soviet Union demands reduction of forces in Germany in Nato and Warsaw Pact countries, liquidation of cases on foreign territories and finally – withdrawal of nuclear weapons to their country of origin, a point subsequently elaborated by the Polish and Czechoslovak delegations. All that would lead to dismemberment of free world’s defenses before integral disarmament is achieved and trust restored.”

Elsewhere, Mr. Moch said:  “The withdrawal of all the forces to their country of origin would mean Soviet withdrawal several hundred kilometers [east] – to the Russian-Polish border, but [at the same time ] the withdrawal of the Americans by some 6,000 kilometers, across the ocean. These are some of the reasons engendered by caution, which in spite of the wishes of deputy foreign minister Mr. Winiewicz, compel us to postpone the agreed adoption of regional measures in stage 1 of the treaty’s implementation and the of rebuilding trust.”

In the disarmament debate, the Polish proposal was also backed by the Romanian and Albanian delegates.

3. In the debate on the issue of peaceful co-existence on December 12, 1957, deputy minister Winiewicz said, among others: “We find it one of the key tasks of Polish foreign policy to take advantage of all the possibilities of constructive cooperation in order to contribute to a reduction of tension in relationships between nations that have different [political] systems.

The same reasons stood behind the Polish proposal to create a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe, something the Polish delegation spoke of in the general debate at the current session and at this Committee when disarmament was discussed.”

4. Unofficial resonance of minister Rapacki’s Plan at the UN session

The Polish proposal was regarded as a constructive element of the debate. According to press representatives, minister Rapacki’s Plan was neutralized by Adenauer’s interview for an American TV station. What become manifest at the same time was the reluctance to become engaged and embarrassment of the United States and of the FRG in light of the Polish proposal.

In a conversation with deputy minister Winiewicz, a representative of the Canadian MoFA said that by no means does Canada report the Polish initiative, and considers it very interesting and would return to it ‘at an opportune moment’.

According to information obtained from the Brussels Mission, most of the Belgian delegates to UN General Assembly were in favor of the Polish proposal, and even regarded it as a key proposal to break the impasse in the disarmament debate.

It would seem that the weak resonance of minister Rapacki’s Plan at the UN forum was a product of the anxiety over the growing disarmament impasse and the threat to break off talks and the hysteria in the USA caused by the launch of artificial satellites.2[1]5

AMSZ, z. 24, w. 5, t. 49

25 The first artificial satellite was launched by the USSR on October 4, 1957; the second one (with the dog, Laika on board) – on November 3.

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