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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 15, 1958


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    The Polish ambassador discusses American opinions on the Rapacki Plan, including both the interest and negative responses it has received.
    "Correspondence Extract No. 549 from Washington to Comrade Rapacki ," January 15, 1958, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Polskie dokumenty dyplomatyczne 1958 (Warszawa: Polski Instytut Spraw Międzynarodowych, 2011), Document #21, pp.48-50. Translated by Jerzy Giebułtowski.
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January 15, correspondence extract from code message

of the ambassador in Washington on American reaction

to the Rapacki Plan

Top secret!


Correspondence extract No 549

from Washington, Jan. 15, 1958

Comrade Rapacki

Comrade Spasowski by dispatch No 28 of 14 this month informs:

Regarding the nuclear-free zone.

In the last 10 days we have observed considerable interest in our initiative in the official circles in Washington. Several serious commentators informed about it. It was further reliably confirmed by our conservations with people with close ties to the White House and SD [State Department] and thus have access to 'insider' information. The picture looks as follows:

1) In October the 'Rapacki Plan' received a chilly welcome from the Administration. Detailed analysis of various aspects of the 'Rapacki Plan' began at the Paris NATO conference, when the Americans were surprised at the popularity of this initiative in Western Europe, chiefly in Scandinavia. The intensity of this 'analysis' peaked in the final week, when disarmament was discussed by the National Security Council, in order to formulate points for the president’s speech and for a reply to Bulganin’s (penultimate) letter. The 'Rapacki Plan' was discussed by the NSC as one of the proposals and as moot point between Dulles and Stassen.

dStassen’sd position: it is in US interest to continue disarmament talks. dThe Polish initiative can be accepted as one of the topics, even though the US sees some serious difficulties.d It was several advantages: it is popular in Europe, limited in terms of territory and scope, which makes some flexibility possible. Apart from that, it is the only constructive proposal dfree from the burden of the past.d Nota bene, this motif is repeated in all serious statements.

eDulles’s position: the US cannot – from the point of view of the global balance of power – become involved in disarmament negotiations without careful preparation. The world would construe it as us weakness. First the option should be explained at the bottom level and [we should] wish the States success in their armament e [efforts].

Regarding 'Plan R.' dDullesd apparently believes that:

a) Politically it was very difficult, because it lead to neutralization of Germany. It also implies recognition of the GDR.

b) Militarily, it brings nothing in light of missile [technology] advancement, especially in the USSR.

On the whole Dulles’s position won. Nixon supported it, as well as the Pentagon. Eisenhower himself seemed, undecided, but he allegedly leaned on Dulles’s side as he thought that it was a safer way.

2) At a time when 'Plan R.' was discussed at the top level, various agencies of the Administration tried to probe several of its aspects. Here are the chief ones:

a) Neutralization of Germany. This reservation is raised time and time again. A very serious interlocutor of mine said: “For the German popular opinion the results could be catastrophic. Without the FRG, there is no NATO. The US would need to withdraw from Europe.” They say that as long as Dulles and Adenauer hold power, 'Plan R.' is out of the question.

b) dZone reduction.d The signal came from Reston. Conversations confirm that the Pentagon was to vehemently oppose the idea of depriving the American Army that is stationed in the FRG of nuclear weapons; under consideration was the exclusion of the left bank of the Rhine and Bremen as well as the implications on the Eastern side of the zone. They also discussed considerable narrowing of the zone, which could be extended later.

c) Instruments of control. There is prevalent opinion that control is the most different from the technical point of view. Full control is impossible. One interlocutor connected with the Pentagon argued that one vehicle with atomic ammunition could erase the zone’s significance and no instrument can detect it.

d) The roots of the initiative. No one questions its Polish roots or the sincerity of intentions. Yet one senses certain suspicion whether it is not a part of a border soviet plan.

3) It is very important that in no official statement did the Administration reject or try to discredit 'Plan R.'. It was passed over in silence. Dulles’s statements are very qualified. Negative assessment was and is outside. This seems to be confirmed by more and more voices of supporters of the policy of d’disengagement’d as opposed to Dulles’s dContainmentd. If this idea prevails (which seems highly likely with respect to Europe and the political and military issues) then the neutral zone would become more and more topical.

AMSZ, z. 9, w. 47, t. 624


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